Where was the modern Dorothea Lange when we needed her?
Ted Landphair, Takoma Park
A picture's thousand hurtful words
The illustration for Carolyn Hax’s July 23 Style column, “After a pregnant pause, they broke up,” demonstrated why implicit bias is so important to be aware of. The letter was from a woman who was pregnant and alone; the baby’s father was not in the picture. The illustration was of a Black woman, reinforcing the stereotype of single mothers being predominantly Black and the stereotype of absentee Black fathers. Women of all races in the United States become single parents: Black, White, Asian American, Native American, Hispanic. To choose to illustrate the letter with a Black woman is perpetrating a harmful stereotype. Please give more thought to implicit bias in this area, as pictures convey meaning more quickly than words do. A picture is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes.
Ruth Simmons, Alexandria
A picture without clear words
The caption on the photograph for the July 19 Business article “From ranch to kitchen table” left the reader wondering why the rancher was on his back in the grass surrounded by his cattle. Does he do this daily? Is he injured? Does this represent the death of an industry? Photographs should add to the story, not confuse the reader.
Carol Burnett, Arlington
More than an age
Why does the media so often identify individuals by age? Accompanying the July 20 news article “Voting bill action is way to honor Lewis, Democrats say” about the late congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.) and the Voting Rights Act, three photographs were shown: one of a crowd, one of Grant Lewis and one of “Kristen Owen, 30.” Did we need to know her age? Is it the case that women are more often identified by age?
Robert Bergman, Bethesda
A 'good trouble' maker
When Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) died, we lost a giant who never flinched from speaking truth to power. Yet among the many well-deserved accolades to this fearless man, I could not find any that mentioned his solidarity with immigrants and their families. His 45th arrest occurred on Oct. 8, 2013. The Senate had passed bipartisan legislation that would give 11 million immigrants a “path to citizenship.” Then-President Barack Obama said he would sign it, but Republican leadership kept it bottled up in the House. Lewis, seven other congressmen and 200 supporters blocked a main street near the Capitol. All were arrested.
I was among the 2,000 immigrants and their allies who were there to protest Obama’s deportation of 2 million undocumented immigrants, including hundreds of thousands without criminal records.
Lewis was there in body, mind and spirit to stand with targeted immigrants. As Lewis liked to say, this was “good trouble.”
Ross Wells, Takoma Park
The writer is co-chair of the Washington Ethical
Society Immigration Support Team.
The tributes and stories honoring the late congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.) unveiled many of the vast dimensions of this man of honor. They also made me think of the thousands of people who had just a moment with him. I knew Lewis for a minute that has endured 42 years.
I met him in 1978, when, as a relatively new hire at the Peace Corps headquarters, I was asked to be the representative on an interagency task force to prepare the federal support for the Longest Walk, when thousands of Native Americans walking across the country reached Washington. I had recently returned to the United States after serving three years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco, working with boys handicapped with polio. It was a time when I mainly saw possibilities, so I was thrilled to have this opportunity. I reported to Lewis on a regular basis throughout the months of planning. He always listened, asked interesting questions and, despite some of the unconventional commitments I made, such as a silent auction of services, he provided valuable guidance and support. The Longest Walk was a powerful experience for all, and I’m forever grateful for the guidance and stories from Lewis.
I next saw him many years later when I was working as a photographer for Handgun Control. I started to introduce myself and mentioned the Peace Corps, and he finished my introduction, laughing and saying, “Yes! The Longest Walk.”
Dorothy Andrake, Washington
Michael Gerson’s July 21 op-ed, “John Lewis changed the hardest hearts,” paid a deserved and beautifully stated tribute to the magnificence of the late congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.). That said, I do have one mild but important objection to Gerson’s attribution of “disciplined . . . nonviolence” as a change tactic to Christianity. Nonviolence as protest strategy is commonly associated with Mahatma Gandhi, who drew his ideas from much earlier teachings of Hinduism and several of its derivative sects. Buddhism also speaks to this as well as multiple other religions (e.g., Judaism, Islam) stand for nonviolence as a way of promoting social change.
