Dave Paxton

People in San Diego are looking for answers where there are none to be found. From all accounts, a kid who attends with his parents a Presbyterian Church, is a talented pianist and good student (albeit very quiet), walks into a Synagogue just a ways down the street, pulls a semi-automatic rifle and starts shooting Jewish people observing the Passover.

You have your typical weirdo liberals chirping that this again is somehow Donald Trump’s fault because he’s a racist (his son-in-law is Jewish) and you have your shadowy white supremacist saying just as crazy stuff that Jews are deserving of everything they get.

It’s not like you can seek middle ground on this because both ends are off the rails. They’re nuts. You can’t find middle ground from crazy people on the left and crazy people on the right.

Oddly enough, people like Alexandria Orcazio-Cortez, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and David Duke have common ground, or at least a common enemy, that being Jewish people.

Dan Bongino is a former Secret Service agent and New York City cop, a conservative and regular on any number of Fox News shows. He said something on Fox and Friends the other morning that I had never thought of (because I’m not a cop or a Secret Service agent). He said that churches and synagogues are more subject to terrorist attacks because of how people worship. People in church sanctuaries or in a synagogue are seated with their backs to the main entrance. They are focused on worship. There is only one person (the pastor, priest, rabbi or imam) and maybe members of a choir who could be looking back into what would be the face of an attacker.

It is the classic “soft” target. And you really can’t “harden” the target because the very nature of worship is to be focused on God, head bowed or eyes focused on the altar.

The only thing that hardened the San Diego synagogue was basically three human beings. A woman who stepped in front of a bullet meant for the Rabbi, an off duty border patrol agent who was armed and an ex-military guy, who with the border patrol agent ran into the face of danger.

I’m thinking about my own United Methodist Church and I’m wondering if we will reach a point where there are men who start wearing sport coats again to conceal a weapon.

I don’t think in terms of race, mostly I guess because of the racial upside down cake that is my own family. My bias comes more in the form of certain looks, super long hair on men, heavily tattooed people, people wearing baggy pants, people driving erratically talking on cell phones, little dogs. I don’t think anyone can escape bias. I don’t like little dogs because one bit me in the throat when I was five.

A story in the Des Moines Register Wednesday reminded me that bias is difficult to deal with especially when it places other people in the middle. The story was about the young Republican campaign worker from Louisiana arrested in Des Moines for…well…for being black…and contrary toward police. He was exonerated from all charges, making the West Des Moines police look like a bunch of bigots. Except they were simply answering a call from a West Des Moines resident who was afraid of a young (nicely dressed) black man walking through their neighborhood.

He became a “person of interest” and police wanted to stop and talk to him. The guy (who likely had been stopped like this dozens of times) wasn’t having any of it, was arrested for harassment of a public official (he used profane language) and had to return to Iowa two years later to earn a not guilty verdict.

So what were the cops supposed to do?

Let me frame it another way. I owned a beloved yellow lab dog, who weighed 84 pounds when he became ill in November of last year. By February, after spending over $1,000 on treatment and testing, his weight plummeted to 38 pounds. He was skin and bones. Two days before having to make the difficult decision to have my veterinarian put him down because of a drastic turn for the worse, I got a visit from the sheriff at my home.

The truth is, I hadn’t done anything wrong, but some anonymous person called the sheriff and reported me for animal cruelty. I was plowing snow when the sheriff arrived and my dog, still able to move around, was padding around the pond. It was embarrassing for the sheriff and me. I called to the dog and he came down, most definitely looking starved. I gave the sheriff permission to contact my vet and check the records. He did.

What was law enforcement to do, receiving a call from a citizen making the claim of animal cruelty? My dog, indeed, looked like death warmed over. Even though the caller made a huge leap—thin dog=animal cruelty—they saw what they saw. It may have been their bias. The West Des Moines resident had a bias. Black man in white neighborhood=trouble.

And the cops, regardless of their personal bias, are charged with investigating.

I’m not black, so I don’t know what it feels like to be judged solely on the color of my skin. I am a white 60-something male and I do know what it is like to be judged by radical feminists and crazy liberals for everything they think white middle-aged men are supposed to stand for.

I hope that the day doesn’t arrive when I am stopped by police for walking in a neighborhood because of someone’s bias accusing me of whatever suspicion they hold. But I’m pretty sure if it happened, I wouldn’t be blaming the police.

I ran into another issue with a group of my newspaper colleagues, discussing Iowa legislation making it illegal to fraudulently get a job with a livestock farmer or in a corporate livestock feeding or processing facility to interrupt their business or take secret video recordings.

The Iowa Newspaper Association wrote an “amicus” brief supporting the ACLU and with it CCCI in fighting the law as a First Amendment issue. I was probably the lone dissenting voice in the discussion. My dad was a pioneer in the farrow to finish confinement swine industry. I grew up understanding our land, our livestock facilities and our business was semi-sacred. I told my newspaper friends that had someone lied to us to gain access to our land and way of life, they might likely exit in a coffin…obviously an exaggeration. “If a drone comes over my land without my permission today, I’m going to shoot it down if my pheasant load will reach that high,” I said. And that is the truth.

Not that I would ever support animal cruelty against pets or livestock, the sacred nature of private property is my bias. So too is telling the truth when I’m reporting a story.

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