This past year has been so heartbreakingly tough for so many that it’s actually taken an unexpected turn toward comedy for some. On the internet, memes and jokes abound as people declare their disdain for 2016 and seek comfort in laughing at our collective sorrow.
A slew of celebrity deaths, an election season that was downright ugly, and seemingly never-ending and always-escalating violence prompted writer Matt Oswalt to inquire on Twitter, “Is Quentin Tarantino directing 2016?”
So why rehash the pain? It’s for the same reason that we study history: It helps us understand. Though awful, these experiences made us who we are, showed us what we can endure and, hopefully, have provided guidelines for a better future.
Here’s a look back at the lows of 2016:
Russia for Trump?
U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that hackers working on behalf of Russia infiltrated the Democratic National Committee’s computer network, as well as the private email of John Podesta, a top adviser to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Some reports, like one from the CIA, say the purpose of the hacking — and the subsequent release of documents — was to throw support behind now-President-elect Donald Trump. Although President Barack Obama has stopped short of confirming the suspected motivation of the hacking, he has promised to take action. In an interview with NPR, Obama said: “I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections … we need to take action. And we will — at a time and place of our own choosing. Some of it may be explicit and publicized; some of it may not be.”
Crisis continues in Syria
The Syrian Civil War entered its fifth year, and as 2016 comes to a close, there’s still no end in sight. A partial cease-fire that began at the end of February unraveled by early July. As violence continues, exacerbating disease, crime and the prevalence of human rights violations, Syrians continue to be displaced, both within the war-torn country and beyond its borders. The U.S. resettled roughly 13,000 Syrian refugees in 2016, and many states have welcomed the displaced with open arms. In Indiana, however, Gov. Mike Pence tried to ban Syrian refugees, despite having accepted federal funds for resettling refugees. The move was ultimately blocked by a federal appeals court panel.
Hate turns to violence
Brussels. Orlando. Berlin. Nice, France. Philando Castile. Alton Sterling. Keith Lamont Scott. Dallas police. Ohio State University. Violent acts motivated by race, religion, sexuality and other “isms” and forms of hate have come in a seemingly endless string this year. Reports of hate crimes in the U.S. have skyrocketed since Trump’s election, as people rip off Muslim women’s hijabs, vandals spray paint swastikas on churches and children chant “build the wall” at their Hispanic classmates. And yet, another year has come and gone without Indiana lawmakers passing long-overdue hate crime legislation.
Indiana jobs leave for Mexico
United Steelworkers Local 1999 has had a busy year working to keep high-paying jobs at Carrier and Rexnord from leaving Indiana and, when that failed, negotiating severance packages for the soon-to-be-unemployed. Both companies announced plans this year to close their factories on the city’s west side. Another Carrier factory in Huntington, Indiana, also plans a move south of the border. Despite attempts by Trump and Pence to save the jobs, the losses are likely to be in the thousands.
Flint water crisis
Though the problem of lead leeching into the water in Flint, Michigan, began a couple years back, 2016 saw Gov. Rick Snyder acknowledge the breadth of the crisis and declare a state of emergency, and the National Guard was activated to distribute water. Throughout the year, criminal charges have been filed against several government employees, most recently on Dec. 20, when two former Flint emergency managers and two water plant officials were charged with felonies.
Indy breaks homicide record … again
For the second consecutive year, Indianapolis will break its record for most homicides. Though the exact numbers are disputed, reports indicate 2016 was the sixth consecutive year that saw an increase in homicide numbers. Since 2010, the overall homicide rate in Indianapolis has increased by roughly 57 percent.
Also, for the second consecutive year, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department will be seeking new leadership after the resignation of its chief.