Ron Way’s July 31 commentary “The real history of Mount Rushmore” was incredibly informative and interesting, but a well-educated reader shouldn’t have to be reminded “how the West was won.” I’ve taught social studies for almost 20 years and have seen the importance placed on the subject I teach not just dwindle but be tossed aside altogether. At what expense? State testing — a topic that, ironically, was discussed in another article the same day (“More students opting out of standardized tests”).
There are rarely enrichment opportunities for students who love American history, because our schools have focused so much on reading and math scores, essentially teaching to those tests and nothing else. Administrators are gradually pushing social studies aside, and parents and teachers all too often stand idly by.
Way’s article was an outstanding account of real history, but I honestly fear that many young (and old) readers were enlightened by it. In this current time, we see protesters, bloggers and writers on both sides argue over society, race, justice and equality, the core issues we are facing, without understanding our past. These debates too often boil down to who can yell louder.
The candidates of the 2016 election generalize that we are “failing our students.” Maybe our students and schools should be held accountable for more than just math and reading, or better yet, should scrap the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments altogether and emphasize a well-rounded education.
Bob Schweim, Lakeville
• • •
In an otherwise comprehensive overview of the long conflict between native Indians and immigrant settlers, Way suggests the Dakota who rose up earlier in Minnesota were not “practiced warriors” like Red Cloud’s. In fact, their initial attacks killed hundreds, emptied New Ulm and other areas of settlers, and forced hundreds more into hastily built stockades. A determined defense of ill-prepared Fort Ridgely and the fortuitous early discovery of their planned ambush at Wood Lake contributed to their defeat, and perhaps prevented still more Dakota victories. Red Cloud’s war may be better known because the drops of blood Little Crow and his fierce warriors drew in 1862 were lost in the buckets shed during the Civil War.
Doug Gray, Bloomington
• • •
Way asserts a Lakota claim to the Black Hills, based on a 2012 United Nations report advising the area’s “return to indigenous peoples.” But the Lakota took the Black Hills from indigenous Cheyenne in the 1770s. The Cheyenne took the area from indigenous Arapahoe, who had driven out indigenous Crow, Kiowa and Pawnee. Historians note the Arikara people were indigenous to the Black Hills back in 1500. Who gets to define “indigenous?”
“I was here first” arguments have plagued mankind ever since we began our migration out of Africa’s Rift Valley, and continue to stir up strife from America to the Middle East to the South China Sea. What hope has humanity to move forward, so long as we continue to drag the murky past behind us?
Jack Maloney, St. Paul
• • •
I find it fascinating that Way, a resident of Edina, goes to South Dakota to express his outrage over those who practiced “dominance over those with darker skin.” He would need only look a few miles up the road. This state has a professional football team named for the Vikings, who were slave traders.
Maybe we ought to address our own issues with those who practiced “dominance over those with darker skin” before turning our eyes to South Dakota.
William C. Petri, Plymouth
Don’t waste money being nice. Enforce the law, and punish.
After reading the Star Tribune’s July 31 article “A bold new plan to subvert terror” (part of the “Radical Intervention” series), I am now firmly convinced that we should not use such programs here. The Danish city that the newspaper highlighted, Aarhus, has a smaller population than Minneapolis and is spending $180 million trying to convince young Muslims not to fight for terrorist groups and is creating more “lenient” forms of punishment for individuals found guilty of supporting terrorist groups. What a waste of resources.
How would any political leader in Minnesota justify to his/her constituents that instead of spending money on public schools, hospitals, roads, veterans care or help for the disabled, they’re going to spend tens of millions on social workers trying to prevent young Muslims from radicalizing? How would U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger explain to Minnesota citizens that instead of prosecuting people who aid terrorists he is going to send them to counseling?
As this paper reported last year, Minnesota has the unfortunate distinction of leading the nation in the number of its residents who fought for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. No social program is going to stop radicalized youths from becoming terrorists. Only skilled law enforcement, effective investigations and serious punishments can lessen that threat.
Joe Tamburino, Minneapolis
• • •
What is that sound? Oh, yes, it is the sound of countless piles of tax dollars being flushed down the toilet! It is a waste in Denmark, and it will be a waste here.
Elizabeth Anderson, Minnetonka
DRINKING AT VIKINGS GAMES
Ticket-takers, ushers can’t be expected to handle drunken fans
American football has long been the platform on which the hops industry has built its empire. There is little or no chance beer sales will be limited or restricted during an NFL game. This does not diminish Allan S. Jaffe’s concern regarding public safety (“Inebriation at our Vikings games must be addressed,” July 31). However, ticket-takers and ushers should not be required to control intoxicated fans. (Does the employer even provide adequate health care for these employees?) Instead, I propose that at the annual NFL draft each team be required to sign an additional 150 full-time players. Before a game, these players will suit up and position themselves throughout the stadium. Their role is to contribute to fan safety by confronting and, if necessary, ejecting intoxicated fans. In addition to making Sundays safer, this may result in some “off-field” entertainment, which ticket-paying fans might appreciate.
Steve Kortus, Brooklyn Park
Not exactly ‘Trump Country’
I read the July 31 commentary by August Nimtz (“A black socialist in Trump Country”) with interest, since I lived on the Iron Range for 34 years. It was an interesting article, but there is no way I would refer to the Range as “Trump Country.” By Nimtz’s own admission, he talked with only 35 people, and the only one he can say definitely supported Trump was too young to vote. The “Trump Country” phrase, in fact, flies very much in the face of political history, past and current. The elected officials from northeastern Minnesota are Democrats, not Republicans. True, a Republican was elected to Congress from the Eighth District recently, but that was mainly due to voting in other parts of the district, not the Iron Range. I respect that Nimtz, a University of Minnesota professor, is a very knowledgeable and educated man, but he spent a weekend on the Range. I lived there more than half my life. To call the it Republican territory is like calling Idaho “Clinton Country.”
David Frederick, Coon Rapids
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