What history was made in 2011?

Here are the top news stories of 2011 according to the Associated Press:

1. Bin Laden’s death

2. Disasters in Japan

3. The Arab Spring

4. EU fiscal crisis

5. U.S. economy

6. Penn State scandal

7. Gadhafi’s fall

8. U.S. Congress

9. Occupy protests

10. Congresswoman Giffords shooting

Other contenders: the death of Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs, Hurricane Irene, tornados in he Midwest and Southeastern U.S., the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy

I think we could agree by acclamation that the killing of Osama bin Laden was the biggest news story of the year.  But let’s take a bigger view than this list of mere news items.

What do you think were the most historically significant events of the year?  That is, events that future historians will study because they proved pivotally important in whatever happens next.

 

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Gary Hall

    I think the withdrawal of troops from Iraq is a contender. How the leadership vacuum left by the total withdrawal is filled and how the U.S. responds to the filling of that vacuum or how it tries to shape its filling will be studied by historians.

  • Gary Hall

    I think the withdrawal of troops from Iraq is a contender. How the leadership vacuum left by the total withdrawal is filled and how the U.S. responds to the filling of that vacuum or how it tries to shape its filling will be studied by historians.

  • SKPeterson

    I think the most important historical events will be the Arab Spring and the crisis in the EU.

  • SKPeterson

    I think the most important historical events will be the Arab Spring and the crisis in the EU.

  • Kirk

    I’d rank it:

    1. Arab Spring
    2. Fukishama Disaster
    3. EU Crisis
    4. S. Sudanese Independence
    5. US pullout from Iraq
    6. Death of OBL

  • Kirk

    I’d rank it:

    1. Arab Spring
    2. Fukishama Disaster
    3. EU Crisis
    4. S. Sudanese Independence
    5. US pullout from Iraq
    6. Death of OBL

  • Kirk

    Oh, and

    7. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

  • Kirk

    Oh, and

    7. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

  • Joe

    I agree with SKP. The Arab Fall and the EU Crisis will be history changing events.

  • Joe

    I agree with SKP. The Arab Fall and the EU Crisis will be history changing events.

  • Dan Kempin

    I chortle at this list, but for different reasons. “Arab Spring?” That was a ludicrous name for the Islamist revolts while they were happening. Now that it has become clear that these demonstrations were not about freedom and democracy and the nations thus “renewed” will be run by radicals, they are still calling it the “Arab Spring?” Don’t get me wrong. This is probably the biggest story of the year, but not because it is an “Arab Spring.”

    And “Occupy Wall Street.” Was there ever more of a non story? A handful of people with no constructive commentary and behaving like pigs being reported on breathlessly and by the minute–this is news? A story that continued (continues) to be pumped long after it was apparent to everyone that it had fizzled–this is one of the top new stories of the year?

    Then again, maybe they were measuring by the amount of coverage given.

    I am surprised that the Iranian crisis has not made anyone’s list. European nations pulling their ambassadors and the UK closing their embassy, well, that seems kind of ominous to me. Plus the transition of power in Korea seems to have more significance than the Penn State scandal. But I suppose pedophelia gets better ratings.

  • Dan Kempin

    I chortle at this list, but for different reasons. “Arab Spring?” That was a ludicrous name for the Islamist revolts while they were happening. Now that it has become clear that these demonstrations were not about freedom and democracy and the nations thus “renewed” will be run by radicals, they are still calling it the “Arab Spring?” Don’t get me wrong. This is probably the biggest story of the year, but not because it is an “Arab Spring.”

    And “Occupy Wall Street.” Was there ever more of a non story? A handful of people with no constructive commentary and behaving like pigs being reported on breathlessly and by the minute–this is news? A story that continued (continues) to be pumped long after it was apparent to everyone that it had fizzled–this is one of the top new stories of the year?

    Then again, maybe they were measuring by the amount of coverage given.

    I am surprised that the Iranian crisis has not made anyone’s list. European nations pulling their ambassadors and the UK closing their embassy, well, that seems kind of ominous to me. Plus the transition of power in Korea seems to have more significance than the Penn State scandal. But I suppose pedophelia gets better ratings.

  • Dennis Peskey

    For me, the death of OBL should hold the number one ranking with historical significance. It may take our nation awhile to execute justice, but if hell freezes over in the interim, we’ll eventually send the transgressor packing with a broken hockey stick.

    For a singular event, the destruction suffered by the Japanese people rates a second place, although we pray they will recover from this devastation in a timely manner.

