Recent news exposés have revealed that influential colleagues stood by silently for decades while powerful corporate executives like Harvey Weinstein and Roger Ailes sexually harassed vulnerable employees. We as Americans condemn these enablers as well as the perpetrators themselves.
Who are the enablers who stand by while mass shootings occur almost daily in America, including the horrific incident in Las Vegas last week? These tragic events are characteristically followed by public expressions of consolation to the victims, appeals for national unity and fruitless speculation about motive. These platitudes do nothing to prevent the continuing carnage.
Our legislators wring their hands and do nothing. These are the people we have elected. We as a society have made a bargain; we have traded the nearly unlimited freedom to buy and possess weapons of mass destruction for the inevitable death and destruction these weapons bring about. Deep in our hearts, we know that the carnage will continue because there will always be fringe members of society bent on wreaking havoc. But we have neither the moral fiber to confront this harsh truth, nor the will to take remedial action. All of us share in the responsibility for the gruesome status quo.
We are the enablers.
Gordon E. Legge, Minneapolis
EDINA SCHOOLS AND RACE
Where Kersten sees a calamity; I see courage to address a problem
Systemic racism is like that pesky drug-resistant microbe. When you take action to address the problem, it just mutates and comes back in a slightly different form. Katherine Kersten’s attack on Edina public schools (“Racial identity policies are ruining Edina’s fabled schools,” Oct. 7) is just the latest example. Edina educators appear to have the courage to try to disrupt racism as usual, to use an equity lens in all they do, and to promote student engagement and critical consciousness about culture and race in America. They are to be applauded, not reviled.
We Americans have collectively inherited a robustly racialized history, culture and opportunity structure. That’s not our current generation’s fault, but it is our challenge. I am proud of leaders in any field who have the guts to engage in institutional changes to promote the dignity, equality and well-being of all our residents.
I urge residents of Edina and Minnesota to support their educational leadership in their efforts to disrupt traditions and practices that perpetuate racial inequity. Our future depends on it.
Sue K. Hammersmith, Woodbury
The writer is a retired president of Metropolitan State University.
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When I find myself motivated by fear, I try to summon my courage and face the other way. Kersten’s commentary certainly has me turning the other way. Fear of falling test scores and Edina’s academic reputation will not motivate me to turn my back on quality education for all. At our house, we read that the district will hire “racially conscious teachers and administrators” and we say: What’s wrong with that? And promoting students to “acquire an awareness of their own cultural identity and value racial, cultural and ethnic diversities” — great! I grew up in Edina, live in Edina and our youngest is still in Edina schools. I believe that our awareness of complex racial and social issues, and our resolve to address them, is better late than never and will serve us well. I refuse to believe that doing our all for all will take away from my kids’ education. So, in response to Kersten’s article, I say: “GO, EDINA.”
Teresa Caspar, Edina
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As residents of Edina, we received a copy of “Thinking Minnesota,” the Center of the American Experiment’s somewhat glossy publication in our mailbox that contained a version of Kersten’s recent column. We assume that many residents in the suburb received it — it was not addressed directly to us, but someone had clearly paid to have this publication placed in our mail.
I would encourage Edina students (and their parents) to analyze Kersten’s work, not because I agree with it, but to appreciate it as a classic example of how political organizations and big money today are trying to influence our local politics down to the local level. Read the article and ask yourself this:
1) Why was this published and distributed now? Might it have something to do with our upcoming school levy and board elections?
2) Do the people who sponsor Kersten and her “think-tank” publication live in Edina?
3) Do the statistics that Kersten cites about lowering standards have anything to do, in reality, with the school policy and directives on diversity? Or were they used out of context?
4) Why the spotlight on Edina?
This was a blatant attempt by an extreme political group to twist an ordinary election into a focus of controversy. As irritating as it might be, Edina residents are more intelligent than the Center of the American Experiment supposes, and I would bet that most of us recognize a piece of well-financed, ultra-right-wing propaganda when we see it. Edina schools continue to be excellent, and we will not allow this nonsense to take us down.
Bill Gough, Edina
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So, Kersten thinks valuing racial, cultural and ethnic diversities is out of place in public education. Five pages later in the same day’s newspaper exists evidence that this emphasis may be needed (“Hopkins candidate warns of influx of ‘ethnics’ ”). Apparently, Bob Ivers, a Hopkins mayoral candidate, still thinks he can get votes by targeting what he calls “ethnics” and “coloreds.”
James M. Dunn, Edina
EVALUATING THE NEWS
Tools of discernment exist for those who wish to learn them
While I appreciate the sentiments expressed in the San Diego Union Tribune editorial reprinted in the Oct. 7 Star Tribune, regarding the problem of “fake news,” the solutions proposed in the editorial would only lead to greater problems.
To encourage Facebook, Google and the like to distinguish “real” from “fake“ news is to encourage these corporations to function as Ministries of Truth. I have to wonder what criteria they would use to distinguish the real from the fake and to whom they would be accountable in exercising their censorship powers.
Rather than encourage the giant information disseminators to adopt the role of gatekeeper, news media should encourage the news-consuming public to become more conscientious about evaluating for itself the veracity of what gets packaged as news. A traditional tool for doing just that is the trivium, the rigorous application of grammar, logic and rhetoric. In simplest terms, this classic method of distinguishing real from fake involves gathering relevant data, evaluating the data for inconsistencies and contradictions, and communicating one’s findings. It’s a well-established method for thinking clearly — something the public should be encouraged to do, rather than handing the job of distinguishing fact from fiction over to big business.
Kenneth Jopp, St. Paul
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Maybe if we can convince Google and Facebook to edit their content we can forgive their monopolistic tendencies.
Steve Mayer, Minneapolis