David Moats

Commentator

David Moats is an author and Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writer at the Rutland Herald.

Republicans students at Middlebury College are unhappy about what they see as the lenient discipline administered to students who disrupted a speech earlier this year by author Charles Murray.

There's a phrase from sports that has always been intriguing to me: People say something is or isn't “in the interest of baseball.” The word “baseball,” spoken in this way, carries with it a whole value system or code of conduct.

Moats: Received Wisdom

Apr 28, 2017

My mother turned 100 years old recently, though we weren’t sure whether she was aware of it. She’s comfortable and well taken care of, but each new day is a kind of surprise. That she's still here allows us to consider the century she has lived through, which goes back to the day Woodrow Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war against Germany. That’s the day she was born.
 

The earth was shaking, and I was crouching under a desk on the third floor of a building in San Francisco, when I gained some insight into the way my mind works. This was the big quake of 1989, and as the building rattled, my mind produced an image: the building collapsing, with me in it, but me rising up and getting to my feet, unhurt, amid the rubble.

Most people probably don’t remember George Lincoln Rockwell, who after World War II was the founder of the American Nazi Party. He used to strut and preen in a Nazi uniform, and in the mid-’60s, he spoke at the university where I was a student. He praised Hitler, denied the Holocaust, and promised that if he became president, he’d execute Jews he considered traitors.

During the recent election campaign I got tired of hearing about what white American males believed, what African-Americans believed, and Latinos and suburban women and old people and young people.

Moats: Pariah Nation

Nov 21, 2016

My mind has been going back to the year 1968 and the despair I felt after the assassination of Robert Kennedy.

That event came as something of a last straw. But it wasn’t the last straw.

Moats: Lending A Hand

Oct 27, 2015

If you’ve read “The Grapes of Wrath,” you know it’s about the epic migration in the 1930s from the Dust Bowl to California.

My most memorable high school teacher, Mr. Siringer, taught English wearing sunglasses to conceal an eye twitch. He brought a phonograph into the classroom to play Wagner while we took our exams. He read aloud to the class all of The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, and he did it every year. My brother used to quote it to exasperating effect.

When my grandfather retired from the Forest Service in the 1940s, his colleagues gave him a book - Audubon’s “Birds of America” - which is now on my shelf.

Looking through it the other day, I found an old newspaper clipping my grandfather had tucked away by the conservative columnist Westbrook Pegler.

Today, we’re unhappy with the nasty tone of politics, the attacks, the hatefulness. But listen to this.

I was not a student radical in the 1960s, but I saw some radical stuff. I saw demonstrators throwing rocks through windows in downtown Berkeley and police swooping down with tear gas and billy clubs. I didn’t see when police, a year later, shot and killed an innocent bystander, blinded another and wounded even more.

I was there when students occupied the student center at my campus, but when my friend and I wondered whether we ought to get ourselves arrested, we looked at each other and said, “Nah.”

Lost: Baseball glove, perfectly oiled and broken in, Rawlings, tan leather, perfect pocket. Belongs to 12-year-old boy, who is distraught at the theft. Whoever took it, you better watch out for the boy’s big brother, who has promised to pound you into the pavement.

Found: Baseball glove, name, address and phone number written in ink on leather, smeared by thief who found he couldn’t rid glove of previous owner‘s name. Tossed into gutter of neighborhood street. Phone call from good citizen returns glove to previously distraught 12-year-old boy.

An unusual artifact of my family’s past has come into my possession. It's an elaborate decorative belt buckle engraved with the name of my grandfather.

Also engraved on it is a detailed scene with a huge trout leaping in the foreground, and on the far shore a fisherman whose line is looping through the air into the mouth of the fish. Across the top are the words “Idaho Trout Champion” and above my grandfather’s name the year 1948.

Moats: Richard III

Feb 27, 2013