Readers Write: Ukraine, trans issues, potholes

Opinion editor’s note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes letters from readers online and in print each day. To contribute, click here.

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The March 13 Star Tribune editorial (“Ukraine support should be bipartisan”) seriously misses the point of recent increases in questions about the war in Ukraine. Nobody fails to see the reality of the ugly and brutal war of attrition that Russia is waging against Ukrainians. Nobody doubts the bravery of Ukrainians, and nobody doubts that Russia has violated international law and almost every principle of international human rights. But serious questions about this war and about U.S. and European support of the Ukrainian war effort are being ignored. For example, and most important, what is the end game here? The Editorial Board suggests, quoting a visiting fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Europe Center, that “Russia needs to go through a strategic defeat.” Does the Editorial Board really believe that Russia will be defeated by Ukrainian forces supported by many countries in the West?

This war has become a stalemate of wanton destruction of Ukraine, with horrible numbers of civilians dead in Ukraine and even larger numbers of military deaths on both sides. More and more serious observers (who support Ukraine’s right to an independent existence) are arguing that negotiations must begin, that this war will most likely only end through negotiations (assuming no use of nuclear weapons and the resulting horror for the world at large if that happens). Ukraine is fighting for principles of freedom and independence that we all support and are willing to help Ukraine defend through our military aid. But do we really want an endless war?

I don’t support the Republicans who want to simply cut our military aid, with no consideration of the principles involved. But the Editorial Board calls for support for this war without raising any of the questions that should be asked, without helping inspire and broaden the debate within the U.S. about this war seemingly with no end. Questions need to be asked and answered, and healthy debate needs to spread throughout the country. The Editorial Board is wrong when it suggests that asking those questions, threatening to reduce military assistance and questioning ongoing military aid is “jeopardizing Ukraine.” We have learned painfully from past wars the U.S. has been involved in that politicians and the military must be challenged by questions needing answers. I hope the Editorial Board will begin to raise these questions.

David Gagne, Minneapolis

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War is terrible, but for the sake of freedom around the world and here at home, wars against fascism must be won. Ukraine is not the speed bump Putin expected, thanks to the free people who live there. Support Ukraine for as long as it takes.

Tom Noerenberg, Plymouth

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A number of Americans and politicians are questioning our commitment to Ukraine, which is somewhat ironic given our 19-year involvement with troops and untold treasure in Afghanistan. A quick glance at European history in the late 1930s suggests that European security, our NATO obligations, and concepts of freedom and democracy are at stake. Unfortunately, no diplomatic solution is probable until both sides are exhausted. At some point, one logical, face-saving solution might be internationally supervised referendums in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea to permit citizens to choose whether they wish to belong to Ukraine or Russia. I’m afraid a logical solution has a low probability of occurring, but I can think of no other solution.

Edgar M. Morsman Jr., Plymouth

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The important editorial urging bipartisan support for defending Ukraine made American citizens’ support seem more shaky than it is by focusing on partisan differences, whereas aggregate support remains robustly positive. Add me to that list. Only a short time after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s brutal unprovoked assault on its neighbor, the Jungle Theater in Minneapolis hosted actors reading moving scenes from plays written by Ukrainian playwrights since the invasion. The program concluded with songs by a young Ukrainian American singer, her family refugees from the last great European war. After her performance, an audience member asked, “What do you want from us?” Her unforgettable answer: “Do not forget us.”

James P. Lenfestey, Minneapolis

The writer is a former editorial writer for the Star Tribune.

TRANS ISSUES

I am writing to express my deepest gratitude to Gov. Tim Walz for his courageous action in standing up to the bullies who are attacking the transgender community across the nation (“Walz moves to protect gender-affirming care,” March 9). The governor’s executive order protecting gender-affirming care in Minnesota is a breath of fresh air in a time when so many hatemongers are making life miserable, if not impossible, for trans people in many states. I’m proud to be a Minnesotan because this state recognizes the validity of transgender lives.

As a national transgender consultant, corporate trainer, speaker and author, I spend my days educating and raising awareness about the transgender phenomenon in major corporations and government agencies around the nation. I am well aware of how dangerous it is for trans people simply to be themselves in many states. Here in Minnesota the rights of trans people are protected, and I thank Walz for his commitment to ensuring those rights. I also want to thank Dr. Angela Kade Goepferd of Children’s Minnesota for her excellent opinion piece in the Star Tribune that stated, clearly and articulately, why gender-affirming care is so medically necessary for transgender and gender-diverse youth (“Make protection for gender care permanent,” Opinion Exchange, March 10).

I am asking all medical, educational, legal and corporate leaders to follow the example of Dr. Goepferd and speak out on behalf of our transgender citizens. We cannot sit back and allow the forces of ignorance and hate to win. If enough of us push back against the (very vocal and very loud) anti-trans voices, we can overcome the increasingly insidious attacks on trans people. Please add your voice and your influence to the struggle for equality and basic human decency. Transgender people are your family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors and fellow citizens. We deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Stripping away our rights is un-American. Let’s stand up together against the forces of darkness that would deprive transgender people of their rights as citizens.

Vanessa Sheridan, Apple Valley

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There’s been an expected back and forth, agree and disagree, following Minnesota Lynx Coach Cheryl Reeve’s support for the trans community regarding women’s athletics (“Court ruling is a powerful lift,” Opinion Exchange, March 2). In particular, the support for Reeve’s position that appeared in Readers Write on March 11 caught my attention (“Let trans athletes play”).

Reeve, and those writing in support of her opinion, have a right to their opinion on the topic of who is eligible to participate in women’s athletics. However, one of the favorite justifications offered by Reeves and supporters seems to be derived from the idea that they are fighting against arbitrary rules of athletic participation.

The rules of analysis and conclusions of biology and physiology are not arbitrary. And the reality of contrasting characteristics for men and women has not evolved into an abstract concept.

Steve Bakke, Edina

POTHOLES

Two scenarios regarding urban traffic issues:

Problem: Massive car-eating potholes. Solution: Temporary patch jobs costing thousands of dollars, only to have the problem reoccur.

Problem: Speeding, reckless drivers coupled with nonexistent traffic enforcement. Solution: Massive car-eating potholes. Cost $0.

Clay Gustafson, Minneapolis

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