My Better Angel’s spiel in today’s DNT

“Spiel” is a pretty self deprecatory way to describe a column I put a lot of effort into writing. Getting it pitch perfect took up much of last Thursday morning.

I sent it to the Trib’s Editorial Page Editor Chuck Frederick the same time I posted it to the blog. Chuck sent me a quick reply noting that the Trib wouldn’t (as per usual) take a cast off written for another source but that I could write another piece just for them. When I got his reply I called him back with a quick offer. I would take it off my blog and only republish it after the Trib ran it. Chuck was amused but kindly agreed. I’m grateful to him.

When he sent me back the Trib’s tinkering, which among other things removed the name of the author I was replying too, I wrote back that I saw no material differences that bothered me. The Trib gets regular grief for messing with other people’s prose but I’ve never deeply resented the changes they have made to my submissions…….although I have gone toe to toe with Chuck over some changes he’s made. Think of it as me imitating Donald Trump trying to get the best deal I could.

An old friend of mine who I thought had sort of written me off, because of my School Board cantankerousness, sent me a thank you email noting that forcing hate into dark corners only makes it grow. That was the point of the headline the Trib put on my op ed piece. “Don’t force hatred underground, expose it for everyone to see” I thought it captured my sentiments perfectly. I usually send in my own proposed heading because I’m rarely satisfied with how the Trib is inclined to title my pieces lest their headings prejudice readers into reading my offerings in a more skeptical light.

This is the Trib’s version:

I appreciated that the writer of the Nov. 20 letter, “Irresponsible to equate hate speech with free speech,” said he read my blog and that he chose to take part in an important public conversation.

His letter opened with, “I had to read to the end of the well-reported Nov. 15 article, ‘District responds to hate speech in Duluth high schools,’ to find School Board Member Harry Welty’s recommendation against ‘having a dire punishment for kids abusing their free-speech rights.’ In disbelief, I turned to Welty’s blog.”

When the News Tribune’s education reporter, Jana Hollingsworth, called me for the article, I kept her on the phone for 40 minutes as I expanded on my thoughts on this sensitive subject. Due to the newspaper’s understandable limitations of time, newsprint and ink, only two sentences of mine were included in the article to explain my still-evolving thinking on this episode.

In the meantime, I must insist on an uncomfortable truth: In the United States, free speech does include hate speech, however much we may be appalled by it. Fortunately, it does not include shouting “fire” in a dark theater, threats or anything to incite a riot.

My job as a member of the School Board is to think my way through what has been happening over the past year and how to deal with its consequences over the next four and, possibly, God forbid, eight years. Making martyrs of Duluth students for parroting the hateful things they hear on the Internet — and, no doubt, in their homes and on the nightly news — is not the best or most thoughtful response. That would be fighting fire with grease, which only would make the conflagration more intense.

Duluth has undergone two recent changes that exacerbated the negativity of the 2016 election. It divided its school district into rich-and-poor and black-and-white schools at the same time as its African-American community began to expand significantly, leading to a white flight from our schools of perhaps 15 percent of the student population.

There has been one heartening development over these recent years: Our children have assumed a generous and open attitude toward their superficial differences. The reactions of students in both East High and Denfeld have been remarkable rebukes to the politics that seem to have generated the hate speech. I take great comfort in that.

These generous reactions must be supported by the School Board, not undermined by meting out dire punishments prompted by shock at the outcome of the recent election. We need to follow our better angels.

That’s what Martin Luther King Jr. did. His legacy, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, has continued for 50 years to keep a watchful eye out for the vestiges of hate and racism that King gave his life to make part of our nation’s past. I do not believe King would have encouraged us to force it underground, but would have advised us to keep it in full view where it could be exposed for what it is: a grievous assault on the spirit of justice and equality upon which our nation was founded.

Harry Welty is an At Large member of the Duluth School Board.

This is what I initially posted:

Another Assault on Red Minnesota

Jana Hollingsworth has written another knowing article about our local public education scene in today’s Trib.

