This year, as we celebrate our country’s independence, let’s remember the nine people who died in Charleston, S.C. And let’s begin to heal the wound that began way before 1776 — the wound of racism.
I am a white person who is both proud and ashamed of my country. Proud because we are freer here than in many places in the world. We continue to make progress in humans right and justice, as witnessed by the Supreme Court rulings last week on marriage equality and health care accessibility. We seem to be opening our eyes to the truth with Pope Francis’ new encyclical about the immediate dangers of climate change and world poverty.
And yet I am deeply ashamed because the killings in Charleston have shined one more ugly light on the depth of racism in my country, 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation and 50 years since Selma. I am hoping that this monumental tragedy will bring, finally, national dialogue, apology and a process of reconciliation.
In Australia, every May 26 since 1998, they commemorate National Sorry Day, a popular movement expressing unreserved apology for the history of forced removal of aboriginal people from their families.
We need that here, and more. The U.S. has never apologized for slavery, Jim Crow, stolen lands, Indian schools, and all of the prejudice and white terrorism that continues to this day. It is a national wound that festers and kills. And it won’t go away until we deal with it. Let’s start with a National Sorry Day. I am deeply sorry – and I ask other white people to join me.
Nancy Kent, Minneapolis
SEX OFFENDER POLICIES
We’re not getting the answers we need from leaders, media
Neither in Don Betzold’s July 1 commentary (“What the Minnesota Sex Offender Program was meant to be”) nor in any other article about this topic have I seen any reference to what other states are doing with this conundrum. Minnesota is an outlier, according to many reports, so how do others handle this problem? Neither reporters nor opinion writers have covered this.
Elected officials are reluctant to touch this tar baby, for fear of getting permanently stuck and politically disabled by it. But they are elected to solve such problems, and so they must, regardless of the risk to their own careers. To let humans languish in prison who no longer need to remain there, simply because of political cowardice, is malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance, wrapped up in a big, ugly package.
Mary McLeod, St. Paul
U.S. SUPREME COURT
Scalia’s style is memorable; letter writer’s gripe is not
A July 1 letter writer took issue with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent on the Affordable Care Act decision for its “reckless, frivolous language” that would shock future generations. Scalia has always written in a blunt, colorful style, receiving praise over the years for the accessibility and entertaining nature of his prose. Naturally, this style tends to grate on those who disagree with his arguments, but instead of critiquing Scalia’s arguments and their merits, the letter writer simply opted to insult Scalia. This is a classic case of attacking the messenger and not the message; that is to say, being reckless and frivolous with one’s expression.
John Grimes, Hopkins
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Former state Rep. Allen Quist is right about the court’s recent rulings (“More has been lost than gained,” Readers Write, June 27), for he has lost the right to discriminate against gay people who are in love. The problem with many white Christian Republicans is that they do not know what discrimination really is, because they have never actually been discriminated against.
Growing up as a Jew in Minnesota in the 1930s, and even after serving in the U.S. Army, I made a reservation at a resort, only to be told when I got there that the resort was overbooked — and later finding out they didn’t accept Jews. In that same time period, many companies didn’t hire Jews, Latinos and blacks.
That is the society that is no more. Last week, I marked my 84th birthday, and the greatest present possible was that one more wall of discrimination has been toppled by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Alan Stone, Minnetonka
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Two questions concerning the recent Supreme Court ruling on marriage remain unanswered. 1) Can I marry a corporation? 2) If two corporations marry, is it a marriage or a merger?
Paul Hile, Robbinsdale
And on it goes …
I believe we also need to change the name of Lake Harriet if we need to discuss changing the name of Lake Calhoun. Lake Harriet is named for Harriet Lovejoy, who lived with her husband, Col. Henry Leavenworth, at Fort Snelling. Leavenworth fought the Plains Indians and loaned his name to the prison that still bears his name in Kansas and wiped out an entire group of people.
Or we could take a breath and enjoy our lakes. If the names need to be changed because of unpopular opinion, fine. But don’t make an issue out of nothing. I think our younger generation calls that “white people problems.”
Brett Larson, Hopkins
Placidity makes an impression
With a recent article noting the rerouting of taxis and buses off Nicollet Mall while it undergoes reconstruction (“Nicollet Mall renovation and traffic ban begin Monday,” June 30), let me offer a challenge: Leave it that way. Public comments on the redesign project overwhelmingly supported converting it to a mall for pedestrians and bicycles only. Our city is lauded as one of the most physically active and bike-friendly cities in the country. If the true goal is to make it an inviting space for people, let’s actually make it one.
Nick Steffel, Minneapolis
Gosh, that almost sounds heroic
Please stop referring to the trespassers who are getting killed and injured as “urban explorers” (“Urban explorer survives 40-ft. fall,” June 27). They are trespassers who put our firefighters and first responders in harm’s way, because they apparently don’t have anything better to do.
Sandra Whalen, Columbia Heights