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Letters to the Editor

Readers write about New Jersey's apology for slavery, low population growth, and the benefits of reading.

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Should New Jersey have apologized for slavery?

Regarding Mackubin Thomas Owens's Jan. 11 Opinion piece, "A mistaken apology for slavery": Slavery is an American tragedy, and New Jersey deserves praise for being consciously bold enough to apologize for being a conspirator in such a vile institution. As an African-American woman, I find contempt and not comfort in the fact that the US Constitution speaks of freedom and liberty for all, yet America imposed a market value on black human beings and profited from one of the most cruel and inhumane forms of slavery in history.

Moreover, the legacy of slavery and its ugly offspring Jim Crow continue to resonate in America. It seems that Mr. Owens has a need to somehow reconcile the reality of an ugly American history with the popular mythology of America's being founded on the principle of freedom for all.

Until America is mature enough to confront her racist underpinnings, progress toward real racial healing and inclusion will continue to be evasive.

Beni Dakar

Regarding Mr. Owens's Opinion piece about New Jersey's apology for slavery: All this fuss about an apology is like whistling past the graveyard. Slavery is a moot issue and fussing about its meaning at this point is just window-dressing. The semantics of its origin is fodder for historians to mull over while we create new "history."

I, for one, have no sense of obligation in this matter. There is a very good chance that my ancestors were serfs in Europe, and I have never received an apology – not that it would be any more meaningful to me than the current apology is meaningful to the present generation of slave descendants.

Paul Michaelis

Encourage low population growth

In response to the Jan. 9 article, "Will nations build on climate-change momentum of 2007?": This article made no mention of encouraging a slow-down in population growth.

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