There are many things wrong with Donald Trump. Many things. But whether his family name was changed is not one of them.
Every day something bad comes out about Trump – his faux “university,” his ludicrous litany of products real and discontinued, and worst of all, the public events where Trump’s people sucker-punch protestors who just happen to have dark skin. Apparently, he lied about consulting police before cancelling his rally in Chicago Friday night.
Trump is, to use his own fourth-grade word selection, a nasty, nasty guy. (When he says “dude” it's a code word for blacks.)
I was calling some of Trump’s sucker-punch supporters Brown Shirts long before I heard that his family name may have been altered a generation or three ago. Brown Shirts do not depend on a discarded name from the other side.
Now it turns out that the Trump family from a posh section of Jamaica Estates, Queens, may have been named Drumpf back in Germany. Trump, typically, has been known to claim he had Swedish origins. Well, who believes him on anything?
Into the mix comes a British comedian selling ball caps (at cost) that say “Make Donald Drumpf Again” – a twist on Trump’s subliminally racist slogan. The first lot of ball caps sold out.
I don’t find John Oliver funny. I came upon him in 2014 when he was goofing on the American interest in the soccer World Cup, those silly people. This was after a quarter century of American involvement in the great event, with pubs and television ratings flourishing during the World Cup in Brazil.
But Oliver yukked it up, giving me the impression he has a tin ear about the country where he makes a considerable living. (I gather, to his credit, he is also having fun with the scandals of FIFA, the world soccer body.)
Fact is, the basic act of changing a name, legally or otherwise, is part of the American experience, part of assimilation. Changing names is as American as apple strudel.
Some people changed their names to make them sound more American. But I grew up a yooge half mile away from Trump’s posh enclave, and I knew German-Americans up the block who kept their name – and their vestigial accents, harder to shed – shortly after the War, with no need to hide their life’s journey. My soccer captain at Jamaica High spoke German before he spoke English, he told me the other day.
Nowadays, the newer waves, the Garcias and the Patels, do not change their names; we have moved on. We also change pronunciations. The Hungarian-American family that adopted my father had long since anglicized their pronunciation to VES-see, but as a tour guide in Budapest once lectured me, my surname is quite familiar there, and is pronounced VAY-chay. (Bud Collins was the only person who called me VAY-chay. Bud knew that stuff.)
What’s in a name? Donald Trump is a creep, a dangerous creep. If his family changed its name, a comedian sniggering about it on the tube does not help the dialogue.
“They may hate the cultural context they now find themselves teaching in, but they love their work. The Achilles’ heel of schoolteachers, one all too easily exploited by politicians, is that they love their students.”
(One of the best reads in the NYT these days is Margaret Renkl, in Nashville. In her latest post, Renkl describes the dedicated core of “born teachers” – the majority, she submits.)
(From Madeleine Albright in one of her final interviews in February):
“Putin is small and pale,” I wrote, “so cold as to be almost reptilian.” He claimed to understand why the Berlin Wall had to fall but had not expected the whole Soviet Union to collapse. “Putin is embarrassed by what happened to his country and determined to restore its greatness.” – Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, recalling her first meeting with the relatively unknown Vladimir Putin in 2000. – The New York Times, Feb. 23, 2022.