Readers Write: Christian Nationalism, Minneapolis Teachers’ Strike, Ukraine, American Flag, Schwan Home Delivery

I wholeheartedly agree with “Concerns Rise Over Cooptation of Religion” (March 19). Christian nationalism represents a grave danger to our democracy. I had a good laugh, however, when I read Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore’s comment describing Christian nationalism as “heretical.” It reminded me of the great Emo Philips joke where Emo tries to pin down the religion of someone he meets on a walk. It ends with this exchange:

“‘Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?’ He said, ‘Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.’ I said, ‘Die, heretic!’ “

Emo pokes fun at the technical and arcane differences between different sects of the Christian religion and how differences that seem minor to outsiders can deal a blow to initiates. I agree that Christian nationalism is a greater threat to democracy, but Southern Baptists and other Christian denominations have also been active in trying to legislate their theology on those who do not share their beliefs. The conclusion here is that neither perspective should have a seat at the table of our secular government. Our founders built a wall of separation and we must be vigilant in maintaining this wall.

Erica KleinRichfield

MINNEAPOLIS TEACHERS STRIKE

Regarding the March 18 letter about the Minneapolis teachers’ strike, I must dispute the conclusion. The author states that the students have gone through two difficult years (agree), that the strike can make these difficulties worse (agree), so the teachers should not be on strike and rather “be grateful” for what they have (disagree).

There is no intentionality in the “timing” of the strike. The district and the union had a fixed-term contract, this term has expired, they have not yet reached an agreement on a new contract. There is no “default” to fall back on, unless the author simply wants to accept the terms offered by the administration. But this incorrectly assumes that the employer’s position is the ‘default’. This is a value-laden assumption that I urge all readers to question.

In this case, one could equally accuse the administration of being “indifferent to the mental stress it inflicts on students, families and citizens”, and that its failure to reach an agreement is “untimely”, and that she should just accept the position of the teachers’ union and “be thankful” for what they have. If that sounds silly to you, I understand. Companies spend substantial sums to maintain the paradigm that the employer’s position is the “default position” and defending your economic rights is “petty” or selfish. This is exactly the kind of thinking that the labor movement has been fighting against for over 100 years. Instead, the labor movement proposes a world in which workers and employers negotiate the terms of employment, ideally on an equal footing.

I leave the author, and the reader, with the following: of the two economic paradigms, the question is not which do you think is true, but which do you want to be. Our reality is what we collectively make of it.

Sebastian Ellefson, St. Paul

UKRAINE

We are losing the war in Ukraine. No matter how you look at it, we are part of this war. Our arms deliveries alone involve us. Our military and humanitarian aid involves us. That’s how it should be. But we lose. Russian military tactics are to use heavy artillery to destroy resistance. It may seem like the Russians are at a standstill, but they are acting exactly as planned by bombarding the cities to the rubble.

Our press and our expert analysts believe that the Ukrainians are repelling the Russians. They neglect the strategic objectives of the Russian regime: to reduce the cities to ruins and to force a huge migration of people to neighboring countries which overwhelm the social systems there. Then use social media to divide indigenous people for and against refugees. Wreak havoc on Ukrainian cities and the Western social system simultaneously. Ukrainian cities will continue to be devastated by artillery and rocket deployment. Vladimir Putin does not care about his losses on the field because he wins the strategy.

Putin believes in old Russia. He is unlikely to sacrifice Russia itself to direct Western resistance in Ukraine. Therefore, he is unlikely to pull the nuclear trigger, which would result in the incineration of Russia. Our response should be much tougher. At a minimum, a humanitarian air exclusion zone and protection of the civilian population against bombardments. Whatever it takes.

Paul James, Eden Prairie

•••

Apparently, the editors’ tolerance for the diversity of opinions expressed in the letters extends to calls for the assassination of heads of state (“With anguish, agitated anger, here is a hard truth about what must happen,” Readers Write, March 17). The letter writer who agreed with his wife after watching Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s speech to Congress that the situation “deserved a huge bounty on Vladimir Putin’s head” admitted to later finding out that a Russian businessman had done this. When in doubt about what it means to put a bounty on someone’s head, this businessman, Alex Konanykhin, posted a “Wanted: Dead or Alive” image of Putin on Facebook along with his bounty offer, which Facebook banned. It wasn’t just a playful version of an element of Old West culture. We cannot believe Konanykhin’s later protestations that he did not mean he would pay someone to assassinate Putin.

Americans do not have the prerogative to call for the removal, much less the assassination, of the head of state of another country. When we resort to supporting a coup or assassination in another country, no matter how badly that country or that leader behaves, we lose our moral position to oppose when other countries interfere with our process of selection or replacement of our Head of State. Shame on this letter writer for supporting such an option and on the opinion editors for implying that this is within the range of acceptable opinion for readers.

Luc Walbert, St. Paul

THE AMERICAN FLAG

The American Legion Department of Minnesota would like to commend the author of the March 21 “Take Up Our Flag” letter.

We couldn’t agree more.

The American flag is for everyone. American Legion veterans see it as a symbol of unity. Despite the political differences that come with participating in our 244-year-old democracy, we are all on the same side. We are all Americans. We all want a more perfect union.

We veterans often feel like the last remaining nonpartisan group, and it hurts us when people on every side of the political spectrum attribute meanings to American flags that just aren’t there. Flying the flag is meant to be a show of patriotism, nothing more, nothing less. Citizens of all countries in the world display their flags as a sign of patriotism. Why shouldn’t we?

And as the letter writer said, “America is about us, and we’re all lucky to be here.”

We would love nothing more than to have people of all political persuasions supporting the flag.

Tim Engstrom, Bloomington

The author is director of communications for the American Legion Department of Minnesota.

HOME DELIVERY SCHWAN

So after 75 years of establishing a trusted Minnesota brand, Schwan’s decided to roll out a cute and silly replacement called “Yelloh” (March 19). How picturesque. How Ad-Men. How stupid board. How “New Coke.” How sad.

How’s that for an answer? ” Bye. I don’t do cute, silly rebranding. Get me out of your way.

Gary DunnAndover

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