Alabama’s Doug Jones Believes the War Caused the War

Looks like the Democratic candidate in Alabama’s Senate race has seen Ron Maxwell’s movie Gettysburg one too many times. Here is one of Jones’s recent political ads in which he reaches back into the nation’s reconciliationist memory of the Civil War.

Jones focuses on the desperate fight at Little Round Top on July 2, 1863 and introduces Colonels William C. Oates of Alabama and Joshua L. Chamberlain. According to Jones, “what brought those two men together…was war.” That was a nice sleight of hand on his part. “Two sides believing so strongly in their cause that they were willing to die for it.”

Jones hopes to bring this same spirit to Washington, D.C. if elected. If his understanding of history and memory is any indication of which Alabamians he will represent it is clear that it does not include African Americans.


Little Round Top, Gettysburg. Three times Col. William Oates of Alabama led the Confederate forces to take it. Running out of ammunition, Col. Joshua Chamberlain of Maine had his men fix bayonets to desperately repel the attack. What brought those two brave men, one from Alabama and one from Maine, together was war—two sides believing so strongly in their cause that they were willing to die for it. Those times are past, long ago, and our country is better for it. But now we fight too often over other matters. It seems as if we’re coming apart. I want to go to Washington and meet the representatives from Maine and those from every other state not on a battlefield, but to find common ground, because there’s honor in compromise and civility. To pull together as a people and get things done for Alabama. I’m Doug Jones and I approve this message, because on December 12, Alabama can lead the way.

Alabamians have one hell of a choice this year between Roy Moore and Doug Jones.

Correction: I agree with those of you who are pointing out what is, in fact, a false equivalence between Moore and Jones. Chalk this one up to writing much too early in the morning. Thanks for calling me on it.

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16 comments… add one
  • MARGARET D BLOUGH Nov 11, 2017 @ 9:50

    However, I understand and respect the comments of those who have brought out Doug Jones’ record on civil rights. I won’t hold an unfortunate ad against him (sometimes, political advertising gurus, there are some subjects that should be avoided unless you are very clear on what direction you’re heading.) I seriously doubt if, at this point, there are that many people who can be won over from Roy Moore just on the basis of a conciliatory approach to the Civil War. I suspect a lot of his supports LIKE the theocratic, white supremacist worldview that Moore represents and a fair number who wouldn’t regard it as a bad thing if white supremacy in its antebellum form, complete with slavery, could be restored.. If there are some people who are so single-issue on abortion that Moore’s rigid forced birth position is enough to make them blind to his manifest flaws, I don’t think Jones can reach them either. Sometimes, one has to accept that while, if elected, one represents everyone, there is no way you can ever make all of them happy.

  • MARGARET D BLOUGH Nov 11, 2017 @ 9:35

    What was the mock slogan I’ve read for the Democrats, “We have our faults, but THEY’RE seriously crazy.”? I think that covers this. I mean LOOK at Roy Moore’s “defenders” (If those are defenses, I’d really hate to see what they’re like if they’re NOT defending him). Likening being a child predator to Joseph and Mary? Also, picking Oates and Chamberlain as examples of reconciliation is about as far off the mark as you can get.

  • Al Mackey Nov 11, 2017 @ 8:08

    Jones is trying to break off some of Moore’s support to increase his votes among whites.

    • Andy Hall Nov 11, 2017 @ 13:36

      Not that Roy Moore should have any support at all, at this point.

  • Bryan Cheeseboro Nov 11, 2017 @ 6:56

    I just talked with my wife about Doug Jones and his ad (never heard about him before now). She said, “there’s no question which is the right choice” between an accused child molester and someone who doesn’t know that much about the Civil War. But I think I understand where Kevin is going with this. By writing out the causes of the Civil War- race, slavery and White Supremacy- from his ad, it appears that Jones has little to no understanding the depth of issues that are still affecting African-Americans today. And once again, to me it shows that people can have an interest in history but many of them don’t have what it takes to be a historian… i.e., to take an in-depth look at what people of a time period said about themselves and how they viewed the world around them and the issues of their day.