Its gist is this: By placing new demands on high school teachers who are teaching classes in public school to students that can earn college credit for such classes we are about to deny kids a lot of affordable credits they can apply to their college transcripts. In doing so we are putting college that much further out of reach for some kids……..especially rural kids too far from colleges to take alternative PSEO classes while still in high school. Post Secondary Educational Options are similar except they are taught by college teachers on a college setting. Poor you if you live in East Pumpkin Corners sixty miles from the nearest college. You are effectively denied a chance to take such courses like a high school kid from a college town.

This law is a boon to college teachers and colleges who want to keep that tuition money for themselves. There may be a legitimate accrediting issue when it comes to high school teachers teaching college classes but in my view it is greatly overblown. On the other hand, the teachers’ unions which might go to bat for their members to teach in CITS classes have also been the chief enemies of leting non licensed teachers with advanced degrees in physics, chemistry and engineering a chance to teach in the public schools even when the nation runs short of such teachers.

So much depends on whose ox is gored.

The kids who will lose out pretty much fit into the red spaces on the map below that I found in Aaron Brown’s political blog. The Red spaces denote folks who voted for Republican congressional candidate Mills. These voters feel left out of America’s current prosperity which is becoming increasingly urban. Depriving their children from earning pre-college college tuition is simply one more kick in the teeth to the rural landscape.

Its worth remembering that many of these folks voted for Barack Obama. I’m guessing that the folks so eager to impose fussy new requirements on rural schools are mostly fans of big government.

Christmas Puzzling

I have four jigsaw puzzles to put together this Xmas season. Here’s the first of four puzzles I acquired in my travels this year:

I bought it at Kansas City’s marvelous World War One Museum last February when I went there to listen to a lecture about my Grandfather’s experience in the War. Its been a year of research on him which I hope to follow by writing a book about him this coming year. I’m always threatening to write books.

To do it I must wade through all the materials I’ve collected about him including these letters I copied from the Kansas State Historical Museum. There are some gems in here and I’ve already posted material from a couple of them in the blog.

Geez, I don’t know how I’ll have time for the Duluth School Board. Oops. Gotta go. Time for Church!

1536 days until a different President could be inaugurated

Four plus years of Trump is a sobering thought for book readers. Then again, I don’t think LBJ read books either. Even the prospect of a resurgence of Saturday Night Live is scant consolation. I expect I’ll have a lot to say over the coming interminability. I’m tempted to treat Trump with the same consideration that Senator Mitch McConnel offered President Obama in this eight second video. However, since imitation is the “sincerest form of flattery” I have reservations about so honoring McConnell. Some fires are better fought with water.

I’ll try to deal with the new national government as I have the Duluth School Board over the past three years by containing my panic with patience and keeping my eyes wide open.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign was keen on having Trump as her opponent in the past election while blissfully disregarding the old saw: “be careful what you wish for.” As for me I was in pre-panic mode eight month’s earlier when I offered up this sculpture of Trump wearing the tiara he’d won in the South Carolina Primary.

Here are a few of the samples of our Prez elect holding fast to the stripes he wore through to the general election:

A. In 2008 Hilary ran an ad warning us that we needed a President prepared to take an emergency phone call at 3AM. She overlooked tweets but Trump has proven to be up to the challenge by demanding a apology from a Broadway musical cast at 3 AM for asking the Vice President elect to “…protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us, all of us. … We truly thank you for sharing this show — this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men, women, of different colors, creeds, and orientations.”

B. Trump has decided that the 2016 election wasn’t “rigged” after all and is now criticizing the Green Party for recounts to make sure Trump was wrong….

C. …and calling the recount a “scam” which is something Trump knows all about.

Eclectification

Over the past 3 or 4 days my early morning brain has been assaulted repeatedly with plethoras – plethoras of ideas. Sleep might have been more comforting because the thoughts all jockeyed to turn themselves into blog posts…….I did family time instead. The grandsons stayed with us three nights in a row. No blog posts……just a head on the verge of explosion as Thanksgiving, Christmas decorating, a jigsaw puzzle and a couple of family movie outings paraded past.

When I first heard the word “eclectic” back in junior high I decided I was one just as I decided I was an “autodidadact” long before I learned my hero, Abraham Lincoln, was one of the best exemplars of self education.

