Letters to the editor: More unites us than divides us
More unites us than divides us
TO THE EDITOR
In response to last week's column, Views from the Right: Much of what she writes are values held of people in general, with no partisan group having a monopoly on them. As for the sex to which she attributes abortion and STDs, she uses a straw man fallacy (presents a ridiculous weakened portrayal of a position of her opponent) and then kicks it down as if some champion of argument.
If she were interested in truth and or an honest discussion, maybe she would have mentioned that the progressive policies of Scandinavian countries on the issue of sex result in less adolescent sex, less unwanted pregnancies, less STDs and less abortions. She would have shared that these progressive policies lead to the world's lowest abortion and STD rates. She would have acknowledged that both sides view these issues as problems but that different approaches are taken to solve them. If she were fair, she would have acknowledged that while there's a difference in proposed solutions, there is still a large overlap of shared values. There is more that unites us than divides us but one would never know it reading this piece.
VSO is thankful
TO THE EDITOR
My name is Phillip Landgraf, the St. Croix County Veteran Service Officer and I can't say thank
you enough for the generosity and passion of our local Veterans Service Organizations. The
American Legions and VFWs of St. Croix County helped raise $20,000 to purchase a new
vehicle to transport St. Croix County veterans to their VA medical appointments in Minneapolis.
For those who don't work with these organizations, this is just a glimpse into some of the
positive work the Legion and VFW Posts do on a monthly basis locally. St. Croix County
veterans organizations give back to our community and I want to personally thank everyone
involved in this endeavor. I am so grateful for all donations to this worthwhile program.
I encourage all veterans who are not involved in these organizations to inquire, and see if a
veteran organization is something you would want to be a part of. Also, I encourage all
veterans to contact our office if they are having issues/concerns or would like to talk about
entitled benefits based on your military service. Our telephone number is 715-386-4759 and we
are located in New Richmond at the St. Croix County Services Center. We would love to have a
conversation and see if there is a way we can assist you. A
gain, for those organizations who donated I will say it one more time: THANK YOU!
Director of Veterans Services
St. Croix County
TO THE EDITOR
I feel embarrassed for my Republican friends who must be hanging their heads in shame over the sleazy campaign practices of their party affiliates.
I know my friends from the other side of the aisle can recognize sleaze when they see it and will reject the direct mail flier attacking Democratic Gubernatorial Governor candidate Tony Evers, as condoning pornography.
As anyone who has been paying attention knows, Evers has explained the law, at the time of the incident, did not allow any disciplinary action toward the alleged perpetrator. The flier is so tainted it goes so far as to suggest that Evers may be the perpetrator. Just how desperate must a candidate be to allow such false material to be circulated on his behalf? Just how low is the Republican Party willing to stoop?
TO THE EDITOR
I am always concerned when I see the new political TV/online ads. The grey-downed picture of the political opponent appears and accusations are made by people who profess to be credible. I don't trust them! Why do political campaigns continue to spend huge amounts of money on these ads? Campaigns assume that most of us believe what we see and won't seek to fact check the content. And let's face it, a picture (or video) is worth a thousand words. It lingers in our memory ... that grey-downed sinister image.
I have often wondered why people will challenge the facts on things like science, bills, or medical work-ups but will accept, without question, most political ads or pamphlets that invade their homes!
St. Croix County and multiple other Wisconsin counties/communities (including over 19 states) passed resolutions to Amend Citizens United to get rid of money in politics whether from unions or corporations. Our Wisconsin legislature has refused to do anything about it and P. Naidu reports that Wisconsin has even passed a law that allows corporations to donate to political parties and legislative campaign committees supposedly to compete with current union contributions even though Wisconsin is now a "Right To Work" state. In addition, amending Citizens United will still need to go to the U.S. Congress after approval by ¾ of the states. We have a long wait before we can improve our politics.
