Jon Tevlin's column ("Debate over art could be put to good purpose," Dec. 2) makes me suspect that the painting of Indians attacking New Ulm will remain prominent in the State Capitol, maybe with a small plaque explaining that there is another side to the story.
If any of these war paintings must remain, I suggest the approach used by the Culloden Battlefield and Visitor Centre in Scotland. That battle, in 1746, changed the way of life in Scotland forever, and it has great ongoing significance for "both sides" living there today. The museum has long halls featuring art and memorabilia as well as audio re-enactments from many viewpoints, including ordinary people: the quartermaster who explains how much food was involved, the woman whose house was occupied, soldiers who were hungry and cold, clan chiefs who raised money. But wonderfully, each side of the hall tells the story from a different perspective — the Scottish rebels on one side and the English royalists on the other. I so appreciated the lack of simplistic "good guys" and "bad guys" and the chance to understand some of the complexities. This history comes alive in a way that might help us avoid future wars.
If we must display the Gag painting, can't we commission another painting to hang right next to it showing the other perspective, the Indians who were attacked?
Bonnie Peace Watkins, St. Paul
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Those of us who want offensive art removed from the State Capitol are not pushing censorship as some suggest. Quite the contrary. Many of us are asking for the art to be moved to a museum where it can have better interpretation and discussion. The Capitol is not set up to be a history museum and teaching tool.
And to be clear, some of the art is truly offensive for a public building. Look hard at the mural in the Senate Chambers titled "The Discoverers and Civilizers Led to the Source of the Mississippi." It is an allegorical painting with many symbols of Manifest Destiny, including the forced conversion of American Indians. A priest holds out a cross at an Indian man and woman who appear trapped; behind the priest, another man among the crowd of "civilizers" restrains two attack dogs. If we believe in freedom of religion, this painting has no place in our Capitol.
Scott Russell, Minneapolis
PLANNED PARENTHOOD ATTACK
Editorial exaggerated views of anti-abortion violence
I read with considerable frustration the Star Tribune editorial Dec. 1 attacking those with pro-life views ("Planned Parenthood and a warlike attack"). The writer describes a "decadeslong stretch of hateful, inflammatory rhetoric and periodic violence employed to limit the constitutional right of a woman to control her body."
I have been involved in the pro-life movement for a long time, many years as a journalist covering pro-life events. I have seen no violence, threats of violence or even hints of violence on the part of pro-life activists, and I have been to many of the largest pro-life rallies over the last 19 years. The people I have observed are peaceful, including young mothers who often bring their children to pray and express their pro-life views.
The editorial writer's exaggerated claims indicate two problems: 1) Residing in some type of leftist cocoon in which dialogue takes place only with others holding the same view and rarely if ever with someone holding an opposing view, and 2) Adherence to a strictly "either/or" attitude when it comes to the mother and her unborn child. Simply put, many pro-abortion advocates believe that, in this debate, one must either put the child or the mother first, generally at the expense of the other.
Pro-lifers, on the other hand, adopt a "both/and" view. We believe it is possible to protect the well-being of both the mother and her unborn child. We simply don't think it is necessary to choose one over the other, even when the pregnancy creates high stress for the mother. For decades, the pro-life movement has offered resources for women to help them with their pregnancy and, if need be, their child after birth — all free of charge.
This tragic incident involving the clinic in Colorado is a chance to reiterate the true pro-life message, which has been repeated for more than four decades — we don't believe in killing anybody.
Dave Hrbacek, St. Paul
In Brooklyn Park, an incident that might have been terrible
I came upon a brief article about a Brooklyn Park police officer who, while attempting to arrest a man who had a warrant out for his arrest, was beaten so severely that he was taken away from the scene on a stretcher ("Man charged with assault of Brooklyn Park officer," Dec. 2). While choking the officer and screaming "I am going to (expletive) kill you," the suspect tried to take the officer's gun and it discharged. Luckily no one was hit. With everything that's been going on at the Minneapolis Fourth Precinct station, in Chicago and elsewhere around the country, how is it that this isn't front-page news? We were one stray bullet from another "unarmed suspect" being shot by the police. Would we have seen protesters showing outrage with the Brooklyn Park mayor and police? Probably so. But there obviously could have been another result if the suspect had gotten what he wished for: The cop could have been killed. I'm curious what, if anything, the protesters and their supporters will have to say about this incident and whether the clergy members who gathered at Minneapolis City Hall show any interest or have anything to say.
Dale Cermak, Rush City, Minn.
Paris talks show split between
GOP ideology and rest of world
As the COP 21 climate talks continue in Paris, the GOP is already busy getting ready to undo any U.S. pledge ("GOP hopes to block any climate agreement," Dec. 1). There are 184 countries in Paris that believe that climate change is happening and that doing nothing will be catastrophic and will cost eventually trillions of dollars in adaptation costs. World and religious leaders like the pope and billions of world citizens understand and believe what 98 percent of climate scientists are telling us. Yet the ideology of the GOP refuses to deal with this issue for fear of more governmental bureaucracy and cost. The cost of dealing with it now will be a pittance compared with dealing with it later, and there is the possibility of it being too late. Let's hope this rigid GOP ideology soon goes the way of the dinosaur.
Mike Menzel, Edina
At Abbott, it's about time
Kudos to Abbott Northwestern Hospital for adjusting its cafeteria menu to align with its stated mission of health promotion ("McDonald's long hospital stay is coming to an end at Abbott," Dec. 2). As a new customer of a hip replacement, I spent a few days at this highly regarded institution. I must admit I was shocked at both the in-house site of a McDonald's and the cafeteria offerings of this bastion of health and well-being. As near as I could tell, everything but the salad bar was breaded, deep-fried, barbecued or "gravied." The lone choice for those eschewing meat was a fried black-bean burger. I believe this decision will help Allina's food service better support the Hippocratic oath.
Eddie Ryshavy, Plymouth