I’m surprised that the Star Tribune provided such prominent space to the reader advocating for the closing of libraries (“Add libraries to the list,” Readers Write, Nov. 27). The very reasons the writer listed for the closing of libraries are why we need to keep them open. Children and adolescents need a place to seek out books to stimulate their minds and indulge their curiosity. Adults need books to get through the upcoming long winter, which includes the ability to pick out something interesting from the shelves rather than waiting for months for their requests to trickle in. Placing books outside during the dark days of January is a poor choice for the only way to obtain library materials. It will all but shut down participation by young people who will be unlikely to go through multiple steps of seeking out book titles online, requesting them and waiting for weeks or months for them to be available.
Closing the libraries because some patrons are not wearing masks correctly or are lingering too long is no reason to deprive all of us of these wonderful and essential services. Compliance problems occur at stores, takeout restaurants and everywhere else, and it is not a reason to shut these places down. We’ve all learned many skills over the course of the pandemic in how to conduct ourselves. Gently reminding our fellow citizens to adjust their masks rather than simply complaining to overworked employees is not easy, but it is our responsibility.
If Minnesotans don’t feel safe going to libraries, they don’t need to do so. But closing them at this point in the pandemic would deprive many of us of an important community resource.
Alec Albee, Plymouth
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I am writing in regard to the call for closing the libraries. I live alone, and the shutdown is very difficult. At this time I can’t go to friends’ houses or the YMCA or do other activities. I am always looking for a safe place to go and see people. And yes, I do go for walks in the nature center.
My library in Austin, Minn., is well run. There is hand sanitizer at the entrance. Everybody I see wears a mask. I don’t know how I could stay more than an hour, as the writer said she sees at her library, because there is nowhere to sit down. I rarely require the services of a librarian.
Some seem to like the narrative that people are being irresponsible, but that is not what I see. If the letter writer does not feel safe in her library, she should stay home. However, I will continue my 15-minute, masked visits to the Austin Public Library as long as I can.
Karen Herreid, Austin, Minn.
A potential compromise on Line 3
Concerning the Line 3 oil pipeline letter “Scientists to Walz: Halt Line 3” (Readers Write, Dec. 3”): Here’s something that the two sides of the continuous altercations around Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement can build on — and out. Considering the objection to future environmental damage, concerns of Native Americans (and others) of the treatment of their land, eventual alternatives to the need for oil and gas and the short-lived employment surge, I have a solution ...
Agree to allow the Line 3 construction and use to continue but have a stipulation in the agreement that any use of Line 3 will terminate in 10 years or less while its strength to serve without incident can be assured. Also stipulate that at least the portion of the pipeline that crosses Native American land will be removed and the land restored to its original condition and value.
Tedd Johnson, Minneapolis
‘End racism’ on players’ uniforms is political — and controversial
A recent letter to the editor of the Star Tribune took the position that “end racism” isn’t at all controversial and so shouldn’t be taken as a political statement (“Uniforms can be billboards,” Dec. 1). Hence, this quote on the back of Gopher uniforms is completely acceptable. Let me try to explain why this is both controversial and political.
In the last few years there has been a strong effort to bend the definition of “racism” to new meanings. Among the super-woke, it is now racist if you are against affirmative action or if you claim that “structural racism” or “institutional racism” have no substantial meaning. Some will consider you racist if you disdain critical race theory. “Racism” is often claimed even if you haven’t made up your mind if these theories are true. It is difficult to determine what it means to “end racism.”
The old-fashioned definition of racism is when you treat different races differently, just because of their race. Under this old definition, the new theories themselves are racist. Under the old definition, many university professors and street activists are the largest group of racists around. Depending on the definition used, all of us might be in favor of or against racism. Thus, it is definitely controversial and political to “end racism.”
Mark V. Anderson, Minneapolis
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I have been following the debate over the message worn on the back of Gopher uniforms. I could understand the concern about promoting commercial or political views on athletic uniforms, then I looked closely at the message and it said, “end racism.” Personally, I see racism as a disease that impacts our nation. It damages the lives of a large portion of our American population. It is a disease that divides our people and weakens our entire nation.
I compare the message “end racism” to a message like “end cancer.” Would anybody be offended by “end cancer” on team jerseys? Cancer is a disease that impacts many Americans and American families, and as a result weakens our nation. This is the same impact as racism. Why should we treat these messages differently?
James Weygand, Carver
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How poignant that a Dec. 2 letter expresses frustration about the “end racism” message on Gopher jerseys, “There should be places where we get a break from it.” No doubt those who daily suffer the consequences of systemic racism agree there should be places to take a break as well and might have thought sleeping in their bed, barbecuing, playing in the park or driving home would have qualified. Racism does not take a break and attempts to draw attention to ending it shouldn’t either.
Annika Fjelstad, Minneapolis
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Regardless of whether or not you agree with it, the Gophers’ decision to wear “end racism” on their jerseys was a good one. It accomplished what it was trying to do. My proof: We’re all talking about it.
Here’s an idea: Maybe they didn’t go far enough. Maybe everyone should be made conscious, constantly, of American racism, until we are all so sick of it that we decide, once and for all, to do something about it. Then we can talk about “getting a break” from it.
Samuel Robertson, St. Paul
Congrats to the buyer of Kmart’s ‘K’
I read with joy today about Jason Pieper scoring the big red “K” from the defunct Lake Street Kmart (“Bidder wins the big red ‘K’ from atop shuttered Kmart,” Dec. 2). It makes me happy to see locals keeping Minnesota history of its icons and signage alive. I want to share my collection so locals can know where other legends have gone.
A most recent score was the sign from Toast Wine Bar in the North Loop where so many gathered and bonded for pizza, wine, friendships and marriages for a decade or so ending in 2017.
But before that I also got the original porn-green neon of a “Couples welcome” sign, probably from the front window of the American Empress Theater near Block E.
And the ultimate score was the front door to none other than Moby Dick’s. I whisked it from the wrecking ball and managed to wrangle this beauty from the demolition team. It’s a part of my home today.
I write this so people know that other history lives here in the Twin Cities.
Johnny Hagen, St. Paul
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