The Washington Post Opinions section published hundreds of op-eds from outside contributors this year, covering an enormous range of topics, from Comic Sans to President Trump. Below, opinions staff members pick their favorite op-eds from 2019 and explain what made their choices stand out.

Rudell, a Los Angeles comedy writer, tells of coming to know a famous Saudi comedian named Fahad Albutairi and his equally famous activist wife, Loujain al-Hathloul — and how, years later, Rudell learned that his Saudi friends had been ensnared in Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s repression. Loujain was jailed for her activism in 2018, and remains imprisoned to this day; Fahad retreated from public life. Rudell’s heartbreaking column helped continue what Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi set out to do before his 2018 murder by Saudi agents in Istanbul: To speak out for brave but silenced Saudis whose only crimes were daring to dream of a freer homeland. — Karen Attiah, global opinions editor

Leshchenko offers a colorful riposte to Rudolph W. Giuliani, who had publicly declared him an enemy “of the president and the United States.” The author clarifies several important points — if you want to know the truth about the “black ledger,” this is the op-ed to read — in Giuliani’s strange narrative of 2016 events in Ukraine. Leshchenko also mixes it up in highly personal terms over the damage the president’s lawyer, and his loose-cannon style, have done to his country. — Christian Caryl, op-ed editor/international

Bowler writes about a tragic situation — her cancer diagnosis — with sensitivity, honesty, even humor. In a kind and candid voice, she somehow manages to offer readers life lessons that go way beyond cancer. She makes clear that we all have things to be afraid of, that life is “chronic,” but that she — and all of us — needs to “make those brave, soft choices to find … the way forward.” — Mary-Ellen Deily, multiplatform editor

These allegations are a threat to all we have sworn to protect,” by Gil Cisneros, Jason Crow, Chrissy Houlahan, Elaine Luria, Mikie Sherrill, Elissa Slotkin and Abigail Spanberger

In a news-making piece, a group of seven moderate Democratic freshmen call in mid-September for an impeachment inquiry. — Michael Duffy, opinions editor at-large

2019 has come and gone, and Republicans have yet to take any action to address our gun violence epidemic. This was entirely predictable, as Painter points out while reflecting on the November shooting at her high school in Santa Clarita, Calif. Her painfully realistic perspective is a necessary reminder of the moral bankruptcy of our elected leaders. — Robert Gebelhoff, assistant editor

For all the potent, timely symbolism of Día de Muertos celebrations, you would think the holiday was conjured up as a geopolitical metaphor, which, as it turns out, it kind of was. Here, Brammer reflects on crossing borders, being “authentic” and reconnecting with tradition “as if out of an ancient instinct.” Best of all, the piece is gorgeously illustrated — by the author himself. — Drew Goins, assistant editor

Next year will furnish no shortage of political commentary. If only one of the writers contributing to this debate could be former Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, who died in 2018. Krauthammer was an articulate defender of the democratic principles that make our constitutional system exceptional, and he was admired for crafting his arguments with facts, reason, level-headedness, candor and humor. His son Daniel penned this op-ed to identify what the public square is lacking in the elder Krauthammer’s absence. It’s a reminder heading into an election year that our political opponents are not stupid or evil or our enemies — they’re our friends and neighbors and fellow Americans. — Meghan Kruger, associate opinions editor

This is, by far, one of the most powerful and important pieces of journalism I’ve read all year. I don’t think any words I write can do it justice, so I’ll just share a few of Norris’s: “Do not trifle with this history. Not unless you are willing to understand the meaning, the weight, the horror, the ardor, the hatred, the stain, the special brand of evil associated with it and the deed it represents. Anything less is an attempt at distraction. That is desperate and diabolically wrong.” (Norris has since joined Post Opinions as a contributor and consultant.) — Kaitlin Coward, multiplatform editor and digital producer

This is a bittersweet choice. Tillis, a Republican senator from North Carolina, eloquently set out why principle demanded that he vote against President Trump’s emergency use of funds to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, even though, Tillis said, he supported the barrier. “It is my responsibility to be a steward of the Article I branch, to preserve the separation of powers and to curb the kind of executive overreach that Congress has allowed to fester for the better part of the past century,” Tillis wrote. “I stood by that principle during the Obama administration, and I stand by it now.” Tillis then turned around and voted for the emergency, providing the kind of distilled proof one rarely gets in the real world of how the Republican Party has abandoned principle for expediency and political survival in the Trump era. — Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor

In this soul-searching op-ed, now-former Foreign Service officer Chuck Park upends the trope of “deep state” resistance to President Trump and supplants it with a much more true-to-life alternative — government workers who hold their noses as they comply with orders and collect their paychecks. “Your federal bureaucracy under this president?,” he writes, “Call it ‘The Complacent State’ instead.” — Michael Larabee, op-ed editor

As someone who stocks her car with a road atlas and a glovebox packed with state highway maps, I felt validated by O’Connor’s argument that there are compelling reasons to forgo the GPS. I usually try to memorize directions before I set off on a drive — even if ditching the Google Maps instructions means I may take a wrong turn or two along the way. As O’Connor writes, “Done safely, getting lost could be a good thing.” — Becca Clemons, opinions operations editor

There are two types of hijabs. The difference is huge.” by Masih Alinejad and Roya Hakakian

Having lived in Iran, both Alinejad and Hakakian took exception to Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-Minn.) praise of the hijab as a symbol of “power, liberation, beauty and resistance.” That might describe the “democratic hijab, the head covering that a woman chooses to wear,” Alinejad and Hakakian noted, but there is also the “tyrannical hijab, the one that a woman is forced to wear.” The writers spoke eloquently for millions of women who know too well that “a mere piece of cloth” can be turned “into a symbol of oppression.” — Mark Lasswell, associate op-ed editor