It is true that the concept of the Beloved Community was popularized by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. largely within the Christian tradition and was embraced by Lewis. However, in this era of profound divisiveness, refraining from specifically attributing a concept and ideology that so very many people believe in by solely giving credit for it to one vs. many spiritual practices seems problematic. Based on his writings, it is clear that Gerson’s heart is full of love for all people, and perhaps I’ve become overly woke, but at this time in history, I believe we need to strive for maximum inclusiveness in everything we do.
David Sommers, Kensington
'I've got a bad feeling about this'
The July 27 “Loose Parts” comic showed what steps Darth Vader’s parents took to come to an agreement on his first name, supposedly Darth. However, “Darth” is actually a title given to Sith Lords and roughly translates into “Dark Lord.” His birth name was Anakin, thus, the parents’ debate would have settled on a portmanteau of Andrew and Dakin, or something like that.
Paul Wesson, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Karen Tumulty’s July 27 op-ed, “Trump’s Reagan coin scam,” discussed how President Trump used Ronald Reagan’s name for fundraising purposes without permission from the former president’s foundation. There’s another problem: A coin by definition is legal tender issued by a government. Trump’s campaign is hawking medals. Using the word “coin” here is improper.
Before I retired as chief counsel to the U.S. Mint, we would routinely refer such ads to the Postal Service for mail fraud investigation. Scam times two.
Kenneth Gubin, Herndon
The writer was chief counsel of the U.S. Mint from 1980 to 2000.
Christine Esposito is a teacher. I assume she cringed at the headline on her July 21 Tuesday Opinion essay, “Many risks stand in the way of me being with my students.” The “being” in “being with my students” is a gerund and gets the possessive pronoun “my.”
Rochelle Zohn, Arlington
A country band's bad cover
Regarding the July 19 Washington Post Magazine article “They’re Bringing Back Cheatin’ Songs”:
Anyone worth his Stetson knows that you can’t declare yourself a Texan just a few years after moving to the state, and Midland’s Texas roots are shallow.
The lead photograph in this article, taken by Harper Smith (band member Cameron Duddy’s wife), is a doctored image of historic Sam’s BBQ, an Austin institution since 1957 and one of the few remaining Black-owned businesses in a town devastated by gentrification. The band members obfuscated the name, branded it with their own, apparently neglected to pay a location fee and have avoided taking responsibility in the face of a backlash.
This is especially rich after their May 31 statement on Instagram to abstain “from any promotion or dialogue that distracts from the current issue our country needs to face head on.” If the members of Midland want to be accepted as Texan, they need to show more regard for the community they claim to be a part of.
Adrienne Conn, Bel Air, Md.
A Looney change of Tunes
The July 19 “Mike Du Jour” comic strip noted that the people who make Warner Bros. Animation’s newest cartoon show, “Looney Tunes Cartoons,” have arranged it so that during certain cartoons where Bugs Bunny is involved, Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam aren’t being allowed to carry guns. This was also noted in “Brewster Rockit: Space Guy!” strips from June 30 to July 2. Like many Looney Tunes fans, I’m disgusted by this revelation. Taking away something that makes two Looney Tunes characters best remembered takes out half the comedy and the spirit of what makes Looney Tunes a classic icon of American culture.
The producers of Warner Bros. Animation seem to have forgotten a couple of things when they came up with the idea for the most recent Looney Tunes series: (1) When you reboot a classic show by taking away some of the things that made it funny and great, it’s guaranteed that it won’t last as long as expected. This proved true when 2011’s “The Looney Tunes Show” used a different visual style instead of the classic style and put everything in a lame sitcom setting, and when 2015’s “Wabbit” (later renamed “New Looney Tunes”) also used a different visual style and redesigned some of the characters to views that would make Looney Tunes fans just cringe (taking away Elmer and Sam’s guns will only make the recent Looney Tunes spinoff lose viewers). (2) Cartoons aren’t like real life. In cartoons (depending on who makes them), guns don’t kill people (people don’t die in cartoons). Guns, instead, blow up in the villain’s face and leave them only singed in comic ways, ready to resume the comedy that goes into animation.
