Opinion | Readers critique The Post: Queen Elizabeth II coverage was too much

Opinion | Readers critique The Post: Queen Elizabeth II coverage was too much


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.

I am sure Queen Elizabeth II was a very nice person, and I certainly can understand her family’s grief over her death, but I am puzzled by the enormous coverage of her passing by the U.S. media.

The United States is not a monarchy, and we fought against the British version to secure our independence. Moreover, monarchical institutions promote the notion that an entrenched group of wealthy and privileged families wrapped in pageantry should somehow reign for centuries over their subjects. Through the ages, monarchies have brought the world religious wars, crusades, inquisitions, tyranny, absolutism and the suppression of popular democratic movements, largely at the public’s expense. Though today most monarchies are weak and largely symbolic, they continue to perpetuate an image of entitlement and empire. It’s time to move on.

Arthur Edward Schwartz, Arlington

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Don’t compare Trump to Caesar

I agree with Dana Milbank’s basic assessment in his Sept. 8 Thursday Opinion column, “ ‘Hail, Caesar’ has a nice ring to it, says the MAGA crowd,” that there are many similarities between the late Roman Republic and the United States. Disregard for laws and shattering political norms by powerful, wealthy strongmen competing for political supremacy ruined the republic and led to autocracy under Augustus Caesar, Julius Caesar’s great-nephew, who was the last man standing at the conclusion of devastating civil wars.

But I think Milbank got the comparison of former president Donald Trump to Julius Caesar wrong. Although unscrupulous, Caesar possessed personal courage, was an exceptionally able general and politician, and a very gifted man who had a positive vision for the future of Rome. Trump is a proven demagogue but has also demonstrated that his incompetence and cowardliness have prevented him from transforming that demagoguery into lasting political power or a vision for the future of the United States.

We could still succumb to an authoritarian, but it will likely be someone such as Ron DeSantis, the Republican Florida governor, not Trump.

Thomas Beall, Warren, R.I.

No need to pile on Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton is darned if she does and darned if she doesn’t. Monica Hesse’s Sept. 12 Style column, “What do we gain from this brand of feminism?,” critiqued Clinton for showing a lighter side and going on a “boondoggle” with her daughter, Chelsea, and crudely compared both Clintons to the Coneheads from “Saturday Night Live.”

I remember not so long ago when Clinton was accused of not showing her personality. She can’t win no matter what she does.

Hesse also pointed out that shows with Clinton and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, focus on the same thing: famous women interviewing famous women who have accomplished great things. She wrote that these projects would not have been “greenlit” if these women weren’t famous. So what? At least they are using their celebrity status for good. And since when is it a bad thing to have shows or podcasts about inspiring women? We need more of them, not less.

Be more cautious when stating absolutes

The Sept. 14 Style profile of Nina Totenberg, “The reporter, the justice and decades of unlikely friendship,” referred to Totenberg as “the best-known and most respected legal affairs reporter in America.” Whether Totenberg is the best-known legal affairs reporter might or might not be the case. That she is the “most respected” is something else.

One should be careful when throwing absolutes around. Linda Greenhouse, formerly of the New York Times, and Joan Biskupic, once a Post reporter, are both very highly regarded. Better to say “one of the most respected.”

Lawrence Meyer, Washington

Point us in the right direction, please

In the “In the News” section at the bottom of The Post’s front page, whenever there is a report on unemployment, gross domestic product or some other economic rate, there is no indication if the rate is up or down. Adding a simple up or down arrow would be a significant help to readers who do not follow these trends closely.

Pete Steffes, Chincoteague Island, Va.

A more helpful map next time, please

The Sept. 13 Metro article about “Hazel,” a tunnel boring machine, was very interesting [“Engineers hope ‘Hazel’ can dig Alexandria out of sewage issues”].

However, the small map didn’t show the route of the tunnel. This seems to be an important piece of the story.

