It's a relief that some people are finally putting the spotlight on Minnesota's horrid state flag, and the push to replace it has gained a little bit of steam ("Racist state flags need to go — Minnesota's is next," Opinion Exchange, July 3). Not only is it a good idea right now, it's been one for years. We shouldn't set aside the problematic imagery and its connection to our despicable treatment of Indigenous people, but even if we did set that aside for a moment it's a forgettable, poorly designed and ugly flag.

Stripping our state brand of this morally-gray-at-best seal would open us up to the potential of a brand that actually contributes to a state's image. Believe it or not, there are cities and states in America where people recognize and like their flag as a symbol of local pride. Given how much pride Minnesotans have, and how much they love to defend their home state, we are the perfect candidate for truly finding the best image for us as a people.

I think most Minnesotans would say they do not want our image to be the betrayal and subjugation of American Indians. This is our chance! This is our opportunity to have a flag that people make stickers and buttons and hats out of, forming recognizable symbols that aren't based in racism and could actually form a more cohesive (and less hateful) style for the state. Given recent events, there's never been a better time to discuss what Minnesota is, what it means and what it can be.

Max Ritter, Minneapolis
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I am moved to write after reading Ross Douthat's commentary ("Changing names doesn't change the gift," Opinion Exchange, July 3). I believe that the debate over removing names and statues based on the racist opinions of historical figures has been wrongly focused. Douthat, like many others, is concerned that we are being unfair to historical figures by removing them from public honor. This concern entirely misses the point.

Whether or not we honor a particular historical figure has nothing to do with what we owe to that person, or whether we are entitled to pass moral judgment on their life. Such persons are dead, and the judgment of their overall moral worth is best left to a higher power. Our job is to judge ourselves, according to who we choose to hold up as examples for our society now. No one has a right to be chosen as a model for us and our children today. We determine which models we want to elevate for emulation according to today's moral values.

If we focus on this issue, the debate becomes much clearer. Who do we want to hold up as a model for who we aspire to become today? The discussion is not about being fair to our past — it is about being fair to our future.

Jennifer Wright, Roseville

Don't let the numbers fool you

News of the day: Five million new jobs last month! ("Top of the parabola?" editorial, July 3.) That's good news, but I would venture to say that any economist who is willing to talk turkey about the long-term health of the economy at the hands of the plague would not be so sanguine.

Estimates for the global economy this year predict a shrinkage from 5% to 10%. Compare that with less than 1% shrinkage during the Great Recession of 2008-09. And with the vast majority of funds from the various rescue measures going to big business (read: friends of Sen. Mitch McConnell and other reprobates), there are those in public health who are warning of problems with hunger this winter. Hunger! Here in Minnesota in 2020!

On top of that, also on the horizon as eviction protections expire later this month is the specter of an epidemic of homelessness.

Without resorting to four-letter words, I can't think of an adequate adjective to describe the federal government's handling of the pandemic. Let's take a stab from the thesaurus: vicious, ruthless, brutal, wicked, spiteful, inhuman ... anything there resonate?

The European Union has banned Americans from traveling there. Isn't enough enough?

Guy Roger, Minneapolis

We are meeting this viral challenge

When COVID-19 struck, new restrictions were thrust upon senior living communities. It has been hard for residents and family members, and we have all worked tirelessly to help them cope and even thrive amid the isolation.

As fear from COVID-19 grew, that fear was felt by our employees. They knew they were as susceptible to contracting the virus as anyone else. They also knew they had to stay healthy to defend our vulnerable populations from this unseen force.

We thought COVID-19 would be the hardest thing our industry would ever face. And then came the spark from the horrifying killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. That spark ignited fires in our hearts and cities. As the evenings turned violent, our teams once again, put their own fears aside to protect and serve our residents.

This is courage. These are heroes.

We are awe-struck by the sheer bravery and sacrifice we have witnessed by those who work in senior living. We witness the genuine love that our team members show to residents who feel alone. In the midst of pain, we see so much good.

But the stories being reported are more often of the pain than the good. Thousands of senior living residents have fought and won the battle against the coronavirus. Minnesota continues to have fewer cases and deaths among senior living residents than most other states. Our caregivers are winning battles against COVID-19, and they need to hear it.

This journey is not over, and our dedicated staff will continue to carry burdens and make sacrifices. We hope that members of the media, our legislators, families and neighbors will see the love of our teams and join us in saying "thank you" for their perseverance, dedication and love.

This letter was submitted by presidents and CEOs of Minnesota senior living communities: Bob Dahl, Cassia; Jon Lundberg; Ebenezer; Jim Bettendorf, Vista Prairie Communities; Dan Lindh, Presbyterian Homes, and Scott Riddle, Walker Methodist.


Face facts, mandate masks

I recently took my car to a major dealership for an oil change, and I felt I was back in 2019 B.C. — Before COVID. I wore a mask but hardly any of the staff or patrons did.

The barefaced employees and customers laughed and joked with each other, not socially distancing. A mechanic with a mask around his neck summoned a customer, declaring that if she didn't have a mask, not to worry. It's not needed, he said. She put hers on anyway.

If government officials from the top down don't mandate wearing masks in public, we will be forever battling outbursts of self-centered people who declare that it is their "constitutional right" not to wear a mask. But masks work. Wearing one is no more an infringement of your rights than a bandage. Or clothes. Take off your pants in public and see how fast your rights are infringed!

Stores could post signs that say, "No shoes, no shirt, no mask — no service." But they're conflicted about their role as the mask police. If the directive to wear masks doesn't come from Washington (and I doubt that it ever will from this administration), then it's up to the governors and mayors to protect Americans.

You can't walk through a store pointing a loaded gun at customers, claiming it's your constitutional right. So why can you walk through a business spewing viral bullets at my face? Until there's a mandated mask policy, I'll avoid businesses that do not refuse service to maskless patrons.

Carolyn Thompson, Champlin

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