Letters: Democrats' boycott of inauguration will hurt Philly

U.S. Rep. John Lewis, who has questioned the legitimacy of Donald Trump's election, speaks in Miami on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Dems' boycott will hurt Philly

I am disappointed by the decision of U.S. Reps. Brendan F. Boyle, Robert Brady, and Dwight Evans to boycott the presidential inauguration ("U.S. reps from Phila. to boycott inaugural," Tuesday). I am writing as a Republican and a proud Philadelphian. Their decision is one more wound to the City of Philadelphia by our Democratic leaders, who choose personal politics and petty disagreements over statesmanship and civility.

Donald Trump will be inaugurated not because of alleged Russian hacking, but because citizens from every town or city in every state voted for him. Voters sent a clear message to these entrenched Democrats and Hillary Clinton that they have lost touch with Philadelphians and our desire to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, working toward a better future for all Americans, not just special interests that have long been ruling Pennsylvania Democrats.

The only people who lose by this decision are the citizens of Philadelphia, like me, who are starving for the leadership and civility that this city was once known for.

The Inaugural Committee likely cares very little that Philadelphia's increasingly irrelevant members of Congress are skipping the inauguration, but you can bet the Trump White House won't soon forget.

|Alison T. Young, Philadelphia

Time for leaders to take a stand

This week, as we celebrated the birthday and the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., our president-elect attacked U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights icon who marched and fought with King for an end to segregation. Philadelphia Reps. Dwight Evans, Brendan F. Boyle, and Robert Brady joined Lewis in refusing to attend Trump's inauguration on Friday. Sens. Robert Casey and Pat Toomey have been quiet on the matter. I call on the senators to take a stand with Lewis, whose moral courage has been tested and proven time after time.

Future generations will look to see where our public officials took their stand in this difficult political moment. Now is the time for our leaders to decide whether they want to follow in King's and Lewis' courageous footsteps or cower in fear of Trump.

|Christine Freije, Philadelphia

'I will march for us all'

On Saturday, I will march for equality ("Many causes leading women to D.C. march," Wednesday). I will march because we will not go back to accepting fewer rights and protections than we have now. I will march because women deserve access to reproductive health care. I will march because women deserve equal pay for equal work. I will march because women deserve more than being demeaned and objectified by their leaders. I will march for our children and their children, to insist that they finally inherit true equality in the country we love. I will march because equality for women is a step toward equality for men as well. Men are hurt by misogyny, too.

I will march to let the world know that I am here, and I am engaged. I care about these rights regardless of a woman's race, ethnicity, religion, immigration status, sexual identity, gender expression, economic status, age, appearance, or disability. And I am proud that our fathers, husbands, and sons will march with us, because equal rights benefit everyone.

We will not be silenced. With eyes open, head high, and heart full, on this memorable Saturday,

I will march for us all.

|Cheryle Oshman Blunt, Westtown

Curiosity about Trump won't wash

Columnist John Baer says he has more "curiosity than trepidation" when it comes to Donald Trump's presidency ("More curious than fearful on what's ahead," Wednesday). That is easy to do when you personally don't need access to an abortion, when your health insurance is provided through your job, when you are gainfully employed and don't have to worry about putting food on your table or a roof over your head, when you don't receive medical services from Planned Parenthood, when you or your relatives are not Muslim, or when you don't make minimum wage, which will likely not be raised over the next four years.

Americans in each of these categories should be fearful and afraid about what lies ahead and must take steps to oppose the dangerous Trump agenda. Baer's curiosity and wait-and-see attitude is not enough.

|Ken Weinstein, Philadelphia

Thank you, President Obama

I want to thank President Obama - his eight years have inspired me to do my part, no matter how small, in moving forward. He inspired millions of young people across the country, got their attention, got them interested in our political system, but, more importantly, he gave them hope.

Behind him, we saw change. We saw the incredible Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage in every state, affordable health care given to all who need it (no matter how long it took to get the website up and running), and a man who truly wanted what is best for this great nation.

Donald Trump's election surprised many of us, who believed that this nation was finally ready to change for the better. But, we were wrong, and the immensity of our sorrow still rings strong. Trump is a step backward, but compared to our many strides forward, I have no doubt that your legacy will endure. You will be remembered as a man who started us down a path of success and who was a symbol of hope to those who had none.

We can change the future; yes we can.

|James Dunning, Wallingford

Snowden deserves pardon

As people who deeply respect the rule of law but once felt it necessary to break the law to reveal serious government wrongdoing, we urge President Obama to pardon former National Security Agency private contractor Edward Snowden.

Three years ago, we stepped forward, after hiding in plain sight for 43 years, and revealed that we were members of the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI - eight people who broke into the FBI office in Media in 1971. At that time, there was no official oversight of the FBI or of any intelligence agency. The files we stole and distributed anonymously to journalists revealed what FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had been doing secretly for decades: Massive illegal spying and dirty-tricks operations against American dissidents.

These revelations helped lead to the establishment of intelligence oversight committees in both houses of Congress.

In June 2013, based on NSA files Snowden had given to journalists, Americans learned that the NSA since 9/11 had exponentially increased its technological capacity to collect records of nearly every form of electronic communication engaged in by Americans and by foreign citizens. The files confirmed that Congress essentially rubberstamped whatever the agencies wanted.

We were lucky; the FBI was not able to find us. Snowden is less lucky. It would be impossible for him to mount a public-interest defense. President-elect Donald Trump has called him a traitor and implied he should be executed.

Obama, in his farewell address, said that "citizen" is the most important position in this country. We agree, as does Snowden. He risked his freedom for his fellow citizens. That's why Obama should pardon him.

|John and Bonnie Raines, Philadelphia