The map did show three outfall locations with four red squares. It’s not clear why there were three names and four squares. The map also did not show where the sewage treatment plant is located. In any case, I presume that the tunnel will connect the outfall squares with the plant.

How difficult would it have been to show at least the approximate location of the tunnels?

This reader would have preferred a larger map, even if that required a smaller photo of the program manager and the model of the machine.

John J. Landers, Bethesda

Don’t overlook this Oval Office short-timer

Matthew Dallek’s Sept. 11 Outlook essay “The unsung virtues of the one-term presidency” focused on presidents who served four year or fewer. I found it hard to believe that while it included Gerald Ford, who finished Richard M. Nixon’s second term, it left out the most significant president who served four years or fewer: Andrew Johnson. He completed Abraham Lincoln’s second term and was not returned to office.

He was one of the most significant American presidents because of his blatant racism and desire to ensure that Black citizens became and remained second-class citizens, and his actions to ensure that the White citizens who had rebelled against the United States were returned to power as quickly as possible. Without him, the country might be a better place for people of all races.

Leslie C. Taylor, Bethesda

Standardized tests are not indicative of potential

Thaves’s Sept. 16 “Frank and Ernest” comic represented the contradiction of the SAT. The test plays a major role in high school, putting the pressure of parents, peers and colleges on students as they attempt to earn a high score. Though it is used to measure students’ academic capabilities, it is an ineffective benchmark.

As a student, I have taken test-prep programs to learn the pattern of the test, rather than applying knowledge learned from the classroom. In these programs, I gave insightful reasons to support my answer choice, and all my supervisor could say was “It’s what the answer key says.” At other times, we debated the question for the entire session, which was more of a learning experience than the standardized test itself.

Standardized tests cannot measure students’ potential because they do not consider in-depth thinking. The ability to provide deep reasoning to support an argument should be valued higher than the ability to rinse and repeat. Standardized tests should not be the benchmarks in education. We should measure the academic potential of students instead of rehearsing for a patterned exam.

Big kudos to the ‘big lie’ essay

High praise to Claire Hao and Steve Brodner for their excellent Sept. 15 Opinion visual essay [“Fly! Fly! The winged monkeys of Trump spread the ‘big lie.’ ”]. The article and Brodner’s illustrations perfectly reflected the absurd yet dangerous attacks on democracy by willful politicians and operatives.

Bob Latham, Ellicott City

This educational comic strip will be missed

“Flashbacks” will be missed! Normally, I am not a reader of comics or, for that matter, graphic novels, but I enjoyed learning about our country’s history through Patrick M. Reynolds’s comic strip.

After reading his weekly comic, I would share it with my family and with my class. Talk about a great way to get students’ interests sparked; they then could further research a topic. History came to life; history became interesting!

One series that Reynolds did that I particularly remember was the plight of the Bonus Army. After fighting in World War I, soldiers were told they would be provided compensation — a promise the government did not keep. Reynolds told the entire story about how they came to Washington to protest and were attacked by government representatives. Another was the 9/11 series that provided a thorough timeline of the events from before the attacks to the aftermath.

Reynolds did an incredible service in imparting knowledge of historical events, using words and his detailed comics to tell the story. His work, the last of which publishes Sunday, will be missed by many.

Miranda Skelly Delmerico, Winchester

‘Get with it’ on the crossword puzzles

Having read two letters in the Sept. 10 Free For All complaining about The Post’s relatability to the boomer (my) generation, I say to the authors a hearty “Get with it.”

Regarding the first, “Crossword puzzles for whom exactly?”: Crossword answers reflect our culture, be it popular, literary or arcane, and I applaud Evan Birnholz for challenging puzzlers to color outside the lines.

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And, in the second, “Make The Post boomer-friendly,” a writer complained that he didn’t know what a UX designer is: My daughter is one, and she makes websites and apps easy to use for coots like me and the letter writer.

So, dear Post, please keep ringing in the new. As the poet laureate of our generation wrote, “He not busy being born is busy dyin’.”

