Thank you for the Oct. 1 editorial on the resurgence of the Minnesota Orchestra. One positive effect of the lockout might be that it prompted classical music lovers to move beyond CD or radio and into the concert hall. Fearing the loss of this resource, I ramped up my attendance and was happily surprised to discover how affordable these shows can be. A broad range of price points, discounts, series packages, outreach and special events gives listeners of different means the opportunity to experience the group live in concert. Every performance I’ve seen has been a thrilling celebration of talent and passion. This symphony is a jewel in Minnesota’s crown, and we are blessed to see it shining brightly once again.

Kimberley MacLennan, Edina

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

U.S. worldview: Self-centered. Obama’s policy: What a mess.

The subhead to Steve Chapman Oct. 2 column about Vladimir Putin (“As Putin steps ups, let’s not interfere”) reads: “He might just defeat ISIL for us. Or, he might be beaten. Either way, we win.”

We “win” if ISIL defeats Russia? Would we rather have a tribe of vicious barbarians overrunning Syria or see them destroyed by Russia? Chapman writes: “If Putin wants to invite jihadists to turn their attention from attacking America to attacking Russia, more power to him.” It would be a good thing for Russian citizens to be beheaded by terrorists? Are Russian lives somehow less valuable than American lives?

This sort of rhetoric badly exacerbates international tensions and can lead to war. Soviet Russia sacrificed 30 million lives to defeat Nazi Germany, far more than America did. Then, both victorious countries projected their power to embark on world empire. The Soviet Empire evaporated in 1990, leaving Russia an economic basket case. The United States continued to spread its economic dominance and military might to garner “allies” over much of the globe, often bombing or actually invading smaller nations along the way. A 2014 Gallup poll of 65 nations found that the U.S. is considered the world’s greatest threat to peace.

Why do we assume Russia is an enemy instead of an equal? “Why,” as Rodney King said, “can’t we just get along?”

Dean DeHarpporte, Eden Prairie

• • •

To some people, my opinion about the state of world right now may come off as partisan. I am the first to admit that I have always thought that President Obama’s foreign policy was to be weak and non-engaged. It has been more of an appeasement policy than anything with teeth in it. However, even his most ardent supporters need to finally take off their rose-colored glasses and see that the president’s chickens are coming home to roost. The world is a mess.

While many, including this administration, would like to hark back to the Iraq war as the source of all our troubles in that region of the world, they should stop and ask themselves this question. How many terms does this president need to counter that issue if in fact it is relative to what is happening today around the world? Many of the issues of today are born out of Obama’s naiveté when it comes to the complexity of the Middle East (ignoring even his own Cabinet’s advice) and in putting his trust in Putin when we were already beginning to see the Russian leader’s ever-reaching power grab in the region.

We have reset, appeased, given in and ignored our way through years of dealings with the likes of Russia and Iran, and what have we received in return? A human disaster in Syria, for one thing. These countries are behaving any way their leaders choose to behave. If it were within their own boundaries, that would be one thing, but they are spreading their aggression across Europe and Middle East in hopes of gaining influence and power. That is a threat to the world, and it is certainly a threat to our country.

If Americans believe that all of the chaos in the world today is too far away to affect us, then keep supporting the failed policies of this president. If you believe that our country is more vulnerable than ever before, then it is time to tell this president (along with our senators) to stop playing nice and to get serious before the chaos spreads across our own borders and reaches our homeland. Don’t think it can’t happen. That’s not scare tactics — that’s reality.

Mary McIntosh Linnihan, Minneapolis

 

UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA

Athletic costs, especially debt, shouldn’t be getting a pass

In his Oct. 1 column, Sid Hartman tells us that the University of Minnesota president “has proved he will go out of his way to make sure the Gophers athletes can compete with those at other schools.” But at what cost?

For fiscal year 2014, the “athletically related facilities annual debt service” was $17.6 million. The “athletically related outstanding debt balance” was $201.4 million. See the school’s 2014 annual report to the NCAA.

It appears that the regents are poised to approve the plans to construct a $150 million “athletics village.” (The scope of the project has been temporarily reduced from the original plan at a cost of $190 million.) The cost of financing this project will increase the already staggering amount of athletic department debt.

The policy of the university is that 80 percent of the cost of a project must be raised before starting construction. So the regents will have to disregard university policy to approve the start of construction, since the athletic department is far short of raising 80 percent ($120 million) of the current cost of the project.

Why should the athletic department get a pass on compliance with university policy? Especially when it already has athletic debt on steroids?

Michael W. McNabb, Lakeville

 

RESPONDING TO SEX ABUSE

In an unexpected collaboration, we see courage and hope

We felt hopeful and challenged after reading the Sept. 21 commentary about clergy sex abuse (“Together, a victim and a perpetrator”). Seeing that a victim of sexual abuse and a sexual predator have been able to break out of their respective emotional and psychological prisons of shame, vulnerability and isolation (victim) and denial, delusion and isolation (from personal knowledge, shame and self-hatred — abuser), commit to work together to offer hope and help to other victims and predators is incredibly courageous and hopeful.

The Gilead Project challenges widely held beliefs and the state of Minnesota’s demonstrated commitment to lifelong civil commitment of convicted sexual predators. Susan Pavlak’s and Gil Gustafson’s work, combined with research and the work of others, demonstrates that victims and perpetrators can transcend their individual issues, play a significant role in healing deep and painful wounds, and ultimately contribute to the overall welfare of the community. Regardless of whether the project is able to purchase the archdiocese chancery, as hoped, we are hopeful the collaboration will lead to positive opportunities for victims of sexual abuse and perpetrators of such abuse.

Bob and Judy DeNardo, Eagan

 

EMPLOYMENT

Retailers help themselves when they help their workers

Requiring employers to provide some stability to the schedules (and therefore the incomes) of part-time workers seems like a good idea to me (“Brawl over scheduling rules is just ahead,” Oct. 2).

Employers are expected to fight the proposed rules. Retailers claim that the rules would “interfere with their ability to compete within a fluctuating economy.” But aren’t those “fluctuations” largely the result of increased numbers of part-time customers with unpredictable schedules and incomes?

Jeff Moses, Minneapolis