The April 12 article “Viral video captures dairy despair” was stunning. I can’t get over the response to this Pine Island, Minn., farmer from the enormous co-op Land O’Lakes that “we plan to continue open dialogue with them.” That’s their best response? Where is the innovation in working these complex issues? Where is the aggressive push with Congress to lobby for new options? If the current methods of this co-op were succeeding, their family farmers wouldn’t be in this terrible situation. Where is the fierce and powerful industry leadership? Their farmer members should be demanding much more.

Mary Brock, St. Paul

U.S. REP. ILHAN OMAR

Seems people go out of their way to misinterpret her words

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar has become the punching bag for Islamaphobes and Republicans (“Her characterization last month of Sept. 11 attacks was very insensitive,” Readers Write, April 12). Any fair-minded person reading her remarks last month about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in context (“Some people did something and … all of us were starting to lose our civil liberties”) understands she is saying that when few Muslims commit an act, all Muslims are blamed. “Some people” do “something” is an abstract statement, not a particularized statement. To say that her word “something” is somehow a whitewash of the 9/11 disaster is a gross distortion of her plain meaning.

Edward J. Schwartzbauer, Edina

• • •

Omar’s description of 9/11 as when “some people did something” unwittingly (which appears to be her default mode of thought) provides a model for describing other historical events. A few examples:

• Dec. 26, 1862: Mankato, Minn.

• Dec. 29, 1890: Wounded Knee, S.D.

• May 7, 1915: Off the Irish coast.

• April 26, 1937: Guernica, Spain.

• Dec. 13, 1937: Nanjing, China.

• Dec. 7, 1941: Hawaii.

• February 13, 1945: Dresden.

• Aug. 6, 1945: Hiroshima.

Those “people,” they are always doing “something.”

George Woytanowitz, Minneapolis

• • •

The April 12 letter writer criticizing Omar for insensitivity to the 9/11 attacks might learn something by reviewing the last 70 years of U.S. foreign policy and by reading an April 2018 article by Nicholas J. Davies at Consortium News:

“I have estimated that America’s post-9/11 wars have killed about 6 million people… . The people of Mosul, Raqqa, Kobane, Sirte, Fallujah, Ramadi, Tawergha and Deir Ez-Zor have died like trees falling in a forest where there were no Western reporters or TV crews to record their massacres. As Harold Pinter asked of earlier U.S. war crimes in his 2005 Nobel acceptance speech: ‘Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to U.S. foreign policy? The answer is yes, they did take place, and they are in all cases attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn’t know it. It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening, it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest.’ ”

Do the math. On average, U.S. bombings in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen killed a thousand Muslim civilians each day for 17 years. An April 10 letter writer in the Star Tribune, quoting Prof. Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, nailed it: “Our [U.S.] military aren’t dying for their country. They’re dying for the indifference of their countrymen and women who can’t be bothered to pay attention to the reasons why we are sending people to war.”

I am grateful to be represented by a woman with the courage to call this country to account for its criminal acts and its citizens’ criminal indifference.

William Beyer, St. Louis Park

MEASLES AND VACCINATION

Don’t be gentle about it, and don’t give opponents a forum

I was appalled to see that the Star Tribune opinion editors published a letter from a hard-core vaccine denier (“If proponents feel they’re safe, they must explain the problems we see,” Readers Write, April 12). The author even trots out the thoroughly discredited assertion that there is some relationship between vaccinations and autism.

The problem of vaccine refusal is becoming very serious. There is a straightforward solution: Failure to vaccinate children should be classified as child abuse. The laws about child abuse are quite clear: Arrest the parents and remove the children from their custody immediately. Once removed from their parents’ custody, the children’s vaccinations could be made current. If there were no other indications of child abuse, the children could then be returned to their parents. Penalties for the parents could be relatively mild, perhaps a few hours of community service, although there should be removals and harsher penalties if the behavior continues. Problem solved. Example set. Move forward.

Jeffrey Loesch, Minneapolis

• • •

As a neurologist, the April 12 letter about vaccination caught my attention. The gentleman wrote in to express his family’s concerns that the marked increase in developmentally impaired children may be due to vaccinations. Implicit in his letter is a sense of distrust in the pharmaceutical industry.

On the latter point, it is understandable that the behavior of Big Pharma sows distrust. Price-gouging, endless advertising, closing options for generic competition, etc., have left many of us with deep concerns. However, vaccines are some of the most carefully studied medications, with very long track records for safety. The measles vaccine, for instance, has been used for decades.

The rapid increase in number of affected children (including not only ASD but also ADHD, reduced intelligence and emotional-control issues) likely relate to the tens of thousands of toxic chemicals released into our air and water with virtually no oversight or safety testing. For example, maternal exposure to diesel exhaust correlates with higher risk of developmental impairment assessed at age 9. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals can effect brain development and include many pesticides, flame retardants, fuels and plasticizers. Unfortunately, more well-known toxics (e.g., lead, mercury) remain widespread in our environment.

In my opinion, this family’s very real concerns would be better focused on improved regulation of environmental toxins.

Dr. Bruce D. Snyder, St. Paul

• • •

What is different about today vs. when I grew up? Off the top of my head: Today, instead of family farms, we have huge corporate farms applying literally tons of various chemicals year after year on our fruits, vegetables and animal crops in the name of ever-increasing yields. Do we even have a cursory understanding of the long-term effects of these chemicals in our food chain? What would be the effects on developing fetuses and very young children?

Then, when these foods reach a processing plant, they are subjected to more chemicals to “process” them into foods young children eat every day of their lives. I’m not saying these chemicals are to blame, because we don’t know for sure and maybe never will: How a specific combination of chemicals in specific amounts affects one child’s brain vs. another’s would be nearly impossible to determine. But maybe it’s time we consider a possible link between chemical consumption and the increasing numbers of children diagnosed with autism.

Linda McGowan, Blaine

• • •

I take issue with the April 12 letter writer and his contention that “back in the 1940s and ’50s” there were “very few of the children now known as special-needs students.” Autism itself was first characterized in 1941. At that time, children with special needs were simply not identified — it was a time well before Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004.

Today, anti-vax hysterics choose to ignore science at their children/grandchildren’s and society’s peril. Multiple studies have failed to establish any credible link between vaccinations and autism. And, meanwhile, innocent people (the unvaccinated and immunocompromised) are objectively harmed, sometimes permanently, through disease outbreaks, such as the current measles outbreak in New York, that are directly traceable to a weakened “herd” immunity.

Many medical conditions are exceedingly complex, and “causes” remain elusive (think: cancer). To imply that vaccinations be made optional until a definitive cause of autism is found is preposterous.

There’s one very appropriate characterization for such proponents: selfishness!

Evan Bartlett Page, Minneapolis