As a former Boy Scout, I was appalled at what our president said Monday at the National Scout Jamboree. To a nonpolitical gathering of young men, he espoused negative and disparaging remarks about the free press, national health laws, our last president, elected officials and the presidential election. He hyped his own political slogans. He even used what some would say to be cursing and vulgar language. These scouts were not there to listen to a political rally, but to possibly hear positive words of wisdom from a mature leader.
The Boy Scouts were forced to respond and apologetically said “the invitation of the sitting U.S. president is a long-standing tradition and is in no way an endorsement of any political party or specific policies.”
It is really President Donald Trump’s responsibility to apologize to the Boy Scouts and to the public. I am not holding my breath.
Gary Thompson, St. Paul
DRINKING, SMOKING AGES
The problems with the limits we’re passing or proposing
I strongly disagree with the suggestion in a July 24 letter that a way to solve drinking problems is to raise the legal drinking age to 25.
I have introduced bills in the Legislature (unfortunately without success) to lower the drinking age for on-sale only to 18. One purpose of this would be to decrease the prevalence of binge drinking among college students.
To support this, I have a terrific term paper written by a student who may be a grandmother by now. She describes being in a seminar class in Europe of some length with a mixture of American and European students. The first time they went out together, all the Americans got plastered and all the others were just fine. Why? They had learned to drink in moderation in the company of parents or others. Very shortly the American students learned also.
In addition, some years ago a statement was signed by about 60 college presidents to the effect that abusive dormitory drinking had been caused by the increase in the drinking age.
I hope someone still in office will take up this issue again.
Phyllis Kahn, Minneapolis
The writer is a former member of the Minnesota House.
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I am a nonsmoker who abhors being down wind of secondhand smoke from cigarettes, cigars, pipes, pot, campfires, burn barrels, etc. As a public health measure, I fully support restricting where smokers can indulge in their vice of choice. What I cannot stomach is the double standard inherent in communities passing ordinances that restrict the age of purchase of any legal substance (“Second city raises age to purchase tobacco,” July 19, and “To stop teen smokers, Mpls. aims to restrict menthol sales,” July 6).
My philosophy: You’re either an adult or you’re not. Period. This rash of ordinances deferring certain adult rights until age 21 is, at best, insulting and, at worst, could prove to be unconstitutional if challenged by those who have standing, namely; the 18- to 21-year-olds affected by those ordinances.
In this country, 18 is the age of adulthood. To the extent that at that age we are bestowed with all the risks and responsibilities of adulthood (automatic emancipation, the right to marry, to have children, to vote, to die for our country), it is beyond me that any community can actually legislate away some of the attendant rights. In my view, the choices are to either: (a) prohibit smoking altogether (similar to alcohol prohibitions in dry communities) or (b) change the age of adulthood in this country to 21.
Joe Evans, Minneapolis
MINNEAPOLIS PARK BOARD
Doesn’t the Hiawatha golf course deserve a jury of peers?
For those of us who recently attended a Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board meeting on the future of our 18-hole golf course, we discovered that the board itself has an astounding absence of any person of color on the board or the planning commission making recommendations to close it (“Hiawatha golf course on path to close after vote,” July 20).
The community that gathered to advocate for the future of the Hiawatha Golf Club had strong minority representation and reminded the board that Hiawatha has a long history of being a welcome place for African-American golfers. The 33 people who were registered to speak before the vote were allowed two minutes each.
The majority of local property owners and regular users of Hiawatha, including South Side high schools, spoke with great passion about continuing the only 18-hole golf course in south Minneapolis.
A shout-out to Park Board Member Jon Olson for his strong advocacy for keeping the course open by working out a water-pumping agreement with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
He reminded us of the millions of dollars assigned to Lake of the Isles and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and the Commons park next to the Vikings stadium. He must have felt like Atticus Finch in “To Kill A Mocking Bird.” His passionate plea did not sway the vote, which continues to embrace the false narrative that a DNR pumping permit is the issue.
Yes, Hiawatha deserves a diverse jury of its peers and neighbors, and if you think it has no future, just try to find a parking place on any given weekend.
Glen Wheeler, Minneapolis
What can we learn from examples around the world?
In the wake of a tragic and unexplainable killing by a Minneapolis police officer of a woman calling 911 to report what she believed was a crime in progress, it may seem poor timing to cite an instance in the same week when an armed citizen prevented even more deaths. On the Jewish eve of Shabbat in Israel, a West Bank family of 10 was enjoying their meal and the recent birth of a grandson. At the knock on their door, a young Palestinian burst into their home, knifing to death the patriarch of the family and two of his adult children and seriously wounding the elderly wife. While surviving family members, including young children, cowered upstairs, they found salvation when an off-duty Israel Defense Forces soldier living next door heard their screams, retrieved his gun, ran to the house and shot the terrorist before he could kill more innocents.
Yes, a lethal weapon in the hands of a deficient policeman can lead to totally unjustified shootings. On the other hand, had this well-trained Israeli officer not been armed at the time of this awful terrorist attack, seven more innocents may have met a gruesome end. Perhaps we need to acknowledge that guns in properly trained hands can save lives, while guns in the hands of others ill-equipped to shoulder such a responsibility can cause untold pain and loss.
Mark H. Reed, Plymouth
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On July 19 in Western Australia, a police officer was attacked with a Samurai sword and received a deep cut across the top of his head, fracturing his skull. He lost a liter of blood and required 25 stitches.
His partner subdued the attacker with a Taser. In this instance, lethal action may have been justified. But the professionalism of our police force found another way.
A member of the public in Minneapolis rings 911 to report a disturbance. On attending, approaching the squad car, she is shot dead because the officers were spooked by a noise.
Seems to me the lack of alternative methods to defuse and restrain is leading to too many innocent citizens being killed going about their lawful lives.
Brett Gerrity, Perth, Australia