The Aug. 26 commentary “The problem with peace” was interactive and interesting. Kaywin Eleanor put forward a conservative viewpoint about acting in the face of evil, and that is quite right — it is what democracy is all about. Ironically, though, the same elements of thought apply to all. People of all races, at least literally, are using democracy to their advantage, even on behalf of absurd activities. That includes speech.

Douglas McCain, a U.S. citizen who died fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, is a shocking example. On paper, the idea that non-Muslims would fight for a jihadist group might have taken traditional intelligence strategists by surprise.

Minnesotans remember the Somali-Americans who sympathized with the Al-Qaida branch fighting in East Africa back in 2007. The youth recruitment program then was absolutely seen as terrible and threatening. But it had easily explicable trends.

Nevertheless, a former Christian fighting for an Islamist group seems harder to explain. It leaves most of us wondering what led McCain, and possibly many others, to join terrorist groups. The issue perhaps has more to do with misleading social liberty and personal choice. The meaning of democracy needs a fresh, tougher look.

Abdiqani Farah, Columbia Heights

SOUTHWEST LRT

What is Minneapolis prepared to lose?

According to the U.S. News and World Report, our city has one of the most extraordinary and extensive park systems in the world. I decided to move here in 1992 when I stood on the north side of Cedar Lake in a place left intentionally wild. It was dusk. The air was quiet. I looked at a vibrant city skyline as it began to glow. There is no other city like this, I thought. And I was right.

I found out that I was standing in a planned ecosystem that extended from Lake Nokomis to Theodore Wirth Park and beyond. Astonishingly, you could actually swim and fish in spring-fed Cedar Lake. That our City Council is voting this week on a light-rail transit route that would bisect this precious asset makes no sense. The route underserves our people, overserves Eden Prairie, and, in forever changing the character of our wildest lake perhaps changes the character of who we are, and what Minneapolis stands for. We are not spendthrifts; maintaining our infrastructure means jobs. We don’t dole out equity at the last minute to try cleaning up a project that should offer first-class service to the those who need it most. Real equity is about having fantastic transportation where the people are. Real community is about keeping our lush trails and lake clean and open to all. Not a shovel of earth has yet been dug on this project. Mayor Betsy Hodges and members of the City Council, you can still make this city’s transcendent relationship with nature your legacy.

Louise Erdrich, Minneapolis

• • •

Wishful thinking and propaganda aside, the Southwest line is not designed to bring economic development to the North Side or to transport Minneapolis residents to suburban jobs in diffuse Eden Prairie. Its main function will be to haul suburbanites to sporting events at Target Field, the refurbished Target Center and the yet-to-be-named football palace (the Crystal Cathedral? Racketeer Field?). The beneficiaries will be those sports venues and the bars and restaurants patronized by affluent fans. The fans, in turn, need not worry about traffic or parking, and can drink themselves silly without danger of DUIs. The losers are the users of the parkland that will be sacrificed for the sake of the sedentary passengers, and of course the residents of homes near the line, whose peace and quiet will be permanently destroyed, along with their property values. Once again, development will trump livability for Minneapolis residents.

Donald Wolesky, Minneapolis

 

CANCER SCREENING

Mayo’s policy sensitive to conflicts of interest

In response to the Aug. 27 letter “Cologuard test isn’t just a Mayo product”: The Mayo Clinic receives no royalties when a Mayo patient is prescribed the Cologuard test. Mayo will receive royalties when other providers prescribe the test outside of the Mayo Clinic. This arrangement is consistent with our robust policies governing conflict of interest at Mayo.

Cologuard is a screening test that will save lives. We at Mayo are proud of our role in developing this test with our collaborator and co-inventor Exact Sciences, and for sharing it with providers across the United States for the benefit of all patients.

Dr. Vijay Shah and Dr. Seth Sweetser, Rochester

 

The writers are Mayo Clinic physicians.

 

KOCH BROTHERS

Why I must stand on the side of scorn

We can’t know what lies in the Koch brothers’ hearts. Let’s take Fritz Corrigan at his word (“Why I stand with the Koch brothers,” Aug. 27) that they pursue their agenda out of earnest belief that less regulation is in the best interests of the country as a whole and not because they are defending business profits. Scorn is invited not by holding these views, but in advocating for them in intellectually dishonest ways. Rather than engaging the science directly, they fund think tanks that employ tactics similar to ones used previously by the tobacco and lead industries. The goal of these tactics is not to arrive at truth, but to sow doubt, confusion and mistrust of the scientific community in the interest of staving off additional regulation. It is this shortsighted motivated reasoning that warrants scorn.

Keefe Russell, Edina

 

POLICE TACTICS

Well-equipped, yes, but well-trained?

Richard Greelis (“Police armed for the threats they now face,” Aug. 27) is right to say that law enforcement these days is a well-equipped profession, but to claim that the police are well-trained is a biased assumption. The military-styled riot-control procedures in Ferguson, Mo., stemmed from an officer resorting to lethal violence at close range. Similarly, the situation involving a knife-wielding man shot dead by police within close range outside St. Louis on Aug. 19 could have been reconciled without death (especially based on the video). Stun guns have a range of 15 to 35 feet and are — according to many reports — standard issue for law enforcement. Likewise, a gun can be used to incapacitate a suspect with shots to nonvital areas that disable their mobility.

Therefore, it seems training and technology have not been implemented in a manner in which law enforcement officers are comfortable with relying on them during volatile situations. This either means that the officers did not have the right training or that they trusted the gun (and several bullets) more than another option. How the media has not asked these questions regarding equipment and training is beyond me.

Nate Cathcart, Lakeville