Steve Young's "food for thought" on why Donald Trump deserves voters' consideration rests upon six claims that spoil the very conclusion that Young seeks to support ("The value of Trump," Opinion Exchange, Sept. 18). Young's first claim is, "Putting the truth first is a fundamental good." No presidential candidate in our lifetimes has abused the truth as indiscriminately as Trump, from birther lies about the president to gross exaggerations of his own achievements.
Second, Young credits Trump with initiating a dialogue about illegal immigration and whether different rules should apply to different people. Although Young implies that the rules should be the same for everyone, Trump's positions discriminate based on religion, ethnicity and gender.
Third, Young offers "a Trump administration would be filled with innovators willing and maybe even eager to upset apple carts." If a Trump administration bears any similarity to a Trump campaign organization, those apple carts may be dangerously toppled by Trump's own provocations of violence, misogyny and racism.
Fourth, Young opines that Trump will "giv[e] African-Americans a fair stake in our society." The paternalistic implication that it is the place of powerful majority elites to allocate social stakes to minorities is one among many reasons for such populations to distrust Trump.
Fifth, Young argues that Trump "would counter the rising global attraction to tribalism with a more muscular nationalism." Countering resentment of American's economic, military and cultural hegemony with a stubborn unwillingness to collaborate and compromise will only inflame anti-American sentiment.
Last, Young says, Trump "will experiment to get growth going again." Our tenuous recovery does not need the chief executive of a family real estate business experimenting with the national economy, projecting growth with no basis in substance.
Mr. Young, whom I know personally and generally respect, is the beneficiary (as am I) of some of the same elite networks that he blames Hillary Clinton for using to her advantage. He, and this newspaper by publishing his poorly argued piece on the basis of his reputation, are the ones abusing elite networks for specious aims.
Christopher Michaelson, Minneapolis
The writer is David A. and Barbara Koch Distinguished Professor of Business Ethics and Social Responsibility at the University of St. Thomas.
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The articles by Stephen B. Young and Lawrence R. Jacobs gave me a better understanding of America's political history and how we got where we are today. My only disagreement is with Young's last sentence: "Clinton can't steer us out of elite failure, but Trump might." Can't and might are two powerful words. Speculative words. I don't believe in can't and I'm not willing to gamble on might.
Carol Cochran, Minneapolis
Events in St. Cloud, elsewhere show we must remain vigilant
The three incidents of terrorism over the weekend are an indicator that our national counterterrorism efforts must continue to be strengthened ("Attack probed as terror," Sept. 19). I am calling them terrorism, because to do otherwise flies in the face of the facts. The objects used in the three attack locations — a knife, pressure cookers and pipe bombs — are the signature of terrorism throughout the Middle East.
The fact that all three occurred within 24 hours is suspicious enough to draw a pretty solid conclusion. These coordinated attacks point to a religion that has the ability to place evil thoughts in the mind of a few. There is no need to paint with a broad brush. To their credit, the Somali community in St. Cloud came forward on Sunday, the day after the knife attack at a mall, to denounce such acts. This is very encouraging, and the ensuing investigation will reveal more pertinent details.
What these events show is that a very small number of Islamic followers are capable of being convinced to perform terrorist acts in the name of their religion. We are a foolish nation if we fail to perform common sense vetting techniques for immigrants. We must remain ever-vigilant to those already here and vulnerable to being convinced terror is the way to proceed. To ignore these simple facts puts us all at risk.
Joe Polunc, Cologne
Whatever you think of Snowden, he has weakened intelligence
I don't know whether Edward Snowden's motivations qualify him as a traitor or a courageous patriot, but his actions have substantially weakened our intelligence-gathering capabilities at a pivotal time in our history ("Will 'Snowden' renew the surveillance debate?", Rash Report, Sept. 17). Unfortunately, we live in a world where millions of people want to kill as many Americans as possible and there are thousands of nuclear weapons under questionable security and control. If one of those weapons is unleashed on a U.S. city, killing thousands instantly and overwhelming every burn unit and trauma center, there will be no more philosophical debates about balancing privacy and security. Instead, we would promptly be under martial law as the government tried to control the resulting chaos.
As a democracy, we do need to be very vigilant about the manner in which information gathered by the NSA and other intelligence agencies is used. We must ensure that such information is not used for political purposes or to discriminate against groups of people based on ethnicity or religion and that the rights of the accused are respected. But as those who wish to harm us become more numerous, sophisticated and geographically dispersed, the U.S. should do everything that it can to strengthen, not weaken, our intelligence-gathering capabilities.
Jerry Anderson, Eagan
Mental illness should never disqualify someone from a job
Marshall Tanick's tongue-in-cheek (or foot-in-mouth) commentary ("Pneumonia, testosterone — but what about mental health?", Sept. 19) implies that if someone has a mental illness — say, like President Lincoln, who had depression — they would not be suited for the Oval Office. Simply having a mental illness shouldn't disqualify you for any job, including an elected position. Treatment is successful, and many people living with depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses are employed and doing well. Excluding one-fifth of the population leaves our society void of the great gifts and talents they bring to the table, not only as artists, writers and musicians, but also as politicians, nurses, teachers, caregivers and more. What we have been through and what challenges we have faced in life shape our character, making us stronger and more compassionate — not bad qualities for a president.
Sue Abderholden, St. Paul
The writer is the executive director of NAMI Minnesota.