Belgium’s lesson on terrorism must be ours, too.

As I read about and watch the situation developing in Belgium, it comes as no surprise to my wife and me. We lived in Brussels from 1988 to 1992. Back then it was well-known that the Belgian government allowed suspected terrorists and extremists to move in and through the country as long as they posed no threat to it and its citizens. Belgium is paying a price for that political negligence today. A good Belgian friend of ours e-mailed my wife Monday and said:

“Life in Brussels is strange. Schools, undergrounds, shopping centers … are closed. It can’t last for long. But it won’t change before this Jihadist Salah Abdeslam, is arrested in Belgium or abroad! I remember the time I was living in London (in the end of the seventies) with the IRA problems. Nothing was closed but everybody was controlled before entering department stores, cinemas, pubs, theatres, undergrounds. … I hope our governments will understand and review their ideas concerning being politically correct. …”

Brussels and Paris are hotbeds for homegrown terrorism because years ago their governments did little to strongly prevent its growth and existence. This must be a lesson to Americans. We cannot sit back and wait for the next attack to occur in our country. Islamic extremists have declared war. Their strategy is to destroy our way of life and dictate how people are to believe in a God. Our leaders must treat them as enemies. Sadly, our country will need to take a more aggressive leadership position in the world or more innocent people will be killed. To paraphrase Gen. Willian Tecumseh Sherman:

“We are not fighting armies, but a hostile people, and must make [them] feel the hard hand of war.”

Ray Meifert, Edina

• • •

OK, time for everyone to calm down and take a deep breath — but first some numbers: 38 million, 60 million/3 percent, 25 percent/50 percent, 2 million, 1.3 million, 162,000.

Last one first: That’s the number of people killed by terrorist attacks between 2006 and 2014. Ugly, no? Then how about 38 million? That’s the number of military and civilian killed or wounded during World War I. In World War II, more than 60 million were killed, which was 3 percent of the world’s population. During the Great Depression, we reached an unemployment rate of 25 percent, and 50 percent of all banks in the U.S. failed. Two million people were killed in the Korean War and 1.3 million (including more than 58,000 American servicemen and women) in Vietnam. True horrors, yet in every case, the U.S. and the world survived.

Now, somehow, the threat from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant is supposed to send us scurrying to the shelter of mommy’s apron made up of uninformed bluster and outright demagoguery? My god, people, get a hold of yourselves! ISIL is clearly a threat — and our hearts bleed for France right now — but on a scale measured against those things above, it is hardly more than a boil on humanity’s butt! (Come to think of it, not unlike Iraq and Afghanistan before we “liberated” those countries.) Yet for this we are willing to consider another land war in the Middle East and ditching a lot of ideals that made the United States the United States? I think not.

D. Roger Pederson, Minneapolis

 

JAMAR CLARK SHOOTING

Rather than being ‘just right,’ Hodges’ response is typical

I disagree with Jon Telvin’s Nov. 22 column, “Hodges’ measured response is just right.” I believe Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges has hid behind a “process” that too many leaders hide behind when a citizen is killed by the police. Phrases like the “process needs to play out” or “once the investigation is complete” are familiar excuses to communities of color.

Months after the process and investigations are concluded, when no one is held accountable and the dead have been buried — nothing will change. Maybe changing the “process” would take courage and/or brutal honesty from the mayor, but if she wants our city to be “One Minneapolis,” we need to really talk about our democracy, and why justice works for some and not for others.

Hodges deserves criticism regarding her fence-riding responses to the killing of Jamar Clark. I’m not surprised nor am I jaded enough to believe a politician can solve a problem that has repeated itself in just about every city across this country — an unarmed black man shot and killed by white police during the night. But she could use her office to facilitate a conversation and bring all sides together to talk, including the police union.

I don’t worry about being diagnosed with cancer, having a heart attack or even dying in a horrible car crash. I worry about being stopped by the police, questioned and then being shot because I am a black man.

David Jeffries, Minneapolis

• • •

On Friday, an interesting exchange took place on WCCO Radio between Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau and Lt. Bob Kroll, who leads the Minneapolis police union. Kroll’s position was that additional forces were needed to clear out the civilians protesting outside of the Fourth Precinct station. Harteau explained that if clearing out protesters forcefully was the safest course of action, it would be done. After not getting his way, Kroll launched into defensive man-splaining, condescending to the chief by saying: “I’ve been in charge of a lot of these riot situations. … I frankly have quite a bit more experience running these operations than you do.” Harteau demurred, acknowledging Kroll’s experience and asking for his input. Harteau then called for “public safety for everyone,” which does seem to be the primary goal of a police force. Not exactly a revolutionary idea. But Kroll somehow missed the call for “everyone’s” safety by saying that “the last thing all of us want is a dead cop as a result of this.” And Harteau quipped back with a line that each Minneapolis police officer should instinctively know to say (and believe): “I don’t want a dead anybody.”

That moment clarified things. The man in charge of protecting the Minneapolis police did not want to see dead cops. The woman in charge of protecting all citizens of Minneapolis, and her officers, did not want to see a dead anybody: cops and citizens alike. In Minneapolis, we need the calm and measured responses that we have received from Mayor Hodges and Chief Harteau. Cooler heads must prevail, and Kroll could certainly benefit from a cooling-off period — in fact, we could even call it administrative leave.

Joe Wenker, Minneapolis

 

TECHNOLOGY AND PRIVACY

Personal tracking can be legitimate — or chilling

A Nov. 23 article (“When shoppers talk, the mall might talk back”), about the Mall of America’s monitoring of social media, gives insight to the awesome capabilities of computers and the Internet. Coupled with positioning capabilities and visual-recognition services, teams with these resources can identify, locate and track individuals without their knowledge.

The truism is that once made public, such techniques are already old and well-practiced.

It is important to recognize and regulate through the legislative processes how these practices are used — by our government and marketers alike. Legitimately and properly used, personal tracking is undoubtedly a real asset for crime prevention and law enforcement for apprehending potential and actual criminals, but the thought of improper and malicious use is chilling.

Bruce A. Lundeen, Minneapolis