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A recent counterpoint writer (“Fort Snelling history offers name insight,” May 17) set out to give “a fair and factual review” of the founding of Fort Snelling. Instead, he portrays white intrusion into the lands of the Dakota, Ojibwe and Sac and Fox nations as some sort of benevolent national endeavor. He reiterates history-book tropes that have long been debunked. We didn’t seek “perpetual peace and friendship,” we sought ever more land for expansion. We didn’t bring “the blessings of civilization,” we sought to eliminate the civilization already here and replace it with our own. Our “benevolence” was to give guns, tools and food to people who had been supporting themselves on their own for hundreds of years before we arrived. The only reason “many Dakota would have starved without the food” was that we’d made it impossible for them to grow and procure their own.

Arguments against changing place names should not be based on incomplete and inaccurate versions of history. That does a serious disservice to those of us who are descendants of the white settlers and to those who are descendants of the people who were already here — and remain here today.

Tom Ehlinger, Bloomington

• • •

It is time to stop the name-change advocates now. Two commentaries (“Fort Snelling history offers name insight” and “Cherry-picking history can’t hide nightmare of Calhoun,” May 17), whose themes gave opposing arguments for and against changing names of lakes, streets and buildings, show that halting the practice might be a good idea. James Brewer Stewart presented good arguments for changing names and Gary Brueggemann presented good arguments for retaining them.

It seems like a feudal game-playing tactic to continue to pursue this. Perhaps those who expend time and energy working to effect name change could spend their time solving serious issues like homelessness, lack of affordable housing, poverty, lack of health care and time-wasting, game-playing state legislators.

Jo Brinda, Crystal

PUBLIC CIVILITY

Reject Trump-style discourse and heal Minnesota’s urban/rural divide

A recent letter writer (“Try actually asking rural Minnesota how it feels about Trump’s economy,” May 16) proposes that most rural Minnesotans voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and continue to support him because of the current robust economy. While the economy is indeed looking strong at the moment, the ongoing and worsening trade impasse with China should make everyone, and farmers especially, somewhat nervous. It also should be said that economists of various stripes would debate quite vigorously as to how much credit Trump should get for the current state of the economy.

My real concern with this letter was the tone of moral superiority and an almost sneering attitude toward “liberal Minneapolis.” While I no longer live in southern Minnesota, I grew up on a farm in Yellow Medicine County, and while most people in our community were social and economic conservatives, the idea of publicly putting someone down or mocking their beliefs was unheard of. Yes, some comments about “the Cities” likened them to a den of iniquity, but this was accompanied by the knowledge that Minneapolis and St. Paul were the economic drivers for the entire area, and that their success boded well for all Minnesotans.

It saddens me that the tone of civil and social discourse has been coarsened by President Trump, and people who felt the constraints of civility and social norms now feel they can lash out with vitriol and suffer no consequences. It also saddens me that the incivility appears to be worsening the urban/rural divide that has always existed to some extent but has now become an “us vs. them” battle. Minnesota and other states will grow and do better when both rural and urban folks realize they need each other going forward. To continue stoking division, disrespect and hostility to others will only lead to a stunted future for all Minnesotans.

Paul Bode, Hudson, Wis.

ABORTION

Democrats, don’t take the bait here

Dear Democrats,

Please don’t get distracted by the well-orchestrated state abortion bans being voted on across the country (“Alabama Senate passes near-total abortion ban,” May 16). Yes, please do state your opposition to these draconian and unconstitutional laws that allow no exceptions for rape or incest. Then move on.

This attempt at “lawmaking” by Republicans is not about “life” — it’s about control. Yes, control of women, but also, control of Congress and the White House. It’s about Republicans getting re-elected in 2020.

Republicans desperately need voters to ignore the constitutional crisis in Washington and to convince people to vote against a living wage for honest work, against affordable medical care, against clean air and water, against equal treatment of all Americans in all realms of public life.

How can Republicans get people to vote against these basic principals that all Americans actually agree on? By making the 2020 elections about a wedge “morality” issue that is directly experienced by a tiny number of Americans.

Reliably, Democrats snatch the bait like starving wolves on red meat. We bloviate and lambast the “basket of deplorables,” who then shut us out and ignore us completely.

Brilliantly, the abortion statutes being passed by various states will spend the next 18 months winding their way through the court system all the way up to the Supreme Court. Reliably, every time a new court in a different state or circuit makes a new ruling, abortion and the Democrats’ reaction will be front headlines. All the way up through November 2020.

To have any hope of our democracy surviving, none of us can afford for things to continue as they are in Washington. The rule of law must apply to everyone equally. Due process must be afforded everyone. We must take urgent and immediate steps to ensure the planet remains habitable.

Democrats, if we really want the basic fundamentals for everyone, we simply can’t fall into the trap the Republicans have so carefully laid before us. Please, for the love of all of us, don’t take the bait.

Amy Schroeder Ireland, St. Paul

• • •

I take issue with the New York Times story that ran in the Star Tribune on abortion and the Supreme Court (“Supreme Court to have several chances to reconsider abortion,” May 16).

The story said that “the court led by Chief Justice John Roberts is more likely to chip away at the constitutional right to abortion.” Where in the constitution is that right stated? I do see the right to life, and a baby in the womb is a definitely a new life.

The aberration of the Roe vs. Wade decision is as bad, ugly and wrong as the Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott vs. Sandford, which said black people were property and could never be citizens. It took a Civil War to end that horrendous court decision.

Ann Mulcrone, Shakopee

IMMIGRATION

Give Trump the same civics test he wants to impose on immigrants

President Donald Trump has suggested that as a condition for entering our country, all prospective immigrants be required to take a civics test (“Immigration plan puts skills over family,” May 16).

I suggest that he take the same test, without viewing it or studying beforehand, with no prompting by others, and that the results be made public immediately upon correcting of the test. His tweets indicate he doesn’t know basic civics.

Ronald Hopfensperger, Minneapolis