Bridge Over Troubled Water

Is 2020 this country’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” as sung by Simon & Garfunkel in the turbulent ’70s before entering the ’80s?

collage of Warren G. Harding holding Return to Normalcy sign
Warren G. Harding ran for president of the United States — and won — with the slogan, “Return to normalcy” in 1920. (Photo collage by Marian Herbert-Bruno. Image of Warren G. Harding courtesy Library of Congress)

Recall that the ’70s were filled with violence between police and protesters. Four Kent State University students were killed and nine were injured in 1970 when the Ohio National Guard opened fire on a crowd gathered to protest the Vietnam War. It was a watershed moment followed by violence and murders during the Wounded Knee Occupation in South Dakota fueled by mistreatment by the federal government of Native Americans.

There was tragedy at The Peoples Temple in Jonestown, Guyana. And there was tragedy at the ’72 Olympics in Munich.

2020 seems like the year that won’t end. Really, since all that has happened with the global coronavirus epidemic — clearly the dominant and ongoing tragedy topping the list — does anyone have a clear memory of the Australian wildfires? Maybe the California wildfires? The impeachment fiasco? Brexit and Boris? Then there was Kobe’s helicopter crash, which shocked us into the reality of how fragile life is. 

“Black Lives Matter” movement protests against police brutality and racially charged riots seemed to top the evening news every night on TV. And who amongst us could expound on the “murder hornets” chapter or the locust and cicada invasions, wherever they were.

Locally, Gayle M. Benson, president and owner of the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans, announced that Dixie Beer, also a Benson property in New Orleans East, would have a new name, the old name deemed offensive and synonymous with the Confederacy. The new name is Faubourg Brewing Co. 

Also leaving the scene at age 90 was TV’s beloved mad scientist, Morgus the Magnificent.

With Joseph R. Biden winning the presidential election in November, we can look back at past elections to find assistance or — discover advice for when he takes office. Here are some slogans from past elections that may be helpful for the leader of this nation:
“Return to normalcy.” Warren G. Harding’s 1920 slogan.
“We are turning the corner.” Herbert Hoover’s 1932 slogan.
“Happy days are here again.” Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1932 slogan.

And then in 1948, the classic of all presidential races and a media blunder for the ages. Harry Truman is holding up the front page of the Chicago Daily Tribune. The bold headline read “Dewey Defeats Truman.” Unfortunately for the Tribune, Truman won.

At the beginning of the fall semester, we witnessed two potential hurricane threats, which seems to be a Tulane tradition, part of freshman indoctrination. Not one, but two dueling hurricanes. Then along came powerful Hurricane Zeta, which was a direct hit on New Orleans.

That is preposterous, simply incredible.

Well, maybe not. This is 2020.