"Whataboutism" is a dangerous tactic by politicians that is often let slide by journalists during interviews. In the Trump administration, more so than others, we are seeing whataboutism used daily. After President Donald Trump admitted he'd welcome foreign interference in the 2020 election, members of his administration, congressional Republicans and Fox News were quick to go on the "what about it" defense (" 'I think I'd take' foreign dirt on rivals," front page, June 13).
It often starts by subtly admitting one is at fault but then heavily focusing on the opposition — deflecting back to Hillary Clinton or the Democrats. Sometimes, the issue is simply ignored with a "so what about it" nonanswer.
The issue with whataboutism is that the two outcomes are mutually exclusive. When defenders of the president say, "What about Hillary and the Democrats?" they are either saying what the president did wasn't wrong, meaning what they are accusing the Democrats of doing wasn't wrong, either — or they are taking the "whatabout" approach that what the other side did was wrong, meaning the entity they are defending has to be wrong, too. There is cognitive dissonance if your side is exempt from criticism, yet the other side you are accusing of doing the same is at fault.
Too often, politicians on both sides are allowed to slide easily into whataboutism. There needs to be follow-up after follow-up from journalists. They need to get the question back on track to what the current issue is.
Jack Parker, Minneapolis
Ethical standards apply to me as a professional. Why not Trump?
So our "no collusion" president publicly proclaims (advertises?) that he would accept information on his political rivals from a foreign government, and further, would not feel obliged to report such an incident to the FBI. Really? So if a foreign government offered information on him to one of his rivals, he'd be OK with that?
Maybe that's not "collusion" in a legal sense. But it most certainly is in an ethical sense. But then, what does this president know about ethics? Like Donald Trump, I work in commercial real estate. I am held to a set of ethical standards that go well beyond what the law calls for. So are many people in many professions. Why isn't the chief executive of the world's most powerful country held to a set of ethical standards in the same way?
Gregory P. Olson, Eden Prairie
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In his latest invitation to illegality, Trump cited Norway as an example of a foreign country from which he would gladly accept election aid in the form of information about political opponents.
That supplements his reference last year to Norway as an acceptable site for immigrants to this country rather than "shithole" countries populated by people of color.
His allusions to that Scandinavian country should resonate here in Minnesota, where about one in six residents are Norwegian descendants, comprising nearly 20% of the number of those with Norwegian ancestry in the nation.
The Norwegian heritage is even more pronounced here as the home of prominent attorney Samuel Heins, the Obama administration's last ambassador to that country, in addition to a long line of renowned political figures whose families migrated here from there, including former Gov. Karl Rolvaag and Sen. (later Vice President) Walter Mondale.
All of them, by the way, are Democrats. Perhaps once the president realizes that, the country might lose its luster in his eyes.
Marshall H. Tanick, Minneapolis
Diverse program sows responsibility
I'm disappointed to see that the Star Tribune is not publishing any results from the Minnesota State High School League Trap Championship. The program is one of the most-played sports in the state of Minnesota, and sports like hockey and football get feature coverage in your pages.
The MSHSL Trap League is a gender-inclusive program that encourages participation from a broad spectrum of teens. The program actively requires safe firearms handling, storage and use. While the equipment required is very potentially deadly, the safety record far exceeds that of physical contact sports.
A safe, well-attended and diverse program encouraging responsible gun ownership should have some coverage in the Sports section at least, and considering its larger statewide influence, a dedicated beat writer covering events. I find it concerning that the Star Tribune is not covering this event at any level. It simply leads me to believe that there is systemic editorial bias against the great kids participating in an excellent program.
Jared Hinton, Princeton, Minn.
Slow, don't ban, cars on parkway
A reader's June 14 response to my counterpoint ("Drivers' access matters on Minnehaha Parkway," June 12) argued that automobiles negated the intention of parkways because autos did not exist when they were proposed by H.W.S. Cleveland in 1883.
History documented in Theodore Wirth's book amply rejects this assertion.
Realization of the parkways took decades of relentless land acquisition and construction. In his 1909 and 1913 annual reports to the Park Board, Wirth proposed plans to extend Cleveland's proposed West River Road Parkway to Riverside Park. That parkway's further extension from Franklin Avenue to 3rd Street South was not constructed until 1937-1940. The automobile did not negate the intent of Cleveland's "driving parks." It simply became a new mode for their enjoyment.
A different reader argued the same day for enforcement of the 25 mile-per-hour speed limit on the parkways as an alternative to the proposed forced diversion plan. Another idea about speed may be of interest. In his landmark book "Livable Streets" (1981), Donald Appleyard concluded that 25 mph was unsafe for neighborhood streets. He also pointed out several European cities at the time were considering 20 mph for residential areas. It might be worth considering here. Enforcement tends to produce only temporary compliance. Both "slow speed" standards would still require traffic calming.
Robert Sykes, Hopkins
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