Peter Bell and Mitch Pearlstein #racist startribune.com

Change must be sought from within as well
African-American people can’t move forward until the issues within the community are addressed.

Lest there be any doubt, we view George Floyd’s death as the most hideous example of police brutality we’ve ever seen. Former officer Derek Chauvin and the other three former officers involved must be held to strict account.
Yet if discussions and subsequent actions regarding the most explosive American crisis in generations are to be productive, we can’t continue focusing near-exclusively on claims of institutional and systemic discrimination.
Do such unacceptable handicaps persist at various levels? As an African-American and a Jewish-American, we know, of course they do. But it’s essential that we also focus on cultural and behavioral issues in the African-American community itself — as difficult as they may be to talk about, much less seriously address.
It simply is not true that we have not made determined and prodigiously expensive efforts to “reform” racial attitudes in every sector of American society for more than a half-century. Yet despite such efforts, not only has overall progress been limited, but hardly anyone is happy with the results.
In large measure this has been the case because political and social remedies have emphasized countering constraints imposed by the larger society, be they real or simply assumed, while de-emphasizing what the black community — or any community — must do to improve its own fate.
Achievement gaps, for instance, generally are not the result of racist teachers, or insensitive curricula, or biased disciplinary practices, but that is exactly the default charge leveled in many academic, media and political circles. A much larger cause, as many educators acknowledge (albeit quietly and privately) is that too many black young people are watching too much television, playing too many video games, and not taking school seriously enough.
Regarding jobs, despite claims to the contrary, implicit or explicit hiring barriers are not the major cause of employment problems in the black community.
When it comes to matters of criminal justice, an allegedly racist system is not the reason so many blacks are caught up in it. The fact that African-Americans commit far too many crimes is the reason.
We must ask, will police relations with the black community ever be “normalized” so long as hugely disproportionate amounts of crime are regularly committed in those communities? Will lawbreaking in those neighborhoods really decrease if police “back off” as many activists and others urge? Common sense as well as academic research strongly suggest otherwise.
Harvard economist Roland Fryer, for example, reports that when major investigations of police departments are preceded by the kind of “viral event” that has surrounded George Floyd’s death, homicides and total crimes in those cities have gone up “considerably” as police effectively pull back. Homicides have increased the most in cities where police-civilian contact, and thereby enforcement, has decreased the most.
This dynamic has been known as the “Ferguson Effect,” which a journalist speculated earlier this week may come to be known as the “Minneapolis Effect.”
Will economic development in black communities ever take off if entrepreneurs don’t believe they and their property, their livelihoods, will remain safe? Without in any way suggesting that only African-Americans burned businesses to the ground on Lake Street and beyond in last week’s riots, how much harder will it be for job creators to invest with adequate confidence in those places?
Most critically of all, will any of these and other social disparities get sufficiently better — sufficiently equitable — so long as so many African-American children come into this world outside of marriage and grow up with only one parent to provide consistent guidance?
Likewise, how can “household” incomes — the most frequent metric used when measuring inequality in Minnesota — ever become more equal so long as fewer working-age adults, on average, reside in African-American households than in other households?
We need to focus more on issues like these, rather than forcing virtually every question through prisms of race, as critical as racial justice and fairness are. Debates over climate change, school district configurations, Park Board land management — whatever the controversy may be — all center these days on questions of race to the point where attention is diverted and divisions deepen.
Gruesomely obvious over the last week is how too many people feel they have too little stake in this state and country. We must do a better job of rebuilding essential bonds of civil society — or in many instances, building such bonds for the first time. But in doing so we must be honest and open in expecting the black community to do the hard things only it can do.
Peter Bell is a former chair of the Metropolitan
Council. Mitch Pearlstein is president emeritus and senior fellow at Center of the American
It is simply not true that we have not made determined and prodigiously expensive efforts to “reform” racial attitudes in every sector of American society for more than a half-century.

Sue Kern #fundie startribune.com

Brainerd school board chairwoman questions teaching of evolution
Chairwoman asks why it's still taught if Christians don't agree with it. ’

The chairwoman of Brainerd’s school board this week questioned the teaching of evolution and suggested that it’s incompatible with Christian beliefs.

