When any television program has produced as many classic scenes as The Simpsons, the very word classic seems inadequate, but since iconic has become overused and pretty much misused—including by me, let’s just hang onto classic once more, at least when we talk about the Simpsons’ monorail episode from 1993. (1993? Yikes, how old am I!)
The episode (written by, believe it or not, Conan O’Brien) culminates with a runaway monorail that threatens Springfield until Homer Simpson (its operator) fashions an anchor out of the monorail’s letter M, hooks it onto a giant advertising donut, and brings the perilous machine to a stop…at which point he poses the iconic (yes, I said it) question: Donuts—is there anything they can’t do?
I thought of that on this donut-free Sunday morning when I awoke to find that Donald Trump, who still has not relinquished his presidential bid, has promised religion a much bigger role in America when he takes the oval office. He will reinvigorate religion, giving religious institutions more power in the electoral process while ensuring their tax-free status. And all I could think of was—Trump, is there anything he can’t do?—or, more accurately, is there any ignorance of our government, our history, our society, and our Constitution he won’t willingly or inadvertently display?
I did notice that during his speech to the evangelicals, he made no mention of Islam or cutting its leaders a little slack, but then he probably doesn’t expect to see many Trump/Pence signs adorning the front lawn of any mosques anytime soon. And that’s all tied in with his pronouncement of Obama and Clinton as chief co-founders of ISIS. It’s complicated, but has anyone noticed that Trump has become ISIS’s chief recruiter? Just wondering.
We all know that pandering to religious leaders is nothing new: it just seems weird when someone like Donald Trump—whose only deity is money—tries to pull it off, and weirder still when religious leaders believe him. What isn’t quite so weird—and not the least bit amusing—is how this will affect a Supreme Court nominee, the treatment of the LGBT community, the access of women’s health services, and any other area where evangelicals butt heads with the Constitution. It’s the kind of reinvigoration nobody needs.
Long before the monorail episode, when I first began teaching, I worked for a principal who laid down very few rules concerning how we taught our classes, but he was adamant concerning how we spoke to our students. Never tell a student to shut up, he said, and never call any of them stupid. It was an easy enough rule to follow. Of course anyone who ever had Donald Trump as a student probably found it more difficult. I’m afraid I would have.