So what can we do until Citizens United is ended? When I see an ad or pamphlet, I seek out who sponsored the ad and I check out the facts. If the ad has fabricated or fudged on issues, I contact the candidate/organization and tell them that I am a voter and I am aware that their ad is wrong. Then, I ask them to please run an honest campaign. The good news is that many politicians are now starting to refuse PAC, union, or corporate contributions and candidates are making this a proud part of their campaign claim.
To find out where candidates are being influenced, go to OpenSecrets.org.
Find out how they voted on issues that concern you (https://votesmart.org).
Let candidates know that you are informed and that you will vote!
Tools for calling out lies and hatred
TO THE EDITOR
As a teacher at Hudson High School I am saddened and concerned that a local hate group recently brought an anti-Muslim speaker to town. I did not attend, but I've read the speaker's words online and they are ugly misrepresentations and lies about Islam with no purpose other than sowing hatred.
Any religion can be easily maligned. Simply read their words selectively, exaggerate extremes, cherry-pick their history and spread falsehoods. The more honorable challenge is to acknowledge that any religion not our own must be understood within its own context and with an awareness of the wide breadth of its teachings and interpretations. It is equally important to acknowledge that religion is but one of many influences—including culture, economics and history—that interact to shape events around the world today. To understand multiple factors about another country, another region and another person's story is to give yourself the tools to question over-simplified thinking that can arouse hatred and fear while revealing privilege and ignorance.
I am proud to be a public school teacher educating students (of multiple religions) how to be in dialogue, perhaps especially with those who are different from them. It is not my role to tell students what to believe or what to think. I teach students to use sound methods and ask good questions, giving them the tools they need to identify the fallacies and dangers of fear-mongering of any kind. Together with the lessons they receive from their families, this equips them to develop their own understanding of the world.
In my classroom, I will continue to follow the educational standards developed by the State of Wisconsin to educate our youth, to help inoculate them against categorical hatred, and to prepare them to become good citizens in a democracy that, among other important values, honors and protects freedom of religion. I call on the Hudson community to expose lies spread in our midst and to support the school district as we move forward working on issues of diversity and equity. It's time to call out the hate in our town.
'Everything I Ever Needed to Know ...'
TO THE EDITOR
I recently attended a talk by Usama Dakdok of the Straight Way of Grace Ministry held in Hudson and sponsored by Citizens for the St. Croix Valley. The speaker slammed Muslims with statements such as, "There are no good Muslims ...they are all liars, and they all want to rape your women, steal your children, and sell them as slaves." He slammed those who welcome Muslims to our country as "stupid Americans." And he slammed textbook publishers and public schools for glorifying and promoting Islam and disparaging Christianity.
With the hate and fear-mongering of Usama still distastefully in my mouth, I went the next day to Gatewood Elementary School in Hopkins, Minn. I hadn't been to Gatewood before but had worked with some of its staff through a non-profit I work for which promotes outdoor learning for elementary schools. Katie, a wonderful kindergarten teacher at Gatewood, had invited me to spend the morning with her 19 kindergartners in the school's beautiful woods exploring nature.
Katie's class of 19 has only three students whose native language is English. There were some Hispanic children, but mostly Somalis and other Muslim boys and girls of African ancestry. Many of the girls wore the traditional hijab. Katie and her teacher's aide, Mary, were happy to have such a diverse and beautiful class of curious, joyful students.
In fact, the educators proudly told me of the visits they are making to each child's home and how the immigrant families are most gracious in their hospitality when the teachers come calling.
The first child to make me feel at home was a young boy with a name I couldn't pronounce who ran up to me, smiled a big kindergarten smile, and gave me the biggest spontaneous hug I've had in a long time. He was Muslim and had no idea who I was, except to know I was a visitor to be welcomed into his classroom.
Katie's Kindergarten: No hate there. No lies. No fears about the differences between children in the classroom. Only joy and peaceful learning and loving and figuring out life together as lively 5-year olds for the 2018-19 school year. It made me think of the book, "Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten."
Perhaps Citizens for the St. Croix Valley should go back to kindergarten to see what's really happening in schools, instead of recruiting speakers who attack textbooks and teachers and Islam and "stupid Americans."