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This Week in the New Normal #34

Our successor to This Week in the Guardian, This Week in the New Normal is our weekly chart of the progress of autocracy, authoritarianism and economic restructuring around the world.

1. The extreme right weaponising the outdoors

Fresh from weaponising memes in 2021, the classics in 2018 and irony in 2016, those pesky alt-righters are back at it – ruining perfectly ordinary things, like going outside.

Yes, according to Vice

White Nationalists Want to Reclaim Nature as a Safe Space for Racists

Which contains this amazing sentence:

The racist roots of national parks in America has made them an attraction to white supremacists over the years.

It’s not just going outside that’s the problem, it’s buying local produce from farmers’ markets…

Of course, obsessions with purity and clean living aren’t just an American white supremacist thing. Nazi Germany was deeply concerned about the longevity of the Aryan race, and so encouraged a healthy lifestyle and good diet. But eating a natural diet was also a core component of the Nazi slogan “blood and soil”—intended to foster nationalism by eating food grown on the land.

See, it’s not just American fascists that like eating natural food…German fascists did it too. And no one else, apparently.

This is not a new phenomenon. For years it’s been a common refrain across the MSM to accuse the “alt-right” of “weaponising” things they want to undermine, up to and including free speech.

In 2017 Vice ran an article “The Alt-Right’s Favourite Diet”, about meat-heavy “paleo” diet plans.

And perhaps you remember this beauty from last year:

The dark side of wellness: the overlap between spiritual thinking and far-right conspiracies

Which was later followed by this article, where the Guardian claims that the alt-right had co-opted physical fitness, and that “extremists present self-improvement as part of wider political struggle”.

Seeing a pattern?

Eating meat. Exercising. Attending farmers’ markets and growing your own food. Alternate medicine. Enjoying the outdoors.

The press is moving to associate healthy natural – and, most importantly, independent – lifestyles with “the extreme right”. Going forward, enjoying the outdoors or encouraging people to go to the gym can be classified as “promoting extremism”, and get people put on watchlists.

2. Gates & NATO funded think-tank wants to regulate “legal but harmful” behaviour online

The Guardian is partying like its 2017 again. A new “report” on “Russian-backed conspiracy theorists” spreading “disinformation” about Syria and the White Helmets has been published, and for some reason they think it qualifies as news.

The report is from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a think tank funded by all the usual suspects. And it has nothing new to say at all. Beeley this, Bartlett that. “Russia-backed” this, “conspiracy theorists” that.

It’s not news, its olds. And it’s all about pushing the usual dangerous agenda, just scroll down to the “recommendations” in the report, where they suggest [emphasis added]:

  • “Platform regulation should be systemic, and require online platforms to demonstrate that their policies, processes and systems are designed and implemented in a way that protects human rights and mitigates the risks posed by a range of illegal, and in some cases legal but harmful, activity, such as disinformation, abuse and harassment.”
  • “Platform regulation should require significant additional transparency and data access to both regulators and approved third-party researchers (e.g. from academia or civil society) to increase understanding of how effectively platforms are reducing threats to humanitarian and human rights workers.”
  • “Promote and fund digital citizenship and literacy education that teaches citizens, beginning at a young age, to think critically about online content and identify trustworthy sources.”

Regulating “legal by harmful” behaviour? Teaching people about “trustworthy new sources” from “a young age”? Allowing private data to be handed over to “researcher”?

Chilling stuff.

3. Seriously, this is what they’re for…

Local banks in China’s Henan province have been refusing to allow customers to withdraw their money for almost two months now.

The details of why don’t really matter. What’s important is a group of bank customers, understandably outraged at this policy, planned a big protest outside the bank.

The protest was foiled when their (supposedly) Covid-related health pass apps all turned red…meaning they’re not allowed to travel.

Now, this is all currently hearsay and is likely getting coverage in the Western press because “China bad!” is always good headlines (unless they’re locking people down to “prevent a pandemic”, that’s fine).

The Reuters report is wonderfully partisan in its use of language:

Rights groups have warned China could use its vast COVID surveillance infrastructure to stifle dissent. Without a green code on their smartphone app, citizens lose access to public transport and spaces such as restaurants and malls, as well as the right to travel across the country.

…yes, China might use their mass of “medical” surveillance technology to control people and stifle dissent, but of course, we would never do that.

However true this story proves to be, it’s a warning sign about the danger of giving the government access to your data, and the an object lesson in why you should never give the state the power to decide whether or not you can leave your own home.

BONUS: Confusing headline of the week

Sometimes you just have to cock your head at the world and say, “Wait, what?”

It’s not all bad…

The now routine Bob Moran cartoon:

Oh, and here’s Joe Biden falling off a bike….

…the memes wrote themselves…

*

All told a pretty hectic week for the new normal crowd, and we didn’t even mention NHS Scotland publishing a paper supporting the idea of “Eunuch” as a gender identity or the former Clinton advisor who shot himself in the chest while hanging by his neck from a tree.

There’s a lot of change in the air, a lot of agendas in the works, if you see a headline, article, post or interview you think is a sign of the times, post it in the comments, email us or share it on social media and we will add it to the next edition.