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The Year in Review: The News Stories that Shaped 2021 & What They Mean

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By: Fern Sidman

As the year 2021 comes to a tumultuous end, we pause to take a retrospective and trenchant ride through the last 12 months. 2021 was indeed a year unlike any other in terms of cultural and political paradigms changing with the kind of upheaval that we never thought imaginable. As to the Coronavirus that dominated much of 2020, in many ways, we are still in a state of suspended animation due to the varied virus lockdowns. Our lives were put on hold as were our livelihoods, our homes and the stability of our families as the world stood still beginning in March of 2020 and essentially continued on that trajectory throughout 2021.

2021 welcomed us with a sense of relief as a brand new Covid vaccine would be introduced to the American public and a brand new president would be ushered in to office to oversee the ship of state. Even before Biden took the oath of office last January 20th, the rollout of the vaccine was less than stupendous and on January 6th, Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol building as they desperately expressed their anger and outrage at an election that they believed had been rigged.

To this day, the January 6th attack on the Capitol building still dominates the headlines and we imagine that it will continue to do so for the next few years.

On the international front, 2021 proved to be a year when danger lurked at every corner and formidably increased. From such places as Beijing to Kiev to Kabul, the threat of war may seem imminent as the strain in relations between them and the US had been on pressure cooker capacity.

On the local front, we saw a governor resign in disgrace, as New York’s Andrew Cuomo had no choice but to relinquish his position as the state’s highest executive due to charges of sexual harassment leveled against him by female staffers. CNN also had no choice but to terminate the employment of brother Chris Cuomo as evidence surfaced that he had been using his extensive media contacts to help his older brother circumvent the serious charges.

In the Middle East in 2021, we saw Israel’s longtime prime minister leave office, but not before being charged with taking bribes and engaging in corruption. We saw the resurrection of the suicidal “two state solution” for peace in the region by the Biden State department and by the administration itself. Meanwhile, the US decided to abrogate former President Trump’s decision to depart from the disastrous JCPOA agreement (nuke deal with Iran) that was initiated and heralded by former President Obama. All the while, Iran keeps enriching and stockpiling uranium for a future arsenal of nuclear weapons.

Pro-Israel and pro-Jewish communities spanning the globe were shocked to learn that in very early 2021, the world sustained the loss of an exceptional philanthropist and dear friend of the entire Jewish world. Casino magnate and Trump supporter, Sheldon Adelson, passed away at the age of 87 after courageously battling a long term illness. Mr. Adelson had graciously donated billions of dollars over the years to a veritable panoply of Jewish organizations and a litany of noteworthy Jewish causes. May his memory always be for a blessing.

As the cultural and political landscape morphed in to a “woke” scene as “cancel culture” became the buzzwords of the day, this nation saw a guilty verdict being handed down to Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer who was alleged to have killed George Floyd in May of 2020. This murder sparked riots and outrage in 2020 with calls to defund police forces around the country. This insidious bellicosity directed towards dedicated police officers all throughout the land in 2021 and the rancorous protests continued unabated.

And let’s not forget that in 2021, the vision of the “cancel culture” trend that immediately comes to mind are the illegal and forcible removal of certain statues of historical figures that don’t check the boxes on the list of what is politically correct.

As the summer of 2021 approached, many opined that the worst of the Covid pandemic was in the proverbial rear view mirror. With vaccination rates on the rise, anti-vaxxers also took their place in the national discourse on the wisdom of vaccines as they promulgated their own theories. Before long, less masks could be seen and events were beginning to take place in real time. As stringent measures were eventually being replaced by a sense of relaxation, we soon learned of the Delta variant.

And in late July and August, the world witnessed America’s very public humiliation when the Biden administration decided to pull out all US troops from Afghanistan after so many years. The result was catastrophic in every sense of the word. As the world watched in the summer of 2021, what we saw was a rehashed version of the fall of Saigon about 50 years earlier. The cast of characters had changed but in the end it took every effort to evacuate US citizens from Afghanistan as the Islamist extremists of the Taliban regained control of Kabul. The final result was 13 American military personnel being brutally murdered near Kabul airport by terrorist factions in the war torn country.

As anti-Semitism and racism soared in America in 2021, so did hate crimes and more violence that targeted Jews and other minority groups; particularly Asians. Yes, in 2021, the world learned that the Coronavirus was developed in a Wuhan lab. Innocent and hard working Asian-Americans bore the brunt of the menacing atmosphere in most cities and towns in 2021. Suffice it to say that Jews were viciously attacked both physically and cognitively on the streets and in certain media outlets as the world’s oldest hatred continued to rear its ugly head at a fever pitch in 2021.

In the fall of 2021, New Yorkers focused their attentions on electing a new mayor. With Bill DeBlasio leaving office after eight years, New Yorkers decided to elect a former NYPD captain, a state senator and a proud man of color when they pulled the lever for Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams.

Adams ran against Guardian Angels founder and internationally renowned crime fighter Curtis Sliwa. Issues of homelessness, mental health, police brutality, the maintenance of Rikers Island prison, the cost of housing and the availability of jobs in New York were on the agenda and they dominated the headlines in 2021.

On the climactic front, hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires, blazing summer heat took center stage in 2021 while the world still grapples with the issue of climate change.

2021 saw the deaths of a voluminous amount of prominent figures and assorted luminaries as the world has morphed into a sadder place because of their departure from this earth.

Yet and still, the year 2021 provides us with more than a glimmer of hope in 2022 as significant swaths of people have joined together to enhance this world and make it more livable in the generations to come.

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