I agree with a March 1 letter writer (“Your destiny is yours; Uncle Sam won’t help”) that fire in your belly is important. So is a level playing field. When you are disabled, it is easy to see how government programs positively affect your life, but the truth is that we all, including the letter writer, benefit in many forms: clean drinking water, plowed streets, public safety. None of us should be so arrogant to believe that we can achieve success purely on our own.
Lisa Surber, Minneapolis
• • •
The March 1 letter writer states: “President Obama believes that government is the answer to your dreams. Don’t fall for it. I am still waiting for Uncle Sam to bestow on me the rank of Eagle Scout and admittance to the millionaire class.”
This comment reflects the absurd interpretation many conservative or “antigovernment” people apply to reasonable efforts to organize and support a civil democracy. It is a silly leap. Neither Obama nor true progressives believe in or advocate for anything like what this man suggests. Concern about the absence of or loss of real opportunity for many in an increasingly class dominated and self-centered society is the motivator, not bestowed reward.
Patricia A. Krueger, St. Cloud
* * *
‘Sweet Home Alabama’ is often misinterpreted
A March 2 letter writer, urging the Minnesota Twins to stop playing Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” at Target Field, states that the song supports former Alabama Gov. George Wallace, a famed segregationist while in office. The song is ambiguous, so the letter writer’s reading is understandable and common, but many, including the song’s late lyricist, Ronnie Van Zant, would argue for a different interpretation.
The lines in question are: “In Birmingham they love the governor (boo boo boo)/Well, we all did what we could do.” Those boos sung by Van Zant and the African-American backing vocalists hired for the session are obviously negative, if initially hard to distinguish from oohs.
The pronouns seem important as well: In Birmingham they love the governor, while we young nonracists did, well, some vague thing in opposition. As the letter writer notes, the song was a response to Neil Young’s “Southern Man,” which to Van Zant seemed to condescendingly paint all white Southern men as violent racists.
“I thought Neil was shooting all the ducks to kill one or two,” Van Zant said later.
Dylan Hicks, Minneapolis
* * *
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.