The Vanguard

Gadsden: Allegedly a quaint little town

The+U.S.+Post+Office+serves+as+Gadsden%E2%80%99s+courthouse%2C+post+office+and+government+office%0D%0Abuilding.+Photo+courtesy+of+Google+Maps
The U.S. Post Office serves as Gadsden’s courthouse, post office and government office
building. Photo courtesy of Google Maps

The U.S. Post Office serves as Gadsden’s courthouse, post office and government office building. Photo courtesy of Google Maps

The U.S. Post Office serves as Gadsden’s courthouse, post office and government office building. Photo courtesy of Google Maps

Krisha Amin, Web Editor

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Gadsden, Al., is a quaint little town nestled between the Coosa River and a local highway. Yet, it is also one of those places where the coolest thing to happen every few years is a new franchise restaurant opens up. Literally. One of my friends said he waited in line on Zaxby’s opening night just to get some fried chicken, and he doesn’t regret it. I even remember half the high school was absent on the day of Krispy Kreme’s inauguration.

However, Gadsden’s claim to national fame wasn’t our poetic relationship with limited time fast food items. It’s Roy Moore, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate who lost the recent election amid allegations that he preyed on significantly younger girls while he was the assistant district attorney in his 30’s.

When I learned that Moore was from Gadsden, shocked is an understatement; it was like whiplash. My hometown? The place where I was raised the majority of my life? To me, Gadsden was the safe that stored all of my memories, from the time I lost my tooth by biting into an apple to skipping 5th period Spanish in order to get slushies at Sonic with my friends.

Since I went to college, Gadsden has been a sort of relic to me. It’s this world of Monet, where everything is impressionistic. It is my North Star when I feel so lost in college and a place that I didn’t really appreciate until I actually left.

This winter break, however, contradicted a lot of these notions.

To think that the same girls who were allegedly harassed by Moore called this special place their home too is eye-watering. We probably slid down that same metallic and sometimes painful slide in Moragne Park in the summers. We walked the same sketchy trails at Noccalula Falls, a place I visited a lot when I was running cross country freshman year of high school. We also frequented the same football field in front of the old Gadsden High School. We went to the same YMCA, the place I am forever indebted to because it’s where I learned to swim. Only separated by time, these girls and I could have coincidently crossed paths.

Some of the girls Moore hit on were even as young as 14-years-old, and they were working at the same Gadsden Mall that Moore was later banned from because of his revolting behavior. At 14, I was ringing the bell for the Salvation Army near the main fountain at the mall for Beta Club service hours. I even dared my friend to steal some coins from the fountain and donate it to the red bucket. She declined. I even stood in line outside of Books-a- Million with my friends for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows while one of our mothers brought us hot chocolate. It’s the place I went with my parents when we craved “authentic” Chinese food.

Gadsden was meant to be home, but it doesn’t feel like the safe haven it used to be. I never understood why Moore’s behavior was rarely discussed when I came home over winter break. Granted, I didn’t live there anymore, but I also didn’t expect the construction of a new steakhouse in Gadsden to be flooding my facebook feed over the current political climate.

Some people, who used to work with Moore, even went on record to say that they knew what was going on beneath the surface in the 80’s. It was common knowledge, but nothing ever developed from their supposedly sound instincts. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Even well after the election was over and Moore had lost, plenty just carried on with their lives, somehow unthinkingly agreeing to never discuss this old news. There are still an innumerable amount of bigoted men in this country, just like Moore, with such influence who should be held accountable for their sustained actions, fragmented coverups and cavalier vindications. This could have happened to anyone here and is happening to at this moment, maybe at the same mall.

Unfortunately, Gadsden isn’t the only town where Machiavellian men use their egocentricity to attain whatever it is that they want and to maintain this hierarchy of evil in our world.

Just recently, something similar happened in Tuscaloosa with the case against T.J. Bunn Jr., born with a silver spoon in his mouth to a very influential family, who was accused of raping a 20-year-old student, who lost her case because of “unsubstantial” support and later committed suicide. The alleged victim, Megan Rondini, even said that she was probably not the first and will not be the last person assaulted by this man.

Furthermore, even our former governor, Robert Bentley, a man who built his legacy as an Air Force commander, a renowned dermatologist and at one point, the most powerful man in Alabama politics, engaged in improper conduct. He tried to cover up his affair with one of his staffers instead of resigning because of his legacy.

Even in one of the most seemingly progressive minded places in this world, Hollywood, we have an incomplete list of  allegedly disdainful predators, such as Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, the Affleck brothers, Louis C.K., and many others, who are embroiled in controversy regarding allegations that they used their position in power as a smokescreen for their unforgivable, abusive actions.

The power of patriarchy is only amplified when we look at Washington D.C., where countless representatives, senators, and our president engage in this House of Cards behavior. That’s right. Donald Trump. Two syllables. Eleven letters. Sixteen women.

This isn’t about pedophilia. It isn’t about sexual abuse. It isn’t entirely about misogyny. This is about powerful men who possess an archipelago of arrogance, a seemingly endless spectrum for their deep-rooted disregard for anyone that bruises their pride. They are able to sit on their comfortable perches atop their religious credos and superiority complexes and bury anyone or anything that gets in their way. The saddest part is, at the end day, most get away with these endless avalanches of sexual assault, and it’s just too late at that point. The damage has been done.

This isn’t a fun house hall of mirrors. There are human beings behind all of these actions.

The eight women from my hometown, who were allegedly victimized by Moore when they were just young girls, have to live with the harrowing aftermath for the rest of their lives. Just the other day, one of the accuser’s home was set on fire, which is now being investigated as arson, according to The Washington Post.

My own childhood innocence felt betrayed when I learned this bombshell news.

This affects me, not solely because I was raised in Gadsden, but because the Gadsden that I now know is my foundation for when I enter the workforce as a woman. It’s personal because my seemingly quaint hometown of Gadsden is emblematic of the power asymmetry in this dystopian novel that we call our country. There are powerful men whose creed, morality, and personal rectitude will unjustly impact my life and generations of lives. Pretty much every aspect of society is stigmatized against women, with regards to physical appearance, age, equal pay, intrinsic racism, reproductive organs and sexual assault.

It’s completely disheartening to know that this is where we are. There are powerful men, such as Moore in Gadsden, Brock Turner at Stanford, Bunn in Tuscaloosa, former Governor Bentley, moguls in Hollywood, journalism, sports, Wall Street and the Hill have allegedly abused and might continue to abuse their status to dehumanize others.

However, every cloud has its silver lining, and I believe we manifested that on Dec. 12., when Alabama elected a Democrat over an alleged child predator. It was a paramount moment in all of our lives, but especially us women. I commend everyone who has shared their heartbreaking stories and who are the primary reason why countless men have deservingly been put out of their positions of power, from bit-size towns to La La Land. We still have an odyssey in front us, but we are making progress in Gadsden, in Alabama and in the United States.

It’s not over until the iron lady sings.

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Gadsden: Allegedly a quaint little town