GOP Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore stunned some listeners when he said he thought America was “great” during the era of slavery. Though he made the comments at a campaign rally in Florence, Alabama, more than two months ago, they’ve re-emerged in a viral tweet just days before the election.
Back in September, one of the few African-Americans in the crowd asked the candidate when he thought was the “last time” America was great.
“I think it was great at the time when families were united. Even though we had slavery, they cared for one another. ... Our families were strong, our country had a direction,” Moore responded, according to a Los Angeles Times report in September.
At the same rally, he also referred to Native Americans and Asians as “reds and yellows,” the LA Times reported.
Moore’s comments resurfaced Thursday in a tweet by Eric Columbus, who served in the departments of Justice and Homeland Security during the Obama administration. Columbus linked to the LA Times story, saying, “Can’t make this up.” His message was retweeted thousands of times.
— Eric Columbus (@EricColumbus) December 7, 2017
People on Twitter went crazy. Actress and rape survivor Gabrielle Union tweeted, “No. No. No. No. No. No. No.”
Others pointed out that the years before the Civil War were hardly a time of “united families” as enslaved black families were often broken up and members auctioned off individually to other slave owners.
No. No. No. No. No. No. No. https://t.co/5NN7tnZIYM
— Gabrielle Union (@itsgabrielleu) December 7, 2017
"It was great at the time when families were united even though we had slavery." Slavery literally tore families apart. Possibly at no time in US history when families were less united than during this time.
— sistermagpie (@sistermagpie) December 7, 2017
it's very distressing. Feels like we're moving backwards.
— Nathan Ryan (@NathanARyan) December 7, 2017
Perhaps this was because many places had no minimum age for sexual consent at that time?
— Joseph Steinberg (@JosephSteinberg) December 7, 2017
What did y'all think MAGA referred to?!
— maddie (@TheRealMCSloth) December 7, 2017
Don't boo. Vote.
— This is not normal (@tonigo) December 7, 2017
Moore’s comments were ricocheting around the nation as the campaign of Democratic opponent Doug Jones was reaching out to black voters in Alabama and blasting the Republican as “racist.” A super PAC backing Jones was targeting Facebook ads at African-American voters in a bid to boost turnout for the Dec. 12 election.
“A racist shouldn’t represent you,” read the text of one ad over an image of Moore. “If Roy Moore goes to Washington, he’ll make decisions that will impact your family for years.”
Another ad said that Moore “had ties to the same white supremacist group that inspired the Charleston shooter.” (The former judge once addressed the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens that Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof would cite in his manifesto.)
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost.