The May 19 article on “death doulas” raised some big concerns for me. As an advocate for death-with-dignity since the 1980s, I welcome any new initiative that will bring more compassionate care to the dying. Unfortunately, most of us will face a highly commercialized, impersonal system of end-of-life “care” that profits from us, often at the expense of our own interests, needs and wishes, when we are most vulnerable.
In the United States we spend a lot of money at the end of life. The Journal of the American Medical Association reported in 2018 that about one-quarter of all Medicare spending goes toward care for people during their last year of life. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, that amounted to $34,529 per patient in 2014, which doesn’t even include insurance and personal out-of-pocket costs. This is a huge financial opportunity for health-care providers.
I hope the death doula movement doesn’t become just another group seeking to monetize our dying. It is possible to maintain a truly patient-centered non-profiting ethic. Final Exit Network has done so for 30 years by providing end-of-life options and support, including compassionate bed-side presence, free of charge. By relying entirely on volunteer members and donors, it has kept the profit motive out of picture. Ideally, death doulas will go in that direction. I feel strongly that patients don’t benefit by being considered sources of income.
Gary M. Wederspahn, South St. Paul
Scared of the facts?
Any presidential candidate should not be afraid to answer any and all questions no matter who asks them. Sen Warren says a certain network is a “hate-for-profit network,” so she will not appear at the town hall meeting. Maybe she is just a “scared of the facts coming out” candidate and doesn’t deserve any consideration for the top job. Remember, both Bernie and Amy agreed to appear on Fox and were admired for doing it.
Ron Brevig, Burnsville
The red-light-cam debacle
The letter writer who wrote about how photo enforcement should be used for traffic violations (“Take a picture, give a ticket,” May 18) seems to have forgotten the debacle in Minneapolis a few short years ago. Traffic cameras were installed to detect red-light runners, but were ruled unconstitutional as you have a right to confront your accuser, which in this case is a machine, or a non-law-enforcement person. This also puts the onus on the car owner to prove they aren’t guilty if they weren’t driving. The city was forced to refund all tickets that had been issued, as well as remove any violations from the driving records of all drivers who had been ticketed using this method.
An option was offered of making it a non-moving violation, as then it wasn’t considered a crime, but some insurance companies fought that. It seems they were more interested in raising rates than actually trying to correct any sort of behavior.
Mark Steiger, Rosemount
I am not a fan of the Trump administration, didn’t vote for him and am most likely not to if he runs again. I do, however, think he is making a common-sense decision with his new proposal for a change in accepting immigrants into the United States. The requirements of learning to speak English, create a new visa for highly skilled workers and revamp asylum laws.
I believe that these changes would streamline entrance to this country, a very much needed common-sense way to welcome the people wishing to become citizens of the United States.
Marjorie Orris, Shoreview
We need the trade war
Copious amounts of printers ink has been consumed on reports concerning the trade war. Unfortunately, rather than provide the reason for the trade war they pretend it is just destructive.
The reason the trade war is necessary is because the U.S., versus the rest of world, has an unsustainable trade deficit of $621 billion in 2018. That is over $6 trillion per decade that the U.S. loses to other countries (over $4 trillion to China alone). It is imperative that our deficit be reduced to a sustainable level — even if it hurts a bit.
When Chinese scientist He Jiankui announced last November his experiments making heritable genetic changes in human embryos followed by live births of twins, alarms went off. What shocked many scientists and others was how He Jiankui used new technology for gene editing without serious oversight or transparency, amid grave questions about the medical rationale and potential future damage. One good thing came out of this: He spurred a more deliberate, international effort to answer the hard questions. Now that effort must lead to stricter regulation.
The world is at an inflection point not unlike that which gave rise to the Asimolar Conference on Recombinant DNA in February 1975. That conference considered biohazards and published guidelines on what was then an emerging biotechnology field; these guidelines helped steer significant research for decades. Something of similar scope and power is needed for germline editing of genes in human embryos, sperm and eggs that can create changes to be passed through future generations. The technology of the method CRISPR-Cas9, in which genetic material can be edited quickly and cheaply, was used by He to manipulate an embryo to edit a gene. Ultimately, the amazing CRISPR technology may help conquer certain diseases and alleviate suffering, but it could be used recklessly and immorally.
