The assumption of Jeff Strickler’s recent “Streetscapes” article that many museums are restructuring their entrances simply around the convenience of cars misses a key point (“Making less than a grand entrance,” Sept. 5).

One of the major factors not noted is accessibility. It is true that our campus now is first accessed by all visitors through the ground-level front entrance to our new Nelson Cultural Center. However, this new entrance makes our campus easily accessible by all visitors, including those in wheelchairs and with baby strollers, who can now make their way to the Turnblad mansion through a link to a new elevator tower that serves all four levels of our historic house. Today, our visitors can easily enter and move throughout the mansion — from the lower-level library and archives to the top-floor ballroom and children’s galleries — in a manner that simply was not possible before.

Visitors still have the option to use the Turnblad mansion’s majestic front doors during all Minnesota seasons other than winter, when we choose to close the mansion’s front entrance rather than cause irreversible harm to the century-old limestone staircase by applying de-icing mixtures.

Over the years, we have adapted to accommodate cars (our parking lot is much larger these days), just as we’ve adapted to bicyclists by providing more bike racks. Our greater priority has always been to create educational and cultural offerings in a physical setting that best serves all members of our community.

Bruce Karstadt, president & CEO, American Swedish Institute

 

LAW AND CONSCIENCE

And, of course, it’s a point of pride to have good laws at all

To the Star Tribune readers who pointed out the discrepancy between what’s right and what’s legal, and the various news topics it can be applied to, well said and bravo (Readers Write, Sept. 10).

Any credible poll these days has shown a substantial majority of Americans wants gay marriage to be legal. The Supreme Court agreed, and it is now illegal to discriminate against gays who would like to be married. It should be the job of any public employee to uphold what is legal without regard to his or her opinions of the law, a role that is even more important for a law written to protect the rights of Americans from bigotry, ignorance and hatred.

On the other hand, Cecil the lion, poor fellow, lived in a country where laws have not kept up with reality. Big-game hunting when so many species are critically endangered seems as outdated as seeing a doctor advertising cigarettes on TV. Also, tourism is one of the ways African countries can bring in some much-needed cash and create jobs, and the big-game animals are the main point of interest for most tourists, so why let hunters kill them off? However, big-game hunting in Africa remains legal, although clearly wrong. African countries fortunate enough to still have their natural wildlife resources should take swift steps to protect them.

Thanks to Star Tribune readers for pointing out one of the many reasons the United States is a great country.

Bill Kincaid, Webster Groves, Mo.

 

SYRIANS SEEKING REFUGE

The United States should have an open door in this crisis

I’ve been reading on the news feeds of the plight of the refugees fleeing from the violence of the civil war now raging in Syria. Neighboring countries are being flooded with those trying to escape, taxing their infrastructures to the breaking point. Masses of these poor people are trying to make their way to Europe via the Balkan Peninsula, meeting with growing resistance from those countries.

Where is the United States? (Editor’s note: On Thursday, the White House said that President Obama has directed his administration to prepare to take in 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next year. Some advocates, however, have called for the United States to accept 10 times as many.)

As a nation, we have a unique opportunity to not repeat one of the biggest mistakes of human history.

In the Europe of the 1930s, Germany was coming under the rule of the Nazis. The Nazis made no effort to hide their contempt for the German Jewish population. Like the Islamic State of today, their capability and willingness to inflict suffering and death knew no boundaries. Hundreds of thousands of German Jews attempted to flee Germany at that time; most of them applying for sanctuary in the West. The U.S. refused many visa applications. One can only speculate about how many lives could have been saved had our country stepped up and offered these unfortunate souls sanctuary, if even for just a few years with the stipulation of repatriation after the war.

Today, we have a unique opportunity to not only prevent human suffering and a massive loss of life, but to show the Muslim world that we do value all human life, regardless of our religious differences. This crisis transcends political or religious considerations. We need to step up and show our capacity for humanity. Words have meaning. Deeds have deeper meaning.

Gordon Stewart, Blaine

• • •

The plight of the refugees is heartbreaking, and who can blame them for escaping the hopeless conditions they’ve been living in for the past few years? Of course, ultimately, the debate shouldn’t be so much about what country or region bears responsibility for resettlement, but about how the world should prevent such circumstances that lead to a mass exodus.

The United States should certainly take in more who seek hope for the future. But it is important to remember that America has refugees of its own — some 600,000 men, women and children, including 14,000 here in Minnesota who are homeless. They, too, need to be resettled and offered a chance for a better future.

Ed Murphy, Minneapolis

The writer is executive director of Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless.

• • •

How gut-wrenching for all of us to witness thousands fleeing Syria into Europe. Now just imagine President Trump sending millions of illegal citizens out of our own country. What would this look like? Where would they go? Is our nation really capable of creating this kind of disruption, pain, suffering and heartbreak within its own borders?

Charles A. Lipkin, Golden Valley

 

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

Not yet enough movement on marriage and divorce

Pope Frances has made the process of declaring Roman Catholic marriages null and void shorter, simpler and cheaper. This revision, however, does nothing to loosen rigid control of the consciences of divorced Catholics who have remarried or would like to do so.

Regarding marriage and divorce, practicing Catholics are subject to two jurisdictions: state statutes and the church’s Code of Canon Law. Whereas no-fault divorce has become readily available during the past 50 years, the Vatican refuses to adjust its rules to an evolving ethic of the permanence of the marriage bond.

The rigidity of Vatican officials brings to mind the words of Jesus aimed at some of his contemporary religious leaders: “They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but will they lift a finger to move them? Not they!”

Ed Kohler, St. Paul

The writer, a former priest, was national chaplain of the Christian Family Movement when he married in 1972.