U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s first couple months in Congress are similar to Paul Wellstone’s. I worked on Paul’s 1990 campaign and transitioned to the Senate office. Before we were able to move from our campaign’s office, Paul had conducted his anti-Iraq War news conference at the Vietnam Memorial. It did not go well. As we sat behind large storefront windows, our phone lines lit up with angry callers, including some death threats.
Paul quickly learned his lesson. He never stopped fighting for what he believed in, but changed his approach. Sometimes he would hold up legislation to demand funding for energy assistance or stop a drug patent extension. His disruption had a purpose, to fight to improve the lives of his constituents. Paul eventually gained the admiration of senators across the aisle and worked with them to extend VA health benefits to families of atomic veterans and to require mental health coverage in insurance plans — a far-reaching health care improvement that no one in Congress wants to roll back.
Rep. Omar also stumbled out of the gate with her unfortunate use of anti-Semitic tropes. She recently said in an interview that she wants to be a “disrupter.” That’s fine as long there is a plan to use her elected position to improve people’s lives. Her plan should include fewer tweets and more meetings with constituents to understand their concerns and use their stories to put a face on legislative solutions.
Scott Adams, Chicago
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As usual, media is reporting the Ilhan Omar flap as personality melodrama to the exclusion of the underlying issue. What is American policy regarding Israel/Palestine?
America formally endorses the two-state solution. But our advocacy is lukewarm, allowing Israel to assimilate the West Bank via private real estate transactions. Conquest by a thousand plats.
(By the way, I have not blundered into an “anti-Semitic trope.” America once systematically excluded Jewish citizens from real estate (and banking) professions.)
There are two realistic solutions in Israel/Palestine: two-state or one-state. Either Palestine is a sovereign nation controlling the West Bank and Gaza, and Israeli settlers become Palestinian nationals or resident aliens (two-state). Or Israel claims those territories and accepts the indigenous people as full citizens (one-state).
At present, Palestinians are refugees in situ. This reality suggests a third alternative, the no-state solution, whereby the Palestinians are recognized as stateless and offered assistance to resettle anywhere in the world. Unfortunately this runs afoul of the MAGA regime, for which “greatness” is somehow exempt from magnanimity.
Mark Warner, Minneapolis
RENAMING BUILDINGS AT THE U
It’s beginning to seem no one will ever be good enough for the future
As a proud University of Minnesota graduate in liberal arts in 1968, I object to stripping the names from some campus buildings, suggesting that the past university presidents and esteemed faculty members for whom these edifices are named are no longer worthy of this honor because they adhered to the norms of the era in which they lived. which are not the norms of the current times.
If this is the standard going forward, the university should never name another building after any former faculty member. Surely in the future, it will be discovered that an esteemed past officer or faculty member drove a large SUV, knowingly allowed the university to heat buildings with fossil fuels, allowed plastic bags to be used in bookstores, or allowed soda and candy to be sold in the campus vending machines. Please stop this foolishness at the university and get back to the important business of education.
Mary Diercks, Minneapolis
BOOK REVIEW AND BIGOTRY
Disputed statement that whites can turn violent is demonstrably true
The statement in Joseph P. Williams’ March 3 review of the book “Dying of Whiteness” — that “it’s an unspoken truism among people of color: White people will kill to protect their position atop the social order, especially if they feel threatened by people who aren’t white” — is demonstrably true, despite a March 10 letter writer’s protests. As just one example, consider the events of 100 years ago.
Thousands of African-Americans fought honorably and heroically for democracy in World War I. Upon returning home, they dared hope — indeed, were encouraged to hope by the president — for democracy at home, the chance to participate on equal terms in the economic, social and political life of their communities and country. Whites, feeling their privileged position threatened, responded by forming mobs and killing hundreds of black people in rampages in dozens of locations in the summer and fall of 1919.
In the Arkansas delta, black sharecroppers — seeing the white landowners amass huge wealth on the backs of their labor — began organizing to seek a fair price for the cotton they grew. The white power structure took notice. Between Sept. 30 and Oct. 2, 1919, at least 200 African-Americans — men, women and children — were murdered.
In our country — during and after slavery, between the world wars, during the civil-rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s — which race has killed people of another race in huge numbers in order to instill terror, to keep them from getting an education, to keep them from voting, to keep them “in their place”? History tells us the answer.
Anne Hamre, Roseville
DEBT AND DEFICITS
Who’ll dare touch, as is necessary, the ‘third rail’ of entitlements?
The March 9 editorial “Both parties are failing on deficits” couldn’t have been more timely. The numbers the Star Tribune Editorial Board presented speak for themselves. I would only add beyond the discretionary spending, which the editorial referenced, it is worth emphasizing that the primary drivers of long-term debt are the “mandates” that are basically on automatic pilot and are not part of the annual appropriations process.
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget points out that over the next 10 years, 82 percent of spending growth will be due to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and interest payments. Aside from the interest component, the entitlements represent the proverbial “third rail” for most politicians, since any attempt to “adjust benefits” as part of the solution seems to be a nonstarter for elected officials of all stripes. The fear of the anticipated backlash for anything that looks like a diminished benefit seems to be universal. Until we have leadership that will deal honestly with the entitlement issue, we will just continue to kick this debt problem down the road.
Jeffrey Peterson, Minneapolis
PAUL MANAFORT SENTENCING
A truth, though you may wish it jest
I understand the disapproval of many over the lenient sentencing of Paul Manafort (“Manafort case over, justice is on trial,” front page, March 9). Yet it is not a surprise.
Shakespeare in “King Lear” observes:
Plate sin with gold,
And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks;
Arm it in rags, a pigmy’s straw does pierce it.
This view in 1605 was not new then. It remains firmly etched.
Richard Rose, Minneapolis
FATS IN THE DIET
So, I actually did research eggs …
A March 9 letter writer warns us that “eggs are pure cholesterol, plain and simple,” and advises us to “do your research regarding eggs.” So I did. It turns out that the albumen (white) portion makes up about two-thirds of the weight of an egg and contains virtually no fat. The yolk makes up about one-third of the weight of an egg and is about one-third fat. So even if all the fat in the yolk is cholesterol, that is only about one-ninth of the composition of a whole egg — hardly “pure cholesterol.”
Robert W. Carlson, Plymouth