A commentary in the journal Nature has called for a global, temporary moratorium on clinical uses of human germline editing, defined as “changing heritable DNA (in sperm, eggs or embryos) to make genetically modified children.” The moratorium could be hard to enforce, but it would offer a breather to sort out scientific and ethical issues. Among the authors of the essay is Nobel laureate Paul Berg, an emeritus professor of biochemistry at Stanford University, who helped organize Asimolar. The authors suggest that a goal might be some kind of international research framework. Genome editing ultimately can affect all humankind, but any regulation must be sensitive to individual nations and societies — not an easy task.
The Nature authors would permit research that does not involve the transfer of an embryo to a person’s uterus, and would permit genome editing in nonreproductive cells to treat diseases where the modifications are not heritable. But on the key issue of clinical use of germline editing around the world, they are worried.
Fortunately, the right organizations are now in motion. The U.S. National Academies and the British Royal Society have launched an international commission. The World Health Organization has created an advisory committee, too. We hope these efforts will find a consensus that can be accepted and enforced by the widest circle possible. The goal must be a framework that will enable genuine scientific advancement but avoid reckless fiddling with the source code of life.Related Articles
DEAR ABBY: I could use your advice on training my husband. He refuses to enter his work travel schedule on the household calendar. He snapped at me this week when he finally revealed that he was leaving Sunday. It took three more days to get the date he was coming back. It was like pulling teeth. It left me with only two days to decide how to enjoy the time alone. I suspect that he’s withholding his travel data to keep me from enjoying myself too much while he’s gone. I think it’s disrespectful to keep your wife in the dark until just a day or two before you leave. I need a way to motivate my man to share his travel dates earlier. I’m at the point where I’m tempted to ignore him and his travel since he is acting more like a child than a husband. I’m not his mommy, and I need to break his mean streak. Advice? — KEPT IN THE DARK IN LOUISIANA
DEAR KEPT: Stop putting yourself at your husband’s mercy. You are both adults. If you need a break and would like to schedule appointments, see a play, visit with friends, go on a trip, whatever — schedule it regardless of when your husband will be traveling. And ENJOY yourself.
DEAR ABBY: I have worked for the same doctor for 29 years. My 30-year anniversary is approaching. People think I should be ready to retire when he does. The problem is, I live paycheck to paycheck, and there is no retirement plan. What little money I had saved went out the window when I got a divorce a few years ago. I know I need to quit and go somewhere that offers REAL benefits, but I feel like leaving will create a huge rift. I adore the patients, and I know they will ask him what happened. I don’t want to seem ungrateful. I know it’s my fault for not demanding more earlier. I get depressed when patients tell me about their retirement plans, or I hear about his. I will be working until I die. I’m afraid he will take the staff out for a nice lunch to celebrate my 30 years, and I will be so sad or bitter that I won’t be able to hide it. — LIVING PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK
DEAR LIVING: Talk to your boss about your dilemma NOW. In light of the fact that you have worked for him for so long, perhaps he will consider instituting a retirement plan now. If he is unwilling, then it’s time to look for other employment with better compensation and hope you can find a match even if it means missing the luncheon.
DEAR ABBY: Please enlighten me on etiquette. My friend and I were out to lunch. While we were sitting there, she got on Facebook and posted about it. I think it was rude of her not to ask if I minded. It’s not a secret, but why put it on Facebook? I don’t understand why people think they have to advertise everything they do. Do they do it because they want to feel important? — OLD-FASHIONED WOMAN
DEAR OLD-FASHIONED: I am sure some of them do. Others may do it because they want to memorialize the occasion or think others are actually interested. If you preferred that she not do it, you should have spoken up, told her you are a private person and asked her to please not mention your name or post your image in the future.
READER ALERT! If you know a student who would like to enter the $5,000 Dear Abby College Columnist Scholarship Contest, see the information at DearAbby.com/scholarship and learn more. The deadline is fast approaching.
Guests enjoy a beautiful moonlit evening on the Grand Catch patio on Grand Avenue in St. Paul on Thursday, May 16, 2019. (John Autey / Pioneer Press)
This year’s patio guide has a new category (it also honors one of the greatest boy bands ever — don’t argue!) that contains 15 newly minted patios we’ve visited this past year and can’t wait to tell you about.
