Currently, the US Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is fighting for its financial life, petitioning Congress to restructure its $70 billion debt and file for bankruptcy. Hamilton creator and son of Puerto Rico Lin-Manuel Miranda took to Last Week Tonight with John Oliver to make a searing artistic plea to the House of Representatives to recognize the humanity and suffering of the Puerto Rican people. That was Sunday.
On Monday, Republican front-runner Donald Trump crowed about receiving an endorsement from someone who once said of Puerto Rico, “Fuck ’em. Fuck ’em all…. The only fucking thing they know how to do is grow bananas.” This prized advocate said that upon leaving Puerto Rico, “I stood up, unzipped my pants, lowered my shorts and placed my bare ass on the window. That’s the last thing I wanted those people to see of me.”
This endorser with a Shakespearean gift for language is retired Hall of Fame college basketball coach Bob Knight. In 2000, after being fired from Indiana University for physically grabbing and cursing out an 18-year-old student, Knight said at a state fundraiser, “This will be the last time I speak in Indianapolis.” But now, like his hero MacArthur returning to the Philippines, Knight will be riding back triumphantly on Trump’s tank, speaking—according to Trump—alongside the candidate at an Indianapolis rally to carry the message that “the country is going to hell.”
Knight’s endorsement is, on one level, ready-made comedic fodder. Two temperamental old white guys shouting “get off my lawn” at the world. And what is Donald Trump’s campaign but the political embodiment of Knight’s own inability to control his adolescent impulses to curse out, choke, headbutt, and kick his teenage players? Then there is the moment that Knight is best known for: the throwing of that chair. It doesn’t take Louis CK to observe that the GOP has evolved from being the party of grumpy old men talking to chairs to those who just toss them.
Both men also built a base of popularity by decrying the “political correctness” and “softness” of today’s United States. We’re all just so PC that we can’t see the wisdom in Trump’s belief that Mexico is sending “criminals, drug dealers and rapists” across the border or Knight’s metaphorical advice from 1988: “if rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it.” (Knight has not grown out of rape metaphors with age.)