If there is to be another Looney Tunes spinoff, not only should they use the classic style, but they also should give Elmer and Sam back their guns. Studios instead should run a message before the show and after the end of commercial breaks suggesting, “The following actions are performed by professional actors/cartoon characters only. Kids and adults, do not attempt any of these stunts.” That way, it would discourage any television-inspired violence and leave certain things, including cartoon characters’ Second Amendment rights, intact.
Casey Emmer, Great Falls
This Lyme article was a lemon
I was disappointed in the July 21 Health & Science article “Can a seasonal shot protect against Lyme disease?” Writer Mark Klempner, an “infectious diseases physician-scientist,” has money and ego riding on creating a Lyme vaccine. We should observe his project with caution and skepticism. Here’s just one reason: Klempner says that the researchers were doing “initial testing . . . in volunteers who have not been exposed to Lyme disease.” However, there is no reliable way to determine whether a person has been exposed to Lyme disease.
Everything about tick-borne disease is controversial, from diagnosis to testing to treatment. Some medical professionals think Lyme is unequivocally killed by a few weeks of a single antibiotic, and some medical professionals think the bacteria survives, leading to chronic infection. But one thing both sides agree on is: Lyme tests are flawed and unreliable. The most common tests used in clinical diagnosis, the ELISA and the western blot, are replete with false negatives, for myriad reasons having to do with patients’ varying bacterial loads and individual immune responses.
How can we have a valid clinical trial if the patient set contains people falsely or erroneously presumed to be Lyme-free? How could that possibly produce a safe and effective vaccine?
Christina Diane Campbell, Centreville
Sorry, not sorry
There was a great juxtaposition in the July 25 Post. Alexandra Petri’s op-ed, “Ted Yoho’s apology to AOC, offered as a master class,” was indeed masterful. After reading her column, turn ahead to the Metro section and read “Restaurant co-owner issues apology.”
It would seem that the Giovannonis would benefit from attending Petri’s master class.
Timothy Kloth, Springfield
'Crouching Tiger,' hidden influences
I was glad to see a mention of “Old Guard” in the July 15 Style article “ ‘Old Guard’ goes new school.”
It needs to be stated that such films are not just the product of up-and-coming female action directors and stars such as Charlize Theron using their power to command roles they want to play, but derive from a long tradition of female martial stars in China, directors such as King Hu and his work with Cheng Pei-pei (“Come Drink With Me”), and generations of women fighters from the Chinese studio system’s Golden Age.
It’s only in the past decade that Hollywood has been able to replicate this Chinese art form, one of its most glorious achievements. If you’ve been following even just Theron’s work in action cinema, you may have noticed that the choreography for each film is inventive and original and comments on and extends the choreography of previous films. Bruce Lee may have introduced it to the West in the 1970s, but it was Jackie Chan who got his butt kicked by his old auntie in the opening of “Drunken Master.”
“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” was largely an homage to Hu and these female fighters. Unlike in the West, where we have mere mentions of valkyries and amazons, China has an extant feminist wuxia literature going back centuries, deriving from the very ancient poem of Mulan: “When two rabbits run thought a field — who can tell which is male and female?” There is a direct line from “Red Heroine” (1929) to “Atomic Blonde” & “Old Guard.”
Michael Nuell, Potomac
As a rule, name the rule
Why did it take so long to find in the July 24 front-page article “Trump uses fear to tout repeal of housing rule” the name and purpose of the fair housing rule that President Trump is trying to repeal? As I read the article, I kept asking, “What’s the ruling they’re talking about?” Finally, 14 inches and one jump in, I found it. The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule — not exactly well-known — should have been described much sooner so readers have context for what Trump is trying to do. Even in an article focused on showing what is considered a bad move by a politician, please include the important facts much earlier in the article, at least above the first fold. It’s a basic rule of Journalism 101, and one I see ignored more often.
Ellen Ternes, Fayetteville, Pa.
Her own person
The headline and photograph with the July 26 obituary for local television host and celebrity Rene Carpenter, “Astronaut’s wife became outspoken D.C. TV host,” were unfortunate. The obituary reported that in 1973, Carpenter wrote a letter to the editor critical of The Post’s reference to her as “ex-wife of the astronaut.” She wrote, “I would like to be recognized as Me, unencumbered by hyphens or gratuitous references to the past.”
Anne MacKinnon-Welsh, Sudlersville, Md.