In response to Kutlu Somel’s question regarding Evan Birnholz’s weekly crossword puzzles, I would answer that they are for people who enjoy a challenge beyond the mundane crossword puzzles found in other newspapers.

I look forward to Birnholz’s complex mind exercises that provide me with twists and turns and require thinking “outside the box.” If Somel and others desire an easier puzzle, they should turn to the Arts and Style section of The Post and work on the Los Angeles Times puzzle printed there. I, for one, will be eagerly awaiting the next Birnholz puzzle with pen (not pencil) in hand!

The Sept. 11 puzzle was one of his easiest and should have satisfied most puzzle solvers.

I disagree with the recent letter criticizing the Sunday crossword puzzles by Evan Birnholz. Though sometimes challenging, they are almost always solvable, unlike some of the Los Angeles Times puzzles published in The Post on Saturdays.

Yes, a few of his formats are literally outside the box, but that’s what makes them fun. His puzzles often demand a wide range of knowledge, but he strikes a nice balance of current and past subjects, resulting in a very entertaining product. I hope The Post continues to publish his crosswords for a long time.

Bob Sabatelli, Clarksburg

Moore worked on the vision of D.C. until the end

“Architect transformed the aesthetic of the District,” the Sept. 9 obituary for architect Arthur Cotton Moore, who died Sept. 4 at age 87, captured Moore’s admirable urban design vision — “preserving the city’s urban landscape even as he pushed it to evolve.” D.C. planners and architects will speak respectfully of the historic 1791 L’Enfant Plan that laid out our nation’s capital and of the 1901-1902 McMillan Plan that renewed L’Enfant’s vision after a century of haphazard growth. Moore internalized that humanistic vision.

Though the obituary suggested Moore’s design work was mostly in the past, until his last days, as vice chair of the National Mall Coalition, he was actively exploring and promoting ideas to turn obstacles into opportunities. He thought brilliantly and innovatively about how urban design advances democracy, social justice and sustainability.

Learning that the Smithsonian was looking for sites “on the Mall” for the Women’s History and American Latino museums, Moore identified two potential sites. He believed, and we agree, that the location near the Tidal Basin both builds on L’Enfant’s layout of the city as a symbol of founding principles and extends the historic idea to include chapters of our ever-evolving history.

And speaking of evolving, Moore knew the demand for more museums and memorials would continue. So he envisioned a “3rd Century Mall” whose expanded boundaries would incorporate underused federal land along the Potomac River — inspired by the McMillan commission plan that expanded the Mall in 1902 to include the Lincoln Memorial.

His design for the National Mall Underground project began as a beneath-the-Mall parking garage and floodwater cistern to improve visitor access as well as protect our national treasures from storm water flooding. Then he added a field of geothermal rods to provide renewable clean energy. In essence, Moore made the Underground a facility that promotes both historic preservation and forward-looking solutions to ensure the vitality of the Mall long into the future.

Moore never met an urban design obstacle he thought couldn’t be solved. Though, sadly, many of his ideas did not reach fruition in his lifetime, Moore had a way of elevating the architectural conversation. Where there was change, there was Moore, with both history and imagination in equal measure, to promote a deep respect for the L’Enfant vision that was and is the inspiration for our beautiful capital city.

The District of Columbia, the D.C. community and the entire country have lost a champion, a visionary and a good friend.

Judy Scott Feldman, Washington

The writer is a founder and the chair of the National Mall Coalition.

Less rambling, more pertinent details

What has happened to the editing of Post articles? I tried reading the Sept. 14 front-page article “ ‘The lakes are the tears of the mountains.’ ” I got to Paragraph 6 with no idea of where this was taking place nor what it was about, not having a clue where Nevado Palcaraju nor Huaraz were located.

Is everything a feature now? What happened to the front-page articles offering who, what, when, where and how in the first paragraph? This article rambled for about six inches with no indication of what it was about.

Barbara Kernan, Rockville


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