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Calls for unity are heard, parsed, deflected, denounced

Fences outside the US Capitol in Washington on Jan. 12.
Fences outside the US Capitol in Washington on Jan. 12.Erin Schaff/NYT

What US needs is a whole new civic infrastructure

In his Jan. 15 op-ed, “We don’t need to heal, reconcile, or unite, but we can learn to tolerate each other,” Nir Eisikovits makes the point that reflexive calls for unity and reconciliation are both hollow and pointless, given how deeply divided we are, and that what we need right now are basic ground rules we can agree on that will keep us from killing one another.

But while the rules Eisikovits cites for what “can’t be done,” such as “rejecting the results of a legitimate election,” are no-brainers for many of us, they’re anathema to the millions of Americans who, with a kind of religious fervor, truly believe the election was stolen. So, unfortunately, we can’t simply announce rules like these and expect consensus on their legitimacy.


What this country regrettably but realistically needs to do is build a new civic infrastructure, brick by brick, from the ground up. Hence, in addition to addressing pressing issues like income inequality, systemic racism, and climate change, the incoming administration would do well to promote — aspirationally, with bipartisan support — multipronged efforts at the grass-roots level to bring our opposing sides together: not to convince, but to listen.

If we invest the time and emotional capital needed to see one another as fellow humans and not mortal adversaries, maybe we can begin to agree on the kinds of ground rules Eisikovits prescribes. And from there, hopefully, go forward.

Michael Felsen

Jamaica Plain

Unity, Republicans? Really? After the evil you let loose?

Republican representatives and senators, don’t you dare speak of unity. Five years ago, this man started to pry the lid off Pandora’s box. You stood back and stood by. You watched as the evils slithered out and spread among us. Lies. Hatred. Division. You had no policy to offer to benefit the people, so you let this happen, your only chance at power. Now you cry that we must put that in the past and seek togetherness? Please.


I remind you that we tried the appeasement route after the first Civil War. The insurrectionists, by and large, were not held accountable. See where that has brought us. No, you must all be held accountable for your complicity in the current rebellion. The blood spilled on Jan. 6 is on your hands.

Make no mistake that the opening salvos of the new rebellion have been fired. This isn’t going to go away. The only hope I see is if you all renounce the lies that have brought us here. Make your people understand that they were all just part of this political power game. Even then, I don’t hold a lot of hope. The dogs are unleashed. You set them free.

Richard Jervey