    I’m not in Alabama but if I were, I would have to take a look at the rest of Jones’ record and see what it says. If it shows that Black people are not part of his agenda, then his Civil War-themed ad proves to be continually telling about him. But if his politics include African-Americans, especially in jobs witha living wage, health care and affordable housing, I can give this ad a pass and move on.

    • Eric Koszyk Nov 11, 2017 @ 8:03

      Take a look at his actual record, which includes prosecuting two Klansmen decades later for the 1963 bombing of a black church which killed four little girls. Then go on his website and read where he stands on the issues, especially on criminal justice and sentencing reforms. Protecting minorities is very much part of his agenda.

      Mr. Levin, I usually agree with you but on this one I think you are way off base. You seem to be trying to define Jones over a one minute ad while ignoring his career and his inclusive and progressive platform.

      • Kevin Levin Nov 11, 2017 @ 8:10

        I already amended the post. Again, I agree that my characterization was unfair.

  • Boyd Harris Nov 11, 2017 @ 6:08

    meh. An Alabama Democrat is a right of middle Republican anywhere else in the country. He has to get elected and the rubes in Alabama won’t stomach much from a Democrat. So no surprise that he is running that ad. Its jives with his other ads that proclaim Doug Jones can work better with Republicans than Roy Moore.

    We’ll see how much they can stomach from a Republican. In my granddaddy’s day we called them Yellow Dog Democrats because they would vote for a yellow dog if it ran on the Democrat ticket. Gotta figure out a country saying for the Republicans these days. The good people of Alabama will turn out and vote for Moore because he’ll fight for unborn babies and also because he riles up the Yankees.

  • Mr Fletch Nov 11, 2017 @ 5:46

    I was with you until the last sentence. I think it is fair to look at Jones’ ad and discuss the historical implications along with modern interpretation of the Civil War. However, it imply that there isn’t much difference between an outright White Christian Nationalist and someone who’s campaign platform explicitly includes a celebration of diversity and a welcome for all people and who has a history of fighting for Civil Rights is the sort of “both-sides”-ism that serves only to continue to muddy our nation’s political discourse.

    I think there is a much more interesting observation to be made about the way that our interpretations of history can cause us to have blind spots that cause us to contradict out own core values.

    I hope you will re- examine the conclusion of this post and ponder whether “one hell of a choice” is truly your final thought on the race.

    Thank you.

  • Fred Hudson Nov 11, 2017 @ 5:25

    Regardless of this comment and your interpretation of it, Doug Jones is a good man and would be a great senator. As a US attorney, he got a conviction in the 1963 church bombing in Birmingham against a member of the KKK. Does this fact bother you, Kevin?

    • Kevin Levin Nov 11, 2017 @ 5:38

      Good point. I only wish he was brave enough to run on his race record and situate it into what was a critical moment in American history.

      • gdbrasher Nov 12, 2017 @ 6:37

        Love you Kevin, but you screwed the pooch on this one. It is a dumb commercial, but he is doing everything he can to appeal to people in this state that simply can’t stomach voting for a Democrat. Yet the meantime, he HAS been running on his race record as well. I’m glad you saw the light and amended the post, because this is an election that must be won by Jones. The recent revelations about Moore aside, this is a man that does not even understand the Constitution’s Supremacy clause, and much less our separation of church and state. Well before these recent accusations, Moore was a totally unacceptable candidate for any political office. I really wish you would consider deleting this posting all together.

        • Kevin Levin Nov 12, 2017 @ 11:05

          I hear you. It was a rushed post as I desperately try to finish the manuscript. I hope the correction is sufficient.

        • Ken Noe Nov 13, 2017 @ 6:52

          Not to pile on, but Glenn is right. The core of Jones’ campaign from the first has been his prosecution of the Birmingham bombers. The Little Round Top commercial, odd as it is, has to be judged in juxtaposition to the Moore/Bannon campaign’s angry rejection of any compromise. Slick ads attacking Moore did Big Luther Strange no good.

          • Kevin Levin Nov 13, 2017 @ 9:49

            I see that, Ken. Like I said it’s never a good idea to try to rush a post while you are trying to finish a book.

  • washingtonsenators01 Nov 11, 2017 @ 4:39

    Can’t argue with that logic

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