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Slaves at HAM 

Slaves at HAM

Recently, in order to treat my curiosity, I visited the Historic Arkansas Museum. It is an amazing institution with several artifacts of priceless value, and I was amazed by many of the exhibits, including the knife collection, which features Damascus steel, and the Native American Quapaw tribe.

After such a wonderful tour, imagine my frustration then to take the guided tour of the historic buildings in which the only reenactment taking place was that of a slave. To add further insult, the slave was beaten behind closed doors by the mistress of the house, but emerged with a few sour words for the mistress yet nothing but praise for her master while longing for home.

Two areas in particular were most troubling. We are first introduced to the slave working in the garden, where she is happily singing. While it is undoubtedly true that captive blacks often sang, the nature of those songs were rich in subtext and coded language. Additionally, while nearly no one would suggest that slavery was not brutal, to force visitors to listen to a simulated beating goes beyond what should count as acceptable by the South's level of decency.

Throughout the tour, I heard tale after tale about the hard-working exploits of German and Scottish families, but their servants were dismissed as no more than slaves. "Slave" is not an ethnicity nor did the slave reenactment seem the most appropriate choice for the historic museum when blacks in the South must continue to combat oppressive ideas of our place in society.

Amoja "The Mo-Man" Sumler

Little Rock

In the name of progress

The story on the Little Rock Technology Authority Board is a perfect example of a board in charge doing what it wants without caring what the people want. The Authority board will use its power of eminent domain to steal the land and ruin neighborhoods. Republicans and big-business Democrats won't change the law after the Supreme Court's decision a couple years ago allowing cities to use eminent domain in the name of economic redevelopment.

The board is looking in the wrong area if they want land for their park. The perfect area that needs help for economic redevelopment is the east side of I-30 south of the Clinton Library and Heifer Project's headquarters. Imagine an area south of the Democrat-Gazette newspaper's printing press south to the cemetery area.

This would give the park easy access to the freeway, easy access to the River Market and would be visible from the highway, which would help it grow!

Plus a lot of that area includes abandoned businesses and warehouse with some rental property.

Unfortunately, the only help for the residents of the areas under consideration will be if they can get their places listed as historical quickly, which will be hard to do.

Keith Weber

Jacksonville

On health care reform

In his letter March 14 about the requirement of contraceptive coverage, Mike Emerson misses a few points:

He complains that the political leadership is governing by edict and compares health care reform to an enactment by Putin or Chavez. Health care reform was passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives and signed by President Obama. The constitutional support for the enactment is the commerce clause; that health care impacts commerce dramatically is inarguable.

Health care for most Americans is provided by the government through Medicare and Medicaid, so that care is not just government-regulated, it is government-controlled. Another large group of Americans get their coverage from employee-provided health insurance, and those plans have been regulated, including being required to include certain minimum coverage, by federal law for many years. The beneficiaries of health care reform are the uninsured who will be able to purchase affordable coverage. Those with pre-existing conditions will no longer pay an arm and a leg for coverage, and those who cannot pay full price will receive subsidies on a sliding scale. Spreading risk over large groups will make coverage affordable even when folks with pre-existing coverage are included.

Private insurance companies will not be required to subsidize the required coverage, such as contraceptive coverage. Insurance companies will be allowed to price their policies so they will make a fair return. State or federal (for states that choose not to create their own) exchanges will offer policies to insure that affordable insurance is available to everyone and to provide competition that will help keep the premiums charged by private insurers reasonable.

Health insurance providers who are religious institutions will not be required to offer coverage that offends their beliefs, but when those institutions operate other institutions that do not have a strictly religious mission — hospitals, for example — insurance companies that provide the coverage will be required to offer what other providers offer. The health reform that was passed will reduce health care costs, saving the country from unsupportable contributions to health care in the years to come, in part by requiring certain coverages that will reduce future costs. Requiring contraceptive coverage is a cost-saving measure, which will benefit the insurance companies as well as the rest of us. The religious institutions that objected to the regulation as originally proposed seemed to want help in imposing their social tenets on their own parishioners and on non-parishioners who worked for the institutions' secular operations. If a church wants its tenets on contraception observed by its parishioners, it should persuade the parishioners to follow its teachings, not try to deny them medicine they want.

Patrick J. Goss

Little Rock

Submit letters to the Editor, Arkansas Times, P.O. Box 34010, Little Rock, AR 72203. We also accept letters via e-mail. The address is arktimes@arktimes.com. Please include name and hometown.

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