Our annual guide includes our perennial list of favorites in categories such as along-the-water haunts, neighborhood classics and trending hot spots.
We also give you the lowdown on changed or improved patios, such as Ox Cart’s al fresco dining revamp, a major renovation that includes plans for a rooftop patio at Charlie’s Restaurant and Irish Pub at Water Street Inn, and more. (* = changed or improved patio).
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
BARDO, 222 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612-886-8404; bardompls.com: Choose between lounge chairs with a fire pit or wrought iron tables and chairs at this urban oasis serving New American cuisine, well-curated wines and inventive cocktails. Stringed lights lining the trees on the patio add to the quaint and cozy feel. Dogs are welcome.
COLITA, 5400 Penn Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-886-1606; colitampls.com: One of the past year’s hottest new restaurant additions, Colita serves some of the best contemporary Mexican fare and cocktails around, and the hot spot just rolled out two patios. A few tables on the sidewalk are available, but the majority of the restaurant’s 46 patio seats can be found in an enclosed space on the east side of the building. Plants, wood accents and a pergola for shade add to the charm. Garage doors adjoin the indoor and outdoor dining areas. The patio is first-come, first-served via a waiting list, so you might want to head there when the restaurant opens at 5 p.m. to snag a seat.
The Nantucket-themed patio at COV in Edina. (Courtesy of COV)
COV (Cov Edina, 3155 Galleria, Edina; 952-999-4011, covedina.com. Cov Wayzata, 700 E. Lake St., Wayzata; 952.473.5253, covwayzata.com): An Edina location recently opened, with a Nantucket feel that extends to an open-air patio and a patio area that can be enclosed. The menu of oysters and plenty of seafood adds to the coastal vibe. COV’s location in downtown Wayzata also has a pretty patio, with lake views.
DELICATA, 341 Pascal St., St. Paul; 651-756-8123; delicatastp.com: The landscaped and fenced-in 65-seat patio with flowers, plants and trees offers a serene setting for grabbing meatballs and antipasto platters as well as sandwiches, pizza or gelato in the Como Park neighborhood. The patio is dog-friendly.
The patio action at Feller in downtown Stillwater, May 11, 2019. (Nancy Ngo / Pioneer Press)
FELLER, Lora Hotel, 402 Main St. S., Stillwater; 651-571-3501; fellerrestaurant.com: The patio at the gorgeous new Lora boutique hotel is in downtown Stillwater, so you can take in the city’s historic charm, plus the bluffs, the St. Croix River, and the action on Main Street. Order from the hunter-and-gatherer menu or enjoy happy hour (from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday) that includes $3 off specialty cocktails and wines by the glass, $5 tap beer, and small plates.
GRAND CATCH, 1672 Grand Ave., St. Paul; 651-348-8541; grandcatchmn.com: This Cajun seafood boil spot offers two patios: a colorful, hopping sidewalk patio out front as well as a one in the back with wooden benches. Both areas are perfect for peeling jumbo shrimp or cracking into that lobster tail.
HAI HAI, 2121 University Ave. N.E., Minneapolis; 612-223-8640; haihaimpls.com: The spot serves up Southeast Asian street food and has a colorful, 80-seat patio that transports you to another place. Colorful stools and floral cloths bring tropical notes to the decor. If full sun is not your thing, half of the patio is covered and can be enclosed for those wanting shade or protection against bad weather. There’s even a service window for ordering drinks. The patio seating is first-come, first served, and is dog-friendly.
Holman’s Table at St. Paul Downtown Airport, May 14, 2019. (Nancy Ngo / Pioneer Press)
HOLMAN’S TABLE, Holman Field, 644 Bayfield St., St. Paul, 612-800-5298, holmanstable.com: Holman’s Table at the St. Paul Downtown Airport (also known as Holman Field) gets to shine this year with its first full patio season. Sinking into one of the dark, wicker chairs at the two- and four-tops on the 36-seat, elevated patio is a way to practically sit on the tarmac and, if your timing is right, watch planes fly in and out of the reliever airport. Patio seating is first-come, first-served.
Revival at Keg and Case West 7th Market, May 14, 2019. (Nancy Ngo / Pioneer Press)
KEG AND CASE WEST 7TH MARKET, 928 W. Seventh St., St. Paul; kegandcase.com: In all, Keg and Case will have three patios. Currently there’s a 45-seat patio for Revival Smoked Meats customers. Later this summer, look for patio seats to be added at In Bloom (and bonus, reservations will be taken) as well as at Pimento Jamaican Kitchen. In addition, there’s also the Keg and Case Park area, where you can bring your purchases from the market outdoors and make a picnic of it.
NICO’S TACOS ON COMO, 2260 Como Ave., St. Paul; 651-450-8848; nicostacobar.com: The new Mexican restaurant in St. Anthony Park continues the reputation of its predecessor, Muffuletta, in having a patio that quickly attracts a crowd on warm weather days. After all, the open-air patio is still a great place to catch some rays, and greenery still fills the landscape — this time tropical-themed accents.
“I love when people bring their dogs,” said host Shiloh Edwardh (cq) center, who brings out a bowl of water for Nel, a Standard Poodle, and Lux, a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, at the Red Rabbit patio on Grand Avenue in St. Paul Wednesday, May 15, 2019. The owners Bob and Anne Herman recently arrived from Chicago and love this patio. “Chicago is not as dog friendly,” said Anne. “There aren’t nearly as many places you take your dog.”The restaurant is in the former Wild Onion. (Jean Pieri / Pioneer Press)
RED RABBIT, 788 Grand Ave., St. Paul; 651-444-5995; redrabbitmn.com: The centrally located Red Rabbit in the former Wild Onion space sports a quaint patio with a fireplace where you can take in the action along Grand Avenue while sipping on aperol spritzes and negronis and dining on menu items ranging from oysters to rustic Italian fare in the form of pizzas, pastas and more. The original Red Rabbit, in Minneapolis’ North Loop, is also a hot spot for dining al fresco.
REVOLUTION HALL, Rosedale Center, 1595 Minnesota 36, Roseville; 651-400-7918; revhallrosedale.com: Rosedale Center’s shiny new food hall just rolled out a 60-seat patio complete with a bar for ordering beer, wine and other drinks. You can also order from one of the 11 food and beverage concepts inside, and when your order is ready for pickup, you’ll get a text message.
St. Paul Tap’s newly minted patio. (Courtesy of St. Paul Tap)
ST. PAUL TAP, 825 Jefferson Ave., St. Paul; 651-227-6315; stpaultapmn.com: The former Tavern on the Avenue received a major makeover before introducing the space’s newest restaurant iteration. During the past few weeks, the upgrades went on outside. Construction of a patio just wrapped up, and al fresco dining was slated to start this week. The 2,000-square-foot patio includes a full service bar along with booth-and- table seating that accommodates shaded or sunny areas. Catch a Twins game under the stars on one of the many televisions or play games on the patio like Giant Connect 4 and Jenga. And bring Fido. This patio is dog-friendly, and even features a menu especially for your furry friend.
Rooftop patio at Hewing Hotel in Minneapolis. (Courtesy of Hewing Hotel)
TULLIBEE AT HEWING HOTEL ROOFTOP BAR AND LOUNGE, 300 Washington Ave. N. Minneapolis; 651-468-0400; hewinghotel.com: Just this month, Tullibee started offering food service — a weekend brunch menu — on the rooftop bar and lounge of the Hewing Hotel where the restaurant resides. That way, you can enjoy the pretty views of the city while enjoying dishes such as buttermilk pancakes with strawberries and cream, brisket hash and waffle ham and gruyere Monte Cristos pool- and sauna-side. Brunch is available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Waldmann Brewery in St. Paul, April 25, 2019. (Nancy Ngo / Pioneer Press)
WALDMANN BREWERY, 445 Smith Ave., St. Paul; 651-222-1857; waldmannbrewery.com: This German-style lager house has added a sizable beer garden, where you can enjoy your beer and house-made wurst. Nab a seat at one of the tables or bench seats perfect for large groups. There’s even a fire pit and a walk-up window.
ALONG THE WATER/SCENIC
6SMITH (Boat Works Building), 294 E. Grove Lane, Wayzata, 952-698-7900; 6smith.com: Pull up to one of the patio seats off the main floor or head to the rooftop patio. Either way, this sleek, contemporary spot on Lake Minnetonka’s Wayzata Bay is a place to watch the waves and boats docking.
