In a recent “Item World,” the Star Tribune’s books editor, Laurie Hertzel, disapproves of Entertainment Weekly’s choice of “Betsy-Tacy” to represent “the true spirit of Minnesota” for its “United States of Books.” This classic series by Maud Hart Lovelace celebrates Minnesota history at the turn of the 20th century, lifelong friendship, supportive family, and strong girls and women with talent and ambition. Hertzel suggests novels by John Sandford instead. Many of Sandford’s “thrillers” involve the coldblooded murder of helpless women described in gruesome detail. If that’s Ms. Hertzel’s preferred idea of the true spirit of Minnesota, I’d rather she moved to Wisconsin.

Theresa Alberti, Minneapolis

• • •

Lovelace was a nationally known historical writer when she began her successful series based on her childhood. While her childhood was admittedly idyllic, she did not compromise on her quality of writing or on research to ensure that the period was accurately portrayed. She dealt with issues that still resonate, such as discrimination against immigrants and women, rebellion, and religious conflict. The pseudointellectual rejection of writing that is not filled with dysfunction and cynicism is offensive and disappointing. Good writing is good writing. The Star Tribune should know it when it sees it.

Ann Wallace, Redmond, Wash.

• • •

On the surface level, the Betsy-Tacy books are about bucolic life in a small town in Minnesota. But Lovelace speaks to us about today’s issues as perhaps the other Minnesota authors mentioned do not. If Hertzel had done her research, she would know that three of the Lovelace books take on the issue of Syrian immigration to the U.S. In one of her early books, Betsy goes to Little Syria, an impoverished part of Mankato, and befriends a young Syrian girl. “Emily of Deep Valley” is all about the founding of a settlement house for the Syrians in Mankato, and “The Trees Kneel at Christmas” is about a Syrian family in Brooklyn, and shares many traditions, customs and stories of being a Syrian immigrant to the U.S. Very relevant with today’s headlines.

There are many other stories in the books where the characters take on issues of exclusion, depression and high school cliques, all set against a background of great love for Mankato and for Minnesota history. Minnesota is well-represented by Maud Hart Lovelace.

Lisa Mayotte, Hopkins

 

LAW AND CONSCIENCE

Life does get murky when ideals collide

Did anyone else notice the irony in the Sept. 9 letters to the editor?

One writer made the point that the law supersedes our actions when it comes to what is right or wrong. The county clerk in Kentucky needed to follow the law on issuing marriage licenses, not do what she thought was right or wrong.

The very next letter stated that the trophy hunter who killed Cecil the lion didn’t get it — that just because something is legal doesn’t mean it is right.

The first says we don’t care; it’s the law. The next says we don’t care if it is the law.

Interesting times we live in.

Don Mussell, Eden Prairie

• • •

Some of your dear readers may have noticed that a vocal faction of the American political right has grown concerned with the definition of the English word “marriage.” Some believe that this word exclusively defines the union of a one man and one woman. I have another concern with English usage around this same topic. An individual’s decision to believe in a higher power and adhere to the moral tenets in line with these beliefs is “religion.” An individual’s decision to pronounce judgment on others for their beliefs is “bigotry.” Conflating these two words is poor grammar, and should be avoided in polite company.

Ben Speakman, Eagan

• • •

The letter headline read: “Trophy hunter doesn’t get it: Even if legal, it wasn’t right.” Could not that same logic be used in dealing with Hillary Clinton? Or, let’s say, Planned Parenthood? People seem to care more about a lion than about a person running for president of the United States. It also seems that the lion tops unborn children!

Edward McHugh, East Bethel

• • •

As we remember 9/11 this week and recall where we were on that fateful day, maybe we should remember Sept. 12. I don’t remember looking on others as either liberal or conservative, right or left, but only as fellow Americans whose nation had been attacked.

I’d still like to look at others first as fellow country­men, and then maybe we’ll discuss politics. Maybe not.

Craig Kemming, Andover

 

RACE RELATIONS

Speaking out brings more than criticism

The Sept. 9 letter writer who responded to my Sept. 4 letter regarding a Sept. 3 commentary (respectively, “Look at what you get for trying to have an earnest discussion,” “Folks, you’ve got to step out of your own small world” and “Black Lives Matter: What does the movement want from the average white citizen?”) should know that I have received my first piece of hate mail, sent to my home address, unsigned, with no return address. This is exactly what I was talking about: The bigots are all around us. We need to become more aware of our fellow humans, of all races.

Judy Cooper Lyle, Minneapolis

 

SYRIAN REFUGEES

Stay and fight? Not easily done

A Sept. 8 letter writer wants to know why Syrian men are not staying in Syria to fight the government and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. More than 200,000 men, women and children already have died in this civil war. Millions have fled to Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey. They cannot stay and fight, because they have no weapons and, more important, very little food and water.

Before this war is over, many more thousands will die because they have the wrong religious affiliation (Shite or Sunni) or do not support ISIL. Their only hope is to flee the conflict and start a new life in different but stable European Union country.

Bill Ojile, Lino Lakes

 

GUN USE AND ADVOCACY

Subtlety is not a strong suit

I almost felt some sympathy for the gun store that was not allowed to advertise its gun safety course on Facebook (front page, Sept. 9). That was until I saw that their safety training involved an imaginary zombie apocalypse. That is not training; it’s entertainment — a video game with live weapons. Just what this society needs.

Rochelle Eastman, Savage

• • •

Regarding the story about Paula Zumberge, whose husband faces a life sentence for shooting his neighbor to death with a semi-automatic weapon during a neighborhood dispute (“Family comes to terms with a life sentence,” Sept. 9), and who said about the incident that it “could happen to anybody”: What?! Not to anyone who rejects the irrational spiel from the NRA. It is way past time for us as a nation to reject the NRA’s call to endorse laws that result in death to innocent people.

Ruth Fingerson, Arden Hills

 

YOUTH SPORTS

Kids advertising beer?

So there you have it, front-page news (Sept. 8): a picture of the kids in their soccer uniform shirts with “Tecate” — a Mexican beer — emblazoned on the back. Can you imagine the uproar if Little League uniforms displayed “Budweiser” or “Coors Light”? Come on, youth futbol leaders: Let’s set the future for these kids on the right path. There will be plenty of time to promote adult choices when they reach the major-league level of play. For now, keep it free and clear of the alcohol sponsorship.

Duff Miller, Lilydale

 

CORRECTIONS

• A Sept. 5 letter incorrectly described Muhammad Ali’s legal fight over his military draft status during the Vietnam War. Ali was convicted of refusing to report for induction into the Army but did not serve jail time.

• A shortened URL in a Sept. 5 letter about copper recycling failed to link to the intended website. The full Web address is http://www.copper.org/publications/newsletters/innovations/1998 /06/recycle_overview.html.