Abdulaziz, a Saudi activist living in Montreal, worked with Jamal Khashoggi to defend Twitter as a public sphere. For this, he has been targeted by a campaign of online harassment. In this op-ed, he writes about why he’s determined to keep fighting for the rights of Saudis to engage in free debate about their country. — Eli Lopez, senior editor, global opinions

In the spring of 2018, the author voted to find Frederick Turner, a meth addict with no criminal record, guilty of possessing a firearm while dealing drugs. Only after the verdict did St. Louis and the other jurors learn that, thanks to mandatory minimums, Turner would be sentenced to 40 years in prison. Within the year, Turner was dead. St. Louis’s op-ed is both a heart-rending account of regret and a textbook example of how America’s criminal-justice system can turn the best intentions into terrible consequences. — James Downie, opinion blogs editor

My last words for America,” by John D. Dingell

Dingell was not only the longest-serving member of Congress in history, he was one of the fiercest advocates in the history of the body. It was an example of and tribute to that ferocity that Dingell wrote an op-ed for The Post, dictated to his wife Debbie, who succeeded him in the House of Representatives, on the day he died. — Ruth Marcus, deputy editorial page editor

“As I traveled the world seeking the truth and calling for justice, not a single material step has been taken toward punishing the real perpetrators,” wrote Cengiz, Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancee, a year after the Post contributing columnist’s brutal murder. Her op-ed — published in a special section a year after Khashoggi’s killing — is a searing call for the international community to step up and take concrete action. It is also a reminder of the personal costs of fighting for justice and accountability. — Mili Mitra, global opinions editor

When protests broke out this year in my home country, I felt empowered. Thousands of Iraqis, including my own family members, were standing up to the corruption that has plagued them for years. But my pride quickly turned to anger and disappointment. At least 450 people have been killed in a government crackdown against peaceful demonstrators. “Years of war and violence have led to extreme compassion fatigue when it comes to Iraq,” Hassan, a correspondent for Vice News, wrote. Her piece captured exactly how I felt about the normalization of violence against Iraqis. — Zainab Mudallal, assistant editor

We are African Americans, we are patriots, and we refuse to sit idly,” by Clarence J. Fluker, C. Kinder, Jesse Moore, Khalilah M. Harris and 145 others

This op-ed from July was a strong declaration from 149 African Americans who served in the Obama administration. After hearing the “send her back” chants during a July Trump rally, these former political appointees decided that they could no longer remain silent — a bold and honest statement that had particular resonance for me, as an African American former political appointee myself. — Nana Efua Mumford, executive assistant

The Post’s former publisher, a lifelong Washingtonian, takes readers on a lovely nostalgic tour of the capital’s hapless baseball past, from the dusty confines of Griffith Field to the wobbly concrete ring they called RFK. And he explains why you really have to be a native to understand just why the current home team’s run for the world championship was so very, very satisfying. — Charles Lane, editorial writer

Hispanics in America are under attack,” by Stephanie Valencia, Joaquin Castro, Ana Maria Archila, Cristina Jiménez, Luis Miranda and Luis Miranda Jr. and 33 other Latino leaders

The authors of this powerful group op-ed, written in the aftermath of the El Paso mass shooting by an anti-immigration zealot, aren’t exaggerating. Born and raised in the United States, I have never felt more out of place than I have in the last four years. As the authors note, “we are at a critical crossroads: Are we going to continue to tolerate the slayings of our fellow citizens and human beings based on their religion, national origin or skin color?” — Edgar Ramirez, opinions social media producer

Protests are common in the District. They usually target people in power — Congress, the courts, embassies. Because the climate crisis affects everyone, a group of climate-change change activists protested not those in power but people just trying to get to work. Tidwell’s essay felt as urgent as the climate crisis and was decidedly unapologetic for disrupting the routines of ordinary Washingtonians. — Jamie Riley, letters and local opinions editor

Reilly noticed that someone was hiding books critical of Trump in an Idaho public library — including one written by Reilly himself, about Trump’s golf game. His whimsical response was to travel to the library and stash 10 more copies of his book in the stacks. A lighthearted take on our yawning political divide, including some amusing factoids about the president’s golf peccadilloes. — Jackson Diehl, deputy editorial page editor

Akinnagbe writes about what it’s like to play Tom Robinson in the Broadway production of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” It’s a beautiful and wrenching exploration of the relationship between politics and art that helps the reader understand how acting works — and why it matters. — Alyssa Rosenberg, culture columnist and assistant editor

When the typeface became part of the impeachment probe, Epstein rose to defend his beloved Comic Sans — and The Post dutifully presented it to readers in the uncouth lettering. I’ll be honest: I really, really didn’t want to do this one. Hating on Comic Sans has become a design cliche. So we’re supposed to set an entire piece in the widely mocked typeface? Nope. I’d have to surrender my designer card. But then I read it. And read it again. And it got to the point that reading it in any typeface that wasn’t Comic Sans just seemed wrong. — Chris Rukan, opinions art director

A couple of years ago, I was present for the death of my beloved Uncle Greg, who died in hospice, and a ray of light in all the darkness was getting to send him off to a beautiful song by Ennio Morricone from “Once Upon a Time in the West,” a favorite of my uncle’s. Taubert, a doctor in palliative medicine, writes that music touches “an ancient segment of our brains” and should be part of our lives for our entire lives, including the end. — Ryan Vogt, multiplatform editor

Don’t see an op-ed you’re thinking of? Let us know your favorites in the comments.

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