It being Sunday I heard NPR’s On Being again at 6AM. It was a rebroadcast with two musicians Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn. I had enjoyed it the first time and near the end remembered vividly Ms. Washburn’s singing of an old Labor song Come all ye coal miners.

It has lyrics that ought to send a shiver through the hearts of Republican corporatists who won the votes of so many cast off union members in this election: “…see what the dirty capitalist system is doing to you and me.”

I found a youtube of the song with Washburn singing accompanied by musicians from far flung parts of the world. Its the first song you hear on this youtube snippet:

I’d highly recommend it to any discouraged Democrat hoping to replace our next president with a better trump card.

I suspect that for the next four years much of my eclectification will be directed at how to deal with what I fear may become a political malignancy. I keep looking for silver linings. I heard a plausible one on NPR yesterday from Mikheil Saakashvili, former President of the former USSR Republic Georgia who futilely pleaded with the west to intervene before Vladimir Putin invaded his new nation. Despite Trump’s shrugging off NATO, Saakashvili suspects that Trump will be more than a match for Putin.

On our new “Pro life” President

Yesterday I was particularly interested in this letter to Dear Abby from a mother who is distraught to have learned, during a heated Trump/Clinton conversation, that her daughter had undergone an abortion.

One of the groups that elected Donald Trump was the pro life community. They overlooked such things as his attempt to talk his second wife into having an abortion and saying so on the crass Howard Stern Show. He gave a stirring denunciation of abortion in his last debate with Hillary Clinton. Since the Republican Party noisily changed its mind about abortions in the President Reagan era to attract Catholic voters the Party’s protestant adherents have adopted a very papist philosophy – That a human is created from the moment of conception. It also adopted the Catholic dogma that contraception should not be permitted because every act of sexual congress should only be undertaken for the sake of procreation. Recreational sex was simply a pleasurable consequence that resulted from an action that was only justified for the purpose of making babies.

The Republican Party then took this line of reasoning to an extreme which its adopters (like the Mother in the Dear Abby letter) are having a very hard time abandoning. Protestants never went as far as Catholic prelates who opposed Contraception under any circumstances even within marriage. But Republican leaning protestants did believe that contraception should be opposed for the unmarried because it only encouraged immoral sex. I have never forgotten the waitress who overheard a conversation of mine 40 years ago and leaned over my table to tell me that as far as she was concerned “If you’re going to play, You gotta pay.” That it would be an unwanted child who would pay the price for his/her parent’s ten minutes of rutting did not to occur to her. I made that point in a defiant speech to a Republican Congressional Convention in 1992 which was met with a wall of boos. Since that time the Republican Party has found it easy to fight against tax increases that would benefit needy children leading to the legitimate complaint that the only time Republicans care about life is before birth. My speech was alarmingly prescient. I even mentioned the party’s infatuation with Donald Trump!

And the party only got more virulent. Ten years later one of its young acolytes, speaking before one of the last Republican conventions I would attend, accused my ilk of having committed a crime worse than those committed by Hilter, Stalin and Mao tse Tung combined.

Churches did their best to convince women who had undergone abortions to think of themselves as murderers. Being good Christians they promised God would forgive the women if they admitted their guilt. Their campaign has made a routine medical procedure so heinous that it drove some pro-life sympathizers to murder physicians who performed abortions and silenced tens of millions of American women into secrecy. The simple fact that a one day old ovum is not a chimpanzee, an elephant or a paramecium has been been trumpeted as evidence that a human life worthy of constitutional protection has entered the world. I regard that Catholicized judgement to be ridiculous. Ah, but such thinking makes me a mass murderer since very ovum expelled because of the morning after pill is considered to have been a murder.

Its not just life that makes delivering every conceived child risky. Sometimes pregnancy is dangerous. Ovums may not descend into the uterus, Fetus’s may have congenital defects that make life impossible. Women in such straights may have been publicly shamed and silenced but some few have told their stories anonymously. I defy any “pro life” person to disregard the stories told to Andrew Sullivan’s “Its so personal.” series. I too have such a personal story to tell that I can’t because, being a male, I didn’t undergo the procedure myself.

