For more than three decades, they have sought out and killed innocents. From the Marine barracks in Beirut to 9 /11 to recent attacks in Paris and Manchester.

What would you call the perpetrators of such acts — militants? Why are so many so afraid to describe the enemy as it describes itself: "Islamic."

Osama bin Laden and his followers declared a fatwa against America and the West, and by their own words, declared themselves to be not just terrorists but Islamist terrorists with a religious goal — to re-establish a true Islamic society in the Middle East by removing any "stain" of American or Western influence by force.

While the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful and prefer nonviolent and political approaches to effect change, a minority, led by revolutionary groups like Al-Qaida and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, favor a jihad or holy war dependent upon violence and military action.

The root of the 9 /11 and other recent terror attacks is not poverty, ignorance or a lack of empathy. It is an ideology of religious terrorism that bin Laden willingly embraced and spread to his followers.

We must recognize that ISIS and Al-Qaida represent a clear and present danger that calls for not only decisive action, but for precise definition of who our enemy is. If we are more fearful of being called a xenophobe or bigot than being willing to protect our children, then we have already lost.

We must be willing to understand our enemy as he/she is, not as we might wish him/her to be.

Paul Niebeling, Woodbury

• • •

President Trump has vowed to obliterate ISIS using military force. He will kill people, but he cannot kill a belief, an ideology. Not through violence. If we could redirect our vast resources and focus instead on finding common ground, working with influential leaders against all violence and getting to tolerance of all nonviolent faiths, then we will obliterate it. It will not happen in a day, but it is possible within a generation.

Gail Mullaney, Woodbury

• • •

Ahmed Tharwat ("To Arabs, Trump is just America without its mask," May 23) says that the U.S. has mistreated Arabs and Muslims by the "bombing, invasions and destruction of their countries. Supporting Arab dictators and oppressive regimes."

Mr. Tharwat makes the U.S. sound like the devil, or, shall we say, the Great Satan. He points out every flaw and exaggerates it to the point of caricature. But his views are too extreme. He has pointed out only the negative and missed the positive.

The U.S. came to the aid of Kuwait, a Muslim nation, in the Gulf War, after Iraq invaded Kuwait. We also came to the aid of the Bosnian Muslims during the Bosnian War and Albanian Muslims during the Kosovo War.

The war in Afghanistan was fought in response to the 9/11 attacks by Al-Qaida, which the Taliban had allowed to fester in Afghanistan. And, although many now agree that the war in Iraq was not justified, it had the beneficial effect of toppling one of the "Arab dictators and oppressive regimes" that Tharwat says that the U.S. is so fond of.

James Brandt, New Brighton

Why do some people believe populated areas shouldn't count?

I'll never understand the insistence of some folks, including a May 24 letter writer, that a vote cast in California, Texas, Florida or New York should carry less weight in a presidential election than a vote cast in Wyoming, North Dakota or Vermont. In about 10 years (knock wood), I hope to retire someplace sunny and warm — say, the aforementioned California or Florida (or perhaps Austin or San Antonio). I see no reason why my vote should diminish in impact simply by virtue of my moving from one state to another.

As Donald Trump tweeted in 2012 (before he was a Republican politician benefiting from it): "The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy."

Anne Hamre, Roseville

Don't misplace the blame

The May 24 letters blame the spike in rental rates at an Edina apartment complex ("Rent spikes roil Edina tenants," May 23) on the wrong people. The property was owned by a now-deceased woman who allowed her tenants a very generous arrangement for many years. The new owner is bringing the property in line with the market for rent charged in the area. One writer says Edina should have rent control. The other blames the evil bankers administering the estate. Neither considers the person whose will did not provide for a trust to continue her generosity. Neither considers that perhaps she felt she had done enough for her tenants. Neither considers whether anyone ever told her, "Thank you."

Dave Porter, Bloomington

Organization remains on-target

The writer of "There's reason to believe local organization has lost its way" (Readers Write, May 22) seriously misrepresents the mission and impact of Womenwinning. Womenwinning was founded 35 years ago by a group of pro-choice Democrat and Republican women who believed that increasing pro-choice women's representation in elected offices across Minnesota meant working across party lines.

Today, this ability to bridge differences remains critical to the mission. Despite increasing partisanship at all levels of government, Womenwinning has retained its commitment to electing women who defend abortion rights, regardless of their political party. While the candidates Womenwinning endorses are leaders on issues across the policy spectrum, the right to choose remains the singular focus of the organization's political work — and this focus has helped the organization double the number of pro-choice women legislators, county commissioners and mayors in Minnesota since 1982.

None of this is meant to imply that other issues like health care and the minimum wage aren't also important to women's lives or that efforts to support political leadership in those areas aren't also valuable — but Womenwinning has remained true to its focus on electing pro-choice women.

It is more important than ever that we stand together in support of a woman's right to choose. As Womenwinning demonstrates with its long history of results, it is possible to move beyond partisanship when we find shared values and work toward them together.

Debra Fitzpatrick, St. Louis Park