Opinion

The Year in Bummers, from F to I

This list could’ve been way longer. Sad. Second of four funereal parts.

By Steve Burgess 27 Dec 2016 | TheTyee.ca

Steve Burgess writes about politics and culture for The Tyee. Find his previous articles here.

So the original plan was: The 2,016 Worst Things About 2016. But it’s the holidays, you’re busy. We boiled it down.

Here then is part two of our alphabetized list of 2016 bummers:

F

Facts — They no longer matter, say experts.

Fake News — Long ago in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve ate forbidden fruit from the Tree of Bullshit. Ancient revisionists changed it to the Tree of Knowledge, which was the first fake news story. Our tendency to deceive ourselves, to seek confirmation of what we want to believe and ignore all else, dates back to dawn of time. Facebook is a more recent invention, but it shows how we have progressed as a species.

False Equivalency — Donald Trump could have had sexual intercourse with a dead donkey on live TV and half the CNN panel would have said, “Sure, but what about those emails?”

FBI director James B. Comey, Jr. — A name that shall live in infamy.

Fentanyl — Has any previous year offered a crueler demonstration of addiction’s power? Heroin has always been a game of Russian roulette, but thanks to fentanyl every little package comes loaded. And with the death toll soaring the increased risk appears to have made very little difference.

Fire — On May 1, 2016 a wildfire was sparked near Alberta’s Horse River. Within days it would ravage the city of Fort McMurray, causing an estimated $3.6 billion in damage and destroying thousands of homes and businesses. At last report, the Horse River/Fort McMurray fire is still smouldering underground. Some people pointed to climate change. Others blamed Justin Trudeau and Rachel Notley and “eco-activists.” Before you lie down in despair and set fire to your own bad linens, perhaps it would be best to recall that the tens of millions of dollars raised by Canadians to help the victims included thousands of dollars raised by kids via lemonade stands. Nobody can say you were all bad, 2016.

G

Ghomeshi — What the presidential election was to American Thanksgiving dinners, the Jian Ghomeshi sexual assault trial was to Canadian Easter celebrations. Did anybody emerge from that tawdry debacle looking good? Perhaps Ghomeshi’s lawyer Marie Henein, who proved herself the true successor to her old boss Eddie Greenspan as the top dog of the Canadian bar. But of course Henein’s other reward for doing her job so well was to become perhaps the most vilified woman in Canadian public life. Even NDP leader Tom Mulcair responded to the not guilty verdict by saying, “I believe survivors.” When interviewed by Peter Mansbridge, Henein reminded viewers that “I believe survivors” is not a legal principle. The case is bound to be analyzed for years, if by “analyzed” you mean screamed about in all caps on Facebook.

Go — As in Pokemon Go. As in: Go to your grandmother’s funeral and scream “GOT YOU, JIGGLYPUFF!” during the eulogy. Popular, annoying, much mocked. But in a year like 2016, Pokemon Go served an important purpose. When you wanted to be outraged about something but the real news was so unspeakably awful that your outrage curdled into sheer paralyzing horror, Pokemon Go gave your outrage a safer outlet. Felt good to get upset about something so silly.

Gord Downie — Tragic or triumphant? The Hip frontman’s terminal illness has been devastating to fans, friends, and family. But Downie is turning his last chapter into a master class in dignity and creative expression. We should all be so lucky.

H

Hatred — What a year you had, Hatred. The comeback kid! Sure, you never really went away. But when was the last time you enjoyed such validation? Once upon a time you were summoned only with dog whistles — pretty humiliating. Now there’s no more need for such pretence. Your banners fly openly, your swastikas spread like Japanese knotweed, your chants ring clear as the “Kill Obama” shout that reportedly greeted Trump’s election night victory speech. Your misogyny division had a particularly strong year, too. Wherever you look your armies are victorious, your enemies attacked as libtards and cucks. Hold your hooded head high, Hatred. In 2016, you are the breakfast of champions.

Hillary — Remove your hats, please. A moment of silence for the Hillary Clinton presidency that never will be. She was quite possibly, as President Obama described her, the most qualified nominee ever to run for the White House. She lost to a man so loathsome and ludicrous he almost defies caricature. Alec Baldwin’s Saturday Night Live depiction of Trump is not so much a parody as a sort of Elvis tribute. But it was fun to bash mainstream candidate Hillary, wasn’t it? Fun to retweet some of the same garbage the Trump trolls were spreading except with a Bernie hashtag? Fun to disparage her as the Wall Street candidate? So far Trump has named three Goldman Sachs execs to his cabinet, the latest being GS president and COO, Gary Cohn.

Back in February, Edward Snowden tweeted: “2016: A choice between Trump and Goldman Sachs.” Good news! America ended up with both.

I

International Year of Pulses — 2016 carries that designation from the United Nations. And indeed 2016 will forever be remembered as the Year of Pulses. Or wait — does “pulses” mean a series of disasters and dispiriting developments, a cascade of calamities, each more soul-destroying than the last? No? Maybe not “Year of Pulses,” then.

ISIS — A lone maniac with a truck in Nice; a carefully planned bombing campaign in Brussels; countless attacks in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan and military campaigns in Iraq and Syria. ISIS is nothing if not versatile. Perhaps the most frightening thing about ISIS is its apparent power to animate every disturbed individual with a homicidal grudge.

Ivanka — America’s First Daughter, with benefits. Those are financial benefits, regardless of how her father might daydream. Ivanka will be so busy, handing out cake and advising the president on policy while not advising him on business. I believe that’s what they call a blind faith trust.

In her book The Trump Card, plucky Ivanka reveals the hardship of growing up in the Trump Tower where she couldn’t even set up a lemonade stand like those lucky poor kids. So she sold lemonade to her bodyguards, maids, and drivers. Just for a hoot Ivanka could have told them it was cyanide — what choice would they have had? Still, she’s an entrepreneur just like her Dad (who by no means required the multimillion head start he got from his own father.)

Now Ivanka sells clothes. Would you like to buy a thong, Mr. Wannabe Cabinet Member? Prices start at... well, how much do you want the job?

Feel free to add your own F to I bummers in the comment thread. Tomorrow: J to Q.  [Tyee]

Read more: Politics

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