“I did have a question about evolution,” Sue Kern said at a Monday board meeting after a presentation about the planned biology curriculum at Brainerd High School.

“You know, Darwin’s theory was done in the mid-1800s and it’s never been proven,” Kern said. “So I’m wondering why we’re still teaching it.”

District staff and faculty members who gave the presentation responded by explaining that the theory of evolution has gotten stronger with scientific discovery — for example, the study of DNA.

Kern then wondered about those whose religious beliefs don’t include evolution.

“And then with regard to your Christian students, then — how do you do that? How do you tell them?” she said. “Because they are taught not to agree with that, so …”

Craig Rezac, a Brainerd science teacher who led the presentation to the school board, answered that teaching evolution is not in conflict with Christian beliefs.

“This is science, and science doesn’t deal with a belief system,” he said. “We deal with facts.

“It doesn’t have to be a dilemma or a concern with someone to choose between evolution or Christianity,” he said. “You can actually embrace both.”

Tim Murtha, the district’s director of teaching and learning, pointed out that teaching evolution is explicitly identified in state educational standards.

Kern didn’t respond to requests for comment.

In a statement, Brainerd Public Schools Superintendent Laine Larson said Kern’s comments “reflect her personal views and do not reflect the views of the Board of Education as a whole or the Brainerd Public School District.”

“The District’s approved science curriculum aligns with the MN State Standards,” Larson’s statement said, adding that “the Board of Education unanimously approved the Science and Biology curriculum at Monday’s meeting.”

Kern was first elected to the school board in 2012. In a candidate questionnaire in 2016, as she ran for a second term, she promised “to maintain family conservative values and culture.” According to her LinkedIn profile, Kern is a registered nurse and works as a realty assistant.

Minnesota courts have upheld the teaching of evolution. In 2001, the state Court of Appeals upheld the removal of a Faribault biology teacher, Rod LeVake, who argued that teaching evolution violated his Christian beliefs. He was reassigned to teach science in a lower grade, where evolution wasn’t part of the curriculum.

Randy Moore, a biology professor at the University of Minnesota, called evolution disputes “a common theme in virtually every school district. It’s been controversial throughout the country, and not just in the South, for 100 years,” he said.

Moore has done regular surveys of Minnesota teachers and consistently found that at least a third of them either downplay evolution or don’t teach it at all, despite state requirements.

“They are afraid of it — either the topic or the consequences,” Moore said. “Either for religious or local political reasons, it’s just not worth it.”

Disputes over evolution teaching are less frequent than they were 20 to 30 years ago, said Ann Reid, executive director of the National Center for Science Education.

“The court rulings have been so clear,” she said. In many cases, she added, evolution becomes an issue “because someone has run for the school board, or gotten involved because they want to keep evolution out of the schools.”

“They really see it as a battle for their kids’ souls,” Reid said.

Unknown extremists #fundie startribune.com

Several thousand minks that vandals freed from a central Minnesota farm have been recovered, but “the vast majority” of those died soon after recovery, authorities said Tuesday. Under cover of darkness late Sunday or early Monday, perpetrators invaded Lang Farms near Eden Valley and set loose about 38,000 fur-bearing minks valued at more than $750,000. Stearns County Sheriff Don Gudmundson said he’s convinced that animal rights militants are responsible for the crime.

As of midafternoon Tuesday, the farm’s recovery effort has collected 5,500 of the minks, said chief sheriff’s deputy Jon Lentz. “The vast majority are expiring shortly after being recovered,” Lentz said. “It may be due to stress, but the owners are not certain.”

Michael Whelan, executive director of the fur-raising industry association Fur Commission USA, said Tuesday afternoon that “mink ranchers from around the Midwest continue to arrive to assist in the recovery efforts.” “As domesticated livestock,” Whelan said, minks “are not equipped to live outside the farm environment, where they are fed, watered and cared for daily.”

Lentz said no one has contacted the Sheriff’s Office claiming responsibility. He said his agency continues to cooperate with state and federal authorities in the investigation. Gudmundson has classified the suspects as “nitwits” for thinking they were doing the minks a favor by carrying out a deed that has ended up killing them by the thousands. Whelan concurred, saying, “Anyone who thinks they are helping animals by doing this are severely misinformed.”

