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We all need to have realistic expectations about the development and eventual administration of a COVID-19 vaccine.

I have been a participant in clinical trials for two immunizations. The exactitude of the study was astounding, and the timelines for both were at least 18 months long for the phase I was enrolled in. One trial was changed midway through due to COVID, certainly an unforeseen event that slowed that approval process.

As a clinic administrator for a large pediatric clinic, I was involved in the purchase of millions of dollars’ worth of vaccines — and encountered multiple delays in production, quality issues and delivery delays. Some vaccines were recalled and there was a lengthy delay before the improved and effective vaccine was available for our children.

The reality of vaccine development, the approval process and production is tenuous and unpredictable. We need to have realistic expectations about the release of a COVID-19 vaccine.

These delays are out of anyone’s control. Masking, safe distancing and hand-washing all are in your control! Be safe.

Mary L. Jenkins, Minnetonka

• • •

In 1925, Minnesota author Sinclair Lewis published “Arrowsmith.” In this novel, a plague has made its way from China to the fictional island of St. Hubert. When the island’s surgeon general is warned of the danger, he says, “Even if it was plague, which is not certain, there’s no reason to cause a row and frighten everybody. It was a sporadic case. There won’t be any more.” There were, immediately. The merchants of the island opposed a quarantine: “It would ruin the tourist and export business.”

The results of their denial and opposition were devastating. Ninety five years later ...

William Biermaier, Minneapolis

ABORTION

Both of these death tolls are bad

Steve Sack in his Sept. 25 cartoon notes that 200,000 Americans have died of COVID-19, a disease we still have not tamed. It is indeed tragic, and through the retrospectoscope we can see things that might have prevented many of those deaths. But what of the approximately 61 million who have died of abortion since 1973? Some of them might have been the scientists who created the cure!

Ross S. Olson, Richfield

• • •

Many people are voting for President Donald Trump because he is opposed to abortion. There should also be outrage over Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency, which has rolled back tough standards for toxic metals including mercury emissions from oil- and coal-fired power plants. These chemicals damage the brains of fetuses in pregnant women. The Trump administration has also gutted our Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, then lied to us and said that our air and water are the cleanest in the world. This rollback is a danger to all our people, but especially to young children.

Solvei Lewann Sotnak, Aitkin, Minn.

HISTORY

I don’t indoctrinate. I teach.

I am grateful for the increased attention to the important topic of history education sparked by the controversy over the New York Times’ 1619 Project and the response by the Trump administration. It happens that I am teaching two sections of U.S. history to 1877 this semester, and I’m using the 1619 Project in the class.

Contrary to what the administration assumes, I’m not using it to indoctrinate the students — precisely the opposite. I’m using it to discuss with the students why the views we form about the past matter, why we should think critically about the narratives the powerful advocate, and why the choice of date for the “beginning” of U.S. history illustrates how things are included or excluded from our narratives. In the past, African American history in general and slavery in particular has been excluded from our dominant narratives of U.S. history, and the 1619 Project is an important corrective to that distortion.

When I teach, I don’t demand my students uncritically swallow any particular version of the history of the United States, but neither will I lie to them for the sake of a so-called “patriotic education.”

Daniel Husman, Minneapolis

• • •

There were legitimate objections to the president’s remarks in Bemidji in the headlines on Sept. 22 (“Some find eugenics in Trump language”). As an article on the rally said, “Some heard echoes of language Nazis used to justify their genetic superiority and which led to the killing of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust.”

But if Minnesotans listened a bit more closely, they’d hear some good old American and uniquely local sounds. Nazis didn’t exist when blue-blooded Americans like Charles Davenport founded the Eugenics Record Office in Cold Spring Harbor, New York, in 1910. The ERO bragged-up its American roots in a 1933 journal:

“Doubtless the legislative and court history of the experimental sterilization laws in 27 states of the American union provided the experience, which Germany used in writing her new national sterilization statute.”

After the ERO was closed, its records went to the now-defunct Charles Fremont Dight Institute for the Promotion of Human Genetics at the University of Minnesota. Dight had organized the Minnesota Eugenics Society in 1923 and lobbied the legislature for a eugenic sterilization law. It passed on April 8, 1925, resulting in the forced sterilization of 2,350 Minnesotans over the next 50 years.

Racial hatred and extermination policies are embedded in America’s genes, as the odious rise of Donald J. Trump surely demonstrates.

William Beyer, St. Louis Park

• • •

As teacher of English as a foreign language at a large suburban high school, I taught students to speak, listen, read and write our complex English language. Besides language lessons, these teachers often provide the first exposure students have to formal American culture and history. On a late October day in 2008, I pointed toward the middle school across the street and told students that on Nov. 3 people would go there to vote.

I saw panic and fear on the faces of at least half these teenagers. “No school that day, right?” one student asked.

“Yes, we all come to school that day. The middle school kids will go to school as usual. Probably their gym will be set up with voting booths. People will go inside, vote and then go to their jobs or regular activities.”

Disbelief on their faces. “But what about the riots? Shouldn’t we all stay home to be safe?”

Finally I recognized their fear. Many of these students remembered terror, brutality or riots at election time in the countries of their births. My students and I talked about registering to vote, about making choices on a ballot and about people taking their young children with them to vote in order to see the process.

Another student asked, “What if the president wants to stay in the White House and will not go?” When I told him that had never happened in the history of the United States, that we have term limits and a process of peaceful transfer of power, he responded, “This really is a great country!”

May this remain so.

Susan Oltman, St. Paul

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