That a Donald Trump would court pro-life votes does not surprise me. If he could have won a lot of pro choice votes he had but to point to his Howard Stern interview. I’m sure that many pro-life voters pinched their nose when they voted for him guessing that he could shed this promise like a snake sheds skin. The worm is turning however no matter who Trump appoints to the Supreme Court. Like the daughter who holds a beloved grandchild over her fanatical Mother’s head a new generation will take a more measured response to unwanted, unplanned pregnancies even if Roe v Wade is over turned. Its just a damned shame that our abortion politics of the last four decades helped lead America to put a Donald Trump into the Oval Office. He much prefers staying at Trump Towers and lobbying the Brits to keep windmills out of view at his Trump properties in Scotland.

Hand wringing is not good enough

Today’s DNT editorial is well motivated and insufficient. It decries the inequity between our High School course offerings born of the Red Plan but offers no solution. Here’s its completely inadequate conclusion:

“While unfortunate that the challenge of east-west equity keeps coming up and continues to persist, district residents can be assured progress has been made, that the issue is constantly being addressed, and that there are ideas with promise.

“‘We want give all students the support they need to be successful,’ Gronseth said.

“That’s what we all should want — regardless of where in Duluth a student lives and goes to school.”

If I could posit one reason the School Board was eager to remove Art Johnston it is this: Art’s incessant carping about this inequality which affected the High School in his fourth District. I could be wrong but I’m not sure I am. Its ironic that so many of those on the Board who were trying to remove Art had such close ties to good old Denfeld.

One of the great losses of the titanic year-and-a-half struggle to remove Art was the focus it took away from educational concerns. Denfeld East inequity was probably the biggest issue that we were too busy to attend to during this civil war.

At one of our last meetings I said that we should have a single unified course catalog for our students in the high schools rather than two separate ones. To my surprise I learned we have a single cataglog which was offered three years ago just before I was elected to the Board. Who knew?

Even so, as I noted in a post not long ago the Denfeld counselors were unhappy that East counselors were talking about ways to offer additional courses at East that didn’t show up in the catalog in hopes of making this inequity less obvious. As the editorial makes clear two such unequal student populations makes inequity hard to stamp out. This editorial gives no evidence that this can ever change. Pity. To paraphrase a trite expression from the recently concluded Presidetial campaign: Its time to make the Duluth School Great again!

Alanna, Art and I believe their are solutions and we have been talking, unheard, among-st ourselves about possible solutions, to wit: 1. A “pilot” (hence temporary) program at Denfeld to offer a seven-period day. 2. A unification of our schools academically permitting students to take courses in either building. The primary difficulty? Busing. This could be addressed with different time schedules say half an hour difference allowing traveling time from one building to the other. 3. Interactive Television Courses. I’m surprised this has fallen by the wayside with the Red Plan. When I served on the Board before we had the makings and set up for such classes.

These are just the solutions that occur to me now. If our District made this a priority we could push it. But that would require thinking outside the box. Its long overdue for this to take place. Simply muzzling critics of the current inequity is no solution. That’s like wishing that Saturday Night Live would quit making fun of the Nation’s Twitterer in Chief to make America a happy place again. Wishing ain’t gonna make it happen.

Thank you Dr. Conniff…

…for reading my blog. Thank you also for taking part in an important public conversation……..

I have submitted this piece in its entirety to the Tribune and will withhold it until such time as the Tribune prints it.

This is what I originally posted except that when I saved it the five or so hyperlinks I placed in it were lost. Frankly I’m too busy to replace them. As you can see there is very little change:


Thank you Dr. Conniff for reading my blog. Thank you also for taking part in an important public conversation. Your contribution begins:
“I had to read to the end of the well-reported Nov. 15 article, “District responds to hate speech in Duluth high schools,” to find School Board Member Harry Welty’s recommendation against ‘having a dire punishment for kids abusing their free-speech rights.’
In disbelief, I turned to Welty’s blog”

When the Tribune’s education reporter, Jana Hollingsworth, called me I kept her on the phone for forty minutes as I expanded on my thoughts on this sensitive subject. Due to the Duluth News Tribune’s understandable limitations of time, newsprint, and ink, only two sentences of mine were included in the article to explain my still evolving thinking on this episode.
In the meantime I must insist on an uncomfortable truth: In the United States free speech does include hate speech however much we may be appalled by it. Fortunately it does not include shouting “fire” in a dark theater nor does it include threats or incitement to riot.

