The following is a PoliticusUSA editorial written by co-publisher and managing editor Sarah Jones.
Republicans have a far right Christian problem. To be even more specific, they have a sexual assault against children problem. It’s not because Josh Duggar admitted to sexually assaulting his sisters and other young girls, or even that Arkansas Republicans worked to get the police record of the investigation into Josh’s assaults expunged. No, sadly sexual assault of children happens in every community.
The reason Republicans have a problem is because they won’t denounce the Duggar family’s cover up of Josh Duggar’s sexual assaults. Former Governor Mike Huckabee has gone full-on defense of the sexual predator and his family, while other Republicans who used the Duggar family as right-wing Christian cred in photo-ops are now silent.
Silence is not courage or leadership. What is required at this point is a courage stand FIRMLY against child sexual assault and the cover-up of said assaults in this case — not just the police records, but the way the Duggars refused to produce Josh for questioning when the police were investigating for real, after their friend (the one in jail now for child porn) buried the first go around.
Republican politicians and activists are busy circling the wagons around this egregious cover-up of admitted sexual assault of minors — five that we know of, and not all of them family members. Republicans are saying the victims want this to go away, but of course, there is no reason to assume that people who have an obvious political agenda (the Duggars are knee-deep in Arkansas Republican politics) to silence this story are speaking for the victims. Nor could the victims possibly be free to stand up for themselves, with no less power than a man running for the White House justifying what Josh Duggar did to them.
Of course the Duggars did cover this up, in failing to produce son Josh to the police when they wanted to speak to him about it and then in working to get the record expunged when they knew the story was finally coming out. Anyone who is justifying this behavior is off their rocker.
To make matters worse, Republicans are justifying it as to judge Josh or his family is to play the part of God. This is some seriously warped thinking, but we saw in it the family’s statement, and we saw it in Mike Huckabee’s statement. We see the less obvious results of this kind of thinking a lot, like when Republicans announce that God has forgiven them for cheating on their wives and abusing the power of their office, so the matter is at rest. While they accuse others of playing the part of God, they are using God as a shield from being held accountable in this world, under our laws, by our community standards.
The problem for Republicans is that they seem to believe that God is on their side, so they believe they are above the law. Their religious beliefs are above the law. Is this not the same argument they have been making about Muslims imposing Sharia Law? It is.
This country was specifically designed to have our laws be separate from religion and to avoid “divine authority”. So Republicans are wrong to claim that their religious beliefs exempt them from the law, and they are wrong to claim divine authority and favor by God.
They are wrong to claim that they know what God thinks. What God thinks or doesn’t think is not relevant to our legal system. As far as morality goes, it’s hard to think of a worse crime than abusing an innocent child – statistically causing that child to contemplate suicide four times more than a child who was not abused. This is what Republicans are trying to silence because they were invested in the Duggar family. They used the Duggar family politically. The Duggar family used them. The Duggar family is headed by a Republican politician, and Josh himself is a Republican activist.
In all systems, we see this kind of cowardice when faced with the fall of a hero. I called the left out on it when Assange was accused of rape (not because there was compelling evidence that he was guilty, but because in trying to defend him, they attacked the women and the definition of rape in harmful and misogynistic ways). Penn State stood by their child assaulter, just as the Catholic church has for decades. This is what systems do. This is why people must speak up and say this is not okay.
Republicans, who at one time claimed to be the law and order party, need to find some courage to do the right thing here. The right thing is not tacking on “Of course this was wrong” after paragraphs of defense and justification. The right thing is very simple. This was wrong, the parents were horribly irresponsible to cover Josh’s rather relentless assaults up (not a one-off), Josh Duggar was wrong to do it, their religion is wrong to teach that the girls tempt a boy when he changes their diapers — all of these things are WRONG.
You can wish Josh Duggar the best and feel some compassion for his parents if you wish. I am saving my compassion for the victims, who were voiceless then and all over the world, remain voiceless against huge powers and systems hell bent on silencing them or making the abuse okay by claiming it was forgiven.
Hearing the defense of this horrific ongoing abuse just eggs on other abusers and silences more victims. And that makes Republicans’ lack of courage even more damaging and repugnant.