2020 was a year that many people will be glad to put behind us. But before we look forward to a hopefully better and brighter 2021, let’s take one last look back at the year that was before we consign it to infamy.
Of course, 2020 will be remembered first and foremost as the year that COVID-19 spread suffering and death all over the world.
Soon afterward, the virus exploded, and previously-unthinkable ideas like lockdowns and mask mandates became a reality. I wrote about flattening the curve and why it’s essential. As early as April, it was apparent that red states were going to be ravaged.
With America’s dysfunctional politics, it may have been inevitable that fighting the plague would become a partisan issue. I wrote about right-wing nuts getting upset that this wasn’t the apocalypse they wanted, and several posts (part one, part two, part three) about religious fundamentalists spreading COVID-19 by their science-denying attitudes and refusal to cooperate with life-saving health measures.
But most of all, it’s catastrophically incompetent Republicans who are to blame for mass death. A long, hot pandemic summer laid bare the cracks in our system, then gave way to a dark winter with skyrocketing death tolls and hospitals on the brink of collapse. In the midst of it all, I agonized over whether to send my son back to school. (We did, and he’s doing great.)
Near the end of the year, we got a very welcome reprieve. We now have two vaccines that are more than 90% effective, developed in record time thanks to revolutionary mRNA technology. In 2021, there’s reason to hope that the pandemic will recede.
Black Lives Matter
Over the summer, George Floyd’s killing at the hands of the police kindled a nationwide uprising for racial justice. I wrote about defunding the police and the welcome evidence that atheists are strongly anti-racist.
I also reviewed the book Dying of Whiteness, which discusses why some white people are so invested in a racist political order that they’ll literally give their lives to defend it.
Trump Lost, Hallelujah
In January, I wrote about the importance of supporting any Democrat to end the threat of fascist kleptocracy. When it became clear that Joe Biden would be the nominee, I mused on why Bernie Sanders fell short.
Election night was stressful for all of us, but after a few days, it was clear that Trump had lost. After the race was called, I wrote “The Lifted Weight” about that golden moment of euphoria. Since then, he and his cronies have been trying to overturn the election, but their efforts have yielded an unbroken string of failure.
Religion Is Dying
America is becoming less Christian and more secular, an unprecedented trend that’s still accelerating. I wrote about a right-wing pastor grappling with why there are so many Gen Z atheists, about the decline of the Southern Baptists, and whether the maintenance of civilization requires patriarchy.
After Trump lost, I analyzed the role that nonreligious Americans played in his defeat, and looked forward to the coming post-Christian future.
Our heroine, Rae Robinson, has been pushed to the brink by the ruthless plutocrats who rule the country. But just when her situation seems utterly hopeless, she discovers the Pacific Republic, a secret socialist utopia hidden at the ends of the earth. Can she persuade them to reveal themselves and try to save the world?
I also interviewed Trinica Sampson, a professional sensitivity reader, and discussed why I hired her to review my manuscript.