The current rush to remove statues because a few individuals chose to hold a rally that resulted in violence constitutes overkill by politicians trying to jump on the correctness wagon. Will we now see the destruction of historic homes like Mount Vernon, Monticello, the Hermitage and the Arlington House because of their association with former slave owners; or the tearing down of the Washington and Jefferson Monuments in Washington, D.C.; or the renaming of U.S. military facilities (eight army bases and several National Guard facilities) named after former Confederate generals; or a movement to rename cities, universities, streets and lakes; or maybe the desecration of Confederate cemeteries — all in the name of political correctness? Our history belongs to all of us, the good and the bad, and it should be properly taught and not removed from public view.
Mary Carlson, Bayfield, Wis.
The writer is a retired Minnesota district judge.
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Regarding the recent purge of historical figures, I look forward to the removal of all statues, streets, schools, etc., named after President Franklin Roosevelt for his despicable treatment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
Michael Troiden, Blaine
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Leftists are demanding or using physical force to effect the destruction of Civil War-era statues depicting Confederate States of America figures, from everyday soldiers to major figures such as Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson. Virtually every one of the figures depicted in stone were Democrats. A larger point: Today’s Democratic Party was without peer the most vocal supporter of slavery in the 19th century. The Republican Party was born out of its commitment to end slavery. Witness President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, which freed black slaves. For the next 80 years, Southern Democrats did all they could to forestall racial integration. Woodrow Wilson was a racist. How could he be otherwise, given his eager promotion of an avowedly racist movie, “The Birth of a Nation,” which celebrated the Ku Klux Klan?
FDR, the saint of the left, agreed against anti-lynching laws in return for support of his New Deal legislation.
When civil-rights legislation came to a momentous vote in 1964, Democrats stood in the way of passage. Democratic Sen. Richard Russell of Georgia: “We will resist to the bitter end any measure or any movement which would have a tendency to bring about social equality and intermingling and amalgamation of the races in our states.”
Here is the inescapable truth: Democrats supported slavery and segregation right up until the point when a majority of Republicans took legislative action to make a better world.
Mark H. Reed, Plymouth
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In former Soviet satellite countries (Estonia and Lithuania, for example), statues of communist dictators have been put in “statue graveyards,” open to the public, but have been removed from populated areas. Citizens of those countries know their history very well and don’t want to be reminded daily of the tyrants who kept them living in fear.
I have three arguments why, if physically possible, Confederate statues should be removed. First, Southerners ought to know their history, good and bad. They don’t need concrete symbols to remember that the Confederacy meant an economic lifestyle utilizing slave labor. Second, these statues were erected not so much to denote Southern history as to honor the person represented. A racist who is memorialized for fighting to uphold slavery should not be revered anywhere in the United States. Finally, many Confederate monuments were put in place long after the Civil War, in order to uphold the Confederate ideology, which is essentially the subjugation of African-Americans. These values do not comport with our Declaration of Independence, which (we in modern times understand) confers equal respect and rights to all Americans.
Therefore, it’s past time to put these statues where they belong — in a cemetery.
Sandra Urgo, Stillwater
It’s not just what they change from, but also what they become
While restoring the Dakota name for Lake Calhoun is a laudable effort (“Erasing history? No, shining a broader light on it,” Opinion Exchange, Aug. 26), I worry that the rather-awkward-to-pronounce name Bde Maka Ska may be mispronounced or shortened in general use as happened all too many times when a historically uncomfortable name was changed. (How the lake was ever named after the fiery, slave-owning early secessionist is beyond me.)
In India (I studied there in the 1970s), an effort to rename some areas from the old British names to ones that honor Indians lost the intended impact, since the new names often were long and difficult, so people generally abbreviated them.
In Kolkata (or “Cal,” as my Bengali friends call it), for example, a major square was renamed from Dalhousie, an old British governor-general, to Binoy-Badal-Dinesh Bagh, after three freedom fighters (or terrorists, from the British point of view) who were hanged after assassinating a British official in 1930, but everybody calls it “BBD Bagh.” Similarly, in Delhi, the old Kingsway Camp by the university was renamed after a Sikh guru from the 1600s to Guru Tegh Bahadur Nagar. But, sadly, everybody (as well as the bus-destination signs) calls it “GTB Nagar” and, even worse, the bus conductors would simply shout out the stop as: “Campa!!!”
Michael Mayer, Lakeville
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How about a compromise to resolve the dispute over the name of Lake Calhoun? Rather than focus on the water, focus on the land in the area occupied by the Dakota village. There is an easily defined area south of W. 36th Street between E. Calhoun Parkway and Lakewood Cemetery, bordered on the west and south by William Berry Parkway. Renamed “Maka Ska Park” or some similar name, this large area could accommodate festivals, artwork and even a recreated village.
Rodgers Adams, Minneapolis
How many candidates for governor favor modernization?
Polls consistently indicate that Americans overwhelmingly favor the regulation and taxation of cannabis for adults in a manner similar to the way alcohol is regulated and taxed. Eight states and the District of Columbia already have done so. Legislation to regulate adult use has been introduced in more than 20 more states, while others, among them the Dakotas, are collecting signatures for a ballot vote in 2018. Our neighbors in Canada are expected to have a legal market operating within a year.
Minnesotans who are in favor of regulating cannabis similar to alcohol may be surprised to learn that the Minnesota Republican Party has stated in its platform that it opposes the legalization of cannabis for adult use, while DFL Party documents call for supporting legalization legislation.
So far, only one of the declared DFL gubernatorial candidates has publicly embraced this popular issue. That candidate is Tina Liebling. As a state representative from Rochester, she has also introduced legislation to put the question of adult cannabis regulation and taxation to the voters of Minnesota.
While that legislation is being debated in our State Capitol, the voters in Minnesota can support Liebling for governor and thus support ending the prohibition of cannabis in Minnesota.
Mike Kistler, Hackensack, Minn.