Recognizing that most Op-Ed cartoonists are on one side or the other of the political spectrum, and admitting that I am a fan of the Star Tribune’s Steve Sack (so my leanings are pretty obvious), I think that a number of the cartoons the Strib has run from national sources lately are clearly mean-spirited and divisive. The one Friday depicting the media as a clown show is similar to the Trump White House’s delegitimizing of the media as unprofessional and “fake news.” The newspaper does a bad turn in furthering the nastiness of a president whose daily behavior has been so despicable that people seem to have forgotten how decent presidents behave.
David Miller, Mendota Heights
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Informed and caring people do not like stereotyping. I don’t like the editorial cartoon presented by the Star Tribune on July 5 (reprinted above). It depicts two 75-year-old men, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, with walking canes. In addition, Biden is depicted as having a hearing problem and possibly a severe visual problem. I happen to be 75, and am able to function quite well without a cane, hearing assistance or visual correction other than “readers.” I’m certainly not alone. Even so, it’s OK to need various kinds of assistance. Many people who do are not significantly limited in other ways.
I understand and even enjoy the role of political cartoons. Still — in a strained effort to be diplomatic — I do suggest the Strib be more selective.
Jim Bartos, Brooklyn Park
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I found the Dana Summers cartoon showing only Sanders and Biden on the “Democrats’ bench” more than a little strange, but the fact that a Minnesota paper ran it is even stranger. If the Star Tribune’s opinion-page staff feels that this portrayal was accurate, I’d like to introduce them to two senators named Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken. I believe they would be on that bench, certainly ahead of Sanders, who isn’t even a Democrat. Not to mention Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Adam Schiff, Julian Castro, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tulsi Gabbard, etc.
David Frederick, Coon Rapids
Commentary surveys situation and thoroughly misinterprets it
Jeffrey Selingo’s rambling piece about college (“Three solutions for undergraduate education,” July 3) cries out for comment. His arguments seem to me both uninformed and ill-advised. He confuses issues about tenure with issues about poorly paid adjuncts covering a disproportionate number of classroom hours. He makes a hollow cry for more “rigor” in undergraduate degrees (a cry that has resounded since the very first degrees were granted) but doesn’t really offer any “solutions.”
Selingo’s worst mistake is his misunderstanding of how long it should take to become competent in a field of study. He suggests that, after a one-year “general education” term, those studying computer science might need three years to finish a degree, while those studying English or history might only need one, since they are “going to need further education throughout their lifetimes anyway.”
The opposite is more likely. Computer science is a valid discipline, but it’s a vocational field of study. Given the rapid changes in technology, computer science students are the ones more likely to need continuing education in their field.
English majors study information and ideas that have been around much longer than computers, ideas that resonate more deeply than bits and bytes. It took me eight years to feel like I had a grasp of the subject. One of the most valuable skills I acquired: critical thinking that helps expose the kind of sloppy “analysis” in harangues like Selingo’s.
Doug Wilhide, Minneapolis
The writer is a former adjunct at the University of Minnesota and the University of St. Thomas.
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Selingo’s recommendations deserve serious consideration. College felt like just another four years of high school 30 years ago when I was an undergraduate. Even at the small liberal arts college where I went, it wasn’t uncommon for good students to slip through the cracks. Until faculty step up and start changing the culture at these institutions, the problems will persist.
Robert Hybben, Minneapolis
Don’t be so quick to shut out views of perceived adversaries
Reading the lead letter on July 2 (“Solutions and divisions,” I was struck by how easy it is to take the opposing view on issues offered by another. I was at the same climate conference that the writer spoke of, and I spoke with the man who helped to organize the business and climate session with leaders from Monsanto and Exxon Mobil participating in a panel discussion. He shared with me how many attendees said to him: “How could you invite people from those companies that are destroying our soil health, water and air quality?” I looked at him and asked, “How did you get them to come?” “Six months of e-mails, phone calls, building relationships and trust that the conference would be a positive experience for everyone” is what he said.
We learned a lot about what these megacorporations are doing that is moving the ball in the right direction for our soil, water, food and reducing dependence on fossil-fuel use. Their businesses depend on smart decisions, and they do their homework.
Our members of Congress listen to these large corporations. Our nonpartisan organization has been working with Congress for 10 years now just to get both sides of the aisle to discuss solutions to our changing climate, and finally we have a Minnesotan on the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus. Kudos to Eighth District Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan, not a sweetheart to many Boundary Waters lovers, but perhaps this could lead to a better discussion about “all of the above” solutions to our warming world. Nolan and David Joyce, R-Ohio, are now the 45th and 46th members of this rapidly growing caucus (half Democrats and half Republicans) who are saying that the climate is changing and that Congress needs to lead.
As for me, I’m learning to withhold my judgment and watch what actions our leaders and businesses are choosing before I rush to criticize. Appreciation and gratitude can go a long way in this seemingly divided world.
Paul Thompson, Edina
The writer is a regional coordinator for the Citizens’ Climate Lobby.
Trust is plummeting, and it’s up to all of us to rebuild it
In Sean Kershaw’s July 4 commentary about the state of American democracy, one line struck me in particular: “Trust in almost every institution is plummeting.” His instinct is correct but nearly 20 years too late; the trust is gone. Americans have become unrooted. Individually, we may make families or trust our local police or love our school, but collectively, we aren’t willing to join. The Star Tribune recently ran a story about the lowest birthrates in our history. We have seen drops in the number of recruits for police forces and teacher shortages. People may go to church, but they are unwilling to join a congregation. We go to rallies but won’t affiliate with a political party. We function as individuals working in a collective rather than as a community building a society. Our obligations to others extend only as far as they don’t interfere with our own interests too much.
Kershaw is right about how to rebuild our politics, but it will take rebuilding our institutions first. Between now and the next July 4th, I ask Minnesotans to make a commitment to one another. Join one group, any group, and stay with it for a whole year, and then on this day next summer celebrate the birth of our nation, not just Independence Day.
Richard Rosivach, New Brighton