Letters to the Editor

Readers write about New Jersey's apology for slavery, low population growth, and the benefits of reading.

Should New Jersey have apologized for slavery?

Regarding Mackubin Thomas Owens's Jan. 11 Opinion piece, "A mistaken apology for slavery": Slavery is an American tragedy, and New Jersey deserves praise for being consciously bold enough to apologize for being a conspirator in such a vile institution. As an African-American woman, I find contempt and not comfort in the fact that the US Constitution speaks of freedom and liberty for all, yet America imposed a market value on black human beings and profited from one of the most cruel and inhumane forms of slavery in history.

Moreover, the legacy of slavery and its ugly offspring Jim Crow continue to resonate in America. It seems that Mr. Owens has a need to somehow reconcile the reality of an ugly American history with the popular mythology of America's being founded on the principle of freedom for all.

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Until America is mature enough to confront her racist underpinnings, progress toward real racial healing and inclusion will continue to be evasive.

Beni Dakar
Duluth, Ga.

Regarding Mr. Owens's Opinion piece about New Jersey's apology for slavery: All this fuss about an apology is like whistling past the graveyard. Slavery is a moot issue and fussing about its meaning at this point is just window-dressing. The semantics of its origin is fodder for historians to mull over while we create new "history."

I, for one, have no sense of obligation in this matter. There is a very good chance that my ancestors were serfs in Europe, and I have never received an apology – not that it would be any more meaningful to me than the current apology is meaningful to the present generation of slave descendants.

Paul Michaelis
Watchung, N.J.

Encourage low population growth

In response to the Jan. 9 article, "Will nations build on climate-change momentum of 2007?": This article made no mention of encouraging a slow-down in population growth.

Technology plays a key role in reducing the planet's carbon emissions, but what uses natural resources? People! It doesn't matter how energy-efficient everyone on the planet is if there are more people on it than it can care for.

Why not encourage people to have small families through education and maybe tax incentives? The more children couples have, the less of a credit they would receive.

Having one or two children and adopting or reaching out to others in some way would bless the children, the parents, and the earth.

Jackie Leonard-Dimmick
Atherton, Calif.

Reading's practical benefits

In response to Danny Heitman's Jan. 11 Opinion piece, "Don't just read for fun": As a child, I started reading because I was curious to see if the covers on my father's war novels matched the story inside. One of the side benefits I've found from reading is that I read faster just about anything with writing that is placed in front of me.

This has helped me to not only entertain myself over the years, but to better protect myself in everyday business dealings. I take the time to read all contracts, directions, and mail. Doing so has prevented many problems or enabled me to easily resolve the few I've encountered because I knew my rights as a consumer.

Encouraging a child to read for fun is good, but show how it can also save them time and money and how it can offer them the solution to everyday problems.

Deborah Carter
San Antonio

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.csmonitor.com. Mail letters to Readers Write and Opinion pieces to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115. E-mail letters to Letters and Opinion pieces to OpEd.

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