Y2K was the thing that was going to Destroy Earth when this dumb, nameless decade began. It’s hard to remember the pre-Muslim threats, but this was a big one: All the planes were going to fall out of the sky, at midnight on January 1, 2000… based on the time zone they were flying over, I guess? It was never very clear, which is why it was such an effective End of the World scenario. Also, your teevees and ATMs would stop working. Because of those rotten computer programmers! Me? I was drunk in Madrid, which had not yet been blown up by Muslims, and also airfare was incredibly cheap because nobody wanted to fly around New Year’s (because of Y2K), and flying was still “fun,” as in, you just showed up at the airport maybe 20 minutes before your flight, drink in hand, shoes on your feet, laptop closed and actually left at home because what was WiFi, anyway?
ANTHRAX: Some people still remember 9/11 and the outrage caused by 1980s political rap group Public Enemy’s dismissive song about the future, 9/11 Is A Joke, but did you know there was a second 9/11, also in September 2001, involving not Arabs flying planes but Arabs mailing poison to you? A bunch of people died, and well-off people with health insurance freaked out and bought this prescription drug called “Cipro,” which maybe would help if you got the Anthrax, and entire U.S. Postal Service mail processing centers were shut down, and even our most important network news anchors (ha, remember them?) were at RISK. But it was actually just some psychopaths from Our Own Biological Weapons Labs having a bit of Joker-style fun at America’s expense, ha! Nobody was ever arrested or anything, because WHOA AVIAN FLU!
AVIAN FLU, known by its Chinese name “SARS,” was going to decimate the world’s population — or worse, as “decimate” technically means, “take out every 10th person,” which was the actual political strategy of the Roman Army motherfuckers, who punished mutiny by having each group of 10 soldiers partake in an early form of Iowa Straw Poll, and one of them got clubbed to death by his buddies. Anyway, during the Avian Flu Horror, everybody with health insurance got prescriptions for Tamiflu, which was invented by Donald Rumsfeld before he also invented SARS in his underground Pentagon laboratory, where he stood up torturing “SARS cats” all day.
HURRICANE KATRINA actually did kill thousands of people, but they were poor blacks so nobody really made a fuss, except for typical liberals.
ACTUAL 9/11 also killed a teeny tiny fraction of the people in a single (liberal) city, but it magically made the Entire Nation freak out to such an insane level that even Appalachian townships suddenly had “terrorism czars” to actually terrorize their own dim-witted citizenry, “just in case.” Everybody was pretty much freaked out all the time for three or four years, until about half of the nation’s voters woke up one day around January 2004 and said, collectively, “Hey wait a minute ….” Bush was re-elected anyway. Suckers! (Runner-up: Warbloggers!)
MEXICANS were supposed to pour over our porous border and do all kinds of nasty shit to Americans, such as a) speak Spanish, b) rape white women, c) take our janitorial and spinach-picking jobs and d) something about MEChA and/or Shakira. But then the economy collapsed and even Lou Dobbs couldn’t be bothered to whine about Mexicans. Now he, too, is jobless.
SPINACH itself was the culprit in another nationwide freakout, over “washed spinach,” because some of it had some poop on it. Nobody ate spinach, tomatoes and other vegetables ever again. But they did continue to enjoy the Baskin-Robbins Pig Bucket, a 72-ounce “ice cream shake” made of candy-bars, corn syrup and trans fat.
H1N1, commonly known as Mexican Pig AIDS, was going to kill off a third of the nation, Spanish-flu style, but seems to have faded out before doing too much damage, just like everything in the terrible 2000s.
The only real horror visited upon most Americans in this dumb decade was the Greatest Recession, still doing its special dark magic in the areas of employment, housing, social services, etc. This decade will one day be remembered by economists (in China) as the last period in American History when people had a reasonable expectation of employment and comfortable housing. Because it’s pretty much a hilarious “mash up” of The Road and Idiocracy from here on out, and the soundtrack is a perpetual YouTube loop of Bob Dylan’s “Must Be Santa” party polka, the end.
Somehow, Ken Layne owns Wonkette.