ACQUA, 4453 Lake Ave. S., White Bear Lake, 651-407-7317; acqua-restaurants.com: Nab a seat on one of the quaint patios on either floor of this duplex restaurant overlooking White Bear Lake, or cross the street and enjoy the restaurant’s more spacious lakeside patio. Italian fare served here is top notch.
ADMIRAL D’S WATERFRONT TAVERN, 4424 Lake Ave., White Bear Lake, 651-330-3101; admiraldswbl.com: The casual, come-one, come-all vibe makes it a welcoming spot for enjoying views of White Bear Lake.
Birch’s on the Lake in Long Lake, photographed May 2016. (Nancy Ngo / Pioneer Press)
BIRCH’S ON THE LAKE, 1310 W. Wayzata Blvd., Long Lake, 952-473-7373;
OMAHA, Neb. — Spencer Schwellenbach’s bases-loaded double highlighted Nebraska’s five-run third inning, and the fifth-seeded Cornhuskers went on to beat No. 4 seed Minnesota 8-2 in the Big Ten Tournament on Wednesday night.
Matt Waldron (6-3) scattered six singles, walked none and struck out nine in 7 1/3 innings as the Cornhuskers (29-20) won for the fifth time in six games. They’ll play eighth-seeded Iowa on Thursday night.
Angelo Altavilla tripled in two runs to help Nebraska get out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning and Schwellenbach broke open the game in the third.
The Gophers loaded the bases loaded with one out in the eighth, but reliever Robbie Palkert got Eli Wilson to line out and struck out Cole McDevitt.
Minnesota starter Patrick Fredrickson (2-4) allowed eight runs, six earned, in 2 2/3 innings. The defending tournament champion Gophers (26-26) play top-seeded Indiana in an elimination game Thursday.Related Articles
Earlier this week, Xcel Energy announced an agreement with several environmental organizations over its upcoming 15-year resource plan. Highlights include early retirement of its coal plants, new solar commitments, and buying a fracked-gas plant. While there are several significant wins for Minnesota’s health, environment, climate goals, and energy customers, it comes at a high cost for measures that the state’s utility regulators should require of the utility without concession.
Xcel shareholders make out handsomely. The monopoly utility wins a cease fire over its proposal to purchase an existing gas plant in Mankato. Taken together with the proposed Becker gas plant that it won through legislative hijinks two years ago, the projects will add well over $1 billion to the company’s rate base — the capital expenses that the utility’s shareholders earn profits on.
The settlement also includes an offer of utility ownership of half the proposed 3,000 megawatts of solar. At today’s prices, that’s close to another $2 billion in utility spending.
Although not part of the agreement, Xcel simultaneously shared its intent to extend the license of the Monticello nuclear power plant. With retrofit costs ballooning over 100 percent earlier this decade, it’s likely Xcel shareholders could see another big reward. After all, on every dollar spent to build or maintain a power plant, shareholders collect a 9 percent to 10 percent return. All told, shareholders could have just locked in nearly $500 million in profits.
The returns for Minnesota customers?
In the headline move, Xcel will retire its remaining coal plants by 2030. While locking in this transition is key to exacerbating the climate crisis, coal plants across America are closing because they can’t compete with clean energy. Arguably, utility regulators with the public interest at heart would insist on such retirements, without any settlements or trade-offs.
The move may also have a smaller climate impact than the parties wish. Xcel plans to replace a substantial portion of the retiring coal capacity with fracked-gas-fired power. The utility asserts it can do this without harming its 80 percent carbon-reduction goal, but only through a glaring omission. Aside from the well-documented health and environmental concerns around the extraction of fracked gas, gas extraction rigs and pipelines leak. With a greenhouse impact 100 times more powerful than the carbon dioxide released during power generation, leaked methane has been shown –– in a recent study of Minnesota’s grid –– to largely erase the greenhouse gas emission gains of switching from coal to gas.
In other words, Xcel shareholders could earn a half a billion dollars in profits from a settlement that falls short of the carbon reduction goals the utility had already publicly committed to.
Should the clean energy groups have compromised? Setting retirement dates for coal plants is no small matter in a climate crisis. It’s hard to blame them for wanting to secure a win, even if it’s simply firming up the utility’s public commitments.
