By Colton Williams
Welcome back, Colt Nation readers, I hope you all had a great summer, because the world did not. Life generally seems to be one terrible event after another, but Summer 2016 seemed to set a new bar. I feel just due to the sheer number of terrible events, we’ve been desensitized to it all, and a recap is in order to help us realize what a truly awful summer it was. Cheers!
On June 12, Omar Mateen, who pledged his allegiance to ISIS in a call to 9-1-1, entered the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. After a three-hour standoff, 50 people lay dead, including Mateen, in what would be the deadliest mass shooting by a single shooter in United States history. Unfortunately, before the country had time to absorb the shock, the shooting was immediately politicized by both sides of the aisle, both of whom – in my opinion – misrepresented the issue in order to achieve their political goals. Democrats, in pavlovian fashion, started barking about gun control at the first sign of breaking news on CNN. Donald Trump, the de facto leader of the GOP, immediately called for a blatantly unconstitutional ban on Muslims entering the United States. Previously, as is characteristic of the malleable GOP nominee, Trump had retreated from his earlier comment that Muslim immigration be banned, calling it a “suggestion.” And, in case you were wondering, despite all the talk, nothing productive emerged from either party that will actually stop events like this from occurring. They’re too busy with their fingers in their ears to try to find common ground and actually do the job they’re overpaid to do. Not two days later, 85 people were murdered in Nice, France, after a truck drove through a crowd on Bastille Day. Less than two weeks after that, an 85-year-old French priest, Jacques Hamel, was murdered as two ISIS allegiants slashed his throat in his own church. There were also other terror attacks throughout the summer all across the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and Asia. So kind of like the whole planet.
As if that wasn’t enough, race relations have arguably reached their worst point in decades, as police shootings – and the shooting of police – have divided the country. On July 5th, Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old Baton Rouge man, was shot several times at close range after police responded to a report of a man fitting Sterling’s description selling CD’s and threatening people with with a gun. The shooting set off protests and demonstrations in Baton Rouge and all across the country. One day after that shooting, on July 6th, 32-year-old Philando Castile was shot fatally at a traffic stop. According to Castile’s girlfriend Diamond Reynolds, the officer asked Castile for his license and registration. Castile said he had it but it was in his wallet, and also informed the officer he had a pistol because he had a license to carry. Like the Sterling shooting, it sparked more protests, rallies, vigils, and demonstrations. On July 7th, Micah Johnson, an Army veteran, ambushed and attacked a group of Dallas Police officers, killing five and injuring nine more.
A couple of weeks later, the Republican National Convention began. They nominated Donald Trump, former host of “The Apprentice,” for President of the United States. Senator Ted Cruz made waves by not endorsing Trump, and was booed by RNC attendees for saying “vote your conscience.” Trump’s wife, Melania, gave the headlining speech on the first night. In what was a truly remarkable spectacle to watch unfold, Mrs. Trump was unable to give a speech about her own husband without plagiarizing part of the speech from Michelle Obama’s speech about her husband. Chris Christie gave a speech in which he ‘charged’ Hillary Clinton with crimes and the audience shouted back: “guilty!” Regardless of what you think about Clinton’s many scandals, this was a bizarre and reckless speech which made a mockery of the real legal system in the United States. But it wasn’t all bad. We did get to hear from Scott Baio for the first time since 1990.
It’s almost as if the Democrats saw the Republican Convention and decided they had to be worse. Just before the Democratic National Convention, over 19,000 hacked DNC emails were released by Wikileaks. Some of the emails showed the DNC actively conspiring against Bernie Sanders, including one email where DNC executives tried to plant questions to Sanders about his religion, saying, “He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps.” Almost worse than the content of that statement is that an adult with a powerful position in one of the nation’s most powerful political parties used the word ‘peeps.’ Other emails showed DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz calling Sanders’ campaign manager names that are unfit to print, while still others showed collusion between the DNC and media outlets, such as CNN. Schultz resigned before the start of the convention, leaving the Party’s convention without the Party chair. Even more than at the RNC, there was disruption from delegates who were unhappy with the nominee, as Sanders delegates and supporters made their voices heard throughout the whole convention. Notable speeches included Al Franken, a comedian who is now somehow in the Senate, and Sarah Silverman, who bumbled and stumbled through a speech that was neither funny nor insightful. Perhaps my favorite speaker was former President Bill Clinton, who gave a Homeric speech in which he recounted nearly everything that had happened during his and Hillary’s time together, except for, conveniently, 1998.
The worse thing to happen this summer that no one seems to really be talking about is the U.S.’s payment of $400 million to Iran. The State Department has now said that payment was conditioned on the release of U.S. citizens held prisoner in Iran. But no, the government says, it was not a ransom payment. Perhaps it wasn’t – technically – but the end result is the same. Supposedly, the money was a payment for military equipment from before the Iranian Revolution. But, when it coincides exactly with the release of prisoners, there’s reason to be suspicious.
This August, Louisiana is experiencing historic flooding, and the precedent for outrage when sitting presidents do or do not immediately visit this state in this situation seems to no longer apply. Rivers in Louisiana have reached historic levels and some areas have received 20 inches in rainfall. As of now, over 40,000 homes have been damaged and thousands of people have been displaced.
Then there’s the Olympics and the whole Ryan Lochte deal, which you can read more about in this issue. And of course many other bad things happened and I probably can’t remember them all.
Let’s just hope for a better autumn.