Dave Paxton

I’ve felt halfway sick to my stomach all weekend, starting with what seems like endless replays of George Floyd being choked to death by a Minneapolis police officer while three other officers stood by and did nothing and seeing cities around the United States being torched by people who frankly, could give a rat’s rear end about George Floyd.

I could be totally wrong about this, but my gut tells me the rioting, looting and violence in the streets has more to do with the COVID-19 lockdown than the single incident of police terrorism against George Floyd. Locking up young people for over two months because of the threat of being exposed to COVID-19 (an infection that if caught by young people will likely give them mild to serious flu symptoms), shutting down outdoor parks and basketball courts, shutting down watering holes, movie theaters and throwing thousands out of work, is enough to make people riot, without the death of George Floyd.

The city leadership in Minneapolis, starting with a mayor who looks like he should still be in high school and acts like he never finished seventh grade social studies, and moving into the upper ranks of the police department, the county attorney (who was apparently on a three-day coffee break before getting charges filed against the murderous police officer) governor’s office and National Guard, fueled the flames of distress and despair.

And then this rioting and looting insanity spread like no deadly virus could ever spread. And why? Because idiot people (more white than black if you watched TV footage for who was in the crowd) felt they had some right to vent. Did a single Des Moines police officer murder a young black man? No, but a young black man was murdered in Des Moines over the weekend, very likely by another young black man. How about the police officer ambushed and shot in Davenport? Did he kill a black man? No, but three other black citizens were murdered in Davenport, not by police.

Is Target guilty of institutional, generational racism? How about the African American fireman and his wife who poured their life savings into a neighborhood bar and grill and had it burned to the ground in the rioting? What was their part in the charge of police brutality against blacks?

I live in a unique world. Two siblings, my children and grandchildren are Americans of color. My youngest brother is a career police officer (a police chief actually) and he to, is an American of Asian decent. A person of color. And several years ago I traveled with him down a dark road of despair when he gave chase and tackled a local career criminal (a white man) who died after being handcuffed by my brother. The guy’s family and Des Moines television accused my brother of police brutality. Two weeks later the official autopsy showed the guy’s heart exploded from a large amount of meth in his blood stream.

There are a lot of things I understand, simply because it’s the world I live in. But don’t ask me to understand rioting and looting. I won’t understand it. I can’t understand it.

While I’m venting, let me say the Iowa High School Athletic Association and Girls Union is completely off base in denying media access to softball and baseball practices. We should have had photos (taken with our long lenses) of 12:01 a.m. practices. IHSAA and IGHSGAU banned us from being there. I guess we could have sat in our cars and drawn pictures of the teams practicing.

Not only is this rule an overreach and stupid, it is unconstitutional and un-American. I complied with my athletic director’s request not to show up. The question left unanswered in all of this COVID-19 nonsense is “At what cost?”

Basically I think Leonardo DiCaprio is a nut with his global warming activism, but he’s a pretty darned fine actor and he was brilliant in co-producing the mini-series “Grant” on the History Channel.

Oh my gosh, it was terrific television, particularly for history geeks like me who watch the History Channel constantly hoping for actual history. History Channel has been overrun by aliens, Oak Island treasure, searches for WWII gold, “Pawn Stars” and “American Pickers.”

As great a show as the Iowa based “American Pickers” is, it falls short of telling real history.

“Grant” was just a tremendous series, even though some might complain it presented Gen. U.S. Grant in a far too positive light. It was sort of the opposite of a lot of textbooks and other histories of Grant that are completely sold out to the idea that he was first and foremost a drunk and an utter failure as president.

The DiCaprio mini-series “Grant” gives you a completely different look at the Union general who won the Civil War. It also suggests that there was a concerted effort to rid the real Grant from history books because a whole lot of U.S. history was written in the late 19th and early 20th century by writers who loved Robert E. Lee and hated Grant.

It is the same sort of historical revision that says the Civil War was fought first and foremost over state’s rights, not slavery. The fact is, slavery drove the question of state’s rights. Did states have the right to enslave?

As much as the telling of the battle stories involving Grant in the Civil War, first in the West and then in the East as the supreme commander of Union forces, the final hour of the six-hour mini-series was most interesting to me because I didn’t appreciate how good Grant was in the face of almost impossible odds to reconstruct the nation.

Devastated at the death of his Commander in Chief and friend, Abraham Lincoln, Grant stayed on as the nation’s top military commander and fought relentlessly against the completely incompetent, unprepared and southern sympathizing Andrew Johnson, who was ultimately impeached but not removed from office.

After Johnson left office, Grant was elected and re-elected and fought what was ultimately a losing battle to reconstruct the United States in the vision of Lincoln. He called up troops in his first term to battle the Ku Klux Klan, passed the 14th and 15th amendments to the constitution giving black men voting rights as well as property rights and hammered away at Reconstruction throughout his second term.

At the same time he was fighting continued Rebel insurrection and terrorism in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma at the same time using former Civil War generals, William Sherman and Phil Sheridan to fight Indians.

He was making headway until his second term ended, Reconstruction ended and the south adopted segregation as a new way of life. Sadly, we’re still fighting the battles involving reconstruction Gen. Grant lost 150 years ago.

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