My job as a member of the school board is to think my way through what has been happening over the last year and how to deal with its consequences over the next four and possibly, God forbid, eight years. Making martyrs out of Duluth students for parroting the hateful things they hear on the Internet and no doubt in their homes and on the nightly news is not the best or most thoughtful response. That would be fighting fire with grease which would only make the conflagration more intense.
Duluth has undergone two recent changes which exacerbate the negativity of 2016 election. 1. It divided its school district into rich/poor and black/white schools at the same time as 2. Its African-American community has begun to expand significantly leading to a white flight from our schools of perhaps 15% of the student population. There has been one heartening development over these recent years. Our children have assumed a generous and open attitude toward their superficial differences. The reaction of students in both East High and Denfeld have been remarkable rebukes to the politics that seem to have generated the “hate speech.” I take great comfort in that.

These generous reactions must be supported by the School Board not undermined by meting out “dire punishments” prompted by shock at the outcome of the recent election. We need to follow our better angels. That’s what Martin Luther King Jr. did. His legacy, the “Southern Christian Leadership Conference” has continued for fifty years to keep a watchful eye out for the vestiges of hate and racism that King gave his life to make part of our nation’s past. I do not believe King would have encouraged us to force it underground but would have advised us to keep it in full view where it could be exposed for what it is – a grievous assault on the spirit of justice and equality that our nation was founded upon.

Some random thoughts

My Bad.

The testy relationship with my “Buddy” is one of the casualties of the Presidential election. We called each other some names that, for me, are a complete betrayal of the cordial wisecracking of my Grandfather that I lauded a short time ago. If I ignore future emails from him related to my posts 1. I will have more time. And 2. I will miss a window into a critic’s point of view.

Etiquette lessons tweet

VP elect Mike Pence went to a performance of “Hamilton” in New York the other night getting some catcalls and some applause. At the end of the play the cast got together to read an imploring message to their noteworthy patron.

Inevitably President elect Trump said the Musical’s cast owed the Vice President an apology for being so rude. This is the same fellow who led crowds in chants of “lock her up.”

I won’t be taking etiquette lessons from our new President.

The wisdom of crowds and Trump’s “negotiating position”

My old buddy has never indicated he had a problem with anything Donald Trump said or did. Months ago he told me he didn’t plan to vote for Trump but I have no idea if he changed his mind. He sent me lots of criticisms of Hillary Clinton especially if they were written by women pundits. He did the same thing with Obama sending me criticisms of the president from black pundits.

I can’t disagree with many of Trump’s supporters who feel that American governance is broken. I just don’t agree that Trump was the solution. I feel strongly enough that I’ve broken up with my “Buddy” over it. I have often heard of the wisdom of crowds and have some faith in it but that is not without qualifications. Many Democracies elect terrible leaders like Hugo Chavez of Venezuela or Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe who snuff out the democracy.

Despite my disdain for our new President I recognize that such an outcome is unlikely in the United States. On the other hand, many of those who voted for him are ardent gun buyers who stockpile firearms because of their fear that folks like me will make an Obama a dictator. Why should I trust them any more than they trust me?

I’m most worried about Trump voters who don’t recognize the improbable things he says are silly or outright fabrications. I’m less worried about folks who supported him because they are banking on his extreme statements being smart ass jibes or a tough bargaining position to retreat from in order to win concessions. NPR had a nice piece today about a Virginia family which gets along despite a split in voting patterns and the Trump supporters who don’t take Trumpisms all that seriously.

It’s worth a listen if for no other reason than to remember how most folks could disagree agreeably in the US about politics long ago. We may have to wait until half of the folks my age or older die before we get to this point again.

