The armchair analysis of the writers of the two July 4 letters regarding the proposed Red River diversion project demonstrated that they had clearly not witnessed a flood in the valley. Large floods in the valley recreate a very shallow Glacial Lake Agassiz that is from 5 to 12 miles across. The third-highest flood of record in 1897 defined dry areas, and the locals noticed and built slightly above the flooding. That worked for many years, but those areas have long been fully developed. Yet Fargo, the largest city in North Dakota, containing 15 percent of the state’s population, needs to grow or die. That’s what towns and businesses do. Much of the area around Fargo was unregulated flood plain because it was unmapped, which is a prerequisite to regulating. And while the entire valley is subject to some flooding under some conditions, without mapping, growth cannot be focused in lower-risk areas. It’s easy to condemn past choices, as one of the letter writers does, although it’s not terribly constructive. Maybe he will lend his crystal ball indicating that no floods are coming larger than the ones that have occurred in the past.
I like wetland restoration and reversal of drainage projects as much as the other letter writer does, but for wildlife purposes; it is not an effective solution for flooding in the Red River Valley. A simple look at the heavy soil and lack of slope will tell you that such projects will not help large floods. If they did, the third-largest flood of record would not be the predrainage-era 1897 flood.
Jody Rooney, Stillwater
RACE RELATIONS AND PROTEST
Newspaper repeatedly favoring the wrong side in its coverage
It is very disappointing to read phrases like “protest turned violent” and “protesters crossed the line” in the Star Tribune’s coverage of the Black Lives Matter protest. That is utterly inaccurate.
The people throwing stuff from the pedestrian bridge were not part of the BLM protest. They were the same foolish brats who show up at any protest likely to draw a large police presence. They take advantage of the work of real activists in organizing a peaceful protest in order to throw things at cops and break stuff. At least some of these fools call themselves anarchists, thereby bringing shame to principled anarchists as well as to whatever protest movement they have parasitically invaded.
Good journalism demands accuracy. It is unfair to allow the violent action of these brats to tarnish the reputation of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Karen Gohdes, Minneapolis
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The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. marched on a highway from Selma to Montgomery. I assume the Star Tribune Editorial Department is planning on writing an editorial condemning his actions by saying that he “crossed a line that should have been enforced with the very first venture onto a freeway or rail line” (“Race relations: See reality, but heed law,” July 11). I also assume the Star Tribune is going to prove how MLK’s actions caused a “backfire on a movement.” If you’ve ever wondered which side of the 1950s/1960s civil rights movement you’d be on, your response to the recent Black Lives Matter protests will tell you.
Matthew Francis Hillis Byrnes, Minneapolis
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The featured letter on July 11 asks: “If we truly believe that black lives are important, why is there little public outrage over the staggering number of black-on-black deaths in our major American cities?” I can’t imagine the kind of bigotry that would even ask such a question, but the argument it raises cannot go unchallenged. When there is a known killer in these “black-on-black deaths,” how often does that killer go scot-free? Anyone who doesn’t understand the difference between these kind of deaths and the ones Black Lives Matter is complaining about is part of the problem and shouldn’t be given prime space in a legitimate public forum to spread that ignorance.
Paul Oman, Brooklyn Center
Race relations and the police
Answers to difficult problems are not easy, but are possible
In the early 1970s, Golden Valley’s police department had a reputation of harassing African-Americans who drove from the Near North Side of Minneapolis into or through Golden Valley. I witnessed many such drivers being stopped by the police at the corner of Hwy. 55 and Theodore Wirth Parkway. How could a city with such a lovely name be capable of such ugly harassment?
Fortunately, leaders in the community, both Democrats and Republicans, became aware of what our police were doing. They termed these actions “unacceptable.” They worked together to encourage and support individuals like me, who shared their judgment, to run for City Council with the purpose of changing police policy. In a short time, the council was composed of like-minded people. The police chief was retired early and replaced with a chief committed to the formation of a professional police force. At the same time, the League of Women Voters conducted a study of legitimate actions and community expectations for police. This study, combined with council and administrative changes, produced results that included educational requirements, and psychological and sensitivity training for members of the police force. These changes were successful and, I suggest, representative of what many communities throughout our country need to implement. Citizens need to identify the unacceptable and to insist on a responsible police force that they can justifiably and enthusiastically support.
Rosemary Thorsen, Minneapolis
The writer was a Golden Valley City Council member from 1975-79 and was mayor of that city from 1980-84.
COMPLAINTS ON HOBBY LOBBY AD
Don’t bash America, and don’t muzzle Christians
I am nonplused by a United Church of Christ minister’s July 6 letter about the July 4 Hobby Lobby ad (“On July 4th, a full-page message of exclusion”). If I have understood her correctly, she has concluded that the quote of our founding fathers makes a prima facie case for America as an Islamaphobic, xenophobic nation. When a Brit declares his love for England or a Frenchman extols France, we don’t consider them national fanatics, but woe be to the American who deigns to say he loves America.
Why, if we are such an intolerant, biased and bigoted nation, do people from the world over literally die to reach and live within our borders?
I am sick and tired of America-bashing. Work at making her better, but save the hate rhetoric for the real evils — child pornography, drug dealers and human trafficking, to name but a few.
And, because I am a Christian does not mean that I am against others’ religions; it merely means that I have chosen to belong to the Christian faith. What kind of non-logic is the letter writer using?
Jan Moe, Lake Shore, Minn.
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Businesses now commonly express support or opposition to issues and try to affect both public opinion and the opinion of policymakers. Hobby Lobby has just as much right to take out an ad expressing its belief in the value of practicing the Christian faith. If it seems to be expressing a belief that Christianity is the “correct” faith, one should not be surprised; I assume that is why anybody practices a particular religion. I suspect the two letter writers’ indignation is because Hobby Lobby does not match up with their beliefs of what it means to be Christian. Do we as Christians need to be aware and sensitive to the beliefs (or nonbelief) of others? Yes. Have Christians failed to live up to the Gospel message of Jesus? Yes, collectively and individually — even this individual. But that does not mean that we are to censor what we believe.
Leo Martin, Minneapolis