Late last week I was talking with a good friend, and he asked an excellent question. “Are these times really as hard as they seem? Or have we lost historical perspective? Does every generation face the challenges we face?” It’s a great question, and it immediately brought to my mind an offhand comment the New York Times’s Michelle Goldberg made in a podcast last spring.
I’ve referred to it before, but what she said was something like this. 2020 started out like 1974 (impeachment), became 1918 (pandemic), which led to 1929 (a stock market crash), and then transformed into 1968 (with massive urban unrest). Since that podcast, things only got worse. We moved into 1876 (a viciously disputed election), followed it up with another 1974 (second impeachment), and then experienced 1975 (a lost war and a panicked evacuation).
I haven’t even mentioned January 6, which was the closest we’ve come to 1861 in my lifetime.
At the risk of further deepening the gloom, I’m going to add another date to the mix. Tomorrow the FBI is expected to release its Uniform Crime Report (UCR) for 2020. On Wednesday the New York Times published a preview. The 2020 murder rate is expected to have risen by a stunning 29 percent, the largest increase since 1968 (there’s that date again) and the largest one-year increase since the FBI has been keeping statistics.