Letter: Charles Smith, Leesburg

Editor: The recent Underground Railroad activity held at Madison Trust Elementary caused a lot of uproar. During coverage, it was revealed by one publication that Loudoun school curriculum has replaced the term “slaves” with “enslaved people” in the interest of sensitivity. And, while the broader push for political correctness may be in quest of a polite society, the efforts are making us more fragile.

For starters, there’s no way to humanize slavery. Softening the verbiage is an injustice to all those who endured it. Second, the idea should cause discomfort. People were chained and sold as property. Here and in every facet of history, we’re not doing anyone a service trying to revise it.  I have ancestors who were slaves and those who were slave-owners. The words should convey the true conditions of that era, reminding us how far we’ve come.

This speaks to our growing affair with censorship, which has actually made it in vogue to be offended. The more acclaim and validation it brings, the more we find offensive.

Labeling the Madison incident as “willful ignorance, white privilege, or intentional racism” is remiss. It overlooks the wider use of empathy-building simulations, and the challenge of engaging students. Outside schools have used role-play activities in previous years also covering struggles like the Holocaust, pregnancy, and poverty. Disagreeing with the approach doesn’t mean it’s prejudice.

People can’t believe how such events can still happen in Loudoun. I can’t believe how conversation breaks down every time someone cries foul.

Charles Smith, Leesburg

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