Good Riddance to 2020: Our Anno Horribilis

In all my years on this planet, I never experienced a year as horrible as 2020. I am sure there are others with six or seven decades under their belts who feel the same.

I wasn’t around during the Great Depression. That began in 1929 and lasted until just before America’s entry into World War II. My mother and father were, however, and they told me appalling stories about the devastating dust bowl that enveloped the Great Plains and destroyed farming.

They experienced the effects of 25 percent unemployment, homelessness and grinding poverty, mass migration, mortgage foreclosures and widespread bank closings, soup kitchens, and breadlines, and rampant crime. As was the case with many people back then, disease, starvation, and death were always close at hand.

Breadline in 1930

So I imagine as bad as 2020 was for most Americans, if my parents were still around they would undoubtedly say it doesn’t compare with the unrelenting ten years of misery and anguish that resulted from the economic and social collapse 90 years ago.

In fact, 2020 is probably as close as I will ever come to experiencing the misery created by the stock market crash of 1929.

Nevertheless, you can argue that 2020 was our Dust Bowl, our exposure to breadlines, joblessness, loss of income, rising crime, sickness, and unparalleled death.

Let’s face it, 2020 was our anno horribilis, a most horrible year.

As we know, the year began with the coronavirus pandemic which was unleashed on the planet by China. That was the first of a troika of events that intersected to make 2020 one of the darkest years in American history.

As the nation was dealing with the pandemic several of the nation’s cities were battered with the Black Lives Matter/Antifa-inspired riots that ensued after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Almost simultaneously came the vehement assault on free speech that we now know as “cancel culture.”

Then came a presidential election that deteriorated into a catastrophe and which still threatens to rip our nation into two warring camps—Americans who voted for Donald Trump and those who voted for Joe Biden.

Looking back at the onset of the pandemic, American medical experts were told by the Imperial College of London that the United States could expect 2.2 million deaths. That alarming prediction became the scientific basis for a nation-wide lockdown that resulted in the far-reaching cancellation of personal liberty and economic freedom.

The Imperial College’s model was later adjusted and by May it was clear that the death totals would be far fewer than that forecast. But by that point it was too late. The lockdowns originally sold as a temporary expedient to “flatten the curve” persisted and impacted the U.S. economy for the balance of the year.

Then during the summer of 2020, American cities exploded. Thousands of people took to the streets (in the midst of a pandemic) to protest “systemic racism,” whatever that was. However, while “mostly peaceful protestors” ran amok, schools were closed, church attendance was strictly limited, as were visits to restaurants, stores, sporting events, hair salons, and even funerals.

But the ban on funerals didn’t impact Floyd. At a time when ordinary people couldn’t have funerals for their loved ones, Floyd managed to have four. Floyd, who had a long criminal past, was basically transmuted into Mother Theresa.

Then, along came cancel culture, which went from tearing down statues and public art to censoring speech. Suddenly, words or expressions innocently used for decades, were deemed to have “racist connotations.”

How bad is cancel culture? This month (January 2021), a committee appointed by San Francisco’s school board will vote on whether to remove 44 names from public schools of men and women they’ve deemed guilty of racism. This list ranges from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to none other than Abraham Lincoln.

Ironically, the indictment against Lincoln emphasizes not his alleged failure to recognize that “Black lives matter,” but his treatment of Native Americans during the Civil War. After 1862’s Sioux Uprising in Minnesota, caused by white encroachment on Dakota lands, a military tribunal sentenced 303 warriors to death. Lincoln personally reviewed the sentences, commuting the sentences of 265 but permitting 38 to be hanged.

Now “cancel culture” has moved abroad to the United Kingdom. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling was recently smeared for being “transphobic.” When a tax researcher was fired for saying, “Identifying as a woman does not make a person a woman,” Rowling tweeted, incredulously, “Force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?”

Rowling insists she has nothing against trans people, but she’s “concerned about the huge explosion in young women wishing to transition.”  The Twitter mob claimed her “hate” was “killing trans people.”

“It isn’t hate to speak the truth,” Rowling tweeted. She also mocked a charity that used the phrase “people who menstruate” instead of women, tweeting: “There used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wubben? Wimpund? Woomud?”

Of course, Rowling is the rare person popular enough to be able to resist the cancel culture mob and her publisher spoke up for her, saying, “Freedom of speech is the cornerstone of publishing.”

Within this extraordinary and mindboggling setting, America held an unparalleled presidential election. The pandemic provided the ruse for the country to adopt a new system of questionable mail-in voting. While it was deemed entirely safe for people to cram into a Wal-Mart, Costco, or grocery store, voting in person was deemed to be too hazardous.

The result was an election that nearly half of registered voters believe was fraudulent. A new Rasmussen poll found that only 47% of registered voters believe Joe Biden won in a fair and secure election while another 47% believe there was rampant voter fraud. Only 10% of Republicans think Biden won fairly in an election free of significant fraud. Nearly nine of 10 Democrats believe otherwise.

Among Republicans, 35% believe Trump’s victory was stolen, and another 35% believe there was widespread fraud but aren’t sure if it changed the outcome.  Significantly, 80% of very conservative registered voters believe the election was stolen or there was enough fraud that it might have been.

And there you have the year 2020 in a nutshell. It’s a year that has left our nation more divided than ever and we still aren’t out of the woods yet regarding the pandemic which continues its deadly rampage through our nation and the rest of the world.

What does 2021 portend? I don’t know, but I can’t see the New Year being any worse than the one we just survived.

It just couldn’t be, could it?

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