Time on the Banks: 2009 in review
On paper, 2010 is a scary number. It's not 2012 end-of–the-world scary, but still, it means that Rutgers is kicking me out this May, and that is pretty much the same thing. With that said, I wanted to use this space to hold on to 2009 for as long as possible. Thus, below, I attempted to highlight some of the ways in which this past year was noteworthy:
Any credible recap of 2009 must necessarily begin with a lengthy discussion of President Barack Obama's historic election. For this reason I will move on.
Even with the unemployment rate hovering around 10 percent, 2009 brought with it some news to be truly thankful for. Namely, that Tiger Woods is not perfect (I knew it!), that our lives do not mirror that of the main character in "Precious," and that Lou Dobbs — who recently left CNN — can no longer vilify Mexican-Americans by tying every other news story to the "problem of illegal aliens in this country." Seriously, Dobbs could connect the financial meltdown on Wall Street to day laborers in California while tying both of these issues to Obama not being a U.S. citizen. His commentary will be sorely missed. Moreover, in just two short years, we will be saying goodbye to an even more prominent television host, Oprah Winfrey. Unfortunately, until then we will have to stand by as books climb to the best-sellers list "because Oprah says so."
Beyond Obama, 2009 witnessed barriers broken in other areas as well. Most notably, Sonia Sotomayor became the first Latina Supreme Court Justice and only the third female ever to sit on the High Court. Fortunately, after a thorough investigation, Dobbs reportedly concluded that Sotomayor was not in fact an illegal alien.
Of course, the 2009 award for humility goes to Kanye West, who was selfless enough to point out that a certain MTV Video Music Award should have gone to Beyoncé and not himself (never mind that he didn't qualify for "Best Female Video." And besides, Taylor Swift can't dance; her video should never have been considered). Sticking with the entertainment world, 2009 also saw the meteoric rise of Lady Gaga, who in 2010 will reportedly reveal that below all the makeup she is actually male, an alien or some combination thereof. We also experienced the death of perhaps the greatest entertainer of all time: Michael Jackson. Fortunately, all was not lost, as we were offered the opportunity to pay full price at the movies to watch Jackson's leftover practice footage from rehearsal.
Twice this year, sights in the sky captivated us. The first instance came when the heroic airplane pilot, Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, oversaw the "miracle on the Hudson," capturing the hearts and minds of awe-inspired Americans as he safely made an emergency landing on the Hudson river, successfully saving every passenger on board. The second instance of this was "Bubble Boy," whose family later admitted to hoping they could earn themselves a reality television show. Interestingly enough, the media spent roughly the same amount of time covering each of these stories.
Speaking of shameless, there are also those who we hope will not return in 2010, mainly because of their talent for bringing deep humiliation to our country. There is a cast of characters who fit this description quite nicely from Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina (the Argentine mistress debacle), Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., (shouted "liar" to Obama), to half of the politicians in New Jersey (the kidney scandal), but I'm mostly looking at you, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (general embarrassment all around).
Perhaps the least fortunate subsection of our citizenry in 2009 was gay Americans, who watched, to their chagrin, as Maine became the 30th state to vote "yes" on a measure to make same-sex marriage illegal. Just last week, New York compounded this loss with its own failure to pass a measure that would have legalized marriage for gay couples. It's official then — you can now go to New York City dressed in offensive clothing, shouting obscene statements, while asking for money as people walk by, and the city will largely look the other way. However, if you happen to be gay and attempt to get married to your significant other, you'll be barred from doing so by the law. How we construe personal liberty is so interesting!
After the Fort Hood incident, national security became the topic of discussion, particularly after two Americans crashed the White House state dinner this past month. The country was appalled at the audacity of individuals who found it perfectly acceptable to crash a party they weren't invited to. Apparently, the American public has never been to Rutgers University on the weekend.
On the topic of our own school, the Rutgers football team posted another impressive season at 8-4. And although we didn't do quite as well as some may have hoped, I am personally thankful that next year The Daily Targum won't have to preface every mention of Tom Savage with "true freshman" just for good measure — we get it, he was actually a first-year student. And with some irony, it's worth pointing out that in 2009, The Daily Targum took political correctness to new heights. Over the past year, in every instance in which I wrote "freshman," it was changed to "first-year," and every mention of "Rutgers" was edited to "University," so that my column on "Freshman at Rutgers" would have been altered to "First-years at University." While these revisions may seem harmless, writing about the "first-year 15" just doesn't have the same impact. And apparently "my father sent me to old University" is now the proper way in which to sing our alma mater.
At this point, I feel like some grumpy old man complaining about how rapidly the world seems to be changing around me. But I guess that's why we're called seniors.
Eric Knecht is a Rutgers College senior majoring in economics and history. His column, "Unfair and Unbalanced," runs on alternate Tuesdays. He welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.