In 1968, Republican presidential nominee Richard Nixon ran his campaign on a platform of “law and order” and being “tough on crime.” Nixon’s message was clear to anyone listening: tough on crime equals tough on blacks. Nixon was a seasoned politician. He knew how to not alienate any potential voters, so he played to white America’s lingering resentment toward African-Americans and their newly guaranteed voting rights. Granted, this population was a minority, but it was significant enough that Nixon knew he had to keep them.

They say there is nothing new under the sun, and this cliché seems to ring true here. Whether it is Donald Trump dodging a derogatory question about Muslims or Ben Carson saying he would not be comfortable with a Muslim running the country, the victimized group may have changed, but the strategy hasn’t. The GOP candidates are taking a page out of Nixon’s playbook, and playing to the minority of Americans who hold xenophobic views of Muslims.

I’m not suggesting the GOP candidates are Muslim-haters themselves, but the fact that they aren’t standing up for a victimized group because of the fear of losing some voters is, to me, disgusting.

Steven Miner, Eden Prairie

 

SPEAKING OUT

Praise and response for articles on teen’s clock, abortion

Kudos to the two writers who appeared on the opinion pages Sept. 22:

• Commentary writer Rebecca Cohen recounted her wrenching experience of carrying a child that had no future because of an embryologic malformation. She described in respectful and loving manner the bleak choices she faced, and her story is of importance in the debate about late-term abortions. Her story demonstrates that life sometimes takes ugly, irreversible turns and that adding to the suffering is not the “right” of any third-party interloper or government.

• Letter writer Nadia Shaarawi, who is a Muslim teen, demonstrated another form of courage: She voiced a politically incorrect opinion regarding a Texas teenager’s homemade “clock” that looked like a bomb, to which the authorities in Texas responded cautiously. I smiled as Shaarawi described herself as an Arab-American, and her willingness to question the accepted narrative and publicly voice an opposing opinion added to this. She did more with her letter to help better relationships between Muslims and non-Muslims than the multitudes chastising people for voicing their fears and concerns.

I thank both of these people for their insights and courage.

Paul Bearmon, Edina

• • •

I know Cohen wants to tell everyone how grateful she is that current laws allowed her to abort her deformed fetus at 21 weeks. I can empathize with any pregnant woman who knows her fetus will die shortly after it is born. But before she writes her next self-pitying newspaper article, perhaps Cohen might imagine what it’s like for a healthy fetus to be aborted. Does she think it’s painful? Of course, after it is dead, it won’t know anything at all.

Barbara Chapman, Edina

• • •

Shaarawi is very generous in failing to see bias in the case of Ahmed Mohamed. But I would ask her to consider that the “bomb” stayed in the school building until the police arrived, ostensibly endangering many; no one called the bomb squad, and the police took the clock with them in the squad car and then into the police station. If a prudent person thought it was a bomb, none of this would have happened in this way. Shaarawi may not smell a rat, but I sure do.

John F. Hetterick, Plymouth

 

SCOTT WALKER

Like Pawlenty, he couldn’t find favor at a national level

Is it really so surprising that Scott Walker has dropped out of the crowded race for Republican presidential candidacy? Didn’t we see this not that long ago when our own favorite son, Tim Pawlenty, rapidly went from rising young star to sad also-ran in what seemed like the blink of an eye?

It would seem both men suffered from the same flaw. As governors, both had been lauded as good soldiers in the endless Republican battle to cut government spending and services. As prospective presidents, both were found to have little else to offer when asked about what they would do in an office that requires an infinitely broader capacity for governing.

Mr. Walker was wise enough to accept that he was not what his party or the country wants, or certainly needs, at this moment. Let us hope such wisdom is soon bestowed upon several others in the running.

Harold W. Onstad, Plymouth

 

DOWNTOWN MINNEAPOLIS

That gridlock will prove to be more than mere inconvenience

Regarding the story about downtown gridlock (“Weary of road work? Eight more weeks,” Sept. 22): This is the hell I have been going through every day for months to get to and from work at the Hennepin County Medical Center. Someday, someone is going to die because an ambulance cannot get through the gridlock. Then we’ll see if construction planners’ idea of balancing everyone’s needs works as an excuse.

And remember, not everyone is physically capable of riding a bike or taking public transportation, so people need to stop being so self-righteous about not using cars.

Jill McGrane, New Hope

 

ST. PAUL ELECTIONS

Don’t just dismiss candidates connected to Black Lives Matter

Political activist William Cory Labovitch, in his Sept. 22 commentary about Black Lives Matter (“Will the movement be a factor in St. Paul city and school races?”), cautions us, in a very paternalistic manner, not to vote for protest organizers.

In his great wisdom, he hems and haws, trying to sound fair. The fact is that he can only speculate that Rashad Turner, Trahern Crews and Linda Freeman “would be more interested in political statements than in getting work done.” ( Of course, other candidates and incumbents of those offices are innocent of political bias.)

I will be a bad little girl and not do what Labovitch “think[s] is best.”

Jane Thomson, St. Paul

 

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

For the right money, we are all Ragnar

What’s all the excitement about the Vikings not renewing Ragnar’s contract to be a secondary mascot to Viktor (“Yes, Ragnar was missing — Vikings, mascot part ways,” Sept. 22)? Ragnar was getting paid $1,500 per game and now wants $20,000 per game for 10 years. That’s $1.6 million! For that money, I’ll shave my head and act like a drunken idiot! It’s not like the Vikings are barring him from the games. Ragnar fans are acting like pawns in his contract negotiations.

Keith Aleshire, St. Louis Park

• • •

I volunteer my husband as mascot, but why not turn a negative into a positive and hold open auditions — maybe one per game, with the winner named at the final game? A good PR person could have a ball with this. Skol!

Yvonne Young, Minneapolis