The Top Stories of 2018, According to the ToM Fam

oakland bbq lady

We know you have been waiting on pins and needles to find out who ToM’s Person of the Year for 2018 is.  We shall not give it to a bullshit category of person, such as “The Middle Americans,” “The Whistleblowers,” or “You” (seriously, wtf?).  This year TIME named 2018 as the 2018 Person of the Year.

Nah, nah, nah.  We’re going to be like TIME back in the day when it named dope individuals such as Uncle Joe Stalin and Adolf Hitler as Man of the Year.  ToM’s first inaugural Person of the Year is that singular personality who most represented America in 2018: the Oakland BBQ Lady.  Our hats off to you — if you please.

(This may be a no-hat-doffing zone.)

In any case, we asked our editors, contributors, readers, friends, and frenemies to tell us what they thought were the most important stories of the year.  Anyone who looks back on the full panoply of dazzling disaster over the last year – from Khashoggi to Kavanaugh – is bound to feel dizzy. (As one contributor noted: Parkland happened in 2018? Really?) But we tried to single out the signal events that historians may look back on as important in 2018, filtering the Jesse Singal from the noise. And though it was all pretty bad, it wasn’t all bad: we got AOC.

AOC

Christopher Staaf (Georgia State University): Not just the Parkland shootings but the reactions (David Hogg and others) and the counter-reactions to the shootings (FOX News claiming “crisis actors”, etc.)

Scott Ferguson (University of South Florida): Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Green New Deal.

Walter Greason (Monmouth University): The Congressional elections — they returned the possibility of accountability in government. At the core of that story, though, the massive rise in citizen engagement since the 2016 election and the consequent surge in political corruption/voter suppression.

Amy Elizabeth Manlapas: Not in order: 1. Parkland Student Activism 2. Family Separation 3. Blatant Power Grabs from GOP (WI, NC, GA) 4. Rise of violence against journalists.

Erik Greenberg: I would suggest that one of the bigger stories is what we might call phase 2 of the Trump administration. Now that the adults (craven though they were) have left the room, he is unfettered and even more unhinged. If the last 2 months or so of 2018 are any indication, we are headed for still more dangerous and contentious times ahead. But at least we don’t have to deal with her e-mails, right? Whew!

Karen L. Cox (UNC Charlotte): Unleashed white supremacy that’s turned people into everything from hall monitors to vigilantes.

Sabrica Barnett: White people calling cops on black folks for doing mundane things.

Saira Mazhar: Climate change and environmental disasters.

Jason Tebbe (ToM Senior Ben Sasse Correspondent): Kids in cages, the rise of a mass youth-led anti gun violence movement, AOC as representative of a social democratic politics rising among millennials, American government inaction in the face of climate change, stolen elections, right wing populist nationalism in the West, statist nationalism in China and India, trade wars and general breakdown of the old international order, and the inescapable fact that America’s institutions have completely failed us.

Lauren MacIvor Thompson (Georgia State University): Oh boy. Hard to even sort through it. As a parent, the kids in cages thing kept me awake at night, followed closely by the Preppy Rapist they confirmed to SCOTUS. I couldn’t stop thinking about him sniggering while writing an anti-Griswold/Roe opinion.

Danny Burazer: Climate change on an unstoppable course to destroy the people that accelerated the warming.

Yuri Gama (University of Massachusetts Amherst): For me? The growing right-wing populist wave around the World. The election of Bolsonaro in Brazil fueled this wave in an unexpected way.

Romeo Guzmán (Fresno State): Anything by Aura Bogado.

Alex Cummings (Georgia State University): The Khashoggi murder seems like it might be more important than it seems at first. Yes, yes, the Saudis can starve 7 million Yemenis and no one cares, but a Western-affiliated journalist dies and blah blah blah.  But the ramifications may be serious for the psychotic kingdom, with a dithering and feckless chief patron in the US, a weakening grip on global oil production, and increasing isolation within the broader world.  Other big stories: Assad’s apparent victory in the Syrian civil war.  The reenergizing of a democratic socialist Left in the US, and at least some institutional check on the Orange Menace’s power.  And the continuing catastrophe in Puerto Rico, which was completely ignored by the US government and media in 2018 (except, of course, for my girl Alynda).

Aimée Castenell: Election mismanagement and stolen elections, particularly as we move into 2019, 2020 — people need to wake up and use these 2018 elections as instructive examples of future challenges.

Our friends at Age of Revolutions: The Gilets Jaunes movement is significant for the history of populism.

