U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar should perhaps take a history lesson before she castigates those Jewish Americans who feel “an allegiance to a foreign country,” in her words (“Omar comments draw new fire,” March 2). Throughout history, Jews have been subjected to prejudice and violence, from biblical times through the Spanish Inquisition (and others), through the pogroms, through the Holocaust, and even through the increasing acts of bigotry and violence prevalent in our country, such as the Pittsburgh temple massacre.
Separated from their ancestral home in the Middle East, it is no wonder that since 1948 Jews worldwide have felt an “allegiance” to Israel and desired to see it thrive. This does not mean that we are any less “American” or that we agree with its policies, many of which I, as an American Jew, abhor. I think of its current leader as a man who is no better than our president, as a man who does not seek peace or the formation of a Palestinian state, who does not see Palestinians as equals with a right to a homeland and dignity.
But the knowledge that there is an Israel is not only reassuring but long overdue. And we can show an “allegiance” without diminishing our love of America and the democracy that it stands for. I am certain that Rep. Omar feels just as strongly about the land of her forebears. We live in an imperfect world, in many cases led by imperfect people, but a little perspective rather than prejudicial diatribes and inflammatory language is called for in a civil society.
Alan Miller, Eagan
• • •
Israel has become a sacred cow that cannot be criticized or corrected. Currently, its leader is under criminal indictment and the United Nations is investigating the criminal cruelty of its treatment of Palestinians. The constant and ancient enmity they face increases the probability of overreaction and error and the need for strong and reliable allies. However, we cannot help them nor ourselves nor any other peoples of the earth without critical examination and analysis. The truth is not anti-Semitic.
John Crivits, St. Paul
• • •
Not a fan of Omar, but I do applaud her right to speak out as she will. Too often our representatives go to Washington and want only to silently fit in and play the political game to get money to be re-elected. But Paul Wellstone spoke out and got heard. Al Franken spoke out and was heard. I think Omar, by speaking unconventional ideas and opinions, will also be heard and appreciated.
Keep up the independent attitude, and don’t go along to get along and put up with politics as usual.
John Reay, St. Paul
• • •
The thoughtful response from Omar’s congressional colleague Dean Phillips to her latest offensive comments about Israel illuminates just how wrong she is to question the political “allegiance” of Jewish-Americans. Phillips acknowledged that the polices of Israel and the influence of lobbying are legitimate issues for discussion. He chose to criticize only Omar’s choice of words and divisive tone, rather than make assumptions about her personal motivations or biases. He provided a concise lesson on how political discourse should take place in America. Hopefully Rep. Omar was truly listening this time.
Jerry Anderson, Eagan
U.S. SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR
Challenge all abusive workplace behavior. Then, no double standard.
Harsh criticism has recently come to light by former staffers of U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and her routine bouts of anger, unreasonably high standards and belittling of her subordinates (“Klobuchar: I’ll ‘do better’ by staff,” March 2). Some have pointed to a double-standard at play, claiming that these complaints would not be launched at male bosses and that they would certainly not rise as a strike against his qualifications for the presidency. I take issue with this judgment. The answer is not to repudiate these complaints against a female boss but rather raise them against male bosses. The behavior is not OK — whether perpetrated by a man or woman.
Jill Schwimmer, Minneapolis
• • •
I believe Klobuchar’s former staff have legitimate issues with her abusive behavior.
This public airing of a pattern reflecting her anger issues and exhausting work schedule may lead her to get help to change behavior that would disqualify a candidate, particularly a woman, from being a top contender for president.
I hope she meets this challenge head-on. She is, in my opinion, by far the best choice so far to represent us moderates who are tired of the far-left and far-right candidates’ rhetoric that dominates the news cycles today.
Having said that, I think this piling-on by news media like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal exemplifies all that is wrong with journalism today, taking a salacious story and repeating it over and over without adding more detail, interpretation or clarification.
Blanche Hawkins, Dellwood
Understand the opposition
Two Feb. 28 letters about the Born-Alive Survivors Protection Act were written with great passion and strong criticism for the “no” votes of Sens. Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar. I respect the authors’ right to feel as they obviously do about abortion. It seems to me, though, that the letters reflect an incomplete understanding of this bill and why our senators voted against it.
It is important to note that infanticide is already a criminal act in this country. Women can choose to end a pregnancy without violating the law. To those who oppose it, the “Born Alive” bill is seen as both unnecessary and not in accord with the current law allowing abortion, and in fact would potentially restrict a woman’s access to legal abortion. It would place requirements on women and health care providers that do not make sense given the reality of the timing of the majority of abortions (before 21 weeks) and the extreme rarity of abortions after 24 weeks.
If a woman seeks abortion after 24 weeks, it is for significant health risk to the mother, or a fetus with a condition incompatible with life after birth. It is inaccurate and irresponsible of President Donald Trump and others to invoke images of full-term babies, or of babies capable of surviving, being pulled from the mother and killed; no one is proposing that as acceptable practice. Opposition to legal abortion does not excuse inaccurate and false statements about the procedures, people, and decisions involved in legal abortions. Opinions on either side of the issue should be informed.
Joanne Lidicker, Minneapolis
PRIVATELY RUN PRISONS
The model was always a mistake
I read with keen interest the March 4 counterpoint by Republican state Rep. Tim Miller (“Choice in Appleton, elsewhere mustn’t be private prison or none”). Miller is attempting to serve his community, but the flawed logic of his argument is summed up in his closing paragraph, where he states that “Minnesota is a terrible place to invest and do business, because the capricious state government may simply erase your business model.”
At this time when the federal government is attempting prison reform, our nation faces the insidious reality that many communities rely on the business model of caging humans as a significant source of revenue and jobs. In the 19th century, the U.S. fought a bloody Civil War to erase the cruel business model of slavery, yet the lingering effects of that business model endure into this century.
Privatizing any aspect of the criminal-justice system sustains the subjugation of people and ought to be abolished nationwide. Allowing the Prairie Correctional Facility to be built in the first place was a mistake. Converting it to a state-sponsored facility will do nothing to ameliorate that mistake.
Richard Cousins, Edina