I live in St. Louis Park and attended the City Council meeting that voted to reinstate the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance at council meetings (“The pledge is reinstated in St. Louis Park,” front page, July 16). After hundreds of ugly e-mails and calls — and the tweets of President Donald Trump — the council basically said the issue was harming the ability of the city government to function and voted to bring the pledge back.
Understand, I’m pretty neutral about whether they recite it or not; we all care about America in this city. What I am opposed to is the circus that came to my good, humane city in the name of America. Dozens of people were lined up, waving the flag on the street 90 minutes before the meeting. Flags were everywhere. People dressed as flags. One woman had a flag dress. Signs like “Save the pledge” were everywhere — as if the Pledge of Allegiance was in the same danger as kids in cages. One man had a homemade sign calling to deport U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar. Somebody even brought a blowup eagle.
I, along with 40 or so other average residents, came to support the right of the council to deliberate without people screaming at them and singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” while the council members were trying to talk. When council members said there were threats and profanity-laced e-mails, the mob shouted back, “Do your job,” “We pay your salary,” and “Support America.” The crowd jeered when a council member said the word “immigrants.” The chants and exhortations actually began an hour before the meeting began. I turned around to the pledge crowd and asked how many were St. Louis Park residents — fewer than half raised their hands. At one point before the meeting began and before yet another recitation of the pledge, the entire front of the crowd (us average residents) chanted back, “S.L.P., S.L.P.” The pro-pledge crowd grew to maybe 150; most had to watch the proceedings on the atrium television. The crowd interrupted the council members often, but they got quieter when several of us asked them to be quiet.
When the council voted to reinstate, the pro-pledge crowd cheered, “U.S.A., U.S.A.” They slowly filtered out, joining the main body in the atrium, taking selfies and some chanting, “Trump 2020.” The residents hung back, wary of the crowd. One man with a large flag was walking down the street, waving it and yelling, “We got our flag back!”
After 243 years, is this what democracy looks like? It did tonight. I’m an agnostic, but God help us. My hope comes from the 40 or so of us residents who faced this mob and from the thoughtful, sane comments made by a few of the council members.
Bob Waligora, St. Louis Park
Stop supporting the unsupportable
The Washington Post’s Amber Phillips offers a convincing explanation of why Republicans legislators who want to keep their jobs won’t speak up against President Donald Trump’s most recent remarks (“It’s no surprise that Republicans are quiet,” Opinion Exchange, July 15). Well, “convincing” only if you assume that those jobs are worth keeping. How much should people compromise their ethics before deciding that the job isn’t worth the ethical decay? How much should they support the unsupportable before just walking away? And, as office holders, don’t they owe it to their constituents to oppose blatant racism?
They may convince themselves that keeping their jobs is better for their constituents than surrendering them to someone far worse, that they can do more good in the tent than outside shouting in. But former House Speaker Paul Ryan, at one time third in line for the U.S. presidency, showed that at some point even the most prestigious job isn’t worth supporting the unsupportable. And former Republican Rep. Justin Amash, when he became an independent a few weeks ago, decided that remaining in the party was too big a sacrifice of his values.
What we need is a few good women and men who will speak out against the unspeakable and lead the country back to American’s true ideals as expressed in everything from our Constitution to Emma Lazarus’ poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty.
Elaine Frankowski, Minneapolis
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Has the president of the United States ever asked the people waving Nazi or rebel flags to leave the country?
James Halvorson, Farmington
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People, please. Don’t succumb to Donald’s pleasures. He knows how outrageous his Twitter comments were (“Trump: ‘Why don’t they go back?’ ” July 15). Of course he wants to shore up his standing with the white nationalists, but it is much more than that. He needs attention. Don’t give it to him. Say simply, “Donald, your absurd comments only show how immature you are, how insecure you are, and how low you will go to get attention. We won’t buy into your pathetic needs and won’t think about your comment anymore.”
Lynn Bollman, Minneapolis
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U.S. Reps. Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are right: They do represent the views and aspirations of millions of Americans. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is also right: They each have just one vote in Congress.
If they want to influence the content of legislation, in addition to influencing public opinion, they have to engage their colleagues, including those with whom they disagree. They have to talk with them, listen to them, endeavor to persuade them and compromise with them. That’s how the work of lawmaking gets done. That work cannot get done in front of microphones and cameras or on Twitter.
David Aquilina, Richfield
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So “the Squad” can say any negative thing its members want, but if Trump says, “If you’re not happy here, then you can leave,” he’s somehow the bad guy?
D.A. Peterson, Big Lake, Minn.
Don’t just fix damage. Prevent it.
“3M could face huge cleanup costs” is mind-boggling reading (front page, July 15). Today in the U.S., we don’t apply the precautionary principle, which simply means: “Better safe than sorry.”
In Flint, Mich., for example, hundreds of citizens turned up at the City Council and at the governor’s office claiming the water was dirty, and the Environmental Protection Agency declared the water unfit to drink. You’d think the city and state would take action immediately and clean up the water supply. But no, they waited for more evidence — which they got when lead turned up in children’s blood.
In the 3M case, 3M wants its products left on the market for the next decade or so, until there is definitive testing showing newly formulated PFAS are harmful. There is already evidence that PFAS “have been linked to cancer, reproductive problems and immune system troubles.” Isn’t that enough? How many more cases are needed for proof? We in the U.S. must adopt the precautionary principle. Products are evolving too rapidly and harms are too great to wait for endless testing. This is the same problem with carbon and the climate crisis. Waiting. Fiddling while Rome burns. Million-dollar lobbyists whispering lullabies to our legislators.
Stop the carbon. Stop the PFAS. Adopt the precautionary principle. One Flint is enough.
Barbara Draper, Minneapolis
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