Fellow citizens but not neighbors Reply

washington_post_logoThe Washington Post has a way of printing absolutely preposterous statements as if they were unquestionably true. A good example was in the paper March 27, 2013. The article contrasted attitudes towards the federal budget sequester in two Virginia jurisdictions — Hanover County and the City of Portsmouth. The article noted that these units are 90 miles apart but nonetheless treated them as if they were close neighbors, heightening the supposed contrasts in public opinion. But why “neighbors?” Because, by a miracle of gerrymandering, they are in adjacent Congressional districts. The paper printed my letter of protest on April 6 (online April 5):

Letter to the Editor

Fellow-citizens of Virginia, yes; neighbors, no

Published: April 5, 2013 (in the Washington Post dated April 6, 2013, page A11)

Regarding The Post’s attempt to contrast two Virginia communities in the March 27 front-page headline, “2 Va. districts miles apart on budget fight; Sequester shakes a military town, while rural neighbors believe it’s just lies and hype”:

Nice try, folks, but this is ridiculous. In no rational way are Hanover County and the city of Portsmouth “neighbors.” Hanover is a rural area that is being transformed into a suburb of Richmond; Portsmouth is an old, struggling urban area near Norfolk.

That Hanover and Portsmouth are in adjacent congressional districts is an artifact of a racial gerrymandering scheme that tied Richmond and the Norfolk/Portsmouth area to ensure the election of an African American member of Congress and to pack as many minority citizens as possible into a single district. Of course the residents have different views on the sequester: They have little in common. They are fellow-citizens of Virginia and undoubtedly people of good will, but they are not neighbors.

Richard L. Lobb, Fairfax

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