The New Normal

August 24, 2017

Cool, Crisp Morning Walk

This morning’s walk with Chloe was a bit cool. The sun was just starting to rise, and the birds were singing, it was an enjoyable walk. Though cars were zooming here and there, it was easy to get lost in the moment of the stillness of the early morning.

I have long loved morning walks like this one. The coolness of the air demonstrates our slow transition into fall. In the past, that meant football season, achy joints, and the waning days of cooking on the grill. This year it means coursework, moderately long drives between Brantford, Ontario and Oswego, New York. This is becoming my new routine; at least for the academic year.

I have the opportunity to continue research started on my Fulbright fellowship to Canada. So, I am grasping it with both hands, and full heart. The Six Nations community on the Grand River has been so welcoming, that this was an easy choice.


The New Normal

I wanted to use the phrase “the new normal” to describe what life will be like for the coming academic year. However, it has taken on such an odd meaning these days under President 45 (Trump). He keeps lowering the bar on the phrase, “the new normal.”

I was in the midst of moving and returning home to Oswego during Charlottesville. I read many of the accounts in social media and major news outlets like the NY Times and Washington Post. 45’s back on forth on the issue, and placating his base of supporters, leaves me like the rest of the country—speechless.

I still cannot wrap my brain around the statement “both sides share the blame in Charlottesville.” How can protesting Nazis, White Supremacists, and White Nationalists today share in the blame?  I watched the video on Vice that covered this—and the anger from White America was so palpable.

But 45 continues to play to his base—why? Because he is making their beliefs, their warped ideologies, their gross misunderstandings of history the new normal. This practice also has the fringe benefit of absorbing the media, social media, and punditry so much so that it distracts from other legislative agendas and real-world issues.

Here are the facts: 45 lies openly and often, 45 misdirects though bombastic statements and selective use of wording and seemingly invented word, and many in his party are gas lighting the American public and enabling this behavior as the new normal. I am unsure which is more terrifying.

I read an article in the Guardian’s coverage of Phoenix rally about 45’s supporters and their utter devotion to his deceptions, partial truths, and “shaking up the system.” They all want a return to the 1950s. While, the 1950s by in large was good to great for White Americans, but not for people of color, nor those who wanted change to the system, or women.

Part of the problem is that American culture tends to mythologize the past through entertainment. People seem attracted to the drama of the imagined past, without grasping the complexities and nuances of the real, lived pass. So, when someone is so devoted to an imagined, idealized, and mythologized past—how does one argue the facts and truths of the lived past by all peoples?

So then how do we frame the past to better understand the present through constructive dialogue and education?

Kevin J. White
Toronto, CA