And our most-read stories of 2018:

  1. Erin Bartram, The Sublimated Grief of the Left Behind, February 12, 2018
  2. Jason Tebbe, A Requiem for the Faculty Office, May 21, 2018
  3. R. Mike Burr, Mr. Burr Is Sick Today: Teaching in the Age of Mass Shooting, August 2, 2018
  4. Tyler Caffee, The Al-Askari Story: How an Iraqi Migrant Brought Soccer to Visalia, February 19, 2018
  5. Erik Greenberg, The Meme that Cried Hitler: American Alternatives to Hitler Hyperbole in the Age of Trump, August 14, 2018
  6. Jason Tebbe, The “Ground Zero Mosque” Controversy Was a Harbinger of Our Times, March 21, 2018
  7. Edna Diaz Ortega and Elaine Vollmer, Fresno City College Women’s Soccer: A Brief History, July 26, 2018
  8. Jason Resnikoff, The Bad Ivy: Columbia and the Long Struggle for Graduate Student Employee Rights, May 5, 2018
  9. Will Greer, The Nazi “Miracle”: Germany’s Unlikely Conquest of France, July 17, 2018
  10. Stanley Thangaraj, Our Family Values, and What We Truly Value, July 18, 2018

Author: Tropics of Meta

We are legion.

7 thoughts

  1. I do not know what the top story of 2018 was but I do know what the top story of 2019 should be. ::::
    In Operation Littile Crow 40 American Generals and Admirals were hung by their wrists with chains from the Verrazano Narrows Bridge covered with Napalm and set alight by angry aliens.
    What is that, you say that I am warped?? I beg to differ. Exceptionally horrible behavior deserves exceptionally horrible punishment. The way I see it the leadership of the US military industrial complex has been far far more evil than the Nazis. No they may not yet be responsible for as many deaths as the Nazi leadership up to the momemt. But that is not the only standard by which the two groups of leaders should be compared. First of all we have to consider that the leadership of the US military industrial complex has continued to wage wars go aggression long after the Nueremburg Trials declared waging wars of aggression are the worst crimes that humans can committ. Therefore the current leaders of the US MIC are much more hypocritical than the Nazis. Angry aliens should not give this US military/politcal more time to be able to surpass the Nazi totals.
    Second of all there is no reason to think that the Nazi leadership did not actually believe thier own BS about the need for taking land in the east or that there was a Jewish Conspiracy to destroy Germany. These ideas had history in Europe. But the idea that the leaders of the US military can actually believe that they are protecting the US with their wars in the ME and Latin America is completely implausible. One racist in the USA is more dangerous to real Americans than 10,000 terrorists in the ME.
    Third these leaders help protect a system that has lead to an immense gap in wealth between the haves and have nots in America. This has greatly weakened the USA as a nation. It has led to a very disfunctional social system that has cost huge numbers of lives in the US and huge misalocation of resources.
    Fourth an most imporantly these idiots have directed the attention of Americans and Americas resources to fighting unneccessary wars abroad when the real threat to America has been global warming. These shit heads can not hide behind congress and say that we were only following orders. They had the ability to make choices which would have changed US policies long ago. As a result of thier insidious conduct, conduct far worse than even that of Henrich Hydrich they have potentially suicided an entire planet. These people so honored by their countrymen are really nothing more than the leaders of a death cult. They have wickedly abused their positions of trust.
    It might be said that burning these quacks alive is cruel and unusual punishment. I will say yes it is cruel and deservidly so. It is not unusual. How many people have died being burned alive by napalm as a result of their imperial wars? If death by napalm was a good way for them to die why is such a death not good enough for US Generals and Admirals? Because of them 8 billion people are at risk of dying from a planet that is over heating.
    These military leaders should follow their own motto and LEAD THE WAY.
    It is still possible for these leaders to repent. But the price of proving their repentance will not come cheap. My advice to them is that they go to their offices and lock and bar all the doors in to the office. Then place all of their papers in to fire proof boxes. After that douse themselves with a flamable liquid and set themselves on fire and do not scream out in pain.
    You say Hey man you are really out of your mind you are advising people to set themselves on fire to avoid being set on fire when there is no chance in hell of them even being reduced in rank from O-10 to to O-9 let alone being set on fire. The thing is most people do not know is that now the chances are a heck of a lot better than no chance in hell. I do not know what the chances are for tommorrow 1 in a 1000 or 1 in a 100 or 1 in 10. But I suspect that they are gettng a bit better day by day. Why because I bet that more and more field grade officers are comming to the conclusion that the death of Admiral Stearny was no straight forward suicide but had something to do with orders comming down to prepare for an attack on Iran. It is not only the when and the where of that suiicide that is really suspicious but also the report from December 18th that someone was arrested at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center for trying to poison the blood supply. If that story was true, it is a dot to a much bigger picture. If that story was false it is a dot to a much bigger but different picture.
    So the questions that the generals need to answer is do I want to control my legacy? If I set myself on fire in my office now I will send a very strong signal that I regret having played such an important role in the moral decay of the USA and in placing the the planet in such peril. If I wait for others to make this decision for me I will go down in history as belonging to a group of criminals that made the Nazis look saintly by compairson.
    I imagine that you so called leaders of the US military feel quite invulnerable. After all with out command and control angry people are incapable of organizing. But what if, what if there was a transfer of alien technology to just a few people who were angry. What if this transfer took place not a few months or even years ago. What if it took place when a retired FBI agent of Jewish heritage “went missing” in Iran quite awhile back after he flew to Iran of his own accord? Such an event could lead eventually to some pretty embarrasing developements for the military flag officers.
    If there are any Generals that wish to ask my advice about where they can buy cheap gasoline they can write to Curt Kastens, CMR 467 Box 6249, APO 09096. Now you may think that since I do not control any armies, if by chance you should get caught with your pants down around your ankles, that those who catch you will be more merciful than I am. That is possible. Yet since these people IF they actually exist and are not just a ghost story of my imagination designed with the intent to decieve, divide, demoralize, and discredit your leadership, will have had to have taken much greater risks than I have to put you in your proper place, hanging from a bridge, they may be even angrier than I am. I know how to control my anger, and who to direct it at and when. I am good at what I do. You trained me. (Well at least partially) But your methods of indoctrination never socialized me to accept your warped sick views of what constitutes integrity. I imagine that this comment will be read by college students. From there it will travel to ROTC cadets. From there it should travel up the chain of corruption up to the very top.

