Can you dig it?
— from the theme song to the 1971 feature film Shaft, written and performed by Isaac Hayes
We have more than enough of a Police State already…
— Krystal Ball from The Hill’s Rising show on January 20, 2021
The New Year has arrived, not with bells and whistles but vaccines and new strains of COVID-19 and a Flag-waving “Tourists Gone Wild!” episode at the U.S. Capitol — oh, and a technically “new” president, Joe Biden, who’s been running for president forever and finally been given the keys to the Oval Office as if this all’s a Lifetime Achievement Award. Well, at least “Cornpop was a bad dude!” Biden’s possibly the most un-promising candidate in American presidential history, having campaigned on a “Nothing will change” platform that is, ironically, literally the opposite “message” of Barack Obama-Biden’s slogan 12 years ago. Who knows, but after the uniquely uncouth Donald Trump, the “Build Back Better” Biden won’t “Make America Gaffe Again”?
Overshadowing Mr Biden’s long rise to the top of the DC “swamp” heap, of course, is the still surging coronavirus crisis. This novel “pandemic” has also ushered in a punditly labeled “new normal” paradigm. This “new normal” label is misleading, however, since it’s not “new” at all (like Biden himself). The term was originally coined to describe a post-9/11 world, where blood-thirsty Jihadis were supposed to be hiding under every woodpile. They weren’t, as it turned out, not too surprisingly to anyone who was “woke” back then. All of those “sleeper cells” just kept Rip van Winkling on…Nevertheless, apparently, there’s a “new normal” going on, like it’s 9/11 all over again. History repeats, but with some “new” wrinkles…
In the meantime, there’s been a terrible riot in our Nation’s Capital, and someone is to blame. Outgoing president Donald Trump, a weird card thrown into a deck where he didn’t belong, has largely been assigned the blame for this somewhat violent affront to American democratic etiquette. How or Why? could anyone possibly ever “Storm the Capitol!”, as if Thomas Jefferson himself — yes, that founding patriarch slaveholder — had not explicitly cited the “right” to overthrow an unjust government? The contradictions of this sordid situation compile upon themselves in the aftermath, and it will take a very clever calculator to figure out the sums and subtractions — not to mention the gains.
Certainly, the billionaire-class has gained a lot more billions during this COVID-crisis. Pandemic Boom Times, one could surmise. How is this possible? At this point, I would like to take a step back and analyze the absurdist phrase “new normal.”
When I Google-searched the term or phrase “new normal” I got, right off the top, the Wikipedia entry for the same. OK, and no problem; some folks have written in on the topic, and maybe I can find the origin story there? No such luck. A dithering definition met me quickly, followed by a first reference to the phenomenon so-called, our “new normal.” Instead of the 9/11 back-story, I was forwarded immediately to the 2005 “avian flu pandemic” that never was, or might have been (WHO knows?), and I quote this idiotic entry in full:
The term [new normal] was used in 2005 by Peter M Sandman and Jody Lanard in relation to methods of manipulation of the public towards avian influenza. They explained that the initial, typically temporary, fearfulness of a novel risk such as a flu pandemic is something to be guided, that this initial period is a ‘teachable moment’ and offers the opportunity of establishing a ‘new normal.’
In other words: No mention of 9/11, when the phrase “new normal” first arose, as it were, like a phoenix from the World Trade Center Towers’ collapshed ashes…No: this new “new normal” has forgotten 9/11, except as a souvenir from the early-most 21st century (“Don’t you forget your CIA!”).
However, there’s even more to brazenly consider. Take this quote from Chime Azomge of the World Economic Forum, dated June 5, 2020, writing against the idea of a “new normal” in a bullet point to his or her article: “We should use our discomfort to forge a new paradigm instead.” Fighting words, certainly, but WHO exactly is the World Economic Forum fighting for? Neither you nor me, to almost quote Kierkegaard, but anyone well-placed adjacent. The paradigm “Shaft” is on: What we all do or shift about it is another Thing…