Readers write: Facing history through television – or reviews

Letters to the editor for the June 28, 2021 weekly magazine. Readers discuss diversity in cycling and a review of “The Underground Railroad."

Disclaimers needed

I thought the May 10 article “After Chauvin trial, what next for racial justice?” exposed the understanding that much more needs to be done to address systemic racism in the United States and its police departments in order to serve and protect all of our citizens. I think more should have been included about some of the things that will need to change for this to happen.

I also think, considering the popularity of Fox News’ top-rated opinion show, any mention of Tucker Carlson requires a mention of his network’s own justification that he is not to be taken seriously. 

Last September, a judge dismissed a defamation lawsuit against Fox. As reported in The New York Times, “Judge Vyskocil relied in part on an argument made by Fox News lawyers: that the ‘general tenor’ of Mr. Carlson’s program signals to viewers that the host is ‘engaging in “exaggeration” and “nonliteral commentary.”’ The judge added: ‘Given Mr. Carlson’s reputation, any reasonable viewer “arrive[s] with an appropriate amount of skepticism”’ about the host’s on-air comments.”

The article went on to summarize that “Mr. Carlson’s viewers may not necessarily believe everything they hear.” Therefore any citing of Mr. Tucker’s speech or actions should be accompanied by a disclaimer about its validity. Many of us already discount anything he says or does as political theatrics, and The Christian Science Monitor should take more care with any association or reference. Thank you.

Bruce Johnson
Pensacola, Florida

What about the pros?

I enjoyed the May 24 story on how Najari Smith is promoting recreational cycling in a Black community in California, headlined “‘Bicycles kind of saved my life.’ How Najari Smith spins his community forward.” 

I would have liked to hear Mr. Smith’s views on professional cycling. The world’s premier cycling event for men, the Tour de France, is scheduled to run from June 26 to July 18, and includes very few riders from ethnic minorities. 

Greater willingness from professional cycling teams to recruit from ethnic minorities would enhance cycling’s image and increase its popularity.

Alistair Budd
Llanvair Discoed, Wales

Confronting difficult history

Thank you for the June 21 review of “The Underground Railroad,” Barry Jenkins’ television adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by the same name, headlined “‘Underground Railroad’ takes on slavery’s legacy.” 

In the article, Susan X Jane writes, “For those who feel able to bear witness, Jenkins’ searing images capture the violence that pinned Black people to the bottom of the racial hierarchy, while Whitehead’s re-imagined railroad leaves us room to keep traveling to find hope.”

For those not able to bear witness, this article offered a less brutal version of this information – the persistent effects of racism and the demand to keep pushing forward on the path toward its exposure and the creation of an as-yet magical world of freedom for all.

Devon Burr
Flagstaff, Arizona

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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

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