Along with the risk of the minks biting humans, Gudmundson said there is concern for wildlife that come into contact with any minks still on the loose. The animals are capable of traveling many miles. The vandalism falls under the Federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, said Whelan, adding that his group is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible. The vandals targeted a farm run by the Lang family, which has been raising minks since 1936, spanning four generations.

Lang Farms asks that anyone who spots the minks call the operation at 1-320-453-4750 so its personnel can try to capture them. Anyone with information about the minks’ release is urged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 1-320-251-4240 or Tri-County CrimeStoppers at 1-800-225-1301. In October 2013, animal rights radicals set loose hundreds of minks from a southeastern Minnesota ranch in Grand Meadow.

Minnesota ranks among the top states in mink production year in and year out. Last year, there were 204,580 pelts produced in the state, ranking it No. 5 in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Leading the way by a large margin is Wisconsin, which last year produced 1.2 million of the nation’s yield of 3.2 million pelts, the federal agency reported.

Judy Cox #fundie startribune.com

SALT LAKE CITY — A mother upset about "indecent" T-shirts on display at a Utah mall found a quick if not especially convenient way to remove them: She bought every last one.

Judy Cox and her 18-year-old son were shopping Saturday at the University Mall in Orem, about 40 miles south of Salt Lake City, when she saw the shirts in the window of a PacSun store.

The shirts featured pictures of scantily dressed models in provocative poses.

Cox said she complained about the window display to a store manager and was told the T-shirts couldn't be taken down without approval from the corporate office. She then bought all 19 T-shirts in stock, for a total of $567. She says she plans to return them later, toward the end of the chain store's 60-day return period.

The shirts cost about $28 each on the website for PacSun, which sells beach clothes for teenagers and young adults.

"These shirts clearly cross a boundary that is continually being pushed on our children in images on the Internet, television and when our families shop in the mall," Cox said in an email to The Associated Press.


Orem is a city of about 90,000 in ultraconservative Utah County that uses the motto "Family City USA." Most residents belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which frowns on pornography and encourages its youth to dress and act modestly.

Cox met with Orem city attorney Greg Stephens on Tuesday to discuss whether the images on the T-shirts violated city code.

Stephens said he told Cox that she first needed to file a complaint with police. He said police would then review the issue and decide whether it needed to be passed on to the city attorney, a process that could take weeks.

justusecnn #fundie startribune.com

(On Minnesota's state senate passing a law to legalize gay marriage)

I love seeing the comments restarted...somebody must have had a good argument why SSM shouldn't be legalized. Something like incurring more to the states Debt to cover SSM benefits, lawsuits against churches for discrimination, that a small percent of Minnesotans get to redefine a term for the majority, that were passing laws just so we don't hurt someone's feelings, that the majority of MN's don't want SSM (which is a completely different argument than putting it in our constitution), It violates DOMA. If it does pass, I wonder what's next from the bullies and incompetent legislature?

Unidentified man #fundie startribune.com

[on the vehicular vandalism of a planned parenthood clinic in St Paul, Wis.]

Several employees were in the building at the time, said Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Kathi Di Nicola. She said the SUV hit the front door of the clinic two or three times, damaging the clinic's front door and surrounding stonework.

When Di Nicola arrived at the clinic, she said the man had gotten out of the SUV and was pacing around it, holding a crucifix and chanting. "He was agitated and he was saying, 'shut down this Auschwitz,' " she said.

Robert Beale #fundie startribune.com

The trial of millionaire tax protester Robert Beale turned bizarre even before jury selection began Monday as the prosecutor announced the arrest of four of Beale's supporters for conspiring with Beale to disrupt the proceedings and intimidate the judge.

"God ... wants me to take the judge out, that's what he wants me to do," Beale allegedly told his common-law wife, according to a new criminal complaint filed against him and the four associates.


Snell said that Beale told his common-law wife, Mun Suk Kim, in an April 3 conversation that God wants him to "destroy the judge. That judge is evil. He wants me to get rid of her."