A recent article in this paper covered more details of the terrorism attacks in Kenya, an event that had been covered extensively. The loss of many innocent lives is deplorable. But are religious-based terrorist attacks, especially Islamic, being overplayed in the media?

Let’s look at the media obsession with the Charlie Hebdo incident. This was one event. But within the European Union, there were approximately 1,100 extremist attacks over the past five years, and only 2 percent were religiously motivated. Most were carried out by either radical political, ethnic or national separatist groups. Likewise, an FBI study shows that 94 percent of U.S. terrorist attacks between 1980 and 2005 were non-Islamic.

Certainly, the  9 /11 experience tells us we need to be on guard. But why have the media or politicians fanned this fear of terrorism? The main reason, of course, is that sensationalism generates power and money. But is religious bias another factor here? Is the secular element in the media using this opportunity to shed bad light on religion? Or is the religious right using these incidents to demonize non-Christian religions?

Whatever the reasons, two things are very clear. The conflating of incidents in different countries makes the threat of religious violence, especially Islamic terrorism, seem vastly larger than it actually is. And a more balanced perspective in the U.S. is definitely needed.

John Clark, Minneapolis


Her now-ended pursuit of a job opportunity should be applauded

It seems to me any reasonable person considering switching jobs due to receiving a promotion, pay raise or greater responsibility should be congratulated, not criticized. Given the dismal lack of women in the highest leadership positions, I applaud St. Paul Public Schools Superintendent Valeria Silva for catching the attention of a large, high-profile school district in Florida, even though she ultimately withdrew her name. Furthermore, I resent the April 9 commentary writer who denounced her and similar women by questioning their “loyalty” to their current districts by labeling them “unseemly,” “flirting” with other positions and having a “dalliance” with other district heads (“Not the best lesson from a superintendent”). This language would suggest that Silva was having an affair, not receiving a promotion. Give her the respect she deserves.

Katie Seltz, St. Paul



If a conversation is unfolding, let it include the public sector

Ibrahim Mohamed’s April 8 commentary about his appointment to the Metropolitan Airports Commission and the agency’s effort to improve the wages and working conditions of private-sector workers at our metropolitan airports was inspiring (“A real conversation about workers is unfolding”). However, it is not only private-sector workers who have to endure impoverishing wages.

A case in point is the Hennepin County government, which reported several months ago that 606 of its workers had hourly wages so low that, even when working full time, these workers could not afford to rent even a one-bedroom, market-rate apartment in the Twin Cities area. Meanwhile, members of the Hennepin County Board pay themselves more than $48 per hour, easily enabling themselves to rent a three-bedroom, market-rate metro-area apartment.

Among other impoverishing public employers, you can add the Minneapolis Public Schools. Then there is the University of Minnesota, which found a way of paying a former coach $2.7 million annually while offering other employees as little as $8 per hour — when, as of last October, you needed to earn $17 per hour to rent a one-bedroom apartment. These are just the tip of the iceberg among poverty-generating public employers.

Oh, yes, I almost forgot to mention that, at the very least, employers paying such wages are aiding and abetting in the violation of one or more of Articles 4, 23, 24 and 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But, who cares? We all should!

Roland Westerlund, Minneapolis



Of kind hearts and hard hearts

An April 3 letter writer snarks: “ ‘It is important to remember that a majority of those with mental health issues ‘can work and live very normal lives,’ said the kindhearted April [1] letter writer who wasn’t aboard the [Germanwings] plane.” What does he mean by that? That because some people with mental illnesses may not be amenable to help or treatment, we shouldn’t bother to make help available to any such people? By “kindhearted,” does he mean (wrinkles his nose) “liberal”? What a hardhearted, conservative thing to say.

Mary Sampson, Minneapolis