Viewing 2016 in retrospect – doing so is unpleasant, but less so than was living through it – the year resembles a china shop after a visit from an especially maladroit bull. Because a law says “the state of California may not sell or display the Battle Flag of the Confederacy … or any similar image,” a painting of the 1864 Siege of Atlanta was banned from display at the Fresno County fair. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services churned out a 25-page policy statement about “the systematic inclusion of families in activities and programs that promote children’s development, learning, and wellness.” That is, government should provide, as an act of grace – systematic grace – a role for parents in raising their children.
As President’s Day approached, San Diego advised city workers to use “bias-free language” by avoiding the phrase “Founding Fathers.” A National Park Service employee giving guided tours to Independence Hall in Philadelphia told tourists that the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were produced by “class elites who were just out to protect their privileged status.” The employee praised herself for her “bravery.” The NBA, which plays preseason games in China, home of forced abortions and organ harvests, moved its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte because of North Carolina’s law stipulating that transgender individuals should use bathrooms appropriate to their physiology.
Congress considered bills to prevent the IRS from hiring or retaining people delinquent in their tax payments. Unions in New York and California lobbied for exemption from the $15 minimum wage they lobbied for. It was splendidly appropriate that when Cuba buried the architect of its ramshackle socialism, the vehicle carrying Castro’s ashes broke down and had to be pushed by soldiers. “Thou swell, thou witty, thou sweet, thou grand” were not lyrics that many Americans sang about either presidential candidate, but one of them had to win, so as you steel yourself for 2017, remember H.L. Mencken’s timeless wisdom: A martini is “the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet.”