Wednesday’s headlines could not have been more striking. As we mourn the death of our immigrant musical hero Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, who took the Minnesota Orchestra and our community to new heights after fleeing a government of persecution (“Global giant of music made Minnesota home”), our government “widens net for deportations” and the “bodies of 74 migrants wash up” on the Libyan coast. Where is our common sense and compassion?
Alice O’Hara, Minneapolis
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Some contend that recent deportation efforts are merely enforcement of existing law. The problem with that argument is that for many years we have more than merely tolerated illegal immigrants. We have enabled and encouraged people to settle here, to make their homes here and to raise families here. We have provided work for these people, and we have received the benefits of their work. I suspect that many of our political leaders have personally benefited from the presence of such immigrants. It is at least cruel to now tell all these settlers that we have changed our past practice and that the lives they have created here are now being taken away.
In legal circles, we sometimes deny enforcement of laws or rules when a party has relied to their detriment on past practice. In other situations, we deny prosecution when a period of limitations has been legally established. In still other areas, we recognize equitable situations that make strict enforcement unfair given the relative hardships that we have been complicit in creating. So, once again, the simplistic solution to a complex problem is likely creating many unjust results.
For every complex problem, it is sometimes said, there is an answer that is clear and simple, and wrong. President Trump has found the simple, wrong answer. We are better than this. We need to realize that we have fault and we need to adopt humane solutions. The solutions may require more due process procedure, but we should acknowledge our fault and fairly address the hardships we have participated in creating.
Thomas W. Wexler, Edina
The writer is a retired district judge.
TRUMP AND THE MEDIA
Importance of a free press? Agreed. However …
The Star Tribune’s Feb. 22 editorial (“No, Mr. President, we’re not the enemy”) stresses the importance the press has in keeping the government truthful. I agree. But why does it have to resort to such deceptive tactics to do that? I’m referring to the Star Tribune’s current practice of using Washington Post and New York Times articles to supplement its news stories. Do you actually vet these articles? If you do, don’t you notice how often they contain the writers’ personal opinions on the subjects they are reporting? A common phrase these days is “words matter.” Well, half-truths and opinionated “fake news” matter, too.
Leo Vander Broek, Blaine
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You in the press need to stop using Trump’s language. He’s controlling the discussion completely, creating the vocabulary, and everyone in the press is chasing him around from one distraction to the next, repeating his lines and reinforcing his narrative.
Do you not see how you are being played?
If you want to really educate and enlighten your readers, you need to break away from his lead, use a different language and reach the emotional minds of those still open. (See http://bit.ly/2liJJ9z.)
Whether Trump will be a net positive or negative for our country will take some time to see. But we need a healthy press, with liberal and conservative views, to dig into the real stories, using their own language. You are on the way to becoming either a tool or irrelevant. Neither is healthy for us, regardless of political position.
Dennis Fazio, Minneapolis
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People become journalists because deep down they want to be superheroes — for the truth. Deep down they want to call out the bad guys.
Certainly, they don’t do it for the money. The pay isn’t wonderful. The work can be uncomfortable and risky, even fatal. Objectivity is difficult to achieve. Everyone has prejudices and political opinions, but journalists work to suppress their own. Like scientists and historians, they work to unearth the truth as far as possible, and most editors are very careful to vet the information to be sure it’s credible.
I studied journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison back in the tear-gas days of 1971-72 and remember how my instructors emphasized the need to be objective and vet sources. (I dropped journalism after I realized I was too verbose for news writing and concentrated on a history degree). The journalist’s job is to keep people on their toes, because eventually the truth will out. Malefactorae odit lucem — Wrongdoers hate the light.
Michael Mayer, Lakeville
SOUTHWEST LIGHT RAIL
Want to redirect funding? Be careful what you wish for.
Regarding “GOP seeks to redirect LRT aid” (Feb. 21): GOP memories are short. This move is reminiscent of the fiasco created in Wisconsin by Gov. Scott Walker and the GOP legislators when they took control several years ago. One of their first acts was to cancel the Milwaukee-to-Madison rail project and turn down more than $800 million in federal funding. Their hope was to redirect the money to road projects. The result: The money was sent to other states for their rail projects — Wisconsin got none. Furthermore, Wisconsin had to reimburse the feds for millions of dollars already spent and was sued for the cost of equipment that had been built for the line. Madison, a city the size of St. Paul, is still without any rail service and is considering a much-needed light-rail network. Surely, it would welcome $900 million in Minnesota money.
There are a number of Minnesota intercity and transit rail projects underway, in addition to Southwest light rail, that will compete for federal funding. Other states, including Illinois, Michigan and Missouri, are aggressively improving their rail transportation infrastructure and competing for federal funds. The Minnesota Legislature should not jeopardize our state’s transportation infrastructure by attempting to redirect these funds.
Jay Severance, St. Paul
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A Feb. 22 letter writer supporting light rail inadvertently told “affluent whites” that only poorer people and nonwhites need light rail. Not so! For anyone wanting to move through the Twin Cities with less stress and more safety, light rail is a good and necessary choice for a growing population. As “affluent white” seniors living on the western edge of Minneapolis, we use the Green Line, our bikes, and last, our one car when each is the most appropriate. I eagerly await the Penn Station that will come with the Southwest extension, so I can walk or bike the three blocks from my townhouse as I age. Interstate 394 into town is no picnic these days. Light rail is predictable, timewise; I can read or prep for my meetings on the way and use my phone safely. Also, the extra walking to get to a station is good for my health. Anyone visiting New York for any length of time notices how much less obesity there is.
Folks coming into town from Greater Minnesota take light rail to games or the Mall of America. Tourists or businesspeople coming in from the airport save a bundle coming in on light rail. Meanwhile, through our use of it our gasoline bills have dropped a ton, giving us money in retirement to travel and not worry about our lower income. All Minnesotans benefit!
Carol C. White, Minneapolis