I applaud the thoughtful commentary submitted by Dr. Victor Sandler in response to the recent tragic traffic crash on the North Side of Minneapolis (“A wrong turn and a wrong conclusion,” Opinion Exchange, July 17). Sandler points out a number of key factors associated with our physical and mental health as we advance in age.

I do not agree with Sandler’s proposed solution, however. Trying to better define who can or cannot effectively drive is important but will not help our aging communities. The problem facing aging populations and numerous other members of our community is that we have a system designed entirely around the automobile. Despite the fact that no more than two-thirds of the U.S. population is licensed to drive, due largely to restrictions related to age and/or physical ability (not to mention the many licensed drivers who are unable to afford access to a personal vehicle), we have designed a system that requires driving as a basic need in most circumstances.

Communities that embrace the concept of age-in-place recognize the need for strong plans and policies that emphasize access over mobility. These communities provide robust options for walking, bicycling, transit and reduced driving. Numerous examples of vibrant places that promote transportation choice are all around us. My south Minneapolis neighborhood of Whittier is ideal for those who chose not to drive or plan to live car-lite. But in the greater Twin Cities and most of Minnesota, this is the exception to the rule.

Providing better transportation choices does not just benefit the aging population; it works for all of us. Let’s try to a better job of defining the problem before we develop reactionary solutions.

I imagine driving is a tremendous source of stress for much of our aging population — and people of all ages, for that matter. If we cannot provide a real alternative, what choice are we really leaving them?

Tony Hull, Minneapolis

WORD CHOICE

‘Concentration camps’ evokes ‘Holocaust.’ Use with caution.

Commentary writer Ahmed Tharwat is either incredibly unaware of history or just not smart (“Trump drops pretense in a racist America,” July 16). Does he really believe that President Donald Trump is putting Central American migrants in concentration camps, like in Nazi Germany?

And while we are at it, does U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez really think the U.S. government has set up concentration camps along the border? Apparently so, according to both her Instagram broadcast and “this administration has established concentration camps” tweet. I’m sorry, AOC, but when most people hear and read “concentration camps,” they think “Holocaust.” They think of innocent men, women and children getting gassed, their bodies burned, shot and/or tortured. Not “the mass detention of civilians without trial,” as you say.

NBC’s Chuck Todd was right to tell AOC, “Be careful comparing them to Nazi concentration camps, because they’re not at all comparable in the slightest.”

Tharwat and AOC should visit Auschwitz or Dachau before comparing anything to concentration camps.

Neil F. Anderson, Richfield

RACE

Our own president says I’m not a meaningful part of our culture

I used to always listen to “God Bless the U.S.A.” on July 4th with my family in northern Wisconsin with such pride in my country. I miss those days. There was an innocence to my childhood, despite being a mixed-race woman in an all-white world. I was yet to learn all the nuance in my own, my immediate family’s, or my extended family’s understanding of race. What I know now that I was oblivious to then was that we all have a unique experience of what race means in America, and each perspective offers its own power and value to our community.

President Donald Trump’s racist comments make me question whether I know what world I’m living in anymore, whether I can still be a proud American. I am so disappointed by the racism and sexism he displays on a regular basis and feel as if I’m not doing enough to combat his incendiary tactics. I feel shame to be an American for the first time in my life. I thought we were a country about acceptance and about welcoming people who are in need of welcoming. It’s a bummer to know that our president doesn’t hold those same values.

My mother’s side of the family is Irish Catholic, unsurprisingly Republican. Historically undermined, my forebears became farmers, doctors and teachers upon arriving in this country in the mid-to-late 1800s despite all powers working to the contrary. Their children followed suit and have become doctors, lawyers, farmers — exemplars of the positive power of immigration.

My father’s side of the family is who-knows-what-African-origin American and who-knows-what -African-origin Haitian. We’re all the product of some slave peoples from West Africa mixing with whatever slave owners were here in the Americas. I would like to think it was rare, but my father recently found out he was more European than African, which must be shockingly common.

I struggle to know where to place myself in this society that prizes whiteness so deeply and looks upon brownness as lamentable. Our own president is telling me I’m not a meaningful part of our culture. If I don’t own the requisite whiteness, and it doesn’t seem the country is headed in a direction to prize my brownness, how do I find that feeling of pride to be an American once more? I long for it …

Danielle Renaud, Minneapolis

• • •

The debate about whether Donald Trump is a racist, or whether his words are, misses the point. It’s his policies, and the GOP’s in general, that are racist. One example: the Republicans’ continuing efforts to keep people of color from voting, whether through voter ID laws, the new poll tax in Florida, extreme gerrymandering and so on.

So yes, Trump’s unhinged racist rants are horrifying and dangerous, but we can’t lose sight of what he and his party are actually doing to maintain white supremacy in response to an increasingly multicultural society.

Pam Snopl, Minneapolis

FOREIGN POLICY

Not another never-ending war

As conflict heats in the Persian Gulf, the United States puts its military personnel at physical and moral risk once again. We are stationing troops in Saudi Arabia, a brutal absolute monarchy with a terrible human rights record. Congress has passed resolutions against assisting Saudi Arabia in the war in Yemen and against “emergency” arms sales to the Saudis. They are advising the president that he has exceeded his constitutional authority. His response? “Nobody ever mentions Article 2. It gives me all of these rights at a level that nobody has ever seen before.” Read Article 2 and you will see that it does not take away Congress’s power over war.

Americans should consider that loyalty may require supporting the Constitution, rather than another never-ending war.

James Haefemeyer, Minneapolis

 

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