Every week, The Post runs a collection of letters of readers’ grievances — pointing out grammatical mistakes, missing coverage and inconsistencies. These letters tell us what we did wrong and, occasionally, offer praise. Here, we present this week’s Free for All letters.

Celebrations and salaries in women's soccer

The June 30 Sports article “A model for women’s soccer” said Jean-Michel Aulas’s “unparalleled investment is expected to have a profound impact on the future of women’s soccer. . . . In paying top dollar for top talent and providing facilities and working conditions on par with what men receive.” Aula is the president of Olympique Lyonnais, a club that supports a men’s and a women’s team in the Ligue 1 and Division 1 Féminine, respectively, in France. It’s very easy to perform a search to see that the average salary of the men is about $1 million. This article reported that the best female player in the club, Ada Hegerberg, receives a salary approaching $500,000. The best (highest-paid) men’s player is paid $2.6 million. How can the article say that the women’s conditions are “on par”?


Patrick Walsh, Linthicum

In her June 29 Free for All letter, “Let them get their kicks,” Katia Garrett took Post columnist Fred Bowen to task for criticizing the women’s World Cup team for “celebrating too much” their 13-0 victory [“In lopsided game, victor should score with grace, not a whoop,” KidsPost, June 20]. She claimed that criticizing men’s teams for running up scores “simply doesn’t happen.” (Bowen cited female soccer players making much stronger criticisms of the players than he did. Can only other women reflect negatively on such matters?)

Men being criticized for running up scores is far from uncommon. As former Post sports columnist Michael Wilbon observed, the argument of many supporting the women’s soccer team’s behavior, claiming that the men’s Olympic basketball dream team was not subject to such negative words, is erroneous. In fact, as he pointed out, they received a great deal of such criticism. As far as celebrations, not only are men admonished for such behavior, but also there is in fact a rule against certain excessive celebrations in the National Football League. The New Orleans Saints were criticized for running up the score against the Philadelphia Eagles last season. As for celebrating, an article described celebrating wide receivers as “the biggest attention whores in sports.”


Bruce Kanter, Laurel

Earned, not given

Was the proofreader AWOL?

The subhead “Army’s David Bellavia given Medal of Honor” in the In Case You Missed It digest [June 29] was outrageously offensive.

No one is casually “given” such a medal; that word trivializes both the act and medal.

Alan Phillips, Frederick

An architectural impossibility

The June 29 front-page account of the aftermath of the Democratic presidential debates, “Biden defends record on race as rivals dig in,” said some candidates “sought to build off their performances” and that former San Antonio mayor and housing secretary Julián Castro “tried to build off his bounce.” Build off, not build on? Why?


Often, preposition choices are arbitrary. For example, in the United States, we say “different from,” while other English speakers also say “different to.”


But “build on” is not arbitrary: It invites an image of how structures are in fact built. “Build off” suggests an added element that floats in the air above but to the side of its base and unconnected to it. Thus, this erroneous preposition undoes the very intent of the verb it follows.

Joshua Muravchik, Wheaton

Give credit to Jimmy Carter where it's due

Lee Iacocca deserved the credit given him in the July 3 front-page obituary for turning around Chrysler from a nearly bankrupt auto company to a profitable one, but it neglected the indispensable role then-President Jimmy Carter played in saving Chrysler [“Chrysler savior was the face of U.S. automating”]. The obituary indicated that Iacocca saved the company from bankruptcy “by persuading Congress in 1980 to approve federal loan guarantees of up to $1.5 billion.” It takes nothing away from Iacocca to state the facts. His predecessor as chief executive, John Riccardo, and financial adviser Felix Rohatyn met with me on numerous occasions to argue for federal help to prevent Chrysler’s bankruptcy, citing the cost of our federal fuel-economy and auto-emissions standards. In fact, it was the poor management that had taken Chrysler to the brink of financial ruin.


It was with Carter’s leadership that we made it conditions of a federal loan guarantee that Riccardo be replaced and a new chief executive be brought in; that the United Auto Workers, the banks that had lent to Chrysler and other stakeholders make financial sacrifices; and that the company impose severe cost-cutting. It was Carter’s treasury secretary, Bill Miller, who, with Carter’s support, drafted the loan-guarantee bill. The Carter White House lobbied Congress for the bill working with the Michigan congressional delegation, with the House and Senate Democratic leadership and with help from the UAW’s congressional muscle and Iacocca.

