Much of America is mourning with the family of Jacob Wetterling. Now we have learned of the “plea deal” in which his abductor would confess to a child pornography charge and would not be prosecuted for Jacob’s murder. The recommended sentence is 20 years in prison. Are you kidding me? In our modern day of skyrocketing crime, overflowing prisons and a crime covered up for 27 years, the powers that be just cave and let this monster walk? Many states laws call for the death penalty in the murder of a child.
While I realize that Jacob’s parents “agreed” to this plea deal, this involves so much more. It is a crime against all Minnesotans and all Americans. Too often we see this ugly process used to coddle the accused, who live to kill and molest another day. Stand up, Americans and just say no, not again, for the memory of Jacob and hundreds of other child victims.
James W. Anderson, Talladega, Ala.
• • •
Like so many Minnesotans, especially those of my generation (I graduated from Northfield High School in 1989), I have sharp memories of the Wetterling abduction. And now, I feel both sadness and a deep sense of awe for the family’s love and activism. My heart is with them as they begin this next challenging chapter, and I know many of us feel the same way.
And, yes, we should feel sadness. We should feel anger and outrage and powerlessness over a horrific outcome. But as we try to process these emotions, I feel compelled to add something based on my 20 years of experience as a clinical social worker and child and family psychotherapist specializing in attachment and trauma.
The one thing we must avoid is to be shocked and to think this tragedy is a unique one. They may not always lose their lives, but children in Minnesota are abused and hurt, every day. Sometimes their stories are told, and sometimes they are not and they are struggling through every moment with quiet desperation. Adults who presumably went through this kind of scarring abuse themselves and got no help when they needed it act out with monstrous behaviors in return, every day. And families are engaged in the painful process of healing from abuse and loss, often behind closed doors, every day.
I would ask us all to take some of the grief we feel and channel it toward supporting programs and agencies that help not only missing children but also children who are here but hurting. Continue bringing awareness to sexual abuse (and abuse of all kinds) and encourage schools to become trained in trauma-informed practice. Continue advocating for quality, accessible mental health services for children, families and adults. Doing so is a powerful way to honor Jacob and his family.
Marit Appeldoorn, Minneapolis
• • •
What a time it has been. In the last few days, we have finally understood what happened to Jacob Wetterling. A sad story about a sick man killing a child for no reason. A sad time for a family who kept the light on hoping their son would return. And a time for all Minnesotans to feel sadness at the conclusion. Through this, the Wetterling family has reminded us of their call for hope. They have reminded us to work hard to keep our families, our children and our world safe.
At the same time, the pope has canonized Mother Teresa, who devoted her life to service and to caring for others, showing love and compassion where others had demonstrated hatred and loathing.
These two pieces of news have reminded us of the frailty of life and the need to stay hopeful for those who need love, safety and protection. And as we think of the 15,000 children who die worldwide every day from preventable causes — illnesses, starvation and military conflict — we can renew our commitment to serving the needs of the poor and those who struggle in life. It is a time for sadness and for hope. It is a time to remember that many people still fight for life every day. It is a time for all of us to recommit to helping and protecting our fellow humans.
Robert Shumer, Burnsville
If Allina can afford to hold out for 200 days, that raises questions
The Star Tribune reports that Allina “has cash on hand to stay open about 200 days without additional revenue. And its leaders have said they are willing to take a short-term financial hit in exchange for the long-term savings of moving nurses onto more financially advantageous health plans” (“For nurse couples, strike is a double hit,” Sept. 7).
That’s 28.6 weeks. Multiply that by $20 million (the cost of temporary staffing during the earlier one-week strike), and Allina ostensibly has $571 million in its war chest to break the nurses union. It takes the breath away. How can a not-for-profit organization amass this amount without Medicare and the state of Minnesota noticing? Were insurance companies or Medicare overcharged? Is it a good use of health care dollars?
I note that Allina has been stating over the past year that it would save $10 million a year by switching nurses to the other health care plans. At this rate it would take Allina 57 years to recoup its money.
Michael Redmond, Minneapolis
The writer is a striking Allina nurse.
COVERT OPERATIONS AND POLITICS
A meddling Russia is a concern, but remember: We’ve done it, too
Of course it is a bad and serious matter if Russia has launched a covert operation aimed at influencing and undermining our national elections (“U.S. amps up probe of Russian hacking,” Sept. 6). Perhaps a bit of historical memory and honesty should accompany our indignation. Our own government has in the past conducted its own covert operations aimed at affecting elections in other countries. One thinks of U.S. interventions in Italy early in the Cold War, funding opposition parties in Allende’s Chile and arming our kind of dissidents in several Central American countries. The U.S. and Britain also accomplished the outright regime change in Iran that displaced an elected government in 1958 and installed the autocratic shah who, in turn, was ousted by the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 with consequences that continue to plague us, especially in our tattered relationship with the world of Shia Islam. In the real world of power and national self-interest, covert operations by all sides probably will increase rather than diminish. But as my grandmother used to say when I filched crabapples from her garden, “It ain’t right.”
James A. Bergquist, Bloomington
The crowds are stimulating, and 12 days together is sufficient
What would the Great Minnesota Get-Together be without “huge” (apologies to Donald Trump) crowds? (“More days, less crowding? Think about it. Let us know,” Readers Write, Sept. 7.) The operative word is “Get-Together.” I believe part of the joy and fun of the fair is the multitude of people of every race, color or creed with whom to mingle.
My wife and I have both advanced in our maturity (some call it getting old). We are in our glorious 70s. We attended the fair on three different days. Except for the friendly vendors, we did not see the same person twice. We exchanged pleasantries with all sorts of beautiful people. We love seeing the children having a great time or perhaps conked out, sleeping in a stroller. Our fair is a testament to the desire of most people to get along and enjoy life.
These crowds are good. But I think 12 days is a good number. The vendors need the break.
Terry T. Lundberg, Apple Valley