The occasion of the pope’s address to the august bodies of Congress on Thursday was a delightful break from the all-Trump-all-of-the-time coverage. At last — something worth hearing from a man of true values and compassion. I only hope that our politicians took some of his message to heart and will work across the aisle to prevent another costly and unnecessary government shutdown. I only hope that Pope Francis’ message is heeded that life at all stages of development is valuable; it’s unfathomable that we seek to protect a fetus, yet continue to permit the death penalty. The complete lack of compassion for the weakest among us, including the poor and our veterans, is embarrassing. This country is great. It could be so much greater if we heed the words of this wise man. I mean it.

Kristy Harms, Lakeville

• • •

The pope asks us to love the poor and protect the Earth. And with one voice we respond: “But what’s in it for us?”

Tim Bardell, St. Louis Park

LAKE CALHOUN

Resisters on name had better come up with better reasons

“Hard to remember, hard to pronounce and hard to spell?” If that — from a Sept. 24 letter about proposals to use the Dakota name Bde Maka Ska for Lake Calhoun — doesn’t speak volumes of prejudice, I don’t know what does. Here we are in this melting pot of descendants from Europe and Asia and Africa — to mention a few — and we find it difficult to pronounce? Do you find it difficult to pronounce Finnish names? German names? French or Hmong names?

I struggle with African names but do my best with the help of my African-American friends. If the letter writer has yet to meet anyone who favors this “change,” then he needs to understand that it is not a name change. A picture of the sign in this newspaper simply put the Ojibwe name above the name Lake Calhoun.

But he may call it what he likes and thereby refuse to broaden his horizons.

Judith Larson, Minneapolis

• • •

In town last week for my 65th high school reunion, I was dismayed to learn a few people want to change the name of Lake Calhoun.

The pope suggests “not to judge the past by the criteria of the present.” The pope nailed it.

Jim Peterson, Gold Canyon, Ariz.

• • •

One Lake, Two Lake. Red Lake, Blue Lake. Names have meaning and may acquire new meanings as we learn. The name Lake Calhoun has a negative association for many. Yes, change requires adjustment, not to mention new signs and stationery. (It took me a long time to say “Macy’s” rather than “Dayton’s.”) Why not Lake Cloud Man or, more simply, Lake Cloud? This would honor the collaborative chief whose village was near the shore.

Elisa Hayday, St. Paul

 

REFUGEE CRISIS

Will facts or emotion be our guide in managing our borders?

In his argument for imposing a moratorium on refugees escaping violence (Opinion Exchange, Sept. 24), Jim Hagedorn espouses the familiar xenophobic, fearmongering arguments of right-wing “radicals,” who use specious evidence and degrading language when discussing immigration and so-labeled medieval, primitive, anti-modern Muslim extremists, who apparently represent all Muslim refugees and migrants. Not only is Hagedorn’s argument for closing U.S. borders to innocent civilians who are fleeing civil wars and persecution nauseating and full of errors, but it also is frightening coming from a potential congressman (Hagedorn is running in Minnesota’s First District).

Hagedorn should breathe a sigh of relief, because Muslim “radicals” are not the ones inflicting the most harm against the United States. According to a New York Times article in June, “Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims.” But it is a lot less exciting and attention-grabbing to use facts and logic when discussing immigration and refugee policy, especially when one is attempting to make yet another congressional bid.

Ian Lewenstein, St. Paul

• • •

Regarding the dueling Sept. 24 commentaries about the refugee situation, the two headlines read as follows:

• “Terror recruits show we need a refugee time out.”

Exactly.

• “U.S. screening is tough enough to keep us safe”

No, it’s not.

The writer of the “screening is tough enough” article, Bob Oehrig, needs to remove his head from the sand.

Bob McCool, Lino Lakes

 

SEX EDUCATION

The issue is not one school, but a lack of statewide policy

Regarding “Criticism spurs sex-ed campaign” (Sept. 24): With all the moral panic over the private Gaia Democratic School’s field trip to the Smitten Kitten store last spring, the real scandal is buried toward the end of the article: “Minnesota has no statewide standard for sex education.”

In fact, schools across the state are all over the map on sex-education curricula. Meanwhile, Minnesota’s overall rate of sexually transmitted infections hit an all-time high last year, according to the Department of Health. It’s time to stop the snickering over condom demonstrations and instead demand that our Legislature adopt statewide standards for medically accurate, age-appropriate sexual health education.

Stacey Burns, Minneapolis

 

ACCOUNTABILITY

Can you trust a company? How about a country?

The Volkswagen emissions scandal (cheating on emissions tests for diesel engines) reminds me that all of the Republican candidates for president are calling for fewer federal regulations. They would let business police itself.

It’s only because we have an Environmental Protection Agency and air-quality regulations that our air is fit to breathe and that VW will have to pay a stiff fine for cheating and clean up its engines.

John Clouse, Shoreview

• • •

Volkswagen is a reputable car manufacturer. People rely on that good name. Then how did the company get in its present predicament? Well, the government relied on Volkswagen self-testing its cars for emissions. Volkswagen cheated. It lied. The actual emissions were nothing like what it reported — they were much, much worse.

Does anyone see a lesson here on Iran self-testing its military bases for forbidden atomic activity and reporting the results? And would you trust Iran more or less than you would trust Volkswagen?

Bruce Nemer, St. Louis Park

 

MINNEAPOLIS POLICE CHIEF

Mayor is making a wise choice in keeping Harteau on the job

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges is to be commended for her announced intention to reappoint Chief Janeé Harteau for a second term as chief of the Minneapolis Police Department. Recently I had an opportunity to spend the morning with Chief Harteau and many members of her team and was impressed with her (and their) professionalism and commitment to excellence. Community policing and outreach, extensive training for police officers and inclusion of diverse groups in policy discussions are especially noteworthy. We are indeed fortunate to have such a dedicated public servant as Harteau.

Sally Sawyer, Minneapolis