MINOT, N.D. — Did you know that Teddy Roosevelt once wrote about Bigfoot? He did. Or, at least, he wrote about a story that sure sounds like a sasquatch attack.
In his 19th-century memoir, "The Wilderness Hunter," Roosevelt wrote about "a grisled, weather-beaten old mountain hunter, named Bauman" who survived a deadly attack by a bipedal creature with a terrible stench and a penchant for screaming all night.
Of course, neither Teddy nor this Bauman character used the terms "sasquatch" or "Bigfoot," but the anecdote is part of the cryptid's lore anyway.
With that random bit of trivia out of the way, to your emails! If you want to get in touch with me, send your message to email@example.com. Your submissions may be edited for clarity and brevity.
Josh writes: "Why do you want to put kids at risk by forcing them back to school? If we open the schools we're just going to make the spread of the virus worse."
I wrote a couple of columns about re-opening the schools this week. "We must do everything we can to send kids back to school this fall," was the headline of my Monday piece. "Burgum is giving locals control over re-opening schools, and that's exactly right," is what I wrote responding to Gov. Doug Burgum's announced guidelines for re-opening schools.
In neither of those columns do I call for a mandatory return to school classrooms, but I do point out that keeping kids out of school has its risks. Kids need to learn. They need to see their friends. They need activities. Schools provide those things, and while some of them can be replicated at home, it's not the same experience, nor are many parents available to ensure that experience.
School may be out, but mom and dad still have to work. Or they have to find work.
I want a flexible approach to school amid the pandemic. If we can have the classrooms open, we should have them open, with appropriate precautions in place to minimize mingling. But even if we open classes, we have to be prepared to offer an at-home curriculum for those who think going back to school is too big a risk.
We already provided that in the spring, and we've always had homeschoolers and students kept out of the classroom by things like illness. We may have to scale that approach up to serve a much larger number of students, and that will undoubtedly be a challenge. We will make mistakes. It will not be optimal.
But trying is preferable to giving up.
Pete writes: "Over a month and a half later you're still writing about Todd Osmundson. You're obsessed! Did a cop steal your girlfriend? Why do you hate the police so much?"
My last column about the fiasco caused by the actions of former Fargo deputy chief of police Todd Osmundson is about how the City of Fargo used illegal redactions to block public scrutiny of embarrassing things Chief David Todd wrote about the situation.
The reason I wrote that column this week, going on two months after this story first broke, is that the Attorney General's office just ruled on my complaint about the city's redactions. Open record law complaints take a while for the AG's office to handle. Typically those complaints take about six months to resolve. This one was handled far more quickly.
The point is, I don't control that timeline. But my complaint about the redactions did reveal some poor decisions made by the City of Fargo's leadership, and shouldn't the public get to know about that? There's an old saying about how the cover-up can be worse than the crime, and I think that's the case with the Osmundson situation.
A deputy chief infiltrating a violent protest while drinking beer and shouting profanities at the uniformed officers is terrible enough. Still, worse is the chief of police whitewashing those actions by applauding the supposedly valuable intelligence gathered, and all but telling his officers to shut up with their complaints about it. Even worse is the city using an utterly bogus interpretation of open records law exemptions to cover-up those comments.
It's the job of people who work in the news media to uncover that sort of thing, even when some in the public would rather not see it.
Joann writes: "You are correct, there isn't much/any trust in America right now. I believe the media is partially to blame for this. Sadly it isn't getting better. Additionally, no one has a clue what is/isn't true or what/what not to do."
Joann is responding to my column, "We can't ignore what the medical and science communities have done to undermine their own credibility."
In that piece, I talk about the challenges the medical and science communities have with public trust. Some of that is inflicted by ignorance and conspiracy-mongering on social media, and in cable television programming. And, yes, from certain politicians on Twitter. But the lack of trust in our society is bigger than science and medicine. It's bigger than the coronavirus issue.
Americans don't trust their government. They don't believe the news media. Increasingly, they don't trust law enforcement.
This is a problem.
I linked Kevin Williamson's recent National Review column on this subject previously, but if you're curious about why all this talk about trust is essential, I encourage you to read it.
"Civic virtue is not a pleasant abstraction; still less is it a merchandising opportunity," he wrote. "It is a necessity if we are to have an open and transparent government based on trust and cooperation. The alternatives to that are autocracy and anarchy in varying combinations and proportions."
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.