The Washington Post Opinions section publishes hundreds of op-eds from outside contributors, on an enormous range of topics in the news and not, every year. Below, Opinions staff members offer their favorites from 2017. 

“I picked this op-ed because it explains what is at stake. And because I hope by picking it there is a chance — probably slim — that the president might read it and the words would hopefully sink in. ‘Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.’ ” —Jo-Ann Armao, associate editorial page editor

“While it may be easy to dismiss some of President Trump’s more controversial tweets, Rashid excellently drew parallels between Trump’s stoking of Islamophobia in the United States and the perilous path that Pakistan took under dictator Mohammed Zia ul-Haq. It’s a sobering reminder of how hateful rhetoric can directly lead to the suffering of entire religious and ethnic communities, and a good history lesson, too.” —Karen Attiah, Global Opinions editor

“While everyone was talking about Russian disinformation in general terms, Michel’s piece took us deep into a specific case, complete with all sorts of bizarre and intriguing details. In the process, it helped to explain why Russian-instigated fake news can be highly effective even when it’s obviously flawed.” —Christian Caryl, DemocracyPost editor

“I cannot begin to imagine the strength that the Riches, whose son was murdered in D.C. — half a block from where I live — have had to summon to keep speaking out about the killing of their son as his death ‘has been turned into a political football.’ Their pleading for ‘those purveying falsehoods to give us peace’ is heartbreaking, and shows us the real damage that false conspiracy theories can do.” —Becca Clemons, deputy digital opinions editor

“Charles Ikins’s op-ed was thoughtful, timely and poignant. This piece used an incredibly affecting personal story to reflect on the news and policy implications. Obviously, many of our writers use anecdotes to comment on larger points, but something about this man’s perseverance through tragedy stood out. It was a well-done, moving and different kind of op-ed, and it stayed with me.” —Mary-Ellen Deily, editorial multiplatform editor

“Egyptian American Aya Hijazi’s op-ed recounts how her struggle to help street children in Cairo landed her in prison for three years. It’s a moving story of someone who, despite being senselessly persecuted, refuses to give up her fight for human rights in Egypt.” —Jackson Diehl, deputy editorial page editor

“J.D. Vance’s best-selling book about growing up poor in Appalachia continues to have an outsize influence on public debates over poverty. Rader’s piece is a compelling reminder that Vance’s experience isn’t universal, that ‘most poor people work’ and that it is always good to be cautious about drawing conclusions through anecdotes.” —James Downie, digital opinions editor

“2017 was a year in which our nation’s leaders at all levels finally began to truly mobilize resources against the opioid epidemic, but it took countless heartbreaking stories such as Gup’s to make it happen. I hope we never forget those stories so that we never permit such a large scale of inaction ever again.” —Robert Gebelhoff, assistant editor

“I like this because the author reminds us there’s a difference between Russia and the Russian government, and because he has faith that someday Russians will take pride in their courageous compatriots who fought for democracy. And I admire him for his own courage: Poisoned twice during visits to Russia, he has not given up his advocacy for a more open, democratic Russia.” —Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor

“No matter how many times I read Samantha Ettus’s piece about all the times she has narrowly avoided falling victim to sexual violence, I’m still shocked at the way the weight of it accumulates. ‘I was a lottery winner,’ she tells us after each awful near miss. Ettus’s op-ed powerfully conveys the burden that sexual harassment and assault in our culture places on women — including the supposedly lucky ones.” —Michael Larabee, op-ed editor

“I love(d) this piece because it is a human story, beautifully told, about a DNA test that yielded results that could have disturbed but ended up reaffirming bonds of love and family. Unlike so much of what we ran this year, it is not about President Trump, except in a bit at the end that is all the more powerful for not being the main point.” —Ruth Marcus, deputy editorial page editor

“Shows that politics really is local — and sometimes scary. ” —Jamie Riley, letters and Local Opinions editor

“I’m not one of those people who think science is super-boring, but I’m also not one of those people who seek out articles about scientific phenomena in their free time. This piece was stuffed from top to bottom with things I didn’t know, and it made them more exciting than I’d thought they could be — in part because the piece, like its topic, feels bigger than itself, and than everything that’s going on down here on lame old Earth.” —Molly Roberts, digital opinions producer

“Andrei Lankov lays out exactly how problematic the ‘North Korea problem’ is, and why even our best option — pressuring China, North Korea’s lifeline, to cut the cord — has little prospect of success. Spoiler: China doesn’t really see the problem as a problem, and indeed has a vested interest in the persistence of this compounding tragedy. ” —Ryan Vogt, editorial multiplatform editor