By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
In Matin Amis’s new novel, “The Zone of Interest,” the novelist explores the inner life of some the inhabitants of Auschwitz, in 1942, concentrating especially on the death camp workers.
One of the narrators of the story is a middle-level German officer named Thomsen, who says of gassing Jewish men, women and children, “ We went along, we went along, doing all we could to drag our feet…but we went along.”
Like many others who said they simply obeyed orders, Thomsen could be called a “Good German.”
Nothing is our State has risen to the level of these Nazi atrocities, but the mentality of the “Good German” is alive and well in the Alabama State House. There are some who simply follow orders, while moral standards of ethical behavior are broken with impunity.
Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard has been charged with 23 counts of public corruption.
He has received support and even cheers from a number of Republican legislators including, Rep. Ed Henry, Rep. Jack Williams, Rep. Alan Harper, Rep. Matt Fridy, Rep. Alan Baker, Rep. Paul Beckman, Rep. Mike Ball, Rep. David Sessions, Rep. April Weaver, Rep. Jim Patterson, Rep. Kerry Rich, Rep. Richard Laird and Rep. Mac McCutcheon. As well as U.S. Representative Mike Rogers.
Yet, there is a resounding silence from those who find Hubbard’s actions reprehensible.
Over the last two years, this publication has asked on several occasions, why do honest lawmakers remain silent when it is obvious that Hubbard has thumbed his nose at the Law? And often, in private, legislators have asked me, “What could we have done?”
Hubbard has been charged with:
Four Counts of using of his office as Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party for personal gain.
One Count of voting for legislation with a conflict of interest.
Eleven Counts of soliciting or receiving a thing of value from a lobbyist or principal.
Two Counts of using his office as a member of the Alabama House of Representatives for personal gain.
Four Counts of lobbying an Executive Department or agency for a fee.
One Count of using State equipment, materials, etc. for private gain.
What can legislators do?
Make Hubbard step aside by force of your vote.
Hubbard even lobbied Gov. Bentley on behalf of his client believed to be American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc.
In the near future, the Governor may be called to testify as to what Hubbard said and did for his lobbying client.
Is a jury ready to see Hubbard’s white collar criminal defense attorney J. Mark White try to ridicule Robert Bentley? Would Hubbard’s mouthpieces dare try to denigrate and twist the testimony of the most trusted man in Alabama, to exonerate a man who has used his office for personal gain?
Bentley knows Hubbard is a crook. He’s known that for a long time and Bentley is not a “Good German.”
Bentley could end all of the spectacle surrounding Hubbard and now, the State government, as a whole, by picking up the phone on the morning of November 5, and calling every member of the House Republican caucus and saying, “Now, Mike is our friend, but he has been accused of some pretty bad things. Now we need to let the justice system sort this out. So, for the good of the party and the good of the State, Mike cannot be allowed a position of leadership until all this is resolved.”
He should further remind each legislator, “I am the Governor. I’ve been reelected by an overwhelming majority. I have some real plans to make our State even better. You can either be with me or not. But, a vote for Mike, in any position of leadership, is a vote against me.”
Many of our legislators claim to be Bible-believing men and women. To be a believer requires more than lip service. The Word teaches that as Christians, we are to abstain from even the appearance of evil. Is this not a standard that should be applied to lawmakers?
Hubbard has hired one of the best public relations firms in the State to spin his innocence and to lie about the prosecution. From saying that Luther Strange is out to get him, to the machinations of a rouge prosecutor, the spin will continue; especially if Hubbard is allowed to remain speaker.
If Hubbard remains “king of the goat hill,” he will continue to embarrass the State and the Republican party. If he is allowed to use the mantle of the speaker’s office to promote his innocence and disparage the State law enforcement, it will harm the State even further.
In Matin Amis’s book, “The Zone of Interest,” after the end of the war, his Nazi protagonist, Thomsen, jokes that the German National Anthem is “Ich Wusste Nicht Uber Es,” (“I Didn’t Know Anything About It.”), this is not a joke we want associated with Alabama.