Listening to public radio on Wednesday morning, I heard the wording on the travel ban ruling by the Supreme Court (front page, June 27). Chief Justice John Roberts noted: “We express no opinion on the soundness of the policy.” Does this mean that our highest court takes no interest in common sense (similar to our president)?
The countries that are covered by the travel ban, from what I understand, have the highest level of vetting to ensure that our country remains safe, and travelers who have legitimate reasons for visiting/emigrating/escaping are allowed to come to the U.S. This includes people like state Rep. and congressional candidate Ilhan Omar, for gosh sakes.
Paul Schultz, Ham Lake
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Is my personal safety at risk from an immigrant coming from a “travel-banned” country? Highly unlikely. Is my personal safety at risk from an armed gunman born in America at my church, my school, my workplace, at a concert? Much more likely. Why don’t we address the real danger?
Judith Rodel, St. Paul
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In the aftermath of the Janus decision and its effect on unions, let’s take a moment to be grateful. (“U.S. Supreme Court deals big setback to labor unions,” StarTribune.com, June 27.) If you work a five-day week, thank the unions. If your employer offers benefits such as sick days, health care and a retirement plan, thank the unions. And if you work in safe conditions, thank the unions. All of these ideas originated with, and were fought for, by unions, then eventually spread to affect the entire workforce. And, last, if you belong to the middle class, thank the unions. Before unions fought for decent wages, we had pretty much just the uppers and the lowers.
Mark Brandt, Minneapolis
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Generally, the media has it wrong. The latest Supreme Court 5-4 votes constitute only a Pyrrhic victory, at best, for Trump’s agenda. His gloating over the court’s decisions prohibiting travel to and from certain Muslim-majority countries and leaving gerrymandering of some voting districts intact will only stiffen the resolve of Democrats to vote for change this November.
Democrats have been victimized for too long, and their anger reflects that. Presidential candidates Al Gore and Hillary Clinton lost the 2000 and 2016 elections, respectively, despite having significant pluralities in the popular vote. Then, President Barack Obama’s choice for the recent Supreme Court vacancy was not even considered by the Republican-controlled Senate, which changed the required voting margin and delayed the vote for several months to favor a conservative candidate.
Civility in our political discourse will return only if both parties treat one another respectfully and fairly. Politicians should focus on the betterment of the American people, not the parties (tribes) that they identify with.
Jim McConkey, Minneapolis
LAURA INGALLS WILDER
There’s more to learning about history than perpetuation
On Saturday, the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, voted to change the name of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award to the Children’s Literature Legacy Award based on expressions of stereotypes related to American Indians and African-Americans contained in the “Little House” books. The ALSC stated it is committed to “inclusiveness, integrity and respect,” which led it to remove Wilder’s name from this prestigious award.
What the ALSC fails to recognize is the power that these books have to demonstrate this country’s history — including race and prejudice, not in spite of it. In “Little House on the Prairie,” the entire Ingalls family falls ill to fever ’n’ ague (malaria) and are treated by a black doctor — George A. Tan(n). While not recorded in the book, historical records also show that Dr. Tann delivered Laura’s sister Carrie in 1870. Unable to attend traditional medical school, it is likely that Tann was self-taught in “eclectic” medicine that included homeopathic and botanical remedies. This part of the story is just as important as representations of American Indians and African-Americans that are now regarded as offensive.
We must have these conversations — we cannot whitewash or ignore them if we want to get to a new and better place of understanding and inclusion.
Laura Porter-Jones, Lakeville
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We are living in a time full of fear. Literary censorship is a reflection of this fear. We are afraid that we — or our children — might come across, while reading, prejudice based on a writer’s belief system, time period, cultural understanding and experience. To pretend that prejudice doesn’t exist is to blind one’s eye to reality. Recent censorship of Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” series is an example of the kind of denial that negates history. Few artists would survive our scrutiny if we took their work out of context and made it our righteous business to reject them based on their ignorance. There isn’t a literary artist, alive or dead, who doesn’t have opinions with which we disagree. In order to develop a balanced view of the world, we need to be exposed to a variety of ideas as revealed in the language of books. It is through knowing and evaluating an artist’s work that we understand and develop our own values.
Carolyn Light Bell, Minneapolis
Editor’s note: See also the June 27 commentary “Breaking down the arguments against removing Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name from a literary award” and the June 27 letter “In defense of Laura Ingalls Wilder.”
Is it becoming a matter of more ‘what’ than ‘who’?
A recent contributor to Opinion Exchange (“Remember, the Pride event began as resistance,” June 26) began her very eloquent commentary by stating that she identified as a queer, white cis-woman. While the article was well-written and thought-provoking, the opening statement troubles me. Have we have crossed a cultural threshold where what we are is more important than who we are?
Dan Eittreim, Minneapolis
To help children in poverty, begin by not stereotyping them
Neal St. Anthony, is his June 25 “On Small Business” column “New center looks to help kids in poverty,” writes “[Anne] Gearity was dealing with a public-school clientele she knows well: impoverished and from a tough-talking, sometimes-abusive home that doesn’t value civility, much less education.” There are so many things painfully wrong with this statement. It is laden with assumptions, generalities and judgment, and it is, in my opinion, cruel. I certainly hope the people who are looking to help kids in poverty have a leadership team of experts with a much more positive view of the children and families they intend to serve. I know I am constantly impressed and inspired by the strength, courage, tenacity, brilliance and ingenuity of the students and families I interact with in my classroom every day.
Lynn Lurvey, Minneapolis