I read with particular interest the two articles this week regarding an exhibit at the University of Minnesota, “A Campus Divided: Progressives, Anti-Communists, Fascism, and Anti-Semitism at the University of Minnesota, 1930-1942” (“Out of the shadows,” Sept. 13, and “U will examine its racist, anti-Semitic history,” Sept. 15). In particular, I was interested to read that university President Eric Kaler has formed the President’s and Provost’s Advisory Committee on University History as a response to this exhibit.
But it is not just the university that has to respond to these issues. Our state also must be willing to examine its own racist and anti-Semitic past and how it contributed to what was happening on campus during this era. The U did not and does not function in a vacuum; it has been and continues to be influenced by the culture surrounding it.
The Board of Regents, representing the public’s investment in the university, certainly had an impact on how the university treated its minority and outspoken students. Who was on the Board of Regents during this tumultuous era? Must those people not, too, be held accountable? The 1930s is the decade during which federally funded segregated public housing was being built in Minneapolis, and in 1934 a violent strike against trucking companies occurred in the city as truck drivers fought to unionize. Did not these events, and others including the Benson/Stassen gubernatorial battle, all provide university officials with “permission” to pursue their racial, religious and political policies?
This exhibit can act as a catalyst for our state and its university to fully examine its past, recognize its wrongs and, most important, learn from them so they are not repeated.
Marilyn J. Chiat, Minnetonka
• • •
The time, money and person-power that might be wasted on examine the U’s racist and anti-Semitic history would be far better spent on using the U’s resources to find how and why a segment of Minnesota Jewry that once supported Israel almost unanimously now calls out Israel for its criminal treatment of the Palestinians.
Born in 1936 and raised in a Jewish family in then-mostly-Jewish north Minneapolis, I remember that for virtually all Jews it once was “my Israel, right or wrong.” Not so any longer.
There are several small Minnesota groups challenging Israel on its actions against the Palestinians, and the most articulate and dedicated of Minnesota Jews in this regard is Sylvia Schwarz of St. Paul. The self-identified daughter of Holocaust survivors once had an Op-Ed in the Star Tribune (“The other side of the Gaza story,” July 22, 2014), and some of her projects have been covered in this newspaper, but I think the matter has since grown in scope and intensity.
Also, few Minnesota Jews know about AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), Israel’s unofficial lobby in America. Minnesotans should be informed of how many people representing AIPAC are operating in Minnesota and what, exactly, they do and whether our tax dollars are involved. I can recommend two books on that topic: “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, and “They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby,” by Paul Findley.
Readers can expect pro-Israel rejoinders to this letter, but I am advocating addressing the present and the future and putting the past on hold for the time bring. Let’s all start off the upcoming Jewish New Year right.
Willard B. Shapira, Roseville
• • •
In regard to building names at the University of Minnesota, the best solution is to establish a grid on a campus map; A, B, C, etc., on the top margin and 1, 2, 3, etc., on the left margin. Buildings would be named by their coordinates: A-1, B-2, C-3. I expect this proposal risks an offensive bias in favor of English letters and Arabic numerals, but hopefully the regents can stiffen their backbones to defend against those persons who feel disrespected by letters and numbers now in common usage.
Dick Grinley, Delano, Minn.
MINNEAPOLIS POLICE UNION
A persuasive case would have started with credible arguments
Is it any wonder that citizen qualms about the police are increasing when the president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis makes unsubstantiated and misleading statements (“What Freeman said publicly compromises his integrity,” Sept. 14). The public is increasingly unwilling to accept the blatantly one-sided, protect-the-union-member-at-all-costs type of defense used by Bob Kroll.
Exactly how did what Kroll refers to as Gov. Mark Dayton’s “irresponsible comments” about Philando Castile’s shooting directly lead to the creation of five new police widows in Dallas?
One of the three shootings Kroll cites as support for why officer Mohamed Noor wasn’t jailed and/or booked after the killing of Justine Ruszczyk Damond did not involve a fatality. In both of the others cited, the person who was killed was directly pointing a gun at the involved civilian and/or physically assaulting the civilian. Not exactly parallel to the Damond shooting. And Kroll says that “all citizens are entitled to bail or release on conditions.” Into which of these two categories does Noor fit?
Freeman’s comment that the jury was wrong in the Jeronimo Yanez case does not show, as Kroll believes, that Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman “has prejudged Noor’s case based on his myopic and uninformed opinion of the Yanez case.” Freeman will make his decision on whether or not to charge Noor based on the rule of law and justice, not on what Kroll believes is “fair and balanced.” That is what the public demands and expects.
Julie Stenberg, Minneapolis
MAYO CLINIC AND RURAL HOSPITALS
Citizens of Albert Lea have completely lost trust in Mayo
In response to the Sept. 14 editorial counterpoint from current and emeritus members of the Mayo Clinic board of trustees (“Mayo Clinic is putting patients first in southern Minnesota”), we implore that further justification be provided regarding key points. It is not lost on our “Save Our Hospital” group in Albert Lea that the editorial counterpoint and subsequent changes we have experienced of late are all coming from those who are or have been in positions of power at large, for-profit, moneymaking machines. This is certainly parallel with the aspirations of Mayo leaders and their decisions to choose profits over patients. Our counterpoint: If Mayo wants to be a large, moneymaking machine, follow the lead of those Fortune 500 companies and listen to your customers (i.e., your patients).
Of the 80 rural hospitals across the country that the article cites as having closed since 2010, how many are in areas servicing 55,000-plus patients? How many of the 670 cited as being “on the brink”?
Regarding the board comment that “we support local leaders as they work with their communities to manage these changes”: We have not experienced local leaders from Mayo Clinic Health System working with our community in any productive manner. As co-chairs of Save Our Hospital, we have not received any direct communication from Mayo to share with our 4,567 Facebook followers, the attendees at our Sunday-evening meetings, our steering committee chairs or the thousands who have signed petitions regarding these abruptly announced changes. We also have yet to receive the results of any economic-impact study with regard to the changes and their effect on our community, nor any health-impact results with regard to the supposed “patient-first” changes. Furthermore, we still have unanswered questions posed to these “local leaders” that have gone unanswered and can be viewed on our Facebook page.
Mariah Lynne and Bradley K. Arends, Albert Lea, Minn.