What causes some events to get more attention than others?
The events in Ferguson, Mo., demonstrate once again the strange phenomenon that seems to permeate our social conscience: We seem to care about the lives of innocent people only when their deaths come at the hands of some group that we don’t like. This phenomenon was apparent in the coverage of the deaths of Palestinian civilians caught in the middle of the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, which merited 24-hour-a-day coverage, demonstrations and protests, while the slaughter of hundreds of thousands in other countries in the Middle East received little or no attention. Similarly, the tragic killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson is given wall-to-wall media coverage, demonstrations and protests and a presidential news conference, while the killings of dozens of inner-city kids last weekend in Chicago, Detroit, L.A. and Philadelphia goes unnoticed.
Ronald Haskvitz, St Louis Park
Griping citizens are forgetting the dangers
After reading Ross Douthat’s commentary “When the police dress for war” (Aug. 19), I’m thinking he has very little firsthand experience with enforcing the law. I’m thinking that he might completely reconsider his final comment — “time to take their toys away” — if he were sent to a “drug house” on a no-knock warrant, pushed to the front of the line of cops and told to “go in there with your six-shooter and take those drugs and weapons away from those hooligans.” One or two entries like that, and I believe we would find old Ross standing in front of the line at the “SWAT store” buying the latest, greatest offerings that would put him on par with what the criminals are toting.
Richard Greelis, Bloomington
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Every cop who stops a car knows things can go from routine to life-or-death without warning. This is true night or day, even with Volvos driven by middle-aged white men like the author of the Aug. 17 Short Takes (“Questioning authority: Trooper wanted to be in control”). If the writer chooses to drive with illegally tinted windows, then it is he, not the law officer, who is being rude and disrespectful.
By the way, the weather was bright and sunny when the officer from West St. Paul was recently murdered. I’m sure you get the picture.
Dennis H. Roberts, Maplewood
Low-flying helicopters unnerving to civilians
I was one of the civilians frightened by the unannounced military exercises in downtown Minneapolis on Monday night (“Helicopters buzz Twin Cities in security exercise,” Aug. 19). Not only did I not know what was going on, but I was unable to access the Internet on my cellphone — was it blocked by a security override? I am particularly upset that one of helicopters (flying in quickly and at very low altitude over the Mississippi River and Hennepin Avenue) chose to come to a halt directly over me and my group of friends, tilting at an angle that gave its several occupants clear view of us (and us of them). Without knowing the context of what was going on — were they terrorists? — I did not know if they were going to shoot at us, and I moved between parked cars to take cover.
I sure don’t appreciate military exercises that interface directly with civilians, and I’m not sure what these operations stand to gain from doing so. Conceptual training exercises should not justify threatening the public. What is the integrity of a “protective force” that acts in such unseemly ways?
Nina Ebbighausen, Minneapolis
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I live in the Mac-Groveland neighborhood, and I am concerned about the helicopter maneuvers but am really not even sure who to contact about it, although I have written to my St. Paul council member and to Mayor Chris Coleman.
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.