During this pandemic isolation, I have read Madeleine Albright's "Prague Winter," which chronicles the complicated Czech history up to and including World War II.
In the last chapter, she speaks of the bigotry and racism that sadly remain in our world, even after the Holocaust of WWII. She recalls the renowned Czech poet Otokar Brezina (1868-1929). She quotes:
"It is no longer possible to strangle one's brethren unheard. Somebody will always hear the cry of agony and let it fly from mouth to mouth throughout the land like a hurricane that blows the holy fires into flame."
This voice from long ago echoes loudly today. Let's listen this time.
Patsy Ramberg, White Bear Lake
Encourage the sort of officer we want
There will always be a few in the "thin blue line" who lack the moral discipline necessary to protect and serve. Those few bad actors poison the relationship between citizens and police officers. The selfless work of the rest of the blue line goes unrecognized, especially when violence arrives. When we most need our police, we see violence against the police. Understandable, since this time, the immediate focus was on the uniformed thug who callously squeezed the life from yet another black man.
Now that more peaceful forces have begun to prevail, it's time to express appreciation for the police who defended people and neighborhoods in the aftermath of rage and violence. Instead, organizations are withdrawing support from the police: corporations, museums, the teacher's union and law firms want to sever existing ties.
Yes, the Police Department needs to purge its known incorrigibles. Its persistent, shameful failure to do so resulted in the death of George Floyd. Yes, drastic reform is needed to select and train officers. Yes, new leadership of the Minneapolis police union is imperative. But those necessary changes need community input and encouragement. Think of a teacher punishing an entire class for the actions of a few students, then ignoring the class to further the punishment.
For a healthy lawn, don't spray poison on every weed. Focus instead on nurturing thick grass, which will crowd out unwanted weeds. Police reform can happen, if we can nurture and preserve the best values that our police force represents.
Linda Bergman, Eden Prairie
RACE AND SPORTS
Brees and society still don't get it
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, in his initial apology for recent public remarks, maintains that even if his remarks were wrong, he has always been an ally ("Saints' Brees takes first step toward mending relationships," StarTribune.com, June 5). But he never addressed until later the fact that Colin Kaepernick and others said their kneeling was not about disrespecting the flag or the armed forces. Instead, Brees insisted the black players should be ruled by his white interpretation of what they were doing, his white criteria for what is proper protest. He doesn't see that this is a crucial aspect of white supremacy: Only white people get to decide what is the truth, only white people get to decide what is patriotism, only white people get to decide if black protest is proper or improper, is legitimate or illegitimate.
Black people have been voicing complaints about police brutality for more than a century but white people never believed them. As so many have said, the main difference now is that we have video proof of that brutality, but everyone knows absent that visual proof, the vast majority of white people did not and would not believe the word of black people.
On any racial issue in American history, black people have been on the side of righteousness, justice and history, and always at first, the majority of white people have opposed them, have been morally wrong, unjust and on the wrong side of history. Why is it, in the present, white people have not said: "Well, we got it wrong in our history while black people have been right. Maybe we should now listen to you and follow your lead, because history has always been on your side."
Perhaps, just perhaps, this might be a time when this will happen, when white people will not only listen to black people but follow their lead. Our country's future depends upon that.
David Mura, Minneapolis
• • •
I live six blocks from where George Floyd was killed and two blocks from the fires that ravaged Lake Street. As a white male, I have had the privilege of deciding when and when not to be part of the struggle for racial justice.
For over 60 years I have also been a baseball fan (my wife would say a fanatic). However, my enthusiasm for baseball is seriously on the line, but not for the reasons sports columnist Jim Souhan poses ("Lost season would cost already reeling MLB more fans," May 31).
The bickering between the "millionaires" (the players) and the "billionaires" (the owners) is disheartening given the challenges facing our country. Here's how baseball can retain my passion and build a dedicated fan base for the decades ahead: Create a meaningful financial commitment to employment and education programs for young people of color in every major league city.
By meaningful I mean several billion dollars. Let's start with each major leaguer contributing 50% of their salary (let's use 2021 salaries, not the truncated 2020 salaries) and each owner making a 2:1 match to their players' contribution. Here in the Twin Cities that would mean about $150 million.
And I bet that even after this significant contribution, each owner and player would still have enough left in their pocket for a beer and burger, which may not have been not true for our brother George Floyd in all periods of his life. If any one of the players or owners does not, call me and I will treat you.
Michael Troutman, Minneapolis
Happy to comment, unless he isn't
President Donald Trump's numerous lies and misleading statements have been well-documented by authoritative sources including the Washington Post.
What hasn't been counted is equally dangerous — the numerous times when Trump administration officials refuse to comment about issues of vital national importance. The June 3 story "Barr ordered removal of protesters at park" is a recent example: Officers used smoke canisters, batons, riot shields and troops on horseback to disperse peaceful — which means legal — protesters; when asked for an explanation of this violation of citizens' constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression, "several federal agencies involved in the response declined to answer questions about who ordered the use of force. A White House spokesman declined to comment ... . The Secret Service declined to comment."
This same silence has been the president's typical response to questions about climate change, the environment, voting rights, a host of other big issues. He can't keep his finger off the Twitter trigger, but he clams up whenever an honest answer would make clear that he's a failure as a human being and a president. And that makes sense in a Trumpian sense: Not even Donald Trump is foolish enough to publicly defend the indefensible.
Steve Schild, Winona, Minn.
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