I want to thank Bonnie Blodgett for her wonderful Nov. 3 commentary “The two worlds according to David W. Noble.” My wife and I had the privilege of knowing David, a University of Minnesota history professor who died in 2018, for 35 years. We live in his St. Anthony Park neighborhood. His grandchildren and our children grew up together. Though neither of us were in his classes, we were still his students over those years. I’ve read nearly everything he published and had the privilege of talking with him about those books as his thinking grew and deepened.
Blodgett did an excellent job describing the two worlds he discerned in American culture and in the writing of American history. He was a courageous pioneer who dared to challenge the dominant conventional telling of American history — e.g., in his “Historians Against History” and in the book he co-authored with Peter N. Carroll, “The Free and the Unfree.” American history is more than legitimizing the right of white European Christian males to the land we now call the United States of America and the dispossession and subjugation of its native peoples and the importing of African-American slaves. Real history tells the whole story: the good, the bad and the ugly. It is neither eternal nor inevitable; it is timeful and more than rational. It is lived out on a finite planet, by fallible people, in an organic world in which all things are related.
In honor of David, some friends and I started the “Real American History Book Group: Learning the Whole Story” three years ago in St. Anthony Park. We are still going strong.
I’m so grateful that Blodgett took the time to write about this complex, courageous and loving man who gave so much to his family, his students, his colleagues and his friends. We still have much to learn and to develop from what David has written and taught.
Grant Abbott, St. Paul
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What a disappointment to read Blodgett’s article about Noble only to have it end as an endorsement for Elizabeth Warren for president. If the Star Tribune is publishing opinions and articles that are actually political endorsements, it should be stated clearly at the beginning or maybe be considered advertising so the candidate can pay for the space.
Laura L. Jensen, Richfield
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OMG! Blodgett has done it again! Her article about Noble expands my knowledge and postgraduate education by providing valuable information I missed. I want a Ph.D. in Bonnie Blodgett! Thank you, Star Tribune, for helping to supply it. The newspaper price certainly beats college tuition and at my age (81 and stopped counting) is more practical.
Carol Cochran, Minneapolis
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Blodgett makes it sound as if Francis Fukuyama was advocating for a completely unregulated capitalist system and that we currently have that kind of harsh system in the United States.
She says that Fukuyama, in his “The End of History and the Last Man,” made “a world of unfettered excess” seem plausible. She misses the point of the book. He wasn’t arguing in favor of unregulated market capitalism. What he was saying is that, with the fall of the Soviet Union, the contest between democracy and other forms of government had been decided in favor of democracy, and the contest between capitalism and communism had been decided in favor of capitalism.
She also says that, thanks to Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama selling out to deregulation, we now have a situation where “the fittest thrive in a dog-eat-dog world.” It simply isn’t true. The U.S. does not have free-market, unregulated capitalism, nor do we have dog-eat-dog conditions. We have quite a bit of government regulation, as well as public schools, Social Security, welfare, Medicaid, Medicare and many other forms of economic assistance.
Private enterprise and private property have done more to alleviate poverty than has any other economic system. It’s unfortunate that so many people have come to revile the system that has brought us so much prosperity. It would be a shame if Ms. Blodgett’s commentary led even more people away from a beneficial system.
James Brandt, New Brighton
TAXING THE WEALTHY
Should they stay or go (or come)?
The most significant sentence in D.J. Tice’s Nov. 3 column about how estate taxes can cause the wealthy to move away was a quote from two researchers: “Among the 14 states that had an estate tax as of 2017, the benefits of having it exceed the costs in all but four high [income tax] states: Hawaii, Minnesota, Oregon and Vermont.” In other words, Minnesota loses more revenue than it gains from the estate tax, because that tax helps motivate a number of wealthy people to move away and take their taxable income and wealth elsewhere. I choose the term “helps motivate” rather than “causes” for a reason. Another factor that will soon encourage wealthy Minnesotans to stay is climate change. Our cold winters have become less cold on average. Warmer states are suffering more and more from hurricanes and forest fires. We have water that other states do not. Time will tell.
Jim Bartos, Brooklyn Park
Oh, that old saw …
Reading “Smugglers saw through Trump’s border wall” (Nov. 3), I could not stifle a laugh. As part of my regular security presentations, I teach students that no wall is impenetrable and use Trump’s wall as an example. The article stated that smugglers are using readily available saws. In my class I demonstrate it this way: According to Stratfor, “Explosives are plentiful in Mexico due to their widespread use in the country’s mining and petroleum sectors.”
Given the billions of dollars available to the gangs, how hard do you think it would be for a gang to procure some TNT and blasting caps? And, how many seconds do you think it would take to plant a small bomb and retreat to a safe distance?
Trump’s wall is costing billions in tax dollars to build. Anyone with $100 can bypass it in less than 60 seconds. The wall is just another carnival attraction for those who believe what they read on the internet.
Daniel Morgan, Edina
TRUMP AND TWITTER
Sign him out
How can you tell President Donald Trump is lying? Because he is (a) opening his mouth, (b) tweeting or (c) both of the above. As the Nov. 3 article “Far-right fakery fills Trump’s Twitter” pointed out, Trump has sent more than 11,000 tweets, many of them full of outright falsehoods (according to the Washington Post’s Fact Checker, he made 13,435 false or misleading claims over his first 993 days in office), bullying taunts and childish insults directed at his critics. None of these have been held to the test of Twitter’s stated policy of “combating abuse motivated by hatred, prejudice or intolerance, particularly abuse that seeks to silence the voices of those who have been historically marginalized.”
How many of Trump’s tweets of a harassing, abusive or hateful nature have been allowed because they are deemed “of public interest,” a completely useless standard? And what good does it do to suspend accounts pushing conspiracy or fringe theories if the Prevaricator-in-Chief has already retweeted them to his loyal minions, many of whom ignore the mainstream media? If Twitter were to even remotely enforce its basic standards against Trump, his account would long ago have been suspended or deleted.
Joseph Humsey, Woodbury
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