Readers respond to the February 3 issue

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Grading on a curve

I enjoyed seeing C-VILLE’s take on Ash Lawn-Highland’s inauguration day/MLK celebration [“Timid feeders on the lagoon,” January 27, 2009]. While it may be a somewhat odd venue for such an occasion, I was nonetheless a bit disappointed to see such criticism directed towards President Monroe and the event in general. Certainly, slavery was an unforgivable stain on the legacies of otherwise great early American leaders, and your article noted the incongruity of having an inauguration/MLK celebration at the house of a slaveowner who supported the back-to-Africa movement in Liberia (see the city of “Monrovia”). While the movement to create a separate colony for freed slaves and thereby end slavery was surely misguided in hindsight and insufficient compared to more sweeping abolitionist measures, in a society where slavery was the norm, Monroe’s approach may have been a bit more progressive than most. To judge him so harshly by today’s standards seems somewhat unreasonable given that his interest in ending slavery was relatively enlightened among his contemporaries and fellow presidents. 
 
Meanwhile, I was glad to hear that Dennis Bigelow graced the events as President Monroe. I had the good fortune to serve as a tour guide during the summer of 2003 at Ash Lawn-Highland among their wonderful staff, and we always looked forward to Dennis’ outstanding rendition of the former president!

Chris Sedgwick
Charlottesville

Isn’t it ironic?

Thanks for the best letters section in recent memory [Mailbag, February 3, 2009]. I got a laugh and learned a lot about synthetic playing fields. Your readers appeared more clever than average this week.
 
Catherine Potter
Albemarle County

Block that word choice

I’m writing to point out the insensitivity of the use of the word “miscarry” in the title of the Meadowcreek Parkway article [“Construction is imminent, but Parkway opponents keep fighting,” January 27, 2009]. A miscarriage is an emotionally devastating event in which a baby dies. Equating that to the possible stalling of road construction is insensitive and jarring. Please think about its impact on your readers before using that word again.

Lisa Locke-Downer
Albemarle County

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