2017 in the words of Globe readers

(Adam Lane for The Boston Globe)

Remember when there used to be such a thing as a slow news day? In 2017 it was hard to find a slow news minute. From Inauguration Day to the tsunami-like “Weinstein effect,” from the travel ban to the threat of nuclear war, it’s been a challenge sometimes for commentators to catch their breath. But with their letters to the editor, Globe readers have made every effort to take a full measure of events. Here’s an edited sample of the year in review.

Matthew Bernstein
Letters editor


If I continue as a longtime subscriber to the Globe, will I have to endure endless articles critical of Donald Trump and full of fears that may never happen? With all that is going on in the world today, is there no other news? We all agree he was a flawed candidate, as was Hillary Clinton, but he will soon be our next president. It is certainly getting out of control when there is talk about punishing an excellent company such as L.L. Bean because one descendant of its founder exercised her right of free speech in favor of Trump. Pope Francis declared 2016 as The Year of Mercy; let’s make 2017 a year of mercy also. Trump may surprise us, as other presidents before him have. Let’s give him a chance to live up to his promise to make America great again. Do we really want him to fail? (Jan. 14)

Robert F. Lovezzola

I don’t need crowd estimates to know that history was made on Jan. 21. Without any counts, I know that never, in my lifetime, has there been a counter-inauguration phenomenon like this one. It was a genuine grass-roots outpouring of popular sentiment. Donald Trump is not entitled by right to a dissent-free 100 days. Such periods are earned. Trump has been elected president, not dictator. The marches are a demonstration, in the simple meaning of the word. They show, right from day one of his term, that he is an unpopular president. In a democracy, that matters. (Jan. 24)


Daniel P. B. Smith


I write with dismay about President Trump’s executive actions on immigration, in particular his threatened punishment of “sanctuary cities.” Our cities have made reasoned decisions that carrying out the work of the federal immigration agencies does not protect the public safety of their residents. They seek to build inclusive, welcoming communities in which all people, including immigrants, trust each other and feel safe to report crimes and cooperate with the police. When immigrants equate the police with immigration enforcement and can no longer trust their cities to protect them, we all suffer, and we all become less safe. Thank goodness Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, Mayor Walsh, Mayor Joseph Curtatone of Somerville, and the leadership of other cities and states are standing up for public safety in our communities. (Feb. 4)


Jeannie Kain

The one image I take away from the New England Patriots’ victory — the greatest comeback in the history of the Super Bowl — was after regulation, and before the overtime period, when Tom Brady was sitting on the sideline with a huge smile on his face. It wasn’t because he had just brought back the team from almost-certain defeat. It was because he still had a game to play. Historical legend has it that Alexander the Great wept when there were no more worlds left to conquer. Brady smiled because he still had one more. (Feb. 11)


Robert Abruzzo


In our temporary celebration of the defeat of Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, we must not lose sight of the continuing threat posed by those who feel government has no role to play in ameliorating the lives of citizens. The bill was pulled because it offered too much support for people in need of health care, not too little. The current plan for those opposing the Affordable Care Act is not to work together to improve health care coverage but rather to do everything possible to deny its benefits and resist constructive change. Improvement is not their goal. In fact, government does have a responsibility to care for its citizens, and we as individuals have a responsibility to engage in finding new ways to do that. (March 28)

Jan Putnam


I am appalled, as are many others, at the action taken by United Airlines in forcibly removing a paying customer who had a seat. This is certainly not the “friendly skies,” not when police are used. This passenger was not a security threat. If United has a problem getting employees to destinations, that is their problem. It was not the problem of someone who already had purchased his ticket. Is this what is happening to our country — are there no more individual and consumer rights? (April 12)

Dorothy Driscoll

The first time I saw the “Charging Bull” statue, my immediate impression was that it perfectly symbolized the bull-in-a-china-shop attitude that Wall Street has toward everything except short-term profits. This bull, raging through the china shop of the American economy, is what almost brought this country into another Great Depression in 2008. Wall Street’s seemingly endless greed and corruption needs to be fenced in by many more Fearless Girls (and Boys). (April 24)


Ron Cordes


I attended high school in Texas, and I frequently wore braids with extensions. When I competed in the “Jeopardy!” teen tournament, I wore a weave on national television. At Princeton, I wore braids until the day I graduated. Had I been penalized the way the Cook twins have been at Mystic Valley Regional Charter School, I would not be telling this story. Instead, the belief that my hair was a demerit would have clouded my self-worth and kept me from ever trying for anything. (May 17)

Linda Alila

OK, it’s a pleasant diversion to have a front-page story in the Globe devoted to our city’s beloved tradition of defying an ordinance (jaywalking) that carries with it a nonsensical fine ($1) and pretty much getting away with it. But haven’t we all? Is there a lesson here, other than to take note of our peculiar penchant for thumbing our collective noses at authority without dire consequences? Well, when our son moved to Los Angeles and, on his first day in the city, forgot where he was and stepped off the curb against the light, he promptly got hit with a $100 fine. Score one for the City of Flowers and Sunshine. Might drivers and pedestrians alike feel a bit safer if such were the circumstances in Beantown? (May 31)