    1. I said above that the leaders of the US military industrial complex could have made different choices.
      To say such a thing was actually much to cheritable. To be accurate the generals and admirals of the US military CREATED the set of choices that human beings and humanity gets to choose from.

  2. Because a certian group of people have been creating the set of choices that humanity has had to choose between for a very long time I have decided that today is the day is the day to create a set of choices for the people in this group to choose between. I will also highlight the consequences of each choice for them.
    The choices are:
    A.) You committ suicide by burning yourself to death. This choice This choice will send the message that although up until now you have live your entire life dedicated to supporting the intrests of the United States AHEAD of all other nations in the end you finally realized that such behavior was diabolical. In the autumn of your life you wish to make a supreme sacrifice which will help to reestablish the American Republic on the ruins of the american empire. By showing your complete contempt for the organizations that have promoted you, and showing a falming desire to renounce the way in which you have lived your life the manner of your death will prove that before your bodily death you were spiritually BORN AGAIN.
    B.) You force others to burn you to death. I can not say that these others will have the patience to burn you while hangning from the Verenzano Narrows Bridge. I say that there is a loophole that allows such a thing. They may not want to take the chance and simply light you up with a flame thrower one morning durning a staff conference.
    In either case if you force others to burn you to death it will in no way shape or form be ruled a murder. It will be a clear case of justifiable homicide, or legal execution. If you make this choice it will be intrepreted by the nation and the world that you were an unrepentant defender of the american empire to the end. You truely believed in american exceptionalism and the motto of the empire, do what we say not what we do, which is the ideological foundation of the american empire.
    C.) You shoot yourself in the head. This will be interpreted as saying to those of us left behind, Fuck you all, my life was all about me and my family. If you think that you are any better than that you are lying to yourself and others. An unbiased view of the historical record will prove that is all anyone really cares about.

    I have created this list because from where I sit the list of choices that you have been creating for humanity your entire life has not been done by accident. It was done with cold blooded intent.
    In making these choices public I am probably causing some highly educated people to question my sanity. But there is a major difference between those that this comment is intended to reach and me. I have lived in an environment in which I have had my sanity and my intent and my competence questioned my entire life. If I end up with egg on my face, big deal. It is carnival time I will not have to make a costume. I might even make a pancake with the egg that I am covered in.
    It is true if that if no one except a few feral scholars share the view that I have of you, you will likely die of natural causes. But even if you are exposed to the world and made to account for your life I will take no pleasure in your suicide, death in combat, or execution. Your deaths will not free humanity to a life of leisure and pleasure. Your deaths will bond humanity to a life of difficult effort at avoiding the death of the planet and its spiritual rebirth.
    To this point the largest mass execution in one day in US history has been the execution of 38 Lakota men which occured during the US civil war in 1862, in Mankato Minnesota. The death of these men was designed to send a message. Your deaths will also send a message. You get to chose which one. But there is a huge difference between the deaths of those 38 men in 1862 and your own impending deaths. The deaths of those men in 1862 was a horrible tradgedy. They were simple people caught in the wrong place in the wrong time who were backed in to a corner with no other choice than to act like a desperate animals. Their stark choices were reduced to die starving or die fighting. Your choices have been plentiful. None the less you have made the worst choices over and over again.
    I will feel no symphathy for you if you suffer a terrible fate. In fact a terrible fate for your ending is actually neccessary. It is neccessary so that a new Republic can get off to a good start. If you do not meet a terrible fate the world can not be sure that another deal to avoid change that we can believe in has not been made. Without violence at the top there is no way intellegent people around the world can not be sure that the change in power is nothing more than a trick to get the world to let down its guard while the empire rebuilds and reorganizes for new attacks. It is only through your deaths that the world can know that there were no deals. At least not with you, the former leaders of the old regime.

  3. When the final credits of your credits of your (de)story role this is the song that will play from Megaphones stretching from New York Harbor to West Point in the North and Annapolis to the south.

  4. Does anyone here have any interest at all in hearing how I think that US policies in the Middle East, and towards Benezuela, connect to the deaths of US Major General (P) Rossi, and Vice Admiral Stearney?

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