Carter signed the loan-guarantee bill on Jan. 7, 1980, with the UAW president and members of Congress present. Tens of thousands of good-paying jobs were saved, and the U.S. government actually made money on the guarantee, which never had to be exercised.

The absence of any mention of Carter fits a pattern in which his major accomplishments at home and abroad are forgotten, including building the foundation for our energy security; more than doubling the size of our national park system; enacting a major ethics law ; beginning to break the back of inflation by appointing Paul Volcker as chairman of the Federal Reserve; the Camp David Accords and the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty; making human rights a central part of his foreign policy; creating a new era in U.S.-Latin American relations with the Panama Canal Treaty and taking on the region’s military dictators; normalizing relations with China; and confronting the Soviet Union with a combination of soft power by emphasizing human rights and signing the SALT II agreement, and hard power by beginning a major military buildup and taking a tough stand against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, upon which Ronald Reagan built.


Stuart E. Eizenstat, Washington

The writer was chief White House domestic policy adviser to President Jimmy Carter and author of “President Carter: The White House Years.”

A pretty weak whistle

I continue to watch with interest The Post’s courageous coverage of the unfolding story of former bishop Michael J. Bransfield of West Virginia. The July 4 front-page article “Warnings about bishop in W.Va. went unheeded” continued that coverage with more details about Bransfield’s behavior and the actions and inactions of senior clerics both within and outside the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. I am nevertheless concerned about a narrative turn in the article.


The article named high-ranking West Virginia cleric Kevin Quirk as a “whistleblower” who asked for help to “arrange for Bransfield to be removed and replaced by someone from outside the state.” There seems to be no doubt that Quirk divulged important information about Bransfield’s behavior to Archbishop William Lori, and this should be commended. But to characterize Quirk’s actions as whistleblowing seems a bit far-fetched. Quirk’s letter was dated Aug. 8, 2018, exactly one month before Bransfield’s 75th birthday, when Bransfield, as is customary, submitted his resignation letter to Rome.


If this letter was Quirk’s first such appeal to Lori, writing exactly one month before the anticipated and expected resignation of the bishop does not strike me as a serious request for removal. Rather, the letter seems to have been intentionally timed. Given Bransfield’s nearly 14-year episcopacy, Quirk and other diocesan officials must answer for why they waited until Bransfield’s retirement to blow the whistle.

Michael J. Iafrate, Wheeling, W.Va.


The writer is co-coordinator of the Catholic Committee of Appalachia.

No need for the gruesome photo

Why would The Post publish a photograph of a dead father and daughter on the front page of the Style section, which houses the comics page and the kids’ page and which is read by children [“A matter of taste? More like a matter of conscience.,” Critic’s Notebook, June 27]?


I do not care what the point was. A similar photograph was already in the news section [“Pair who died at border were desperate for a better life,” Politics & the Nation, June 27]. How upsetting for any child to see. Grown-ups can be affected by such pictures as well. Shame on The Post.


Linda Silver Bufano, Fairfax

The old professor is in

Robert Zaretsky’s rant on aging professors, “Out with the old professors” [Sunday Opinion, June 30], proved the persistence of age prejudice. His trope was a sad statement on the ruinous perception of aging.

Wisdom, love of teaching and a wealth of experience are attributes, not liabilities. I know. I’ve been a professor at the University of Maryland for more than 40 years.

Patrick Craig, Beltsville

Robert Zaretsky advocated a mandatory retirement age for university professors. Surprisingly, however, he overlooked the history of this situation, in that there did exist age restrictions not so long ago. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed legislation that eliminated retirement ages for most workers but allowed the age cap to remain for tenured university faculty until 1993. Before this law, employees could be made to retire at age 70, and most universities had a mandatory retirement age for tenured faculty. This legislation, sponsored by Rep. Claude Pepper (D-Fla.), removed the age limits and was hailed at the time as “landmark civil rights legislation” to protect older workers.


Edward Tabor, Bethesda

Why did The Post give print space to a terrorist?

I was astounded to see the July 5 Friday Opinion essay “Time for peace between Kurds and Turkey” appear in The Post. It was written by a founder of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), a terrorist organization, which is responsible for the most vicious terrorist attacks in Turkey. The U.S. government has offered a reward of up to $4 million for information on the writer under the Rewards for Justice program of the State Department.

