Why Roy Moore’s Law-School Professor Nicknamed Him Fruit Salad

George Thomas Wilson, a retired magazine-marketing and P.R. professional now living in New York City, has never forgotten his first criminal-law class, at the University of Alabama School of Law, in 1974.

.. “Finally, at the end of the hour, McGee said to him, ‘Mr. Moore, I have been teaching in this school for thirty years, and in all of that time you’re the most mixed-up person I’ve ever taught. I’m going to call you Fruit Salad.”

.. Moore’s opponent in the race is Doug Jones, a Democrat and former U.S. Attorney best known for prosecuting two of the Ku Klux Klan members behind the 1963 bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, which killed four African-American girls.)

.. He called him “your average law student passing through.” Others offered harsher assessments.

.. “Roy always sat in front of us, and he would turn around and flirt. He’s the one thing that brought humor to us, because he was, well, kind of a doofus,” she said. “He’d yak at us. We were both single, rolling our eyes.” She added, “And then Roy would ask all of these questions to put himself in the middle of debating with an intelligent professor, and he was always cut to shreds.”

.. “He’d go to class, but he was argumentative, very stubborn, and not very thoughtful in his analysis of the cases. He was not a very attentive student. For the most part, students didn’t respect him much.” She added, “Of all my classmates, he was the least likely I’d think would become a U.S. senator.”

.. Moore had recently returned from Vietnam, where he’d been a military-police officer. Some who served under Moore there had referred to him, with sarcasm, as “Captain America,” chafing at his egoist style of command. One such officer, Barrey Hall, told the Associated Press, in 2003, that Moore’s “policies damn near got him killed in Vietnam. He was a strutter.”

.. Veterans told him that Moore demanded that he be saluted on the ground in Vietnam, Martin said, which everyone knew was a foolish thing to do. “When you go to Vietnam as an officer, you don’t ask anybody to salute you, because the Viet Cong would shoot officers,” he explained. “You’ve heard this a million times in training.” If Moore indeed violated this rule, Martin went on, “There’s nothing more telling about a person’s capability and character and base intelligence. It’s crazy.”

.. Martin, a self-described moderate, wrote an editorial in a local paper warning voters about his former student. In it, he describes Moore as a pupil so immune to logic and reason that he forced his exasperated teacher to “abandon the Socratic method of class participation in favor of the lecture mode.”

.. “He was very, very opinionated. To the point of just being ridiculous,” Melton said. “He had ultraconservative values and opinions. I’m not saying he wasn’t liked, he was just different.” Wilson said, “He was Looney Tunes from the beginning. But I never really thought he was malicious. Some of the verbiage that’s come out of him more recently, it’s a much harsher, meaner man than I remember.”

.. Most of Moore’s classmates didn’t recall Christianity being a noticeable part of his public persona. “I had no sense that Roy was a really religious person

.. “I can’t get into his mind, or his heart, but I think it’s all political. He’s demagoguing on those issues.”

.. I don’t think this Doug Jones has a snowball’s chance in Hell,” he added. “He’s a Democrat and they gonna  . . . ” Melton trailed off. “Hell, Moore will get sixty-five per cent of the vote.

.. Southern Baptists control the damn state. And they’ll vote for Roy. It’ll be a landslide.”

Eric Foner’s Artful Finesse on Lee Statues

Foner gives the South’s greatest Civil War general his due in terms of character and personal rectitude. He reports that the young Lee, at West Point, never got any disciplinary demerits, “an almost impossible feat.” The general, writes Foner, “always prided himself on following the strict moral code of a gentleman.”

.. He merely predicts that future historians won’t likely return Lee to his pedestal, “metaphorically speaking.”

.. That’s because it’s all about power. As Foner wrote in another Times piece in August, “Historical monuments are, among other things, an expression of power—an indication of who has the power to choose how history is remembered in public places.”

.. Between the Civil War’s end and the 1890s, Lee’s image as an American went from his being “the embodiment of the Southern cause” to his becoming a “national hero.”

.. Historians such as W. A. Dunning and Claude Bowers argued that the harsh Reconstruction policies of congressional “Radical Republicans” delayed the sectional healing needed to bring the country back together. According to that argument, it kept the prostrate South at the mercy of freed blacks and Northern carpetbaggers, whose political machinations were designed to keep the old white planter class out of the power equation.

.. In short, they have not turned history on its head, but rather, they recognized that much of what Dunning’s disciples have said about reconstruction is true.”

In other words, it was complicated.

 

Robert E. Lee at West Point

Lee embodied the values that West Point seeks to inculcate in its graduates: Duty, Honor, and Country. So I was taught and so I believed.

.. It is my fate to be a quick study and a slow learner. Not until I was in my thirties, therefore, did I begin to wonder how it was that West Point should elevate to the status of role model a serving officer who had abandoned his country in its time of maximum need.

.. My complaint about Lee—I admit this to my everlasting shame—was not that he was a slaveholder who in joining the Confederacy fought to preserve slavery. It was that he had thereby engineered the killing of many thousands of American patriots who (whatever their views on slavery and race) wished simply to preserve the Union. At the beginning of the Civil War, Lee famously remarked that he could not bring himself to take up arms against his home state of Virginia. This obliged him to take up arms against the very nation that as a serving officer he had sworn to defend?

No less than Benedict Arnold, Robert E. Lee was a traitor. This became, and remains, my firm conviction.

.. Elsewhere, however, quietly expunge Lee’s name from gates, roads, halls, barracks, and awards handed out to cadets. To put the matter kindly, he doesn’t deserve the recognition. As with General Koster, there’s no way to excise Lee from the Academy’s history. That he should occupy a place of honor in the Long Gray Line is something of an obscenity, however.