Rather, this settlement exhibits a stunning lack of faith in the monopoly utility’s regulators, the five-member Public Utilities Commission. Regulators should already be demanding early coal plant retirement to save customers money. Just because Xcel snuck one gas plant past regulators in a legislative end-around doesn’t mean they should roll over for a second time. And energy efficiency commitments shouldn’t be voluntary when they represent the cheapest source of energy. Unfortunately, controversial recent decisions by the state’s Public Utilities Commission have approved a new gas plant for a northern Minnesota utility and a new oil pipeline that both failed statutory requirements to demonstrate need and cost-effectiveness.
This resource plan settlement is lopsidedly in favor of Xcel shareholders, but it’s hard to blame the advocates. They’ve had too much experience with Minnesota’s brand of monopoly utility oversight.
John Farrell is board president of Community Power, a nonprofit organization activating Minnesota residents and businesses to create clean, local, equitable, affordable, and reliable energy systems.
Along with resurgent identity politics in the United States and Europe, there is a growing inclination to frame the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in terms of race. According to this narrative, Israel was established as a refuge for oppressed white European Jews who in turn became oppressors of people of color, the Palestinians.
As an Israeli, and the son of an Iraqi Jewish mother and North African Jewish father, it’s gut-wrenching to witness this shift.
I am Mizrahi, as are the majority of Jews in Israel today. We are of Middle Eastern and North African descent. Only about 30 percent of Israeli Jews are Ashkenazi, or the descendants of European Jews. I am baffled as to why mainstream media and politicians around the world ignore or misrepresent these facts and the Mizrahi story. Perhaps it’s because our history shatters a stereotype about the identity of my country and my people.
Israel, the world’s only Jewish state, was not established for just one type of Jew but for all Jews, from every part of the world — the Middle East, North Africa, Ethiopia, Asia and, yes, Europe. No matter where Jews physically reside, they maintain a connection to the land of Israel, where our story started and where today we continue to craft it.
The likes of Women’s March activist Tamika Mallory, Temple University professor Marc Lamont Hill and, more recently, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) falsify reality in their discussions of Palestinians’ “intersectional” struggle, their use of the term “apartheid” to characterize Israeli policy, and their tendency to define Israelis as Ashkenazi Jews alone.
I believe such misrepresentations are part of a strategic campaign to taint Israel as an extension of privileged and powerful white Europe, thereby justifying any and all attacks on it. This way of thinking signals a dangerous trend that positions the Jewish state as a colonialist aggressor rather than a haven for those fleeing oppression. Worse, it all but erases the story of my family, which came to Israel from Iraq and Tunisia.
For most of history, the Mizrahim have been without sovereignty and equality in the Muslim world. In Iraq, despite being “equal citizens” on paper, my family experienced ongoing persecution. The first organized attack came in 1941, the brutal Farhud, a Nazi-incited riot that claimed the lives of hundreds of Jews and forced the survivors to live in fear. My great-grandfather was falsely accused of being a Zionist spy and executed in Baghdad in 1951. My mother’s family was permitted to emigrate that same year, but with only one suitcase.
Any erasure of the Mizrahi experience negates the lives of 850,000 Jewish refugees just like them, who, even in the successor states to the Ottoman Empire of the early 20th century, were treated as “dhimmis,” an Arabic term for a protected minority whose members pay for that protection, which can be withdrawn at any time. Demographic ignorance also works to deny the existence of almost 200,000 descendants of Ethiopian Jews who were threatened by political destabilization in the early 1990s and airlifted to Israel in a daring rescue operation.
One of Judaism’s central themes is a story of national liberation in the face of imperial powers. Israel is a place where an indigenous people have reclaimed their land and revived their ancient language, despite being surrounded by hostile neighbors and hounded by radicalized Arab nationalists who cannot tolerate any political entity in the region other than their own. Jews that were expelled from nations across the Middle East, who sacrificed all they had, have been crucial in building and defending the Jewish state since its outset.
Without a doubt, the creation of Israel provided a haven for Jews who survived the Holocaust and extreme oppression in Europe. However, we cannot acknowledge that history at the expense of Mizrahi Jews, who with so many others, regardless of skin color, shared the desire for a Jewish state long before the establishment of Israel.