Paul Wesel


IT’S HARD to tell, based on news reports alone, who is right and who is wrong in the case of the Harvard applicants whose admissions were revoked [after they had posted offensive messages on social media]. But it does remind me of my own days in school long ago, when our teachers warned us that our serious misdeeds were going on our permanent record. It was an effective threat, until the day we realized that there was no permanent record — in those days. Today, of course, anything we say or do online is immediately on our permanent record. And that’s a lesson that all of us need to learn. (June 7)

George Mitchell


Fairness and justice, like beauty, are often in the eyes of the beholder. In today’s multibillion-dollar NFL, justice is what 32 wealthy business owners say it is. No fair person would deny Colin Kaepernick’s civil rights to free speech or his personal political beliefs. Most football fans couldn’t care less about his haircut or his political viewpoint. However, many see his act — kneeling during the national anthem — as disrespectful to our country’s flag and to those men and women who selflessly serve in the US military on behalf of all Americans. The 29-year-old is at a crossroad in his life — play football for a living or be a political activist. Or maybe both, but not at the same time. (July 30)

Girard J. Fortin


Your editorial “A reckless president raises nuclear fears” uses the words “reckless,” “hyperbolic,” “saber-rattling,” “tirade,” “invective,” and even “preening” to describe President Trump’s warning to North Korea to lay off the threats. All accurate. But your conclusion is all wrong. North Korea has been violating all diplomatic norms and thumbing its nose at civility since 1994, when President Clinton announced the “good deal” with the gulag state to “freeze and then dismantle its nuclear program.” After 23 years of hoping the problem would go away, look where we are now. To paraphrase the antiwar anthem, isn’t it time to give preening a chance? (Aug. 10)

Josh Passell

Anyone who observed Donald Trump’s campaign rallies, saw video of his more aggressively violent supporters, or read their online comments knew exactly what Hillary Clinton was talking about when she said, “To just be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now 11 million.” This was not a slam against “regular working-class Americans”; this was all about the type of Trump supporters we saw this week in Charlottesville, Va. Clinton, admittedly, was “grossly generalistic” about the percentage, but her much-criticized remarks were spot-on, and they need to be restated again and again. The growing displays of racial hatred; the part that Trump, as candidate and president, has played in fanning the flames; and his bizarre and cowardly reluctance to immediately criticize that part of his so-called base are a national disgrace. (Aug. 16)

Richard Feinberg


Hillary Clinton is still in deep denial. Perhaps if the vaunted Clinton machine had not hijacked Debbie Wasserman Shultz and the Democratic establishment, if Bernie Sanders had had a fair shot at the nomination, and if he, free of “trustworthiness” baggage, had ascended to the nomination, then perhaps we would have a thoughtful, progressive chief executive in the Oval Office instead of its current occupant. If there is one single person in this country, more than anyone else, who is to blame for the Trump presidency, it is Hillary Clinton. (Sept. 18)

Gerry McSweeney


Donald Trump flew to Puerto Rico to provide a measure of presidential comfort to the island’s suffering citizens. Once there, he praised his administration’s disaster response, widely considered anemic at best; tossed paper towels to the needy crowd; and told them that they are fortunate the island’s body-bag count was minimal compared with that of a “real” disaster like Katrina. Even for Trump, that’s a bizarre form of comfort and assurance that the mainland has their back. What’s wrong with this guy? (Oct. 5)

David Greenfield

Being chosen to host Amazon’s second headquarters would surely bring benefits to Massachusetts. But if we have learned anything this past year, it should be that concentrating “talent, prosperity, and intellect” in enclaves that already abound in them, while vast swaths of the nation languish in post-industrial decrepitude, is unhealthy and unsustainable for the body politic. I’m rooting for St. Louis or Atlanta, Pittsburgh or Cincinnati, for the sake of all of us. (Oct. 17)

Deborah Roher


From the beginning of the #MeToo campaign until the testimony of the woman who described being trapped in a car at age 16 with Roy Moore, I have kept silent. When I read some of the #MeToo statements, I kept thinking, oh yeah, that happened to me, or oh yeah, who hasn’t had that happen to them? But hearing the emotion in the voice of Moore’s recent accuser has brought me back to a place in my memory that I hate to go. Yes, I too was trapped in a car by an older man when I was 16. I too have been sexually harassed at work. And I grew up in a house where sexual advances from both my father and my grandfather had me on constant alert. I remain absolutely shocked when people think that women like the ones who are accusing Moore are making up their stories of harassment and sexual misconduct. Moore’s latest accuser, Trump supporter or not, is expressing the underlying feelings of every woman in this world. (Nov. 16)

Julie Goodridge


Once the righteous members of Congress rid themselves of those boorish men who forced themselves on women and children, perhaps the media could focus on those righteous members of Congress who have secured their jobs by selling their souls to corporate America — a form of prostitution, I believe, and therefore, a crime. Perhaps if those elected officials could be forced to resign, the Capitol would be left with mostly empty chambers, but a few honest politicians. Then the people could elect candidates who would work for the good of the country, rather than big business. (Dream on, my friend.) (Dec. 8)

William Morrison