Unhappy anniversary

I fundamentally disagree with the conclusion of your leader reviewing Donald Trump’s first year in office. You let him off too lightly (“One year old”, January 13th). The critical point comes in the final line of your argument: “He and his administration need to be held properly to account for what they actually do.” Yet you reject what you describe as an “obsession” of Mr Trump’s opponents with his character, and suggest that his lack of principles actually creates an opportunity for making deals.

In a country still torn by racial divisions, Mr Trump’s comments after Charlottesville matter a great deal. In a country whose constitution enshrines free speech, labelling the press as “the enemy of the people” matters a great deal. Blatant disregard for the truth matters a great deal, as does encouraging violence by the police. The list goes on and is as long as your arm.

You are wrong to imply that calling attention to this type of behaviour is frivolous. Democracy and its institutions are fragile and precious. The presidency matters more, domestically and overseas, than the simple tally of legislative achievements. All democratically elected leaders should be held to account for their character, their honesty and their effect on the fabric of their nations. As the leader of the free world, America’s president should be held to the highest standards of all.

In some ways, your arguments demonstrate the extent to which our society has been anaesthetised by Mr Trump and his kind. Many of those who hold him to account for his ethics and his words do so not “as an exercise in wish fulfilment” to remove him from office but because they have a grasp of the magnitude of the issues facing the United States, a love of their country and a belief that integrity, morality and character are important. The president’s weak character and dishonesty contribute greatly to the erosion of trust in democratic institutions, an ever-increasing partisanship, greater social divisions and the consequential breakdown in the ability of society to find solutions to pressing problems.

JONATHAN TURNER
San Francisco

Shame on you. Your blinding desire to highlight the liberal left makes you write articles, such as your piece on Mr Trump’s first year, that are incorrect and totally inaccurate. Liberals (Democrats) need to learn how to lose. You’ll be back in power one day and you’ll have your chance once more. For the time being, let Mr Trump do his job. His potential mistakes may give you abundant ammunition to demonstrate that he is wrong, but let the guy prove you right. Be good losers and remember that the country comes before any political ideology.

ANDY VAN WALLEGHEM
Cypress, Texas

Marginalised communities
It was very welcome to see a thoughtful article on the dire situation of Gypsies and Travellers in Britain who find themselves newly ineligible to apply for an authorised encampment (“No place to roam”, January 13th). The most unjust effect, however, is on the most vulnerable—those who cannot travel for reasons of ill-health or extreme old age—and who now cannot rely on any national planning advice of the sort which used to enable them to continue to live within the Gypsy and Traveller ethnic way of life.

I should add that ethnicity has been legally established, in the case of Romani Gypsies (Commission for Racial Equality v Dutton, 1989) and Irish Travellers (O’Leary v Allied Domecq, 2000), which is why they should be spelt with capitals G and T. You wouldn’t want to write “jews” or “sikhs”, would you?

JANET WHITAKER
Co-chair
All-Party Parliamentary Group for Gypsies, Travellers and Roma
House of Lords
London

Bursting a bubble
* Your recent online article about the rise and fall of bitcoin (January 17th) mentioned as a leader the South Sea bubble that crashed in Britain around 1720. I was instead reminded of the tulip-bulb crash that hit the Dutch in the late 1600s. However when I mentioned that historical event to a younger colleague they looked at me like I was an alien from outer space. Apparently the lessons of history are lost on many and the Bitcoin craze is proof of that fact. At least if they were trading bulbs, there would be something tangible in hand—albeit worthless. Hopefully those losing their shirts can afford it...

DANA PARTRIDGE
Director
Midwest sales and operations, Catalyst
Urbandale, Iowa

Singaporean values

Rules are thicker than blood” (January 13th) derided Singapore’s norms on what constitutes a family as “Victorian”. Our values and social norms on what makes for a stable family unit are conservative and shape the government’s policies and rules on adoption. They differ from today’s Western norms, which are historically recent and by no means uncontested, even in Western societies. Singaporeans will determine their own pace of any change in family values.

A push for rapid social change, especially on contentious moral issues, risks polarising society and producing unintended results. In Singapore nearly all children are born and raised in wedlock, starkly different from what now happens in the West. We make no claim to know which values are best for every society. The Economist may think Singapore is quaint and old-fashioned, but time will tell if a cautious approach to social change is wiser.

FOO CHI HSIA
High commissioner for Singapore
London

Terminal decline

The main issue that prevents America’s airports from providing the best possible passenger experience is a woefully understaffed Customs and Border Protection agency (“Departure gates of hell”, January 6th). To ensure greater efficiency and security, airports, including Miami International, have called for increases in CBP front-line staff, for which Congress needs to provide the funding. CBP has for years faced a shortage of thousands of officers across all our air, land and sea ports. This is a problem that will only get worse when enhanced border-security measures further delay the traffic transiting through these ports.

KEVIN BURKE
President and CEO
Airports Council International, North America
Washington, DC

Say what you like about Washington Dulles, JFK and Miami, but you left out one American airport that has managed to earn the wrath of both Donald Trump and Joe Biden: LaGuardia. Both men have said travelling through LaGuardia is like being in the “third world”.

MIKE GALLAGHER
Doha, Qatar

No list of the world’s worst airports is complete without a special mention for certain terminals at Paris Charles de Gaulle. In these Houses of Dread, the ratio of border officials to passengers is sometimes one to a thousand. Pickpockets and hustlers zero in on you under the sight of unconcerned policemen. Taxi drivers insult you copiously if you want to pay by card. The airport’s Wi-Fi gives you an advance taste of escargots.

ROMAIN POIROT-LELLIG
Paris

I nominate Atlanta. It has the longest queues and most bolshie officials, even by American standards. When my feisty French wife expressed concern at missing our transit flight, the gentleman replied, “Lady, at this point your only concern is: am I going to allow you into my country or not?” My British passport full of visas to Russia, Qatar and so on, required an explanation for each stamp. Yes we missed our flight. And they lost our luggage.

DAVID LING
Eguisheim, France


* Letters appear online only