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Readers write: Avoiding bias, and D.C. statehood

Letters to the editor for the May 17, 2021 weekly magazine. Readers discuss an April cover story about fixing American democracy.

The need for collaboration

The April 19 issue provided a perfect poster child of the Monitor! Complex issues of immigration, bullying, racial conflict, and challenges of climate change were woven together like thoughtful threads leading to the cover story, “Can American democracy be fixed?” 

These matters do not exist in isolation and require our best collaborative thinking for progress. Politicians who want to protect turf instead of ideas are enabling and extending inequalities in representation. Five states have trouble-free, total mail-in voting, with high percentages of participation. Why isn’t that model the one to pursue? Surely engaged citizenry is the way to preserve a healthy democracy.

Ann Hymes
Laguna Woods, California

Inconsistent qualification

The cover story “Can American democracy be fixed?” provides a valuable analysis of the challenges facing our democracy to-day, including some helpful historical con-text. I’m happy to see the Monitor tackling this issue with candor. In terms of avoiding bias, though, I think it falls a bit short.

Wouldn’t it be fairer to refer to the president’s claims of election fraud as unfounded, rather than as lies? And why does the author refer to cancel culture as “perceived” when there’s overwhelming evidence of it? It’s noteworthy that the Monitor doesn’t apply this qualifier to terms like institutional racism, though it is a controversial topic.

Jennifer Quinn
Gate City, Virginia

Why D.C. seeks statehood

Thanks for your April 19 cover story, “Can American democracy be fixed?” I must correct a misconception about statehood for the District of Columbia. Citizens of the district demand equal voting rights because it is only fair. Other methods for representation have been considered, but would not address such issues as self-determination of our own budget and laws, which states do have.

Yes, while statehood would likely add two Democratic senators and a Democratic representative, we have worked on it for decades, even when it would not have tipped the balance in Congress. Maybe recognition would attract more people with varied political views.

Christine Matthews
Washington

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

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