Saturday, January 2, 2016
2015-Year in Review
January: The violent attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine started the year off with what became a recurring theme: freedom of speech versus criticism, state penalties, and terror. I also addressed "political correctness" as a critique of speech that could be useful in some ways, censorious in others.
February: The theme for February was misinformation. The month kicked off with some irritation with anti-vaxxers, whose poor understanding of how vaccines work is a positive danger. I got irritated with people who don't grasp why "Muslims who do bad things" is only a subset of "all Muslims" in the same way that "Christians who do bad things" is just a subset of "all Christians". And I remain really mad at people who seem to deliberately misunderstand the US fight against Daesh for purely ideological reasons.
March: The theme for March was the "Obama-Haters For War to Keep us Safe". Franklin Graham seems to like saying Obama is influenced by Muslims, and I like saying Franklin Graham is a bigoted shitlord. Forty-seven Dumbass Ronin showed their asses, and Sen. Cotton was their king. Also, a couple people just frankly said "Bomb Iran and it will rain Viagra for 40 days and nights".
April: I think the theme was "Separation of Church and State". My former senator and 2016 GOP presidential candidate (for now) Rick Santorum was ready to stand with IN Gov. Mike Pence in his support for a bill that would protect the "right" to discriminate against people for religious reasons. (My fear with discriminatory measures is that what starts with sanctioning discrimination, can lead to tolerance of abuse and worse.) It seemed to me that favoring discrimination, whether on religious grounds or not, was a failure to understand US history, which is something we need to learn from. But I brought the topic back around to how church and state separation is a social necessity.
May: Lots of different themes were touched on, but the recurring theme for this month was "The Stupid". TX Gov Greg Abbott gave into The Stupid regarding Jade Helm. Sen. Lindsey Graham was being The Stupid about Arabic. Sen. Jim Inhofe is always The Stupid about climate change. And Sen. Ted Cruz doesn't understand liberals.
June: I'll call June's theme "Horror and Hope". Although I started the month with former AR Gov. Mike Huckabee's transphobia and the Duggars' family saga, but the Charleston massacre hung over the month with the impact of Dylann Storm Roof's act of race-based terrorism. Although there was some proof that we have a problem in this country starting a sensible dialog about guns or about race in many ways, I felt like a lot of people were moved to try and reconcile things.
July: Call it "Asperation and Desperation". I referred to the US of A on its birthday an "Aspiration Nation". The US is not perfect, but it is improvable. The question that stands before Americans is whether we want to look at and face real problems and use our government to try and resolve them, or are we just tribes of clashing ideologies? The idea of Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee that secularists are trying to create a "secular theocracy" seems like that tribal clashing to me. But we have anti-choicers creating hoax videos to rile their group, while real problems like climate change (and how it impacts foreign policy) are ignored. We could do better.
August: This month is the beginning of The Trump Effect. This is when it became unmistakable that
candidates on the GOP side were trying to compete with The Donald for air. It also was when Trump's hot air started a kind of climate change. When Jorge Ramos was told to "Go back to Univision", it struck a pretty bad chord to my ears.
September: "Kings, Queens and Jokers" is what I'm calling the September theme. This is the month that Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis got plucked from obscurity into the Queen for a Day atmosphere of the public spotlight, and nearly became Mike Huckabee's "Joe the Plumber". (Lordy did he love that woman. I mean really.) King Trump signed a pledge that put the RNC on the hook. And I dub Carly Fiorina the Queen of Dishonesty. And yes, Here there Be Jokers. And more Jokers. And then some. So many Jokers!
October: October was The Season of the Witch Hunt, as it became clear that the Benghazi Committee actually was the partisan circle-jerk and "Get Hillary" machine lefties pretty much assumed it was. The House GOP, I reported, was also searching for witches among climate scientists. There was a quiet end to the IRS witch hunt. LA Gov. Bobby Jindal vowed to find witches at Planned Parenthood. I wish more people would just look for regular old bad guys, like Don Blankenship. (And of course, governments like SA and religious extremists shouldn't persecute writers as if they were able to "put a spell" on someone!)
November: "Paris and Planned Parenthood and Civility". Shameful, brutal things happened in November. Terrorists again struck in Paris, killing scores of people in a nighttime rampage. What followed, however, I found very disturbing. The rhetoric among political figures in the US (of a certain party) became almost bizarrely dislocated from reality. Governors of multiple states started being fake-brave (chickenshit) about the widows and orphans and other refugees from Syria, declaring they would ban their entry to keep people safe. Rick Santorum got every part of what Daesh is all about and how we should treat them completely wrong. Gov. John Kasich suggested exporting Judeo-Christian values to the wide world. Sen. Graham declared world-wide war.
And suddenly, waterboarding and banning Muslims and all kinds of crazy shit was coming out of everybody. But none more so than Donald Trump. And his campaign actually moved from anti-Muslim xenophobia to also embracing white supremacy.
And then this happened. Robert Dear was clearly influenced by the Planned Parenthood hoax videos. How soon before a GOP candidate said something outrageous? Not long.
December: "Bombing Agrabah--the New Old Abnormal". Bombing Agrabah sums up the fucking problem with everything. People act in knee-jerk and even violent ways at times when presented with the unfamiliar or apposite. Some people discriminate against people who are of different ethnicities or religions or who have non-traditional relationships or different gender expressions, without bothering to know anything about those people. They act on the basis of urban legends, hoaxes, and prejudices. It leads to fear and sometimes tragedy. We should get to know one another better on this planet, deal in facts, not fantasies, and think critically, asking questions.
Let's hope we do better in 2016.