As senior pediatricians who have spent our professional lives caring for your children, perhaps we have done our job too well! In our diligence to protect our patients from the infectious diseases that plagued our childhoods, we have created a generation of parents for whom measles, polio and whooping cough are just empty words. They have not experienced the constant worry our parents had about these diseases nor the lifelong sorrow of families who lost a child to illnesses like measles encephalitis or paralytic polio.

Many parents are surprised to learn that these viral diseases have not disappeared but have merely been kept at bay by routine immunizations. Another surprise is that no effective treatment is available even today. In the measles epidemic in the 1950s, for example, there were 500,000 cases in the United States, with 500 deaths.

We sincerely hope that it will not take a return to the “bad old days” to convince parents of the wisdom of immunizing their children. The progress we have made against these infectious diseases during our 35 to 40 years of practice could be lost rather quickly, with devastating results.

 

This letter was signed by Drs. Mary Meland, Andrew Thomas, Radmilla Klashnya, Mary Margaret Conroy, Mark Nammacher, Theodore Jewett, Mark Nupen, Arthur Kaemmer and Sylvia Sekhon.

SOUTHWEST LRT

Skeptical of Editorial Board’s ‘compromise’

The Feb. 12 editorial suggests that the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board should compromise with the Metropolitan Council on Southwest light rail with respect to the bridge at the channel between Cedar Lake and Lake of the Isles. But what it really suggests is that the board abandon any form of tunnel and just capitulate because of the expense and delays.

Just because the federal government has money to spend doesn’t mean we need to do it the cheapest way rather than what makes the most sense. The editorial further states that this “compromise” should set a precedent for future projects like the Bottineau light-rail line, which would partly run alongside Theodore Wirth Park. What’s next? Light-rail lines along Minnehaha Creek and the River Road? Perhaps instead the Met Council should compromise and look at building these lines where people actually live, like along Lake Street/Nicollet Avenue and Broadway. I support the Park Board in its diligence in protecting our parklands and urge it to stay the course.

Marc N. Burton, Minneapolis

• • •

Compromise sometimes results in poor decisions. One between the state, Minneapolis and Richfield years ago resulted in the Crosstown Commons, one of the most dangerous and infamous stretches of road ever built in Minnesota. The State Patrol called it “blood alley.” Twin Cities commuters put up with it for more than four decades before the problem was resolved. Even today, the Crosstown remains heavily traveled but poorly designed. Ironically, it is a major commuter route to and from Eden Prairie.

Southwest LRT needs to be built, but it needs to be cost-efficient. It is apparent that freeways can no longer be the primary commuter method for the Twin Cities. Does the Minneapolis Park Board like that bucolic Kenwood Parkway becomes a commuter corridor during the rush hour? The arguments between the Park Board and the Metropolitan Council are like those 50 years before when Minneapolis, Richfield and the state argued over the Lyndale Avenue exit, and are just as petty.

Robert Keegan, Coon Rapids

 

CHAPEL HILL SHOOTINGS

To Muslims, this, too, feels like terrorism

On Wednesday night, the Al-Madinah Cultural Center at the University of Minnesota held a candlelight vigil for the three Muslims who were shot to death in Chapel Hill, N.C. While sources suggest the motives were due to parking disputes, one can’t simply ignore the fact that anti-Islamic sentiment portrayed in the media has been on the rise and may have contributed to fueling the perpetrator’s hate for Muslims. From the Charlie Hebdo incident, to the climactic depictions that vilified Muslims in the movie “American Sniper” to all the attention that ISIL receives in the news, Islam has been heavily misrepresented, and the moderate Muslim majority has been implicated.

On the other hand, we see that two of the moderate-Muslim victims had recently returned from a mission trip to provide free dental care to Syrian refugees in Turkey. Barakat volunteered regularly, raising money for Syrian war victims and collecting and donating dental supplies to the homeless community in his area. These are the true examples of Muslims the world should know about and the media should more often depict.

Both CNN and Fox News have referred to the person charged in the killings — Craig Hicks — only as “a man.” It’s time that media outlets stop reserving the term “terrorist” for extremist radicals claiming to be Muslim, as it only serves to cognitively build anti-Islamic sentiment.

Adeel Ahmad, Brooklyn Park

 

GLOBAL THREATS

Beware theoretical tactics meant to scare

A Feb. 12 letter asks the rhetorical question: “What if [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu is right and [President] Obama is wrong about Iran?”

I have heard this “what if” question before. What if … Iraq? What if … Afghanistan? What if … terrorist?

The “What if?” question is a nice rhetorical tool for those who would have you set aside reason and replace it with fear. However, to answer the question, if Netanyahu is right, then the United States should have been blown up years ago. Netanyahu has for years made claims about the threat that Iran, Hamas and the Palestinians pose; they have been nothing more than gross mischaracterizations to goose up fear. “What if?” is a rhetorical tool used to enhance a weak argument.

Bryan Haugen, Mayer

• • •

A recent letter chastised those criticizing President Obama over his statements about the Crusades, saying he was “simply stating historical reality.” I’m no history major, but it is my understanding that the Crusades were in large part the Christian response to Islamic conquest, “reality” that the president either failed to understand or chose to ignore. That is what has people outraged at his remarks.

John G. Morgan, Burnsville

 

IN 25 WORDS OR LESS …

On state airplanes, scientific consensus

In response to Gov. Mark Dayton’s request for $10 million to replace aging airplanes, I say: Sell the planes and fly commercial. Quit wasting our money.

Mary Vonch, Milaca, Minn.

• • •

The Feb. 11 article on the government’s almost-180-degree turnaround on cholesterol dietary guidelines after 40 years proves the adage that “the science is never settled.”

Jim Fisher, Edina