Why is it that we have to place blame whenever a horrible tragedy happens like the New Zealand slaughter at the Muslim mosques? A March 16 letter writer asks, “Who’s to blame? The president? The Star Tribune for covering it?” Is it so hard to grasp the possibility that killings like this are committed by psychotic individuals who are motivated solely by their hatred for a particular group, be it Muslims, Christians, Jews or immigrants of any ethnicity? Who was to blame for an eerily similar event in 2011, when a deranged Norwegian, calling himself a National Socialist, murdered 77 people attending a summer camp in Oslo, Norway? Let’s quit trying to find someone or something to blame for such attacks just because it fits our agenda. Place the blame where it belongs, on the person committing them.

Ronald Haskvitz, St. Louis Park

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When tragedies arise, we must unite. We can’t bring back the lives that were lost in the masjid (mosque) attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, but we can bring back our conscience. It is on all of us to come together as one, regardless of all the hatred that exists in the world. We must stand together and tackle long-overdue beliefs, such as Islamophobia, white supremacy and bigotry. Remember, it’s OK to be scared, because that feeling is setting you up for an act of bravery and courage. Speak up. For my pain is your pain, and vice versa. Send love and prayers to your fellow Muslim brothers and sisters, regardless of your faith, culture or nationality. Let’s for once agree that we are in support of human rights. In support of human lives. That they are worthy enough to fight for. No one should feel scared or fearful when entering a masjid, church, synagogue or temple. They are safe places where people should feel protected.

Ray Shehadeh, Plymouth

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My husband and I attended the Solidarity Gathering at Dar Al-Farooq mosque Saturday afternoon. We found ourselves steeped in the gentle, welcoming hospitality of the Muslim community.

Some prominent Minnesotans were present among the hundreds who came. Clergy from multiple faith communities, and politicians, including U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. That environment made it difficult to hate on Muslims who live among us, and even on one demented attacker in New Zealand. One impassioned Muslim speaker shouted out to the universe about the perp: “We forgive you!”

It turns out Muslims are the first to forgive. Their default position is to love and trust. Non-Muslims are making that difficult for them. And that, my friends, is a tragedy.

Barbara J. Gilbertson, Eagan

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In reality, “hate” crimes are really crimes based on fear, done by a person who is in denial of their fear issues, who’s blaming his/her fear on others, and wanting others to change so they won’t be afraid. People hate being afraid, which is where the hate comes in. Trying to get others to change or trying to control others so they change is an exercise in futility, and that’s why nothing changes for these people. They’re trying to change the wrong person.

Calling them “hate” crimes is a misnomer. People who hate can rationalize their hatred easier than they can rationalize being afraid.

Gary Burt, Marble, Minn.


There’s nothing shameful about the ‘one-state’ solution

I beg to differ strongly regarding the March 15 letter “Shame, shame for printing the letter from proponent of ‘one state.’ ”

The goal of BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions), a nonviolent movement to bring about justice, is “one secular democratic state with equal rights for all.” This would in effect cancel the nation-state law, which privileges Jewish Israelis. In one state, Jewish Israelis would lose their privileged status, because there would be no second- or third-class residents.

Israelis and Arabs would live under the same laws. Neither ethnic group would dominate nor be discriminated against. Resources would be shared equitably. There would be no occupation with its restrictions on movement, and no tit-for-tat attacks. “One state” looks to me like the formula for peace, always the stated goal.

Who could quarrel with that? There is room for creativity as governmental structures are worked out.

Florence M. Steichen, St. Paul

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We should be able to debate the Israeli/Palestinian issue without “the destruction of Israel” always being front and center. Israel has not been attacked by a sizable army in over 45 years. Meanwhile, the Palestinians live every day the lives of a people whose country has been destroyed.

Yes, while there are still a lot of hotheads who do not accept Israel’s right to exist, the mainstream position among Palestinians and Arabs in general would have Israel remove its settlements from the West Bank and withdraw to the pre-1967 borders, return East Jerusalem for use as their capital, and establish a “right of return” to Israel proper for the descendants of Arab refugees who fled in 1948.

Well, that’s still too tall an order. The latter point is a nonstarter, and any Palestinian state can afford to do without Jerusalem. But I fail to see how the West Bank settlements are vital to Israel’s defense. They spread security forces thin, anger the Palestinians and provide them with a tempting target, are an obstacle to any peace deal and undermine support for Israel internationally. Plus, they are a blatant violation of international law.

And while current and future generations of Palestinians can place some of the blame for their plight on those who did not accept the terms of the 1947 United Nations partition plan, Israel has since moved the goalposts. Having finally accepted half the loaf, the Palestinians are now just left with a handful of crumbs amounting to a quarter of the loaf.

Patrick McCauley, Edina


Another option: Just one more seat, initially filled by Merrick Garland

Megan McArdle (“Stacking the court? Leave that practice to history,” March 15) omitted an obvious short-term solution for the U.S. Supreme Court. On Jan. 21, 2021, the new Democratic president should immediately begin the process to appoint Merrick Garland as the 10th justice. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s theft of a seat from President Barack Obama should not go unpunished. The GOP’s abuse of power should be seen as a one-time outrage never to be repeated.

Moving forward, the court could remain at 10: Having an even number of seats might require more compromise and encourage a less partisan approach. And ideally, term limits for the court would also be enacted, and presidents would each nominate two justices per term. No individual, whether president or justice, should serve more than eight years given the outsized impact these positions have for our nation.

Pamela J. Snopl, Minneapolis


Age is no obstacle to an outing when so many are quick to assist

My 92-year-old father wanted to attend a Hopkins basketball game last week. His poor eyesight and balance made me apprehensive about the logistics of this request, but on Wednesday night I picked him up to see the Hopkins/Wayzata sectional game at Osseo High School. Imagine my relief when, as I dropped him off at the curb, a woman rushed up to help steady him as he got out of the car and started walking him toward the door. Before I could drive off to park the car, I saw a man on his other arm helping him in the building. When I returned, my father was proudly showing me the ticket someone had bought him. Our next obstacle — the bleachers — turned out to be no problem when a muscular man nearly carried my dad up two rows of bleachers.

Perhaps getting old isn’t quite so bad. Perhaps there are generous, helpful, kind Minnesotans most everywhere one goes. Thanks to you who helped make our night and lift my spirit!

Jon Larson, Golden Valley