Private event ‘exposed,’ and assumptions bloom

A group of people gather in a private location and, depending on whose explanation you believe, either re-enact, celebrate or discuss Nazi history (“Nazi-themed party defended: It was for re-enactors,” March 19). A person who witnesses this event decides to snap photos and post them on the Internet, therefore ensuring that the previously private event suddenly becomes quite public.

Is this what society has come to? We witness or overhear someone doing or saying something in private that may be offensive or objectionable to others, so we run to the Internet and expose them? Sadly, this reckless concept has become acceptable by both the public and media, who see it as their duty to spread the word whenever someone acts in a manner that the politically correct crowd might not approve of. Sad, very sad.

Jason Gabbert, Prior Lake

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I write in defense of the Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit restaurant and its proprietors. I am proud of my Jewish heritage, and I was a server at Gasthof’s for more than six years. I know Mario and Ella very well; they attended my wedding last July. I know that a picture can mean a thousand words, but it can also create a million assumptions. On a personal basis, I can tell you that Mario and Ella, both of Polish backgrounds, are extremely intolerant of all bias and prejudice. They were more personally affected by World War II than were many of those making assumptions.

The symbol of the swastika is one of pain and negative memories. I will never be able to see that image without a fury of red as bright as the flag, but these colors couldn’t be further from the real nature of both Mario and Ella, and that of Gasthof’s. I cannot speak for the re-enactment group, but I can wholly support and defend these two generous and loving individuals, and the welcoming establishment.

Do not judge people without knowing them. That is exactly the hate we are trying to avoid.

Aaron Liebo, Minneapolis



Consider Obama’s reaction in full context

President Obama has been greatly criticized for his handling of the Russian annexation of Crimea, but his behavior has been consistent with past presidents from both parties regarding Russian (former Soviet Union) invasions of Eastern European countries.

In 1956, the Soviets invaded Hungary; President Dwight Eisenhower (R) did nothing. In 1968, the Soviets invaded (former) Czechoslovakia; President Lyndon Johnson (D) did nothing. In 1981, the Soviets imposed martial law in Poland; President Ronald Reagan (R) did nothing. And in 2008, the Russians invaded Georgia; President George W. Bush (R) did nothing. All of them did impose sanctions on the offenders and publicly condemn them, but all of these responses were inconsequential.

The situation today is even more complex because of American business investments in Russia. If President Obama were truly serious about punishing the Russians, he would shut down financial transactions between Russian and American companies. However, he will not do that. American businesses have always had unparalleled access to the White House, regardless of party affiliations. They would stop anything that would cost them real money.

Therefore, Obama’s detractors need to be fair in their criticism of his policies and denounce American investments in Russia as well.

Joe Tamburino, West St. Paul



Industry should be honest with itself, us

Paul DeLeo (Opinion Exchange, March 19) says there is too much misinformation about the antibacterial chemical triclosan, yet his article only adds to the confusion. He says “the levels of triclosan in Minnesota waters are safe.” This is a red herring, because every news article on the topic has warned of dioxin building up in the sediment at the bottom of lakes and rivers. Where does the dioxin come from? The triclosan in soap, which goes down the drain and mixes with chlorine at the treatment plant.

It can’t be fun to realize your product is having unintended consequences. I know I’m not happy knowing my favorite soap was adding dioxin to the Mississippi River. Of course I’ve stopped buying it, and of course Mr. DeLeo’s industry is frantically searching for alternatives. Instead of trying to distract us with doublespeak, I would much prefer they come clean.

Darryl Magree, Tokyo



Even in an urban area, space is important

The consequences of teardowns that result in large homes on small lots are significant. I have another home in Chicago, where the impact of this trend on livability becomes apparent. Those who suddenly have an overbuilt lot next to them lose sunlight, air flow, views and privacy. Where once there was sun for gardens and bright rooms, there is shadow. Plants or turf cultivated for sun wither in continuous shade. Breezes and views morph into overheated spaces that look out at brick or clapboard. Neighbors’ windows are three feet away; their TVs and conversation invade others’ spaces.

One may not think about a “view” in the cityscape, but many homeowners see trees, gardens, birds. Even just seeing across the street is better than a wall a few feet away. Overall livability is reduced by a commensurate loss of green space for people and wildlife and by an increase in the heat-island effect, as well as in runoff and pollution.

Christine Penney, Duluth