Stephen B. Young’s April 22 commentary (“How much lower can America go?”), in equating President Donald Trump and former FBI Director James Comey as two narcissists locked in battle, deflects from discussion the larger issue of whether what Comey writes has validity. In avoiding an analysis of the truthfulness or merit of Comey’s claims, Young unwittingly buys into the new low of political ideology set by Trump, supported by those who refuse to recognize the inappropriate and truly insulting level of egocentric behavior displayed repeatedly by Trump. To claim that Trump and Comey are on equal levels of the narcissistic spectrum (and it is a continuum, with the extreme end located in an actual clinical diagnosis), he cites as an example what represents about a page of Comey’s book, reducing Comey’s entire critique to the level of sound bite or tweet, Trump’s operational domain. Motivation and psychological diagnostic criteria aside, much of what Comey describes relating to Trump is consistent with the observable behavior so clear in Trump’s history, up to the present. I am left wondering if Young actually read Comey’s book or has perhaps succumbed to the general level of insensitivity described by those concerned with our new post-truth era.
Mike Sirany, Roseville
Here’s a better curriculum for 21st-century citizenship
I could not agree more with the arguments put forward by Doug Berdie (“7 habits of highly numerate people,” April 22) regarding the need for our citizenry to become more-intelligent consumers of data and information. We are living in an ever-more-data-driven society, and to avoid being hoodwinked by clever mathematical hucksters and shady pollsters, we must understand how to interpret data and be able to identify and reject common statistical fallacies and errors.
As a professor of computer science, a rapidly evolving subject, I am amazed at how little the traditional high school mathematics curriculum has changed over the last 50 years — most schools still offer the classical sequence of algebra 1 and 2, geometry, trigonometry and precalculus. That is fine for students who plan to be economists, physicists or engineers. However, to be intelligent and thoughtful citizens, what today’s students could really use are classes in (1) statistics, (2) probability, (3) inductive/deductive logical reasoning and (4) algorithmic design and analysis. Now, that would truly be a mathematics curriculum for the 21st century.
G. Michael Schneider, Minneapolis
Shameful action on districting, prayer (but none on guns)
While many of my friends were gathered at the State Capitol recently supporting common-sense gun laws everyone wants, I learned of a sneak attack on democracy by Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth.
You might wonder how she could manage this. It’s all about redistricting and gerrymandering. For the second year in a row, Anderson has slipped language into a must-pass bill. This year’s vehicle is HF 4016 (changing to HF 4099), a government funding bill. Her powerful position on the House Ways and Means Committee apparently allows her to bypass public hearings.
The language that appeared in the bill omits the critically important incumbency principle that prohibits drawing a district to favor or disfavor an incumbent. That’s not good for democracy.
I had to have a lawyer explain: Subdivision 9, “Data to be Used,” says “nothing in this subdivision prohibits the use of additional data, as determined by the legislature.” This clause opens Minnesota to gerrymandering. There must be explicit language prohibiting the drawing of districts to favor or disfavor a political party, an incumbent or a candidate.
Minnesota has little gerrymandering right now. But slipping inadequate provisions into a must-pass bill could change that. Minnesotans want to choose their representatives, not have it work the other way around.
Last year’s sneaky attempt failed. Shame on Anderson for her encore performance.
Clara McIver, Plymouth
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Hall sent an e-mail out asking for support on this bill from his constituents. In it, he states: “Please join us to encourage faith in our schools.”
We also have to note that he is getting support on this bill from the Prayer Caucus, whose focus has and is to put prayer in public schools.
This makes it very clear that he is wanting to put religion in public schools, not just a federal motto. This is an opening for religious discrimination in the public school system.
Recently, I posted on a small neighborhood message board, and within a few hours there were more than 60 responses to show just how divisive this bill is; I have a 13-page printout of these responses. And this is just a small area in Crystal. One person even posted — very eloquently, and I have to agree — that “our schools have students from many different countries, cultures and religions. To assert that one of these ideologies is superior to another, in a school setting, may perpetuate the kind of atmosphere we are seeing at the root of so much strife in our country — one of supremacy of one culture, race, or religion over another.”
Many Christians see the term “God” as neutral for all religions. The truth is, “God” is not a neutral and benign term to the world’s religions and beliefs, which are represented in the children who attend our public schools. It is divisive.
If you want children to learn, making an environment of inclusion is necessary. And “in God we trust” is more divisive than Hall and those who support his legislation are imagining.
We also have to address the waste of money this legislation would be. There would be litigation if the bill is passed. If we want to put more money into the schools, let’s spend the money in such a way that students get a better education, not put a sign up that states one ideology or religion is better than others.
Steve Adams, Crystal
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According to a recent Star Tribune Minnesota Poll (“Majority support tougher gun laws,” April 22), 9 in 10 Minnesotans support strengthening background checks for gun sales but the “majority” in the Legislature won’t even consider the smallest changes to current laws. Cheers to the elected leaders willing to “stand up” for “the minority” by “sitting in” and showing that someone is listening (“Legislator stages sit-in to protest gun inaction,” April 25).
Some of the opponents argue that Democrats asking for change will help Republicans win this fall. If that is the case, then why not put it to a vote? Let’s test the theory.
We can do better, we should do better, and if they can’t take a vote on guns in May, they should be prepared to be voted out in November.
Matt Flory, St. Louis Park
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Despite the fact that 9 out of 10 Minnesotans favor universal background checks, House Speaker Kurt Daudt says that any gun legislation would need to have “NRA support” (“Senate rejects last-ditch try for gun limits,” April 27). Just whom are you supposed to be working for, sir?
Mark Brandt, Minneapolis