So, the governor was unclear on a potential mission for calling in the National Guard? (“Frey: Walz delayed Guard order,” front page, Aug. 4.) The city was being looted, burned and destroyed, all on live national television. What other information did he require?

John Morgan, Burnsville

• • •

Gov. Tim Walz’s recent comments about the Minnesota National Guard deployment to Minneapolis are troubling. Here we have the head of the Minnesota Guard making comments that are insulting to the Guard members and dismissive of the mayor’s request for deployment itself. If he could not recognize the request as serious, even after it was specifically requested by the mayor, then the governor is guilty of dereliction of duty. His lack of action and disrespectful comments speak volumes on why he’s unfit to lead. On the point of the comment itself: Walz needs to make a formal and public apology to the National Guard and all its members, where we’ll expect him to specifically call out his leadership failure of insulting 19-year-old cooks.

Hans Molenaar, Shoreview

• • •

Pretty telling to see Mayor Jacob Frey lashing out at the governor, the feds and just about everybody else in the aftermath of his and his administration’s abysmal handling of the unnecessary burning of downtown Minneapolis. The simple truth is the “kid mayor” was in way over his head, and his administration, including the Police Department head, later admitted that they had a lot to learn about the details of requesting when and how to deploy the Minnesota National Guard. That was the core issue that held back the deployment — a lack of clear strategy, focused properties and objectives, etc.

When you have a mayor without a clear policy, vision or accountability to the business owners and citizens of Minneapolis, you get a burned-out shell of a city. I note that in recent news no less than a dozen restaurant owners are considering leaving this once gem of a city! Look to Detroit after the 1968 riots, and you will see the future of Lake Street. Sadly, people of color will suffer yet again the most — food deserts, no gas, increased crime (thank you, courageous City Council members, for trying to defund the police). People who can leave will leave and take their money with them!

Frey should be, and deserves to be, a one-term mayor.

James Dame, Blaine

RACE

Categorization helps no one

Nell Irvin Painter’s commentary “ ‘White’ should be capitalized too” (Opinion Exchange, July 25) was both confusing and disturbing. It was confusing because of an earlier position she took in a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation interview on Sept. 15, 2017. Irvin Painter was quoted as saying that not only is there not a “white race” but that there are “no races.” As we rebound from the brutal death of George Floyd, are we not only challenged to a deep introspection of our racial prejudices as well as endorsing a push toward a “no races” society? My guess is that there are a lot of us who would agree with that as a universal goal.

The disturbing part of the commentary is in her advocating for the capitalization of Black, white and brown people. What defines “black,” “white” and “brown” if not to categorize the races with characteristics attributed to each? (And by whom?) Being a member of the white race would probably identify me as privileged, exploitative, selfish, greedy and other adjectives that I now am burdened with whether or not they apply to me as an individual or not. And, ultimately, to what purpose? Didn’t the death of Floyd awaken us to the need for significant change in racial relations? Aren’t we cognizant of the need to remove labels from people just because of the color of their skin? Irvin Painter’s advocacy only puts us in boxes that keep us apart. That’s the last thing we need today.

Marvin A. Koski, Minnetonka

• • •

As someone who is very concerned about educational inequality, I hoped the July 31 commentary on education reform (“Toxic debate could block real school change,” Opinion Exchange) would promote positive discourse on the topic. But instead, it was so loaded with irony, I had to check the authors’ names to confirm it wasn’t intended as a parody.

The authors assert that “it is necessary to instruct our children through an anti-racist perspective to make them better prepared to live, work and play.” They proceed to explain that achieving that admirable goal requires our schools to stop “the centering of white people, white values, white norms and white feelings over everything and everyone else.”

Having been white and a keen observer of social behavior for most of my 61 years, I have no idea what white “values, norms, and feelings” might be. I’ve known some very greedy and some very generous white folks. I’ve known white slobs, neat freaks, passive-aggressive and blunt white people, athletes and coach potatoes, religious fundamentalists and atheists, hypermotivated and very lazy white folks. And while I would never speak for people of color, I’m confident most would also have trouble defining the social attributes of their communities that don’t apply to all other humans.

Not long ago, the categorizing and stereotyping of racial groups was considered a major obstacle to equality. Judging people for their individual attributes, rather than immutable characteristic like pigmentation, was considered progressive. But I guess times have changed.

Jerry Anderson, Eagan

SPORTS IN A PANDEMIC

I’m donating to the needy, thanks

With all the terrible news in the world it’s important to keep our spirits up with laughter. Normally humor is only found in the Variety section of the paper. Friday’s paper, however, expanded it to the Sports section with an article about the “United Are We” fundraising campaign for the University of Minnesota’s athletic department (“U asking for donations”). It seems that because of the pandemic, the department needs philanthropic support “now more than ever” to help them “not go back by investing in our student-athletes.”

With over 250,000 unemployed people in Minnesota, tens of thousands unsure where they will get money to pay their rent and demand for food assistance at an all-time high, my reaction to their audacious request was, “You have got to be kidding.” Maybe some of the hardships experienced by the athletic department could be attributed to salaries. Take, for example, the football program: P.J. Fleck’s huge salary increase from 2019 to 2020 ($3.1 million to $4.6 million) and his 10 coordinator/assistant coaches increases to over $3.8 million. Without these pay bumps, the athletic department would have almost $2.5 million to “not go back by investing in our student-athletes,” whatever that means. I want to let the university know that my meager philanthropic contributions for the year will be going to help people in need — not to solve a bloated athletic department’s perceived financial crisis.

Bruce Lemke, Orono

• • •

Since attending the University of Iowa I have been an enthusiastic fan of college athletics. For three years I served as a faculty representative on the University of Texas Men’s Athletics Council. During that time my appreciation of student-athletes, administration and coaches grew substantially. I enjoy watching football games on Saturday, especially my Iowa Hawkeyes and Texas Longhorns, and sometimes this is my favorite day of the week.

As unpopular as this will be for some, I think more colleges and universities should follow the lead of the University of Connecticut and cancel the football season — or at least avoid beginning the season until it is safe. Our current COVID-19 environment demands we place health above entertainment and revenue. Anything less is an exercise in self-delusion and greed. I hope, therefore, presidents and athletics administration will rethink their decision to schedule football games this season or perhaps wait until the spring as Minnesota high schools wisely chose to do. Doing so will illustrate true leadership and moral fortitude.

Richard Cherwitz, Austin, Texas

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