    I concur with Dan (#6) on the ongoing impact of Iran in mid-eastern politics. This will have far greater significance and impact on our country in the days and years ahead than the combination of number’s three through ten.

    The Arab Spring, the EU fiscal crisis, Gadhafi’s fall, the occupy protests and the shooting of Congresswoman Gifford were but brief moments in time with little or no lasting impact. I would have included the US Congress in this listing but this body did not rise to the level of these others, having long ago lost the ability to impact American society.

    The Penn State scandal is a reminder of our continuous need for repentance; we are not who we think we are or should be. We are all sinners in need of God’s mercy.

    The fall of Gadhafi should finally solve journalism’s greatest dilemna – how should his name be spelled? Now, we find the answer to this great puzzle on his tombstone (the historians do get the final word.)

    To not even consider the ending of the Iraqi war after nine years is negligence. I realize nine years is a long time to focus on one event, but too many Americans suffered, too much money was spent and a complete change in a foreign country effected – surely, we should remember the end of a great deal of effort expended whether we agree or disagree with what happened. It has happened; it is over – now we live with the consequences.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    For me, the death of OBL should hold the number one ranking with historical significance. It may take our nation awhile to execute justice, but if hell freezes over in the interim, we’ll eventually send the transgressor packing with a broken hockey stick.

    For a singular event, the destruction suffered by the Japanese people rates a second place, although we pray they will recover from this devastation in a timely manner.

    I concur with Dan (#6) on the ongoing impact of Iran in mid-eastern politics. This will have far greater significance and impact on our country in the days and years ahead than the combination of number’s three through ten.

    The Arab Spring, the EU fiscal crisis, Gadhafi’s fall, the occupy protests and the shooting of Congresswoman Gifford were but brief moments in time with little or no lasting impact. I would have included the US Congress in this listing but this body did not rise to the level of these others, having long ago lost the ability to impact American society.

    The Penn State scandal is a reminder of our continuous need for repentance; we are not who we think we are or should be. We are all sinners in need of God’s mercy.

    The fall of Gadhafi should finally solve journalism’s greatest dilemna – how should his name be spelled? Now, we find the answer to this great puzzle on his tombstone (the historians do get the final word.)

    To not even consider the ending of the Iraqi war after nine years is negligence. I realize nine years is a long time to focus on one event, but too many Americans suffered, too much money was spent and a complete change in a foreign country effected – surely, we should remember the end of a great deal of effort expended whether we agree or disagree with what happened. It has happened; it is over – now we live with the consequences.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Tom Hering

    The rise and fall (in public opinion) of the Tea Party.

  • Tom Hering

    The rise and fall (in public opinion) of the Tea Party.

  • http://www.larknews.com/archives/26 Jon

    I agree with Kirk.

  • http://www.larknews.com/archives/26 Jon

    I agree with Kirk.

  • http://nbfzman.blogspot.com nbfzman

    Obamacare.

  • http://nbfzman.blogspot.com nbfzman

    Obamacare.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I don’t really get why Bin Laden’s death was, in the truest sense, significant. I’m pretty sure that most of us weren’t thinking about him much in the days before they announced he was killed.

    I mean, sure, the assassination had symbolic value, and it definitely dominated the news and public discourse for a while. But did it actually change anything? Or had the previous years of military tactics effectively sidelined the man? Or, on the other hand, did his death have a significant impact on ongoing terrorism efforts?

    In short: big news, yes, but big impact? Not so sure. I’d say the same thing about Steve Jobs as well, frankly. I’m willing to bet Apple will proceed apace.

    I might argue that DADT’s repeal will ultimately be insignificant, as well. Which is kind of a news story in itself, though one about a slow, but inexorable cultural shift. But I’m willing to bet the military will be largely unaffected by this nominal sea change.

    I guess I’d pick the “Arab Spring” as the top story, simply because something quite definitely happened to change the status quo over there. That it didn’t (or won’t) necessarily result in multiple Western-friendly, Western-style democracies doesn’t reduce the significance of the many uprisings. It just means the changes won’t necessarily be ones we welcome. The world can be like that. Still, I suspect there’s a larger story here about the viability of totalitarians in the modern age. Not that this won’t give way to something equally abhorrent as to freedom in one or more senses, but still.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I don’t really get why Bin Laden’s death was, in the truest sense, significant. I’m pretty sure that most of us weren’t thinking about him much in the days before they announced he was killed.

    I mean, sure, the assassination had symbolic value, and it definitely dominated the news and public discourse for a while. But did it actually change anything? Or had the previous years of military tactics effectively sidelined the man? Or, on the other hand, did his death have a significant impact on ongoing terrorism efforts?

