This week’s “Free for All” letters.


A pair of 7-week old red wolf pups in Durham, N.C., last year. (Gerry Broome/AP)
What might have been

I was very disappointed to read in the Nov. 7 news article “Judge blasts wildlife agency, says endangered wolves cannot be shot” that the “American red wolf might have been saved from extinction Monday,” sorry that some opportunity had been missed.

Reading on, I found that steps were being taken to save the red wolf, and soon my disappointment was focused in a different direction.

Things that “might have been” were possible at some point but are possible no longer. In fact, the red wolf may have been saved from extinction, unless there is some fatal defect to the plan that was not reported.

I am hopeful that correct English may also be saved from extinction.

Wayne Chadwick, Rockville

Throwing away an opportunity

In the Nov. 3 Real Estate article “It all started with a plan to install a new bathtub,” about Jamie and James Coss’s $300,000 house renovation, one thing made my blood boil: throwing a perfectly usable couch into a trash bin because it wouldn’t fit in the hallway leading to a $1.2 million condo.

Their Logan Circle home is steps away from residents who could make good use of a couch. If the owner had left it on the curb, someone who needed it could have hauled it away. Or the owner could have spent an hour taking it to A Wider Circle, where I volunteer, or another such organization that helps people rise from poverty.

If living in a furnished rental apartment for six months during their renovation was “the worst” thing to befall this couple, then good for them. But perhaps now they can open their eyes — and hearts — to see how many of their neighbors live and to reevaluate this act.

Jean Kaplan Teichroew, Silver Spring

The No.1 priority

I was gratified to see climate change included on a priority list for the incoming Democratic House in the Nov. 7 editorial “A good day for democracy.” But I noted it was third on the list, after health care and guns. That is not the right order of things.

Health care and guns are of vital importance, but the fate of our planet does not depend on our quickly fixing those problems. The world’s largest and most prestigious scientific body — the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — has warned us in no uncertain terms that the fate of our planet does depend on our getting our greenhouse-gas emissions on track very, very quickly. Subsequent scientific reports have confirmed and strengthened that conclusion.

We have 12 years to reduce our emissions by at least 45 percent. This target is global, so wealthy countries must act faster. We can meet this goal, but only if we rapidly ramp up our efforts. States are doing their best to fill the hole left by the Trump administration, while the administration continues to dig deeper. But the states alone can’t solve this problem. Climate change must be the first order of business for the new House, and a real, science-driven solution must be ready on Day One of the Congress that follows, when, hopefully, a new president will be ready to sign it into law.

Donald M. Goldberg, Chevy Chase

The writer is executive director of the Climate Law & Policy Project.


Stacey Abrams, Georgia politician and romance fiction writer, in Albany, Ga., last year. (Melissa Golden/Melissa Golden)
Reading into romance novels

In his Nov. 3 Free for All letter, “A bad comparison all around,” James Graham stated, “A Senate confirmation never found now-Justice [Brett M.] Kavanaugh ‘innocent.’ . . . Only a court or jury can make such a finding.” But even a court or jury finding of “not guilty” is not a finding of innocence. It is merely a finding that guilt was not proved beyond a reasonable doubt. I can easily imagine a scenario in which evidence of sexual assault might not meet the standard necessary to convict someone of a crime but would be sufficient to sway a senator’s vote on a Supreme Court nominee.

Rick Talisman, Bethesda

Not innocent, not guilty

Palmer Rampell made some interesting and valid observations in his Nov. 4 Outlook essay, “Stacey Abrams and the politics of romance.” He cited several previous critics supporting him, at least in part. He did not, however, cite the seminal academic (or at least one of them) who elucidated this type of analysis of fiction. Lynn Hunt summarized her professional lifetime of research in 2007 in “Inventing Human Rights: A History.” Hunt is one of the leading historians of the Enlightenment, and her examination of literature as a significant factor in creating the Enlightenment as a popular movement underlies Rampell’s analysis as well as those he did cite. And this type of examination began many years ago.

