If it’s really like 1938, what’s the action?

The “rhetorical gas” that Mark G. Dillon refers to (“Let us ‘be not afraid’ of Vlad the Terrible,” March 12) comes not from Washington but from his hollow spouting. He writes as if there is some action that could be taken that would suddenly cause Vladimir Putin to reverse course and leave the people of Ukraine to decide their own fate. Of course, like others, he does not even attempt to say what that action or set of actions would be.

The situation in Ukraine is complex. As Dillon points out, Putin is not someone who will be influenced by reasonable discussion. There is no simple solution. What can be done in the way of diplomatic and economic actions are being pursued by the Obama administration.

Bill Cutler, Oak Park Heights

• • •

History tends to repeat itself. It cannot tell you what you should do, but it can tell you what did not work in the past. Here is a brief summary of history from 1938:

Hitler occupies Austria. First, he encourages the Austrian Nazis to demand a union with Germany. Then, he invades when the Austrian chancellor announces a vote to see what Austrians want. After the German invasion, 99 percent of Austrians vote “ja.” Britain and France do nothing.

Does this seem familiar? Replace the names of leaders and places with the current cast in Crimea, and it all seems very close to “now” instead of “then.”

The West did nothing after the Anschluss — 1938 was a good year in the West, but 1939 to 1945, not so much. I do not have the “right” answer to the current process in Crimea. Clearly, history indicates that “nothing” is the wrong one.

Will Harrison, St. Paul



Sagehorn, Garofalo cases really do differ

Scott Gillespie (Short Takes, March 12) suggests that the consequences for student Reid Sagehorn’s remark about a teacher were excessive compared with those for state Rep. Pat Garofalo following his tweet about the NBA. Gillespie is wrong, because Sagehorn’s remark was directed at an individual, while Garofalo’s tweet was about a general class of people.

In the first case, the teacher about whom the comment was made could have lost her job or even her teaching career as a result. It was actionable.

David M. Perlman, New Hope

• • •

The March 12 Letter of the Day accused anyone who “agreed, smiled or nodded” at Garofalo’s tweet as essentially being a racist — and blind to that truth.

Does the author have some sort of superpower that allows her to know what everyone who heard about the tweet was thinking? Perhaps some people did smile, simply because they don’t like basketball. Perhaps others nodded because they do not like the gang or rap culture associated with the NBA. More likely, many ignored the matter altogether, because they had no interest in what a politician had to say.

It’s just as discriminatory to label someone you don’t know a racist as it is to actually be one.

Jason Gabbert, Prior Lake



A participation rate of 20 percent is significant

A March 12 letter about the leadership of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council stated that “by a ratio of almost 4 to 1” most Minnesotans neither hunt nor fish. That means that more than 20 percent do hunt or fish. With the many activities enjoyed by people today, I’m guessing a 20 percent participation rate for any one activity is pretty notable.

If you really want to help the wildlife and habitat in Minnesota, please buy all of the hunting and fishing licenses you can legally purchase. Your money will be more useful than your words.

Greg Snyder, St. Paul



Community’s wishes are clear, so heed them

Sometimes an entity is greater than the sum of its parts. But sometimes it is less. Individually, the board and officers of the Minnesota Orchestra are successful community leaders, but, collectively, they have accepted many months of needless financial and cultural loss.

The management still seems to believe that it owns the orchestra and that the players and the conductor are mere employees. It seldom consults or informs its true owners: the public.

Concertgoers and contributors other than the board, and the players, all agree that Osmo Vänskä must be the music director for the orchestra to regain its high standing. Vänskä appears to have hurt management’s feelings by expressing his own view as to what is needed (“Any orchestra role for Vänskä remains murky,” March 11). But the real fly in the ointment appears to be management’s commitment to Michael Henson, the (highly) paid president and CEO, who all other parties seem to agree should go. If the corporate leaders on the board applied the same standards they apply to their own businesses, they would not tolerate an unproductive or unpopular leader so long.

David R. Brink, Minneapolis

• • •

If the board implements its proposed two-headed monster with Henson remaining and Vänskä in a limited role as a guest conductor, what elite leader would come to Minneapolis as music director only to be caught in the middle? Answer: None.

Frank Wright, Richfield



They’re here to help …

Yesterday at Costco I did not have enough cash to pay for my purchases, so I put back a carton of berries. A woman in line offered to give me $5 to pay for them, which I declined. On the way to my car a man came up and gave me the berries, which he had paid for. Talk about “Minnesota Nice”! I’ll bet those two even stop for pedestrians at crosswalks.

James Alcott, Wayzata