Hen Mazzig, an Israeli writer and activist of Iraqi and North African descent, is editor-at-large at the J’accuse Coalition for Justice. He wrote this column for the Los Angeles Times.
Let’s talk about race. No, not in the binary black-and-white and not necessarily in the sense of institutional racism that has excluded and continues to exclude people of color from access and wealth building. What I want to talk about is something in the spectrum of these two, which is less prominent in light of police shootings of black men and the global rise of white nationalism.
I want to talk about how our kids play together.
Recently, my 8-year-old daughter came home from school and told me and then her dad on a separate occasion about a game she regularly plays with her three other school friends, who are all white girls, at recess. Each girl takes turns choosing which of the four Leggo Elves characters they want to be and then act out the parts in made-up scenarios. My daughter, who is Hmong, complained of never being able to choose who she wants to be because her friends told her she can only be “the dark girl,” because she “looks more like her.”
First of all, my daughter grew up wearing Batman, Spiderman, and police officer costumes, and not just for Halloween. Last year, she wanted to be a Star Wars jedi — Luke Skywalker. The year before, she was both Belle of Beauty and the Beast and Maleficent of Sleeping Beauty. The year before that, she was Wonder Woman. So be it. The point is, my spouse and I raise our daughter with a cafeteria plan — we offer her the range of possibilities that we can see, and she is free and open to pick from the myriad of choices. But at the end of the day and into adulthood, we want her to choose to be herself.
Many of us are aware of the issue of colorism, of a harmful monolithic standard of beauty that excludes and denigrates girls of color, and the Black Doll/White Doll test, where children of all racial categories choose to play with the white doll for its purported goodness and beauty and reject the black doll for its supposed inferior qualities. The problem with my daughter being relegated to the “dark girl” character in the children’s game stems beyond innocent child’s play; rather, it begs the question of the limit of choices offered to girls like her. It speaks to the problem of tokenism and typecasting that makes each white girl character unique, complex, well-rounded, human — which my daughter just deems “cool.” But that girls of color are given one option, one choice, so take it or leave it, where every flat, stereotypical characteristic of a girl of color is rolled into a singular character with caucasian features but dipped in an off color that could allow for any little Black, Native American, Hispanic, Arabic, or Asian girl to identify with by default. It speaks to the dearth of well-rounded representation of races and cultures across the board — from children’s books to the president’s cabinet. Certainly, this is about race and racism and the harm it does, from which no one is excluded.
During these formative childhood moments, my daughter is forced to see herself through a racial lens rather than her character, which is what my spouse and I have tried to teach her from birth. These moments will repeat themselves in various forms throughout her development, not different from my own experiences or from those of my other two grown daughters, who reported similar experiences throughout their childhoods. My eldest, now 29, came home in the fifth grade upset about always having to be the character played by Tyra Banks and Scary Spice, when she and her friends act out Coyote Ugly and The Spice Girls. As Benjamin Alire Saenz’s character laments that his life is “someone else’s plan,” girls of color’s limited choices render them limited agency, disempowerment, shame, and self-loathing.
On the one hand, the three white girls comprise a majority and the rule, thus normalcy, where they get to just be themselves. The one dark girl is “othered” and left with feelings of anxiety, awkwardness, and discomfort. Whereas she may have previously felt as an equal to her friends, my daughter now feels excluded, different, outsider. These feelings seep into other areas such as learning in school, where in addition to learning curriculum that usually doesn’t reflect her ethnic and racial identity — another layer of the problem, she will spend a tremendous amount of energy reconciling her otherness and learning how to code-switch, which is exhausting and unfair.
Racism not only harms children of color in their internalized inferiority but it inhibits the development of white children, too. In “Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination,” Toni Morrison examines how canonized literature portrays black characters as nameless and stereotyped, scepters in the background whose function is to foil white characters. If whiteness is rational, logical, civilized, and normal, then blackness is irrational, savage, and exotic. Relegating my daughter to the “dark girl” role makes her at once stand out and invisible.
Parents, I am not asking for your pity or even sympathy for my girl for having to experience this for the first of what, I’m sure, will be many more times to come. I am asking for you to do your part to stop your daughter’s behavior in order for my daughter to have a chance to just be.
From this experience, my spouse and I will do our best to fortify our daughter in every way that we can to give her confidence and self love.
