Trump referring to COVID-19 as the “kung flu” created a backlash against the racist nature of the comment, but it’s doubtful that this will hurt him with his fans. So let’s double down with a little oriental wisdom.
Before folks get their hackles up, dictionary.com assures me I can still use the “O” word as an adjective, just not as a noun. I suppose that distinction might be hard to explain to those who have trouble differentiating between the two and who couldn’t diagram a sentence, but I digress.
“May you live in interesting times” is supposedly a Chinese curse, although there’s no source evidence to support that. These times are interesting at the very least, making many of us feel as if we’re living through a curse, irregardless of whether it’s Chinese or not. As for those grammarians who just spit their coffee across the room, I used that word advisedly.
Whether we like it or not (and I don’t) or think it non-sensical (and I do), our old friend Miss Merriam Webster calls the “I” word nonstandard, that is to say “not conforming in pronunciation, grammatical construction, idiom, or word choice to the usage generally characteristic of educated native speakers of a language.” As an English major, I will return to eschewing the “I” word if our Miss Webster will include a nonstandard use of the word “president” to fit these interesting times.
If we were only dealing with unrest and protests related to racial injustice in the midst of a presidential campaign, we’d have enough already to make these days gripping. How all of this will play out is anybody’s guess, but at least some of the resulting ancillary issues (the Mississippi state flag, most notably) are being moved forward. This suggests that change is in the air, regardless of whether some folks like it or not. (I hope the grammarians feel better now.)
But we are still dealing with COVID-19, at least for those of us paying attention. Numbers in Texas have been going in the wrong direction for some weeks now, so naturally we responded by telling each other what to do while most elected officials fell short of mandating anything. Governor Abbott, criticized by many for reopening too soon two months ago, got attacked by the other side for backpedaling on restaurant capacity and closing the bars.
Word just out (so new I’m doing a last minute revision to this column) has Abbott now ordering a statewide use of masks and other restrictions, with certain exceptions, and giving county judges and mayors authority for enforcement. So does one get credit for addressing a problem one exacerbated in the first place? It’s quite likely that he’ll get another round of attacks from those claiming these changes aren’t about safety, but rather about compliance with some conspiracy to abridge their rights.
Bless his heart, I’d feel sorry for him for being so beleaguered except for the fact that, well, I don’t.
In the midst of the Great Mask Controversy of 2020 drops a new side order of interesting, bringing forth new usage of a word I had assumed would only be confined in future in relation to locations of nautical mutinies or a possible television series directed by Quentin Tarantino. Bounty is back, and Putin pays them. Regardless of how you slice it (feeling better still?), it’s not good for Trump. Whether this new item of interest will change anything remains to be seen.
Back at the ranch, it feels like playing by the rules for the last three or four months only bought us the last three or four months. Unless or until something changes, we may be on a “pay as you go” plan. The “public health” lens, the “do the right thing” lens, even the “support the troops” lens have seemingly been discarded in favor of the political lens through which more and more Americans are determined to see everything.
This is an interesting movement, I think, considering that the goal of politics is rarely about doing good and more often about doing well, which any linguist will tell you are two completely different things.
Although it isn’t one, “No good deed goes unpunished” sounds like a Chinese proverb. If it’s true, some folks have nothing to worry about. And that’s not some ancient Chinese secret.