Before we moan again about another snowstorm, please race to your library to check out “The Long Winter” by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Yes, we have a lot of snow and bad driving, but you can be happy that you don’t have to twist hay into logs to feed the stove to heat your house. You are not starving because the trains were blocked by snow and couldn’t bring food or supplies to your town for four months. If you want to read, you don’t have to huddle around a lamp made of axle grease and a button.

Take a hot shower, watch a movie, make some chili and be happy for the weather reports that let us stock up and prepare. Then it really doesn’t seem like such a “long winter.”

Lisa Mayotte, Hopkins


Good. That’s over with. (Isn’t it?) Now let’s get down to business.

This week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a pretty smart and experienced politician, found herself on what the Brits call a sticky wicket because a freshman U.S. representative from Minneapolis spoke her mind about the question of congressional loyalty to Israel being, in her judgment, placed above loyalty to our country. The congresswoman from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, seemed not to be aware that if you criticize Israel and its right to, like other countries, say and do dumb, racist and even inhuman things to its minority peoples, that criticism is considered to be what is called a trope. That is, I believe, a code word for anti-Semitic. Or so it seems to be for the mob of reaction she has fostered.

More than 40 years ago, the ACLU had to intervene on behalf of free speech when the meaningfully Jewish population of Skokie, Ill., banned American Nazis from marching. Perhaps as many as 1 in 6 Skokie citizens had relatives who had been killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust. This action, in the name of civil liberties, might have been a tough call, as a large proportion of the ACLU members were, themselves, Jewish. As, by the way, am I.

Today, we see an American Muslim congresswoman making a political and human-rights criticism of a nation we support. A country with an Arab population percentage perhaps 20 times that here in the U.S. And we, collectively, lose it.

I’ve read her statements, I’ve listened to her comments, and I am reminded of the march in Skokie (which, in the end, never really occurred). Are we so concerned that American Jews can’t tell the difference between criticism of the political entity Israel and the religious heritage and faith of Judaism? Or is it that Ilhan Omar is a Muslim?

In any event, we are wasting Speaker Pelosi’s and Congress’s time and energy over this exercise of speech by an energetic congresswoman? You had your meaningless vote, now please get back to work. You have serious issues to confront.

Michael Goldner, Minneapolis

The writer is a retired former president of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota.

• • •

After reviewing the U.S. House’s expansive condemnation of bigotry, I noticed the following. It cites anti-Semitic and anti-Muslimism bigotry, but also condemned bigotry against black Americans, Latinos, American Indians, Asian-Americans, Pacific Islanders, and other people of color. Also included are Hindus, Sikhs and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and immigrants (per the Star Tribune front-page article March 8).

It appears that the resolution covers everyone except straight white nonimmigrant Americans. They could have saved a lot of ink by just saying that. Now, I feel discriminated against!!

Bill Filler, South St. Paul

• • •

Congressional Democrats’ response to Rep. Omar’s anti-Semitic remarks quickly descended into Swiftian farce. Their response to the metastatic cancer growing in the heart of the party? Take two aspirins and call me in the morning. Their moral credentials secure, the Lilliputians will now return to the righteous task of subduing the ogre executive under the tendrils of a thousand subpoenas. The people’s work, just as our founders envisioned. Self-awareness is a terrible thing to waste. Better not to have it. Yes, by all means, let’s give these people more power over our lives.

Chip Allen, Woodbury

• • •

In all the coverage of the heated Ilhan Omar controversy, I’ve yet to see mentioned the fact that she has virtually no experience in elected office: One term in the Minnesota House of Representatives and then, boom, off to Congress. Her tone-deaf behavior since January stems in large part, I think, from her not even having been around the block yet.

Therefore, a modest proposal: Congress should enact what we’ll call the Six Month Rule, allowing people like Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other congressional newbies time to take a breath and begin cultivating on-the-job smarts. Omar is a special case, because her sentiments have a toxic edge. With Ocasio-Cortez and her allies, there’s nothing wrong with their aspirations. But they are so clearly full of themselves now that they might as well be agents planted by the Republicans to discredit Democrats. For all our sakes, the congressional neophytes should just pipe down for a while, develop a strategy — an actual legislative strategy, not a street-organizing one — build some credibility, and meanwhile let Pelosi run interference.

Phil Freshman, St. Louis Park


Indeed, our journey isn’t done yet. Today’s topic: Health and veganism

I couldn’t disagree more with Gary L. Engstrom’s March 6 counterpoint (“Animal fats, bad? Our dietary journey isn’t done yet ...”), which suggested that eating only plant-based diets is not healthy. Engstrom did have a few good points, such as eating whole foods and that those whole foods are best when in season. However, there is no need to eat animal foods. Nobody is going to tell me that eating even one, much less four, eggs a day is healthy. Eggs are pure cholesterol, plain and simple. (Please do your research regarding eggs!) Besides, cauliflower containing choline, broccoli, beans and kale, among others, contain enough choline for optimum health. Also, it is possible to get the proper omega-3-to-omega-6 ratios with purely plant-based foods.

People on vegan diets have been thriving for decades. Animal protein and animal fat cause 90 percent of debilitating and deadly human diseases, including cancer, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and so on. The World Health Organization classifies meat as a carcinogen!

There is no reputable health organization that says a plant-based diet is unhealthy. The largest health care management company in the world — Kaiser Permanente — is pushing whole foods plant-based diets and has a 32-page booklet online teaching people how to be vegan and healthy. Humana, the third-largest health care insurance company, just trained a thousand doctors in plant-based diets as preventive medicine.

I have been 100 percent vegan for over a year now, and 98 percent four years prior. I have never been healthier! I only wish I would’ve done it sooner. I would recommend anyone considering transitioning to a plant-based diet to go to, a great source of information on the subject.

Mary Bergherr-Michels, Minneapolis


A reason beyond sloth why some might opt for the drive-up

The March 7 letter that disparaged able-bodied people for taking advantage of the Target curbside pickup was interesting. I often disparage able-bodied people for taking the elevator when they could take the steps. I totally get where the commenter is coming from.

The interesting part is that I am one of those able-bodied people who will do whatever I can to avoid going into a store. I do all my shopping online or by curbside pickup. Why? Because most stores like Target, Cub and Walmart are sensory overload for people who can’t tolerate high amounts of sensory input. It simply is nauseating to go into one of these stores and navigate around aisles, bright lights, strangers in your path and small chat at the checkout, with thousands of words and colors shooting into your brain per second.

Finally there is the technology to help people like me who can’t handle the input. Most of us have good reasons for partaking in the curbside pickup (small children, for one). We are not lazy; we are finally relieved of unwanted stress to our nervous systems!

Stephanie Beaulieu, Maple Grove