My and the Turkish people’s reaction to the article was one of profound outrage, which needs to be conveyed to The Post’s distinguished readers in particular, and the American people in general.

The PKK is recognized as a terrorist organization by the United States, several other countries and international organizations, including the European Union and NATO. Over three decades, more than 40,000 Turkish citizens, including teachers, villagers, soldiers, children and the elderly, have been killed as a result of PKK terrorist attacks, including through the use of suicide bombers.

Portraying one of the bloodiest terrorist organizations in modern history as a political movement and its leaders as legitimate interlocutors not only is unacceptable but also sets a dangerous precedent.

I can assure you that reading an opinion piece by a terrorist has made the Turkish people feel whatever a U.S. citizen would have felt when reading an article written by, say, Osama bin Laden on the same pages.

Serdar Kilic, Washington

The writer is the ambassador of the Republic of Turkey.

Surely this story deserved better placement

Two independent sources corroborated E. Jean Carroll’s allegations of her sexual assault by the president of the United States. That an article on this — “2 friends of Trump accuser speak out” — appeared on Page 8 of the June 29 edition furthers the cultural narrative that such allegations are not to be believed or are simply not important. I expected more from The Post.

Cynthia Bailey, Oakton

A wonderful puzzle

Evan Birnholz bagged a trophy with his June 30 Washington Post Magazine puzzle. It was the most intriguing and challenging crossword safari we have ever encountered. We look forward to matching wits with him in the future.

Carol Shaughnessy and Bill Smith, Bluffton, S.C.

Some salmonella with your salmon?

The photograph accompanying the July 4 Local Living Wellness article “From fish to bacon, a ranking of meats in order of healthiness” displayed raw meat, poultry and fish on a wooden cutting board. That’s an invitation for cross-contamination and food poisoning.

Charles M. Carron, Alexandria

The sort of play D.C. should see

Peter Marks missed the point in his June 15 Style review, “ ‘Byhalia, Mississippi’ needs a stoplight.” He said, “Pardon me, but what is ‘Byhalia, Mississippi’ doing at the Kennedy Center?” But it is just the kind of production the Kennedy Center should be presenting to its audiences. While Marks listed the merits of the show, he failed to recognize the importance of continuing to bring those points forward. He seems to become nervous when racial realities are broached, as he did when reviewing “Pullman Porter Blues” at the Arena Stage some years ago.

Wesley J. Jones Jr., Arlington

Misplaced schadenfreude?

Regarding the June 27 news article “Free college? Europe shows it’s possible, but not perfect.”:

Why was it necessary to disparage excellent German universities?

I spent six years in U.S. universities and four years attending German universities in Marburg and Heidelberg. I have lived next to the campus of a third in Frankfurt. None remotely resembled the dingy picture painted by the article. And they all have free tuition. Besides this, the photograph with the article showed a large lecture hall with the article stating, “Lectures sometimes top 1,000 students.” U.S. universities do the same thing. A lecture class at Cornell University had nearly 1,600 students.

The article said, “Some lecture halls are dingy and don’t seem to have been updated much since the 1950s, when they were built from Germany’s post-World War II rubble.” What the heck? I have never seen these. This dismal description is by no means typical or representative. German universities in Frankfurt, Heidelberg and elsewhere have been building large new campuses the past few decades and are quite modern.

The article used the Quacquarelli Symonds rankings of universities worldwide and mentioned that just three German universities were ranked in the top 100 (two in Munich at 61 and 62, and one in Heidelberg at 64). Well, I went to the source for comparison, and the rankings of these U.S. universities were similar: University of Texas at Austin, 65; University of Wisconsin at Madison, 56; Brown University, 57; Georgia Tech, 72 — none of which are tuition-free.

The article pointed out that RWTH Aachen University, in Germany (tuition free), ranked only 144th worldwide. It is in good company, though, because Michigan State University ranked at 141. The University of Maryland was 126; Texas A&M, 203; University of Florida, 180; University of Virginia, 192; and Georgetown University, 226.

It appears that the article’s assessment cherry-picked and exaggerated certain negative points to make German universities look bad. An honest analysis and firsthand experiences tell an entirely different story.

Melody Rood, Ashburn

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