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With Trump Targeting The Bald Eagle, We'll Need A New National Symbol

The president's Miss Universe-honed eye for beauty, his temperament and policies afford abundant replacement possibilities. (Patrick Brinksma/Unsplash)
The president's Miss Universe-honed eye for beauty, his temperament and policies afford abundant replacement possibilities. (Patrick Brinksma/Unsplash)
This article is more than 1 year old.

With Donald Trump and Republicans gunning for the Endangered Species Act, what will happen when the last bald eagle — the national symbol, rescued from the brink of extinction by the law — soars to that great aviary in the sky?

My wife, pondering that gloomy possibility, thought Ben Franklin would happily welcome the eagle to the hereafter, having famously preferred the turkey as “a true original Native of America.” (Trump favors native-born Americans, too; no s***hole birds on our Great Seal.) But he’s also the kind of guy who’d see turkey as the main course every fourth Thursday in November, and strutting your dinner before the world won’t Make America Great Again.

No, if Trump succeeds in killing off Haliaeetus leucocephalus, he will demand an appropriately majestic replacement for our symbol. His Miss Universe-honed eye for beauty, his temperament and policies afford abundant possibilities.

The Playboy Bunny. It isn’t the four-legged sort of rabbit, but this most non-traditional president could snap a centuries-old tradition and tap a member of his own species for the symbol. Just imagine the competitive Trump’s glee over adorning the Great Seal with a likeness that would make foreigners think hubba hubba.

We know Trump’s fondness for Playboy models.

The Bunny might offend his evangelical base, but they’d get over it. They get over everything about him, from adultery to racism. The Bunny has a big advantage over our current symbol: With that formidable beak and talons, you can’t sleep with an eagle.

On the upside, you also never have to pay one hush money.

The Termite. Since Trump denies climate change, a mascot hardy enough to survive global warming would be a plus. When I was a kid, a movie called "The Hellstrom Chronicle" forecast that insects would outlast humans as Earth’s environment grew inhospitable. What better symbol of American endurance than a bug?

But which bug? The butterfly? Too dainty for our locker room-talking president. The ant? The "Ant Man" franchise might sue for copyright infringement, and Trump has enough legal troubles. The praying mantis? My wife is surely correct that, while evangelicals might get behind that one, the adulterous, multiply married Trump won’t go for a species whose females have been known to decapitate their partners in the middle of sex.

The termite, the destructive bane of homeowners, perfectly reflects our wrecking ball-in-chief, who’s busied himself demolishing relations with allies, tearing up agreements, and generally leveling his predecessor’s achievements. And have you seen his appointments to office? “Termites” fairly describes the guilty, indicted, and just plain sleazy.

Vladimir Putin. You must be a natural born citizen to be president, but there’s no such requirement for the symbol. Beyond that, do I really need to explain this one?

Trump Tower. Who says the symbol has to be animate? Christians have the cross, Jews have the star of David, Trump has his Tower. It’s big, glitzy, and gold, like its namesake; in fact, you’d be forgiven if you mistook it for a colossal statue of the man.

Think of the vital American history that’s been made there: all those “You’re fired's" in "The Apprentice." So what if Fodor’s used adjectives like “ostentatious” and “gaudy” to describe it? Trump lovers know fake news when they see it. Though it is a little embarrassing that the New York Times praised the tower in 1982 as “a much more positive addition to the cityscape than the architectural oddsmakers would have had it.”

Another potential problem: It may be too yuge to fit onto the Seal.

Choices, choices. One other option comes to mind, based on Trump’s reason for rolling back the Endangered Species Act. Allegedly, he’s privileging people over animals by allowing more jobs-producing development. Of course, one expert told The Times that no one actually has done the difficult work of quantifying the economic costs of the law; reforming it smells suspiciously like old-school industry scheming to profit off the environment.

But as Trumpeters would say, that’s Hillary Clinton’s view, and she lost the election. Their attitude suggests the perfect national symbol, capturing the essence of the Trump presidency.

How about a big middle finger?

Related:

Rich Barlow Cognoscenti contributor
Rich Barlow writes for BU Today, Boston University's news website.

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