Regarding the name change of Lake Calhoun to Bde Maka Ska: It seems that the controversy over the lake’s name will now play out in court. The change will or will not be made based on legal jurisdiction. My opinion about the renaming of institutions and landmarks as a corrective to historical wrongs is that it does little to either honor or aid the designee; in this case the Native Americans who lived along the shores of the lake before the Anglo settlers came. Rather than illuminating history, these kinds of changes have the opposite effect — they whitewash the complexity of our shared past with a cheap and easy swipe of the pen. They assuage the guilt of the “privileged” by vanquishing the cartoonishly evil villains and restoring the dignified victims. There is quite a bit of smug self-satisfaction in this corrective, and naysayers who see through the phoniness of the gesture are easy to paint as bigots or self-interested land developers. If we wish to turn history into a morality play, we insult the intelligence of our citizenry. It is another kind of marketing. Image is everything.
Charlie Meyers, Minneapolis
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I find it troubling that Tom Austin (“Why I funded the lawsuit to save the name Lake Calhoun,” May 1) has appointed himself as the spokesperson for all “everyday Minnesotans.” I was born and raised in Minnesota. With my husband — who was born and raised here, too — we have raised two children who also live here. I live a comfortable Minnesotan life; however, I am not rich, in the media, an activist or a politician. It seems by his own definition that makes me an “everyday Minnesotan.” I am just fine removing the name of a racist man who was not even a Minnesotan from a signature Minnesota lake. I think Bde Maka Ska is a proud reflection of the long and rich history of our state. Yes, it is not a common pronunciation, but if Minnesotans can pronounce Bemidji, Wayzata, Kandiyohi and Lake Winnibigoshish, I have great faith we can learn to say Bde Maka Ska. He absolutely has the right to fight for what he personally believes but he shouldn’t pretend to speak for the rest of us “everyday Minnesotans.”
Michelle Hayden Soderberg, Plymouth
MOHAMED NOOR VERDICT
Blame the police recruiting system and ourselves more than the man
I feel sorrow for Mohamed Noor (“Guilty of murder,” front page, May 1). He was trained to do what he did. He was schooled and evaluated by a system that put him in a police car with a gun. His appointment was applauded as a cross-cultural success story. It has become obvious he was not suited for the responsibility he was given. Anyone who shoots someone because they are scared is not suited to be a police patrolman. The evaluations we conduct on police recruits should be able to identify candidates who respond emotionally to perceived threats. I blame the system more than I blame this man. We gave him authority to use the gun. We taught him how to respond to threats. We are responsible for the culture of our police force.
David Evans, Minneapolis
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That was a popularity contest, not a trial. At the very least, the third-degree murder conviction will be overturned. How can a jury determine, months after the incident, Noor’s intent during a quick action in the dark? Probably he couldn’t either. That means it’s manslaughter, and even that’s doubtful.
So they took the easy way out because the victim was a nice white woman.
Possibly both charges will be overturned. And ought to be.
Michael N. Felix, Grand Rapids, Minn.
Stop using the phrase and open the door to thoughtful conversation
Could we all agree to cease using the phrase “politically correct”? It appeared twice in readers’ letters published on May 1, once related to the name of a Minneapolis lake and once related to the trial of Mohamed Noor. The phrase is dismissive. It shuts down conversation and closes the door to honest, thoughtful conversation. In a world that’s being crushed by the weight of incivility, removing “politically correct” feels like the correct thing to do.
Karen Barstad, Minneapolis
Call Trump campaign’s contact with Russia what it is: conspiracy
Attorney General William Barr said there was no corrupt intent by the Trump administration. Not so fast. Let’s do a thought experiment:
If I were a Democratic operative for someone running for president, how should I respond to an offer for dirt on President Donald Trump? My Chinese friend offered to meet in the IDS building with a claim of dirt on Trump. I go to the meeting fully expecting to get something juicy.
Can I be charged with conspiracy? According to Barr and his fellow Republicans, I can conspire with the Chinese and am not guilty of conspiracy. The same scenario with Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner in attendance at the Trump Tower is also just fine? Let’s call it what it is: conspiracy.
Paul Abeln, Bloomington
THE FUTURE OF HEALTH CARE
Preventative, single-payer system is the cheapest and best solution
I loved the April 29 letter to the editor by Joel G. Clemmer (“The future of health care”). Someone is finally addressing cost containment in a national health care system. I’ll expand.
A properly run “Medicare for All” system would include three elements: comprehensive, universal and single-payer care. Comprehensive means that all important health care is covered, including pre-existing conditions, mental health, drug treatment, pharmaceutical drugs and preventative care. Universal means that everyone is covered.
Comprehensive and universal coverage have important ramifications for costs. People who lack coverage avoid preventive care such as blood pressure checks and prenatal care. It is far more cost-effective to detect high blood pressure than treat heart attacks, and cheaper to provide prenatal care than treat low birthweight premature babies. And, people without coverage have ER health emergencies that impose costs passed along as higher premiums for the rest of us. You get the idea.
Furthermore, single-payer coverage exists in some European countries where everyone has a “health care card.” The card contains medical history and medications and serves as a credit card, charging the government for health care. Imagine the dollars saved by eliminating the bureaucracy of separate billings of Medicare (Parts A and B), Medicaid (federal and state), veterans’ benefits and insurance company profits! Research suggests that streamlining charges to a single-payer would save untold hundreds of billions of dollars in bureaucracy and insurance profits. Just as in other countries, our health care expenditures would plummet. We would no longer spend more on health care (relative to GDP) than any other country, and, our life expectancy would no longer rank just 31st in the world!
Jacqueline Brux, River Falls, Wis.
The writer is an economist.