David M. Whalin, Annandale

Space

The otherwise excellent Oct. 30 Health & Science article on telescopic exploration of space, “A not-so-simple Hubble Telescope fix,” omitted information on the new $8 billion James Webb Space Telescope. NASA, after earlier estimates, now says the telescope will be launched on March 30, 2021. The expectation is that it will provide information “almost to the beginning of the universe,” according to the Post article.

Victor Tupitza, Burke

Time

The Oct. 31 Metro article “Students find ancient stone ax at Mt. Vernon” described the find’s age differently in the first three paragraphs. Once as 6,000 years, then as six millennia and later as 60 centuries.

I read through to the end to see if it would become “600 decades” old to complete the cycle.

Mike Creveling, La Plata

Continuum

The military-astronomy complex,” Joshua Sokol’s Nov. 4 Book World review of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s excellent book “Accessory to War,” noted “the United Nations’ efforts to establish international space law, including the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.” As we enter an age of accelerated artificial intelligence and potential space militarization, there must be a renewed effort to provide global agreement and oversight. The one existing entity that has a mandate and universal membership is the United Nations. The United States could lead in its own self-interest. Can we at least try? It would be a win-win for us and everyone else.

Richard Seifman, Washington

The writer is a board member of the United Nations Association National Capital Area and was a senior Foreign Service officer at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.


From "Comrades!" by Michael D'Antuono, on view at Center for Contemporary Political Art. (Michael D'Antuono/Center for Contemporary Political Art)
Art is for confronting reality

As Mark Jenkins noted in his Nov. 4 Arts & Style review of “Defining the Art of Change in the Age of Trump,” “Tree trunk pieces meet steel root replicas in a dialogue between two artists,” the exhibition inaugurates Washington’s new nonprofit Center for Contemporary Political Art. I founded the center last year because I am convinced that political art can be a catalyst for positive social and political change in the United States, just as it was in the many countries I reported from as a foreign correspondent for The Post, CBS News and the old “MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour.”

Sadly, Jenkins chose to dismiss the “Defining” exhibit and the art of nearly 100 American artists with snide comments, writing that “the exhibit is not recommended for anyone suffering from Trump fatigue” because it “is heavy on breaking news,” presenting “visual polemics” that “probably won’t age well.”

What was he thinking? The work in “Defining” is no more (or less) polemical or about “breaking news” than is “Guernica,” which Picasso began painting on May 1, 1937 — five days after the Nazis bombed the Basque town he chose to memorialize as a warning to the world about the horrors of war to come.

Unfortunately, the critic betrayed his prejudices against contemporary political art; he is as wrong about the importance of “Defining” and the direction art will take in the 21st century as he would have been about the prospects of “Guernica” aging well had he been in Paris 80 years ago when Picasso turned a breaking news story into a visual polemic that became his masterpiece.

Charles A. Krause, Washington

Art is for escaping reality

Although I read all the rest — including the horrible news of our day — only one page of the Nov. 5 newspaper remained with me all day. Art redeems the times, as John Kelly’s fabulously sly and inviting visit to the National Gallery showed [“At the National Gallery, a search for art that doesn’t imitate life,” Metro]. His detailed and relevant “reading” of paintings made the gray day more cheerful, and me maybe even hopeful that we could sail off, too, into a pathway of light.

Eleanor Heginbotham, North Bethesda

Wait wait

In her Nov. 4 Arts & Style article “ ‘Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me!’ celebrates 20 years,” Roxanne Roberts, an original panelist when  “Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me” debuted in 1998 and a frequent panel member to this day, mentioned the little-known fact that the show was partly recorded in Washington before eventually landing in Chicago, but she omitted another fact of local interest.