It remains to be seen if my fears are overblown. For the time being I will, with trepidation, rely on Trump supporters to make sure Trump doesn’t use his majority in the three branches of our Federal Government to do the most outrageous things he promised he would do.

George McGovern and Today’s Internet

In 1972 I picked up a piece of Anti-George McGovern literature that claimed he was a commie and that his World War II heroism was a fraud. I was deeply incensed. How many voters got this or similar pieces I have no idea. It was financed by fans of paranoid organizations like the John Birch society.

That solitary piece of propaganda is a drop compared to the Internet ocean of lies that dispersed on the Internet this year. Because of the way folks on the Internet get their info I saw very little of it. Not so those sympathetic to change. The Internet is a little like Niagara Falls and too many voters stand directly underneath it with funnels in their mouths.

NPR Joan Kroc

I do not get most of my news from Facebook. I get some of my best information from National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System. These have been targeted for closure by Republicans almost as rabidly as they threw obstacles in the way of poor and minority voters.

I have a plutocrat to thank for protecting them from Congress. I got that story from NPR today as well.

She gave the Salvation Army ten times as much as she gave NPR.

More on interning Muslims for the nation’s security

Our good friend just posted the link to the NY Times story about the potential internship of Muslims. She has an adopted Korean child that attended Sunday school with my children. She said this of the story:

“I am speechless about views like this. My son just asked about his adoption and naturalization papers. This is appalling.”

I find myself reading about the circus that is the Trump transition team and hardening my mind toward anything Trump.

My Buddy just sent me a link to a Wikileaks apologist explaining that they mean nothing personal and they they are just insuring full disclosure. I guess I was supposed to take this as reassuring. The trouble is there is no level playing field when it comes to moles and rats ferreting out secret data. Whoever is the most determined to ferret out data and whoever is the most vulnerable to hacking can make for very unequal results.

What have I learned about Clinton from Wikileaks? That Democrats protect their own and friends help scratch each other’s backs. Scandalous! Even Bernie Sanders who came out on the short end of the stick made no bones about his preference for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump.

Lucky Donald Trump. He is like Reagan and made of Teflon no matter what offal he swims through. He’s bringing the deplorables into the White House with him.

How is any of this supposed to help the poor, browbeaten, white, male voters who elected Trump?

The wrong lessons from our history

Donald Trump reads no books. His history is heavy with whatever lessons he learned at someone’s knees about the America First Committee which had no appetite for confronting Nazi Germany.

His minions have raised the example of the internment of Japanese American Citizens in World War II as an example of how we might deal with Muslims in America.

As reported here a couple hours ago I know of one Medal of Honor recipient who would roll over in his grave at Salina, Kansas’ Gypsum Hill Cemetery if he heard that. Maybe we can send the Gold Star Kahns to one and shut them up.

Here’s the Blue Star flag my Grandfather’s parents put up when he went off to fight in the Great War.

And here’s my grandfather’s helmet which hung in his entryway from the garage for the last ten years of his life. Now its in an exhibit in the Kansas State Historical Society where others can gawk at the bullet entry and exit holes and marvel that George Robb came home to tell the tale.

The Public be Darned

Loren Martell just left me a phone message request. He asked if I would tell my readers that it was the Duluth Reader not him who chose the Title of his most recent column. In the Reader its “The Public be Damned.” That phrase, however, was only intended as a subheading which had a longer handle. Loren is a bit miffed as he regards the title as a little less subtle than he prides himself on being.

Having just watched the Business Committee meeting in question on Youtube ( I was out of town when it took place ) I can attest that Loren’s story is faithful to the events he scrupulously lays out.

Fear and silencing in 2016?

The initial reactions of many in the wake of Donald Trump’s election have been fearful, ugly, gloating and generally panicky. There is an abundance if not an excess of caution. There has been local Radio talk-show indignation and Facebook hand-wringing over an evidently Anti-Trump message slipped into a school trophy case. It seems proof that political animosity works both ways. The tremors across northern Minnesota Schools yesterday from a vague threat is likely one more manifestation of this sorry situation.