    In short: big news, yes, but big impact? Not so sure. I’d say the same thing about Steve Jobs as well, frankly. I’m willing to bet Apple will proceed apace.

    I might argue that DADT’s repeal will ultimately be insignificant, as well. Which is kind of a news story in itself, though one about a slow, but inexorable cultural shift. But I’m willing to bet the military will be largely unaffected by this nominal sea change.

    I guess I’d pick the “Arab Spring” as the top story, simply because something quite definitely happened to change the status quo over there. That it didn’t (or won’t) necessarily result in multiple Western-friendly, Western-style democracies doesn’t reduce the significance of the many uprisings. It just means the changes won’t necessarily be ones we welcome. The world can be like that. Still, I suspect there’s a larger story here about the viability of totalitarians in the modern age. Not that this won’t give way to something equally abhorrent as to freedom in one or more senses, but still.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    And, yeah, along with others, I’ll make the EU crisis my second pick. Because it signals a shift in how we look at the European socialist state (and how those states operate) — or at least some of them. It’s the death, in a sense, of a much more powerful symbol than Bin Laden was.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    And, yeah, along with others, I’ll make the EU crisis my second pick. Because it signals a shift in how we look at the European socialist state (and how those states operate) — or at least some of them. It’s the death, in a sense, of a much more powerful symbol than Bin Laden was.

  • helen

    tODD at 11
    I guess I’d pick the “Arab Spring” as the top story, simply because something quite definitely happened to change the status quo over there. That it didn’t (or won’t) necessarily result in multiple Western-friendly, Western-style democracies doesn’t reduce the significance of the many uprisings…

    What no one has mentioned is that, since the result of “Arab spring” has/is likely to result in more rigid Islamic governments, Christians (even those who have been indigenous since year 1 AD) will be fair game for the rest of the populace and very little protest will be made by the so-called “Christian” West.

    FTM, the Islamic takeover of the “Christian West” w/o a gun needed will be the single long term issue of importance, if anyone is allowed to write history from a non-Islamic POV anymore!

    [This is also true elsewhere. Witness Hilary going to Burma to proclaim "freedom", while the Kachin tribes in the north, largely Christian, are being butchered, and if she said a word it wasn't in anything I read.]
    Buddhist “reverence for life” is apparently selective in Burma….

  • helen

    tODD at 11
    I guess I’d pick the “Arab Spring” as the top story, simply because something quite definitely happened to change the status quo over there. That it didn’t (or won’t) necessarily result in multiple Western-friendly, Western-style democracies doesn’t reduce the significance of the many uprisings…

    What no one has mentioned is that, since the result of “Arab spring” has/is likely to result in more rigid Islamic governments, Christians (even those who have been indigenous since year 1 AD) will be fair game for the rest of the populace and very little protest will be made by the so-called “Christian” West.

    FTM, the Islamic takeover of the “Christian West” w/o a gun needed will be the single long term issue of importance, if anyone is allowed to write history from a non-Islamic POV anymore!

    [This is also true elsewhere. Witness Hilary going to Burma to proclaim "freedom", while the Kachin tribes in the north, largely Christian, are being butchered, and if she said a word it wasn't in anything I read.]
    Buddhist “reverence for life” is apparently selective in Burma….

  • SKPeterson

    helen – In order to generate protests and concern on their behalf in the Christian US, Middle Eastern Christians should simply do the sensible thing and become Jews. Then American Christians will sit up and take notice and agitate for “something” to be done.

  • SKPeterson

    helen – In order to generate protests and concern on their behalf in the Christian US, Middle Eastern Christians should simply do the sensible thing and become Jews. Then American Christians will sit up and take notice and agitate for “something” to be done.

  • helen

    SKP @ 14
    They’d all be eligible to move to Israel, too! :(

    I have no doubt that would give them more attention in the US MSM.
    I hope, however, that they will keep the faith . “Heaven’s better!”

  • helen

    SKP @ 14
    They’d all be eligible to move to Israel, too! :(

    I have no doubt that would give them more attention in the US MSM.
    I hope, however, that they will keep the faith . “Heaven’s better!”

  • steve

    1) Oprah
    2) Larry
    3) Regis
    4) Mary

    I honestly don’t know what the AP was thinking.

  • steve

    1) Oprah
    2) Larry
    3) Regis
    4) Mary

    I honestly don’t know what the AP was thinking.

  • steve

    Oh, and 5) Andy.

  • steve

    Oh, and 5) Andy.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X