'THE HANDMAID'S TALE'
Real world, real abuses
So Katherine Kersten is upset over another college book choice (column, Nov. 8).
In the literary circles I travel in, Margaret Atwood is a writer of great depth and "The Handmaid's Tale" is not "utterly passé" but prescient. The suppression of women and environmental catastrophe -- what Kersten calls "'60s bugaboos" -- are very real dangers we face today.
I realize that on the ideological block where Katherine Kersten lives, a female college student's big worry might be "finding an equally well-educated man to marry" and the sun always shines through a pure and cloudless sky, but if she crossed the street into the real world, Kersten would recognize the abuses against women and our planet are massive in scope.
There is a chance that if Kersten put on her backpack and attended a classroom discussion of "The Handmaid's Tale," she might be exposed to thoughts and ideas that run contrary to her own -- is that the "liberal indoctrination" she's so afraid of?
LORNA LANDVIK, MINNEAPOLIS
A timely assignment
Katherine Kersten rails against the selection of Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" as the common text at the University of St. Thomas, in part because the abuses depicted in the novel have no relevance to the lives of modern college-educated women. But if she thinks that women have nothing to fear from the dominant culture at St. Thomas, I'll refer her to the series of hate crimes directed against three women that occurred in their residence hall the week of Oct. 29.
But those hate crimes were racially motivated, not gender motivated, Kersten might respond. Those were black women and the crimes involved racial slurs and threats. Oh, I'm sorry, you're right: So a book about the dominant culture subjugating a minority group through fear and violence has no relevance at St. Thomas. Sorry, my mistake.
I applaud St. Thomas for choosing a controversial book that will engender spirited discussion among all its readers, and I feel sorry for anyone who is so threatened by the book's message that they would rather deny that discussion than allow an open dialogue.
WOOD FOSTER-SMITH, MINNEAPOLIS
ATTACK ON OPAT
Rattled in Robbinsdale
"He was probably just at the wrong place at the wrong time," said Robbinsdale Police Chief Wayne Shellum. Mike Opat was about to get into his Jeep outside his home in Robbinsdale at about 10 p.m.
We have a police chief who says that being in front of your own house at 10 p.m. is the wrong place and the wrong time? OK, so when can Opat safely get into his Jeep without having a shotgun stuck in his face? Shellum gave a casual reply to a serious issue and, unfortunately, it may explain the downward trend in my neighborhood and many others.
Please see what you can do, Chief, to ensure everyone's safety in our city. I'd hate to think that living in Robbinsdale in 2007 is the wrong place at the wrong time.
ANDREW WATSON, ROBBINSDALE