I’m afraid that one more consequence of this election result is a powerful urge to cover our eyes and ears. At Tuesday’s school board meeting Supt. Gronseth expressed unhappiness with the student at Denfeld who took a picture of racist grafitti and posted it to Facebook to show how things were at the school. I’ll bet the police who have just charged a jumpy policeman in the Twin Cities with manslaughter may feel much the same way about Internet Videos. Silence is Golden.

I disagree. Communication is golden.

Yesterday a speech by an African-American historian was given at East High but then canceled for Denfeld when it was deemed inappropriate and perhaps an incitement to bad behavior. That’s a shame because the Denfeld students showed remarkable maturity and creativity in the face of the racist grafitti found on a bathroom wall. They countered it with a student led campaign to retake the school’s walls with positive and uplifting post-it note messages. According to one source this is what they missed when Dr. El-Kati was silenced:

“According to 3 equity minded individuals who all saw El-Kati’s talk yesterday at East, they are in complete and utter shock that Denfeld did not get to hear the awesome messages that El-Kati delivered. His main theme was moral character, and also touched on many topics and historical figures such as Thomas Jefferson, John Lewis, Frederick Douglas, Quakers, MLK, war, Minnesota tops in education, Duluth is wonderful, power and privilege, among others.

“They said Denfeld kids needed that talk more than East kids.”

I was unaware of the speech which the District had contracted until the Superintendent offered this post script to his email to School Board members about the “non specific threat.” This is all I know of why Dr. El-Kati’s Denfeld appearance was canceled:

Oh– and Dr El-Kati’s visit did not go as well as hoped. He did not deliver the planned message. He did not meet the terms of the contract. After things did not go well at East, it was decided that the Denfeld presentation would be canceled.

Judging by the superlative response of the Denfeld students to racist grafitti I have every confidence that they could have handled whatever Dr. El-Kati had to say. I wish my confidence in our students was more widely shared.

Generosity and trust 2016 and on Aug. 29, 1942

I mentioned the magnanimity and solidarity of Duluth’s students yesterday particularly at Denfeld with its post-it note campaign started by its student rep on the Duluth School Board Johanna Unden. Today the DNT has another wonderful story confirming the class and thoughtfulness of our students, this time at East High. Shanze Hayee, a freshmen, found other students to join her in wearing a hijab an Islamic scarf that makes many Westerners nervous.

I’ve made much of my Grandfather, George Robb, in this blog. I’d like to share a letter I just received from his old Alma mater, Park College, in Missouri yesterday. It comes from the time following Pearl Harbor when American-Japanese were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. My grandfather was asked by the college’s president if it would be wise to enroll some of the Nisei as students during this time of war. Here is what he wrote:

Here’s an enlarged image:

Speck # 6 The League of Democratic Women Voters

This is a report from a reliable source who attended the pre election meeting of Duluth’s League of Women Voters:

At one point a member got up and harangued the audience telling them that they had to go out and register voters to prevent a win by Donald Trump. Whether the candidate’s name was actually mentioned or not that was the obvious message. Not everyone was happy to have it put so bluntly.

The good old LWV ain’t what it was when I moved to Duluth in 1974. Back then it was a bipartisan group composed pretty equally of Democrats and Republicans. That began to change that year with Roe v. Wade. Two years earlier I went to a Minnesota State Republican convention that approved a “pro choice” plank in its platform. That soon changed as Republicans began to see a huge Catholic block that opposed abortion and as the party’s operatives began encouraging protestant preachers to oppose abortion. At first the protestants, soon to become the Moral Majority, opposed abortion because it made promiscuity consequence free. Saving “babies” was more of a Catholic thing initially. I’ve always thought that for southern Christians, still smarting from having northern Christians chide them for their racism, defending unborn babies gave them back some moral ground.

Over the next decade, as once solid Republican League members fell out of favor with the new pro-life Republican Party and all but disappeared taking their pro-choice views with them, the League became a mostly Democratic bastion in practice if not in principle. Its one more casualty of a divided nation. That doesn’t exactly excuse its local members playing partisan politics. BTW – They especially like to dabble in our local school board.