For parents of my daughters’ friends and other parents of white girls, racism expressed in innocent play has real consequences for them, too. A different type of anxiety and discomfort will result when they are not exposed to differences, where they learn at an early age from play and practice it later in life, from learning, to work, to where they choose to live, to how they make policies that will perpetuate the racism that is uniquely American and tearing at the fabric of this nation.
Chong Yang Thao, mom of three girls, is an English teacher at Como Park Senior High School in St. Paul.
WASHINGTON — “We’re cutting out some of this ear hair that you get when you get older,” said the 46-year-old manchild who is auditioning to be Skateboarder-in-Chief. Live-streaming his visit to an El Paso barbershop, Beto O’Rourke continued: “It grows out of your ears, and if you don’t get it cut, it can be nasty.”
You might respond to this, as you perhaps did to O’Rourke’s prior live-streaming of his dental-cleaning appointment, by thinking: TMI. This is, however, not too much information. It is exactly the sort of information we need about the Democrats seeking their party’s presidential nomination. Markets are information-generating mechanisms, and the political market is working.
Before she is winnowed out, perhaps before Iowa’s first frost, note New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s campaign slogan: “Brave Wins.” It pats her on the back for unspecified acts of bravery, but this strange conjunction of words is the most vacuous advertising noise this side of Miller Lite’s current slogan: “Hold True.”
The first substantive sentence — this counts as substance nowadays — in New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s video announcing his candidacy is: “There’s plenty of money in this world, there’s plenty of money in this country, it’s just in the wrong hands.” He is a socialist who means it: Redistribution and nothing but, because wealth creation is so 20th century, now that there is “plenty” of money sloshing around. His solutions to our national problems include banning Manhattan: “the glass and steel skyscrapers that have contributed so much to global warming” have “no place in our city or on our Earth anymore.” A thought experiment: If O’Rourke, de Blasio and some other presidential candidates were Republican moles insinuated into the Democratic scramble in order to make that party look absurd and the current president look thoughtful, how would they behave differently?
Pete Buttigieg, 37, is supposed to be one of the adults in the room, but he, like de Blasio, envisions national enlargement through subtraction. He has joined the progressive pile-on against the Founders who, say their current despisers, are inferior to our enlightened selves. Radio host Hugh Hewitt asked Buttigieg whether the Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson Day dinners should be renamed. Jackson’s seriously disagreeable behaviors have already caused him to be tossed down the memory hole (see George Orwell’s “1984” on erasing the past). But Buttigieg said “Jefferson is more problematic” because, although there is much to admire in Jefferson’s thinking, “he knew slavery was wrong” and did not act accordingly. So, scrubbing Jefferson’s name from things is “the right thing to do.” Well, then, what does Buttigieg propose for the Jefferson Memorial’s prime real estate on Washington’s Tidal Basin? Perhaps an annex for the expanded Supreme Court that he, the supposed moderate who is less than half as old as The Venerable Moderate, proposes to pack?
Speaking of Joe Biden, at a campaign rally in Philadelphia last Saturday he said, “I believe Democrats want to unify this nation. That’s what our party’s always been about.” This is an interesting interpretation of the 1850s, but a significant portion of the nation does not turn its lonely eyes to Biden for history tutorials. Rather, it is looking for political insurance that it will have a 2020 choice that does not make them wince. A choice that will shuffle sufficient electoral votes to strike the tent of today’s White House circus.
In 2004, just three states gave their electoral votes to a different party than in 2000. In 2008, nine states changed from 2004. In 2012, two changed from 2008. In 2016, six changed from 2012. Are Democrats asking the sort of question Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., asked after Ronald Reagan trounced Jimmy Carter in 1980: “Even Herbert Hoover got more electoral votes (in 1932) than President Carter. We have to ask what happened and why.”
What happened in 2016 was that the Democratic Party’s nominating process produced a candidate whom Donald Trump defeated by 17 points among the 18 percent of voters who had negative views of both him and her. And he won by 51 points among the 15 percent of the electorate who thought neither he nor she was qualified to be president.
By the time Mitt Romney had run the Republicans nominating gantlet in 2012, he had the lowest positive rating and highest negative rating of any recent major-party nominee. Biden’s Democratic rivals should ponder this as they sharpen their knives.
George Will’s email address is email@example.com.