See more of the story

We can strike the right balance on CVE.

Concerning the Feb. 14 commentary on the Countering Violent Extremism program (“CVE divides communities, perpetuates Islamophobia”), several thoughts:

First, I welcome more highlighting of these unmet needs. As a retired teacher, I am firmly convinced that every positively engaged young person is both better inoculated against negative influences (not just terrorism) and more able to see a path to being productively engaged in our society. Win-win.

Second, to those who see our East African immigrant community as “takers”: Poverty does not mean lying around taking handouts; you can be fully employed and still poor. Look around: Who is driving your taxis? Emptying your hospital bedpans? Roofing your homes in blazing hot weather? Every statistic I’ve read says that immigrants pay far more into our society than they take from it: rent, taxes, purchasing goods, etc. They are a benefit to us!

Third, though I see the concern of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and others about government surveillance and stereotyping, I would urge them to look more broadly. For as long as I’ve been an adult, there have been youth programs in predominantly black neighborhoods that hope to diminish the influence of gangs by providing positive alternatives. I do not remember anyone raising this concern about those programs — even though they definitely “target” a particular race. The community seems to be able to recognize that the benefits outweigh the possible negative stereotyping. The surveillance can be monitored and reported if needed; meanwhile, kids have opportunities.

I truly hope that our community will step up to meet these needs in a significant way.

Adair New, Minneapolis

U.S.-RUSSIA RELATIONS

Apples-to-oranges comparisons, and the hunt for the Big Cheese

To the Feb. 16 letter writer comparing former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s Russian communication with President Barack Obama’s on-mic assurance to Dmitry Medvedev: This is an apples-to-oranges scenario. The issues with Flynn’s phone calls to the Russian ambassador are that he was acting as a citizen and he lied about it. Obama was — let’s see … oh, yeah — president of the United States. Pretty sure he had the authority to have those conversations with a Russian official.

Susan Barrett, South St Paul

• • •

News concerning Flynn and his resignation has taken over the headlines of our newspapers and lead stories on our other media. Yes, this is newsworthy. However, for me, the big story should be: Who asked him to talk to the Russian ambassador? Is there anyone who thinks he would have thought to do this on his own? That would be beyond belief. I would love to see the lead headlines shift to: “Was it Trump or Bannon?”

Sandy Hanf, Deephaven

• • •

Is Flynn now a criminal? Did he violate the Logan Act? Is it even possible to charge him with a crime. The law may not even be constitutional as written, but the intent of the law is still valid. Only one person has ever been charged under this act, but even that individual never went to trial. That was more than 200 years ago.

I feel it is good policy for a person coming into a position such as this to open the door for get-to-know-you conversations. Would policy come up during such a conversation? Probably, and that would be OK also, as long as the discussion was about its existence, not about changes.

Why is this so important? In 1968, North Vietnam was participating in the Paris peace talks. Because of the situation at the time, success was possible. Richard Nixon (not president yet, running against Hubert Humphrey) got word to the South Vietnam government to wait until he was president before it agreed to end the war; he would be sure it got better treatment than from the Johnson presidency. Now if that isn’t a treasonous act that possibly resulted in five more years of war with thousands more dying and he was not charged, what on earth could Flynn possibly have done in comparison?

Yes, we do need to know what transpired in the Flynn conversations, but we don’t need to destroy a person like him for politics.

For a good read about the 1968 event, read Chapter 11 of the book “The Presidents Club” by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy.

David Selbo, Prior Lake

THE ENVIRONMENT

False equivalence in media and doublespeak from GOP

A quick look at the Feb. 12 article about the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System (“Water pipe builders hope money tap will open wide”) would leave one with the impression that the administrations of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama dragged their feet on financing the project.

Troy Larson, the system’s executive director, is quoted as saying: “The previous two administrations … really let us down in terms of funding.” But, reading on, we discover that the actual reason the Obama administration didn’t provide necessary funding was because since 2010 the GOP-controlled House has banned “earmarks,” and therefore cut funding for the project in half.

This kind of reflexive false equivalence is all too common in mainstream media today, and it contributes to the rampant ignorance now prevailing among a large segment of the U.S. population.

But, beyond that, the overall irony of a scenario in which communities are fighting for access to clean water while a group of international profiteers is jeopardizing that same water with another pipeline carrying toxic shale oil slurry cannot be ignored.

Somehow the same political party that has been holding back funds to complete the Lewis & Clark system is hellbent on pushing through the Dakota Access pipeline. Priorities, I guess.

Gene Case, Andover

• • •

Republicans tell us that they want to keep us safe — that’s why they support travel bans and huge border walls. So it’s interesting that they have passed legislation, signed by the president, that “overturn[s] regulations that prevent coal-mining operations from dumping waste into nearby waterways” (“In first legislation, Trump rolls back SEC energy rules,” Feb. 15). If the true Republican agenda is to enhance our safety and well-being, keeping our water clean and potable is far more important than preventing a few desperate people from finding a home in our country. This is one more example of the doublespeak of the current Republican regime. As Americans, are we really willing to sacrifice clean air and water for profit?

Marilyn Baeker, Mendota Heights

U.S. REP. JASON LEWIS

The key word is ‘representative,’ and that involves contact

Jason Lewis, the freshman congressman from Minnesota’s Second District, recently spoke eloquently in the House about free speech and the importance of listening carefully, especially to those with whom one disagrees. I hope he will live by these words.

I want to meet our new representative, but along with other constituents, I have encountered roadblocks:

• We can call the congressman’s Washington office, but three and a half months after the election, the Burnsville office does not have a telephone.

• Along with 200 other citizens, I signed a request for a meeting that was presented in person to Lewis’ Washington office, but we have been met with silence.

• My husband and I signed up for his e-mail newsletter, but have yet to receive one.

• On Monday, more than 100 other Second District residents outside Lewis’ Burnsville office requested a town hall meeting. The staff knew of no plans for such a meeting. What is most frustrating is that Rep. Lewis held a telephone “town hall” meeting Wednesday, inviting only certain constituents to participate. Not even staffers knew who was invited. Most citizens in the district were not informed of the event and had no way to even hear the proceedings.

The good news: Some Second District residents have obtained a site for a town hall meeting. Lewis need only show up at 7:30 p.m. Monday (Feb. 20) at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Northfield, ready to listen and talk.

JoAnn W. Pasternack, Mendota Heights