For too long Satan’s precise strategy to bring about America’s downfall had been a mystery. What exactly was the devil up to?
Satan had of course made a rousing appearance in Biblical times, but that was a long time ago. He disappeared for a while after that, but then, in the fourteenth century, the circles of hell in Dante’s Inferno gave him a fresh lease on death. But, alas, that too proved to be fleeting, and it wasn’t till the twentieth century that Satan really came into his own.
First, there was godless Communism — an undisputed triumph! Satan had taken the Soviets into space and shown them the wonders of the universe, only to bring the USSR crashing to Earth, the economic system destroyed and country splintered. Then, more recently, the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979 brought fire-breathing Ayatollahs and mullahs to power, all claiming with total conviction that America was the Great Satan.
This phrasing created some confusion among the cognoscenti — wasn’t Satan one guy? But here were the mullahs saying that Satan was an entire country! The 1980s and 1990s thus became fraught with uncertainty as people were suddenly confronted with a shape-shifting Satan — a man with horns one minute, Camelot-on-the-hill the next. Which was it?
And then in 2008, all doubt was dispelled! Satan’s objectives, his modus operandi, his cunning were all revealed in a speech given by Rick Santorum at Ave Maria University in Florida. Satan, Santorum declared, was attacking the great institutions of America, and he was having the greatest success in academia.
So Satan was a guy after all, not a country. It had to be! A country could not attack itself. The mullahs were all wrong. They would need to revise their mission statements, all of which began “Death to the Great Satan!” They would need to clear that up a bit — or else, their Middle Kingdoms accreditation might be in jeopardy.
But Santorum had also shown that Satan was a master of the art of Strategic Planning. The devil had well-defined goals (bring down America) and strategies (infiltrate colleges). He had even thought of measurable outcomes: the perversion of young minds, moves by states to legalize gay marriage, seminars on income inequality.
Santorum’s revelation about Satan’s dastardly appropriation of colleges had implications for Elizabethtown College. The Board met urgently — in Florida, all the better to learn from Ave Maria, perhaps the only university in the country to be untainted by the devil. But the question on everyone’s minds was: Could Satan have invaded Etown?
This was no idle question. The tuition for 2012-13 depended on the answer. If the wretched Satan was indeed infesting the College’s sylvan campus, tuition would have to be raised significantly to meet fumigation expenses. The devil would have to be cast out — and as anyone who has seen the movie “The Rite” knows, that sort of procedure doesn’t come cheap. Anthony Hopkins charges a pretty penny for his services; holy water would have to be trucked in. In light of the unexpected expenditure, the College might even have to rethink bringing in a Nobel Laureate for the Ware lecture.
The Trustees quickly launched an investigation. A committee was set up. The members of the committee did not spare any corner of the campus. Every nook, every cranny, every classroom, every office was searched. For a while, suspicion fell upon Wenger — its erudite but motley collection of humanities professors seemed like a natural starting point for an attack by Satan — but it turned out to be a false alarm.
And then, a breakthrough! A Trustee, faint from his exertions in trying to locate signs of Satanic influence in Alpha (no stone should be left unturned, was the stern injunction to the committee), stopped at the Blue Bean for a refreshing tea. But lo and behold, even as he moved to pay for the drink, his eyes fell upon a banner near the scone tray. The banner proclaimed the beneficial health effects of scones without icing.
The Trustee’s mind reeled. Here was a blatant attempt to get students to change their consumption patterns. Scones without icing, indeed! Who but the devil could have dreamed up such a diabolical scheme to mold impressionable minds? He looked closely at the banner — it had a name on it.
Matters proceeded fairly quickly thereafter. The business faculty in Hoover were temporarily moved to Nicarry. There was some muttering from the political scientists, but the dean was firm. Be collegial, he urged. Besides, he added, nobody else wanted them.
Following detailed instructions provided by the Santorum campaign, Homer was “treated” and pronounced cured.
At last then, Satan has been banished from Etown. Santorum’s office has issued a certificate saying “This Campus is 100% Satan Free,” so it is now official. No longer will the devil undermine America by corrupting the minds of Etown students.
But other universities lack the Santorum certification. These institutions may have better-crafted Workplace Policies, they may even have better diversity plans, but at what price? They may be in the grip of the wily Mephistopheles.