Mitch Pearlstein ("Making sense of the debates over CRT and 'systemic racism,'" Opinion Exchange, Nov. 13) claims critical race theory is dangerous because of some imaginary Black students from the 1960s who were "inescapably" driven to give up on life by the politicians who pointed out that the U.S. is a racist society. If Pearlstein cared to open a history book rather than concoct hypothetical objections, he would find that people facing disadvantages often rigorously pursue education and other opportunities to better their lot in life. Black Americans in the South in the years following the adoption of the 13th Amendment in 1865, for instance, pursued literacy and education with zeal, funding schools for students of all ages out of their own pockets. These were people who could have had no illusions about the severe disadvantages that their white countrymen imposed upon them, and yet their own testimony and that of contemporary observers is full of descriptions of the lengths these Americans went to achieve literacy and any other education their community could make available.
These students, unlike those in Pearlstein's example, were real people and examples of the sort of ambition and work ethic that he seems to believe it is important that we instill in the next generations.
Stefan Lund, Charlottesville, Va.
Along with Pearlstein, I, too, deplore the drumbeat of racial statistics widely compiled since mandated desegregation of schools. Though historic racial segregation in the Twin Cities, both as redlining and de facto, was in fact a calamity for Black economic success, today the problem is less race than class. One can predict with near 100% accuracy the success of middle-class families of any color vs. poor families. The problem most often is poverty, especially in the form of unstable housing, which leads to unstable families, neighborhoods and education outcomes. Yet public discussion of economic class had been drowned out by racial statistics, which often do not tell today's story.
James P. Lenfestey, Minneapolis
The writer is a former Star Tribune editorial writer.
The opinion piece by Mitch Pearlstein is ridiculous. Problems are not solved by not talking about them.
By Pearlstein's logic, the threat to our democracy posed by the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol would go away if we just quit talking about it. And the COVID pandemic would not be a problem if people would just not talk about it. If only problems could be solved with silence. If we just quit talking about them we would solve racism, inflation, unemployment, deficit spending — you name it.
Leave it to someone from the Center of the American Experiment to let us know that talking about racism makes it worse than it really is. Here's a little advice from one old white guy to another: This sort of reasoning make matters worse, but let's not talk about it; we'll feel better.
Duane L. Cady, Shoreview
We are not doing this well
The article in the Nov. 12 opinion section by a knowledgeable (retired) Department of Natural Resources deputy commissioner highlights more than agency derelictions ("Minnesota's long wrong turn on natural resources," Opinion Exchange). It points to a lack of vision in this dystopian time. The recent news is full of problems associated with biodiversity loss (extinctions), global warming and climate change. Minnesota's DNR is stuck in a drastically outdated paradigm of the "greatest good for the greatest number." This idea, first adopted by U.S. Forest Service in 1905, is still the foundation of DNR's mission statement: "to conserve and manage the state's natural resources, to provide outdoor recreation opportunities, and to provide for commercial uses of natural resources" for a "sustainable quality of life."
It appears obvious that this utilitarian goal is pie-in-the-sky. Consider the magnitude of Minnesota's natural resources: the state lands and water (86,939 square miles) contain habitat for native plants (2,687 vascular plants, 3,206 lichens, mosses and fungi) and animals (540 vertebrate species: 250 breeding birds, 77 mammals, 213 fish, reptiles and amphibians).
Modern management descriptions of this large resource variety use concepts like "biodiversity," "range of natural variation" and "ecosystems." Unfortunately, these words do not tell humanity what to do. First, think about carbon and land use. For a livable future climate, the United States already has unsustainable use of fossil energy and land development. We must now work hard to ameliorate these effects. The Minnesota DNR can do its part with a goal for our millions of acres of public lands that maximizes carbon storage for our northern mixed conifer forests and peatlands. Added benefit for biodiversity: no more clear-cuts and monocultures.
Janet C. Green, Duluth, Minn.
The writer has been part of the Minnesota Forest Resources Council, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Board and several DNR advisory committees.
I appreciated the thoughtful commentary by John Windschill about the long term safety of nuclear power and its importance as a source of energy that will help us prevent more global warming ("Without new thinking, climate policy can't succeed," Nov. 12). Of course this role of nuclear power was pointed out in 2009 by NASA scientist James Hansen in his book, "Storms of My Grandchildren."
After Three Mile Island in 1979 and later the Chernobyl disaster, nuclear power developed a bad reputation among environmentalists. Even today it is often ignored as a power source in discussions about mitigating global warming. But it will be impossible to achieve the goal of weaning humanity off burning fossil fuels and preventing critical levels of global warming without nuclear power plants.
In 1982 a new technology called NMR imaging was described in the journal Radiology, based on nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. But the negative connotation of the word "nuclear" in this promising technology's name and how that might inhibit its growth it began to be called "Magnetic Resonance Imaging," or MRI.
For the same reason, we should start referring to the safe and useful technology reviewed by Windschill as "fission power." This will help people including environmentalists like me get over our fears and include fission power in long-term plans to stabilize our energy supply while preventing more global warming. To those who would criticize this rebranding as a disingenuous PR move, I counter that it is no more disingenuous than referring to human-caused global warming as "climate change" to obfuscate its origin.
Eric L. Bressler, Minnetonka
While it seems like we Minnesotans love our lakes, proudly proclaiming 10,000 lakes on our license plates, apparently we don't really. Under our care we've let companies dump toxic waste into them so that now 3,000 rivers, lakes or streams are too polluted for swimming or fishing ("State list of polluted waters grows," Nov. 9). Maybe it's time to change our license plate slogan to "3,000 polluted lakes."
Thank you to the Star Tribune for reporting this. I hope you will follow up by naming the names of companies that have spewed PFAS and sulfates, describing what Minnesota has done to stop it, and tell us why the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency tallies polluted lakes but doesn't have the teeth or the will (which?) to stop it. I hope also that you will stop offering excuses, like that some of the pollution blows over from other states. Granted, it's true. So also do Minnesota coal plants, etc., spew toxins into eastbound air, polluting Wisconsin, the Great Lakes and beyond. Let's focus on what Minnesota companies have done and what, if we love our lakes enough, we need to do to stop it.
Barbara Draper, Minneapolis
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