It was NPR’s director of cultural programming at the time, Murray Horwitz, who planted the seed that grew to become “the NPR News Quiz.” Impressed with the popularity of the Magliozzi brothers’ “Car Talk,” Horwitz asked the creator of that show, “Benevolent Overlord” Doug Berman, to develop another program that would likewise entertain weekend listeners and enlighten them at the same time. That acorn of an idea has become the mighty oak of “Wait Wait . . . ”

In addition to his stint at NPR, Horwitz — Dayton, Ohio’s, gift to Washington — is a former Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey clown; co-author of “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” a musical about Fats Waller; and founding director of the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center. He is the host of “The Big Broadcast” on WAMU on Sunday evenings.

When listeners hear that “Wait Wait . . . ” is “coming . . . from the Chase Auditorium in downtown Chicago,” they should remember that it all started right here.

Jeff Liteman , Arlington

Don't tell me

I am still slogging through the once-excellent series “The Walking Dead,” and, like many fans, am behind the current episode. So when I saw “ ‘Walking Dead’ mainstay exits, but the show trudges on,” the Nov. 6 Style article on the show, with the warning “Spoiler alert,” I decided to skip the article — and then saw the spoiler blazoned as the headline on a subsequent page.

Thanks a lot.

Lawrence Hammer, Lexington, Va.


Lt. Col Charles Whittlesey with the relieving officer from the 3d Battalion. (COLLEGE ARCHIVES AND SPECIAL COLLECTIONS, WILLIAMS COLLEGE)
The lost battalion commander

A photograph accompanying the Nov. 8 news article “A World War I hero’s heartbreaking suicide” identified Lt. Col. Charles W. Whittlesey, who commanded the “Lost Battalion” during World War I and later tragically took his own life, as standing next to an unidentified man. That man on the right is my grandfather, Carl Fish McKinney, who commanded the battalion that relieved the “Lost Battalion.”

My grandfather was a West Point graduate, Class of 1911, and retired in 1949 as a colonel. Both my grandfathers and my great-grandfather served in Europe during World War I. I am proud of my family’s service to the nation and believe that my grandfather should be identified, especially now as we honor the centennial of the “War to End All Wars.”

Shari Villarosa, Washington


(Brian Mort and Greg Walker/King Features Syndicate)
Bad combo, even if it's a chocolate lab

Regarding the Nov. 5 “Beetle Bailey” comic strip:

Even most non-dog owners know that the combination of chocolate and dogs is a very bad mix. Sgt. Snorkel and Otto have been together for many years. By now, you’d think the good Sarge would know better. Maybe it is time for the cartoonists to introduce a Veterinary Corps officer to the Camp Swampy troop roster.

T.H. Otwell, Silver Spring

More missing history

Something else was missing from Bill Fletcher Jr.’s Nov. 3 Free for All letter, “Something big was missing,” a response to the Oct. 20 front-page article “Spain unearthing a painful past.” Fletcher left out that the Republican faction representing the elected government of Spain, in what became the Spanish Civil War, received material and some personnel support from the Soviet Union. That support was overshadowed by what the Nationalists received from Nazi Germany and fascist Italy.

Yes, the Spanish Civil War could be considered a prelude to World War II. In turn, the European theater of World War II saw the utter defeat of Nazi Germany by the Allies, including Soviet Russia’s major contribution.

Walter Hadlock, Herndon

One man's humiliation is another man's uplift

Regarding Philip Kennicott’s Nov. 4 Arts & Style review, “Taking all the fun out of being naughty”:

What Kennicott saw as lacking in Sarah Lucas’s sculpture and video revealed more about him than his subject. Perhaps he missed the Brett M. Kavanaugh hearings, the #MeToo movement and the whole second half of the 20th century. He dismissed a confident woman’s artistic rebuke of patriarchy as outdated, uninteresting and “empty.” He characterized Lucas’s entire career as “a waste of energies,” the revenge fantasy of a victim and not the preferable effort of a woman — congenial, one assumes — working dutifully toward the equality of the sexes. While these judgments echo the anxieties of many powerful critics over time, Kennicott’s reaction to a video depicting Lucas’s male companion being slathered with broken eggs was personal. Kennicott deemed it humiliating. I found it uplifting.

Peter Nesbett, Washington

The writer is director of the Washington Project for the Arts.