I have a constant argument with my brother, who tells me to relax about being so scared of the Trump presidency. He told me to read two articles in the Aug. 23 paper: “U.S. was founded on Calvinism, not racism” and “Believing in America — no matter what.” These articles were aimed to calm us by explaining that the political havoc in our country is pretty normal.
To those with this “let cooler minds prevail” attitude, I’d point out that on the same day, police in Kenosha, Wis., shot a Black man seven times in the back. Meanwhile, a Washington Post feature documented the drying up of the Western Slope of the Rockies. And as the week went on, a president blatantly abused the White House to aid his re-election.
I’m sorry, but I think having kind, thoughtful, balanced-viewpoint articles in our newspapers at this time is not helpful. We have a war to fight and win against a terrible foe who is engaging in heinous acts against humanity, our fragile environment and an enlightened form of government. Now is not the time for thoughtful consideration of ideas. Now is the time to be volunteering in your local precinct campaign, making boring phone calls and digging up one voter at a time to topple the Trump presidency. This is the time to be in the infantry fighting, not sitting at home thinking. Leave that to the generals.
Don Hauge, St. Paul
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I remember watching President Barack Obama the morning after the 2016 election, gently chiding us with “the sun is up.” He was reminding us the world keeps turning, even if someone we may personally despise wins office. Keith Burris’ piece on “Believing in America” similarly serves to remind us that our nation is more enduring than our current moment. That politics is about proximate solutions, rather than ultimate ones. It doesn’t surprise me that Burris finds it histrionic to describe President Donald Trump as an existential threat. His summary of potential concerns in a second term sidesteps what is actually at stake for our nation.
Ignoring early warnings of a pandemic, then mishandling the response, may be a proximate solution. But the resulting deaths of more than 180,000 people feel like an ultimate one. And Trump’s efforts to undermine the U.S. Postal Service may be a proximate solution to his low ratings. But they ultimately undermine our citizens’ ability to elect their representatives. And nowhere in Burris’ definition of the nation did he think to include the context of the planet on which we live. We’ve all inherited climate change. However, Trump’s administration has rolled back policies and regulations serving to stem this existential threat to our republic and the global community at large. These proximate solutions are ultimately serving to damage the foundation of our republic. Yes, the sun will still shine if Trump is re-elected, but can we as a nation stand the heat?
Stephanie Evans, Minneapolis
There’s a lot more to this ‘ism’ than Stephen B. Young writes about
In his Aug. 23 commentary, Stephen B. Young offers a “grand” and simplistic analysis of Calvinism’s influence on the American Revolution and the establishment of U.S. government. His article omits far too much historical information, which raises questions about the validity of his sweeping claims.
The Calvinists in New England may have had a vision of community, but it was limited. Ultimately they did not extend that to the Indigenous inhabitants (there was plenty of 17th-century conflict with the “savages”). The New England colonies and then states had slavery, first of Native Americans, then of Africans. They were key participants in the slave trade as well. Obviously, they were not uniformly opposed to slavery, as Young claims. It raises serious questions about his incredibly sweeping assertion that Calvinists were responsible for abolitionism (Quakers were not an offshoot of Calvinism; in fact, they were persecuted in New England), Reconstruction and the civil rights movement. This is not to undermine the nobility of the purpose stated in the Mayflower Compact, but we must acknowledge how limited that vision was in practice.
To read Young, one might think that the Enlightenment had no impact on the founders. But many historians view it as the most immediate influence. This includes French philosophers such as Descartes, Voltaire and Rousseau. Certainly Calvinist influence is not absent, but nor is it dominant. Then, of course, there is no mention of Jefferson, Madison, Washington and the Southern founders, who were not heirs of Calvinism. Relegated to the section of the country to which Young appears to believe slavery was confined, do they not count?
No one I know on the left considers the U.S. “irredeemable.” No one I know or have read considers racism “the complete story of what has shaped America.” Exaggeration and distortion are another sign of simplistic analysis, whether it be from the political right or the political left. So let’s acknowledge the whole, messy (and, yes, at times evil) contradictory reality of our history. That’s the base from which we can begin to move forward.
Diane Ring, Edina
The writer is a retired teacher of U.S. history.
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Young’s historical details of the first settlers are impressive but leave one gaping hole: Native Americans. He only addresses the racism in our country based on slavery. How could anyone who is the global executive director of an organization promoting ethical capitalism leave out how we treated Native Americans? We poisoned them, nearly wiped them out with disease that King James of England gave thanks to Almighty God in his “goodness and bounty towards us for sending the wonderful plague among the savages” (“Lies My Teacher Told Me,” by James W. Loewen). Native Americans were murdered and their land was stolen. How does Young miss all that in his intricate details of history?
Patrice Rossi, Minneapolis
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Young’s argument that “The ‘ism’ that founded America wasn’t racism, but Calvinism” must be tempered by the deeply researched history of New England given to us by Prof. Ibram X. Kendi in the opening chapters of his National Book Award-winning work “Stamped from the Beginning.” Kendi unequivocally demonstrates that several generations of New England religious leaders, beginning with Increase Mather and his son, Cotton Mather, went to great pains to articulate various religious, philosophical — and profoundly racist — justifications for enslaving African Americans.
John Satorius, Minneapolis
I, too, bought one. And my electric utility made the transition smooth.
Thanks to the writer of the Aug. 23 letter about charging an electric car. (“Seamless? Well, the purchase was, but Xcel’s support was less so.”)
After many years of consideration, I also recently bought an electric car. However, my local electric utility is Connexus Energy, not Xcel. I arranged to have a 220-volt, 30-amp, 6.6-kilowatt charging station installed in my garage. The car can travel about 210 miles per charge, with a 62-kilowatt-per-hour battery.
Unlike the letter writer’s experience with Xcel, Connexus was very supportive of the whole idea. It supplied a dedicated power meter in my garage at no charge to me; it continues to own the meter. Connexus monitors the car’s electrical usage and charges me for that power, separately from the rest of my household usage. As long as I charge the car at night, between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m., electrical power for the car is priced at 7.3 cents per kW/hr.
After several months, my average electrical usage for the car is 3.5 miles per kW/hr, or 2.08 cents per mile; I now have more than 1,000 miles at that rate. In comparison, if a petroleum-powered car gets 40 miles per gallon, and gasoline costs $2 per gallon, that would be 5 cents per mile for gasoline. So, you can see, the electric car is very economical to drive. As electric utilities continue to evolve toward renewables, our collective carbon footprint will decrease, and the future of electrically powered family automobiles will continue to grow.
Kirk Cobb, White Bear Lake