Twenty seventeen passes as a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad year for caring mentors passionate about administering shoulder rubs to interns, the Russian-American Goodwill Association, and statuary who sin against the present by standing as monuments to its ignorance of the past.
Bronze Lives Matter!
This marked Stonewall Jackson’s worst year since 1863.
A narcissistic generation irritated by reminders that anyone great existed before their existence engaged in a great campaign of genocide against bronze people in 2017. The targets merely discovered the Americas, acted as the father of this country, and explored the River of Doubt. The vandals for their part, destroyed (or at least sought to) statues with ropes and cranes and other implements. By this, they signaled their greatness, their righteousness, their decency. A 2015 study noted that half of Americans could not correctly date the Civil War, less than a fifth understood the purpose of the Emancipation Proclamation, and more respondents matched the Gettysburg Address with language in the Declaration of Independence than with the actual words said by Abraham Lincoln. By 2017, our knowledge, it appears, of the past regressed even as our posturing over it increased.
Historical idiocy characterized the defenders of Civil War monuments as much as their critics. Some wearing helmets in Charlottesville demonstrated under the mantra “National Socialism Now,” a great slogan if not for that “w” at the end. Their “Unite the Right” mantra similarly suffered from a dyslexia of sorts. Respectable conservatives wished to Untie the Right from confused demonstrators embracing the oxymoronic name, Traditionalist Worker Party. The tradition of such workers parties — Workers’ Party of North Korea, National Socialist German Workers’ Party, etc. — involves killing people at their get-togethers. And Charlotte proved no exception.
# Me Too, #Me Three, #Me 127
Many famous men became infamous men in 2017. Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, James Levine, and countless others demonstrated Lord Acton’s famous axiom. Others accused of lecherous and caddish but not necessarily criminal behavior — Garrison Keillor, Leon Wieseltier, and, yes, Al Franken, who died a political death for the sins of Ted Kennedy — found their names said in the same breath as rapists and child predators. It was 2017 in Hollywood, Manhattan, and Washington, D.C. And it was 1693 in Salem. The criminally guilty remain free and the culturally uncouth remain unemployed. None of the punishment seemed proportional to the behavior.
Donald Trump ended eight long years in 17 short minutes during his inaugural address. Many in his audience, especially the dignitaries — Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill and Hillary Clinton — looked like the audience at the end of The Sixth Sense when Trump took the oath of office.
The Russians Are Coming!
In order to escape the trick ending to the election, the president’s enemies introduced a familiar boogeyman: the Russians. If only Joseph Stalin instead of Vladimir Putin ruled over Russia, Democrats might recognize this as a witchhunt, an epithet for the past rarely used in real time. As it stands — to go with the Russian theme — the president’s enemies seek to replace democracy with a top-down choice. FBI agent Peter Strzok labeled this do-over-election-by-investigation an “insurance policy.” And Robert Mueller’s team of lawyers, which boasts a political giving history favoring Democrats by $23 to $1, eagerly seeks to realize this politics-by-other-means solution.
We’ve Seen This Movie Before
Sequels and remakes comprised the entirety of the top-ten films at the box office. Overall, domestic numbers declined despite the force being with The Last Jedi. Americans told filmmakers, “We’ve seen this movie before.”
Speaking of which, terrorists killed 22 at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester and 59 at a country music festival in Las Vegas. Something like this seems to happen every year. Killjoys angry that others love life expressed disapproval by ending their lives. As in 2016, 2015, and many years prior, terrorists and nutters claimed a banner year.
Taking a Knee on the NFL
The NFL continued to commit slow suicide on live TV. The ratings juggernaut crashed into the reality that many Americans prefer the flag to football. Following a Super Bowl that marked perhaps the greatest comeback in NFL history, Americans clicked off or away.
A Covfefe of a Year
The denizens of 2017land used such terms as “dotard” and “reckoning” and “woke” and “covfefe.” The Dow Jones, fueled by optimism and covfefe, exploded by about 5,000 points. LaVar Ball, Anthony Scaramucci, Reality Winner, and Keaton Jones all said hello in 2017. We said goodbye to Chuck Berry, Judge Wapner, Jim Nabors, Charles Manson, Hugh Hefner, Jerry Lewis, Mary Tyler Moore, Tom Petty, and Fats Domino — and in doing so we said goodbye not to 2017 but to 1957 and 1969 and 1973 and 1982 and other times. So, note, though you now lack nostalgia for the year gone by, you’ll surely feel it when the years go by and the people of 2017 say bye.
As it gets worse, 2017 gets better.