Dave Paxton

I like Drake University. I have incredible memories of a daughter competing in the Drake Relays and in the state track meet. My fondness for the university located in a very tough part of Des Moines goes back to 1969 when Maury John took his Bulldog basketball team to the height of national prominence. My granddaughter got to run on the Blue Oval last spring with a junior high relay team at the Drake Relays.

Off and on for the past 30 years I have parked my car in the same front yard of an elderly black gentleman a few blocks north of the stadium when I cover state track or the Drake Relays.

Lots of really positive memories.

But the recent revelation that a series of “racist” hate letters sent to students were bogus, the coverage of those letters by the Des Moines Register and the university’s handling of the incidents are beyond troubling.

In my ever-lengthening experience, nothing good comes from something based on a lie. The racist notes slipped under dorm room doors brought national attention to Drake. A sidewalk was painted black. Student demonstrations ensued. Drake students wouldn’t stand for institutional racism and “white male privilege.”

Except that it was all a lie, concocted by a couple of Drake students of color. They wrote the notes and then fueled the frenzy to show that Drake was united against racism.

And when Des Moines police uncovered the ruse, it was somehow okay with the media and university administration and students because it was the thoughts and feelings that counted.

Not the truth.

Here’s what I’d like to know about Drake University. What percentage students of color and ethnically non-white students (both foreign and domestic) are on full scholarships compared to garden variety white students? White males in particular.

There is absolutely nothing to be gained from this student petulance based on a fabrication of some racially bigoted boogie man on Drake’s campus. Is there racism and bigotry on campus? The answer is yes, except that it cuts both ways. Several student leaders of this Drake dust up kept carping about white male privilege and institutional white racism. No names. No real incidences. Nothing except a blanket condemnation of all people who happened to be born white. If this isn’t racism and bigotry, I don’t know what is.

I suppose it was just a matter of time after meat lovers and people who think animals are…well…animals, changed the name of PETA from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to People Eating Tasty Animals that PETA would strike back.

Their answer is now something called the elimination of “Speciesism and they have a list of offensive metaphors using animals that must be changed.

Here are a few:

“Killing two birds with one stone” must be changed to “Feeding two birds with one scone.”

“Be the guinea pig” must be changed to “Be the test tube.”

“Beat a dead horse” must be changed to “Feed a fed horse.”

“Bring home the bacon” becomes “Bring home the bagels.”

“Take the bull by the horns” turns into “Take the flower by the thorns.”

“Put all your eggs in one basket” becomes “Put all your berries in one bowl.”

“Opening a can of worms” must now be “Open Pandora’s Box.”

“More than one way to skin a cat” becomes “More than one way to peel a potato.”

“Let the cat out of the bag” must become “spill the beans.”

“Hold your horses” is now “Hold the phone.”

The PETA people are comparing the use of animal phrases to racism and homophobia. Kind of like Drake students and their phantom white privilege.

But have they thought this through? First of all the changes come at the expense of vegetables and fruit, spilling the beans (clumsiness), peeling a potato (knife violence), putting berries in a bowl (captivity).

And opening Pandora’s Box instead of opening a can of worms…wasn’t the contents of Pandora’s Box a whole bunch of innocent bugs and bees and such?

The other part of these phrase changes to protect the sanctity of animals (who really don’t care) is that there is logic connected to each traditional metaphor. Turning “stop beating a dead horse” into “feed a fed horse” makes absolutely no sense. What does “feed a fed horse” mean? Are PETA people attempting to create an obesity problem in our equine population? Are they forcing poor horses to eat beyond their ability to feel hungry?

To “take the bull by the horns” is a metaphor for decisive action. “Taking the flower by the thorns” is…well…really stupid.

Which I’m pretty sure is the perfect metaphor for PETA. People Encouraging Thoughtless Actions.

A word on the outpouring of love for George H.W. Bush. Just as I believe Veteran’s Day should be observed and enjoyed only by veterans, the outpouring of love and respect for the late great former president, should be reserved for those of us who actually loved and revered the man during his life and presidency.

I remember shouting at my (very conservative) father who had turned against H.W. and was supporting the diminutive nut job Ross Perot for president. I continued to remind him throughout the later years of the Clinton administration that it was his vote for Perot that gave us the Bill and Hill Show.

Indeed, President H.W. was a deft politician, a master of foreign diplomacy and a really decent human being. I know it now. I knew it then. But to hear the mainstream media gush their praise for the man makes me gag. They excoriated him in the eight years he was Ronald Reagan’s vice president and crucified him in his four years as president. They went as far as to propagate a lie about his cheating on Barbara (his wife of over 70 years).

I sat down 30 years ago with Barbara Bush at the Indian Hills Inn in Albia during the 1988 campaign and she told me “I don’t do politics. I’m here to tell you about my husband.” And she did and it was beautiful and profound, something only a loving wife could say.

My Eagle Scout turned Secret Service friend told it best when he said the President would greet them daily with a pat on the shoulder and a big smile and when Bill and Hillary entered the White House he scrambled to be reassigned to Houston with George and Barbara.

He knew it then. They were truly great Americans.

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