by Vijaya Chandrasoma
Mary Trump is Donald Trump’s only niece, the daughter of Trump’s alcoholic older brother, who died of a heart attack in 1981 when he was 43 years of age. Dr. Trump has painted a convincing portrait of the president of the United States and the toxic family that has made him “a man who threatens the world’s health, economic security and social fabric.”
Her book, already a New York Times bestseller, has sold over a million copies on the first day of its release on July 14.
Donald Trump tried unsuccessfully to stop the publication of Dr. Trump’s book on the basis of a Non-Disclosure Agreement in the litigation of his father’s will, which he says prevents her from disclosing anything regarding the family. However, the Courts ruled that she has not violated the NDA and permitted its release.
Trump has derided the book, saying that “she’s a seldom seen niece who knows little about me, and says untruthful things about my parents, who couldn’t stand her….She’s a mess!”
However, Dr. Trump has made it very clear, by her narrative of some very interesting anecdotes, that she was very much a part of this family till the death of her grandfather in 1999. She says that Donald’s father was oftentimes aloof, and only had time for Donald, his favourite son whom he groomed to be his heir; but she and her grandmother, Mary Anne shared a deep love for each other. She confirms she’s had very little contact with her family after the disputed litigation of her grandfather’s will in 2001.
Dr. Trump gives a vivid description of the toxic influence of Donald’s father, Fred Trump, had on the entire family. Fred built up the family fortune by investing in real estate with the wealth left to him by his father, who had died during the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918. He concentrated initially in developing properties in Queens, New York, but later extended his activities to Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Fred “had always been vain about his appearance and bemoaned his receding hairline”, which he chose to camouflage with a wig. The “cheap drugstore dye” he used for the wig turned it to a “jarring shade of magenta”. Mary remembers Fred offering her $100 for her hair when she was a teenager. She writes “I laughed” and said “Sorry, Grandpa, I need to hang on to it.” Donald’s obsession with his own blonde hair-weave shows that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Fred died in 1999, aged 93, leaving a fortune of approximately $300 million, the bulk of which went to Donald. Fred Trump had suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease during the last six years of his life. At his funeral, all his children gave eulogies, where the emphasis “was on my grandfather’s material success and his killer instinct …. Donald was the only one to deviate from the script. In a cringe-inducing turn, his eulogy devolved into a paean of his own greatness.” Sound familiar?
She writes very tenderly about her own father, Freddie, Fred’s oldest son, who was a more accomplished, though flawed, man than Donald. Freddie worked for the family business for a time, but got bored with real estate development, boredom his dominant father considered a weakness. He left to get his commercial pilots’ licence and worked for TWA, one of the most prestigious airlines at that time. However, alcoholism severely impacted his life. According to a New York Times article, “He got divorced, quit flying because he knew his drinking presented a danger and failed at commercial fishing in Florida.” By the late 1970s, he was living back in his parents’ house in Queens. Mary makes little reference to her mother, Linda, who was settled with a modest allowance after her divorce and was generally ostracized by the rest of the clan.
Strangely, she has at times turned Donald into a figure deserving of sympathy, being the victim of an abusive father. She says that “Fred destroyed Donald, by short-circuiting his ability to develop and experience the entire spectrum of human emotions. By limiting Donald’s access to his own feelings and rendering many of them unacceptable, Fred perverted his son’s perception of the world and damaged his ability to live in it.”
When Donald was seven years old, his brother, Freddie, the writer’s father, then 15, dumped a bowl of mashed potatoes on Trump’s head at a family dinner. The laughter which ensued caused Trump severe humiliation, which showed even six decades later; during a toast at a party in the White House in 2017, Donald’s older sister, Maryanne, laughingly recalled this incident, which had become a part of family lore. Trump was deeply humiliated at being the brunt of the joke. He has since learned “to use humiliation as a weapon; from then on, he would use the weapon, never be at the sharp end of it.”
Which immediately brings to mind President Obama’s speech at the 2016 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, when he destroyed Trump with contemptuous comments which also drew much laughter, derision and applause from the stellar audience. The humiliation caused by this speech is, we are told, the main reason Trump decided to run for the Presidency in 2016. So maybe Trump is right, maybe the mess the country is in today is really Obama’s fault.
Another time, Trump saw the author in a bikini at Mar-a-Lago, and exclaimed: “Holy shit, Mary, you’re stacked.” This tasteless remark to a niece indicates that his predilection for incest is not only confined to his sick feelings for his daughter, Ivanka, whom he has at various times groped in public, and described as having a “very hot body” and, if he weren’t married, he’d be dating her.
His own daughter. Think about that. Take your time.
Dr. Trump says that she didn’t write the book with any desire for money or revenge. She says she was reluctant to speak up during the 2016 election as she may have been dismissed as a disgruntled, estranged family member. She also thought there would be competent people in his administration who understood how government worked and would be able to curb his worst impulses. “Clearly I was wrong to make that assumption…. The events of the last three years, however, forced my hand, and I can no longer remain silent. By the time this book is published, hundreds of thousands of American lives will have been sacrificed on the altar of Donald’s hubris and willful ignorance. If he is afforded a second term, it would be the end of American democracy.”
She added that the last straw of so many straws was “the horrors at the border, separating children from their parents, the torture, the kidnapping and incarceration of them in cages was unthinkable, unbearable. When an opportunity presented itself to write this book as a warning, I needed to take the leap.”
A clinical psychologist, Dr. Trump writes, “Donald’s pathologies are so complex and his behaviors so often inexplicable that coming up with an accurate and comprehensive diagnosis would require a battery of neuropsychological tests that he’ll never sit for.” She says that “a large minority of people still confuse his arrogance for strength, his false bravado for accomplishment and his superficial interest in them for charisma.” Sadly, “at a very deep level, his bragging and false bravado are not directed at the audience in front of him but at his audience of one: his long-dead father.”
What makes Dr. Trump’s book so credible is that she reveals, with realistic anecdotes, characteristics we have already seen for ourselves in the behaviour of this petty little man during the past three years: his plantation mentality, his narcissistic insecurity, his ignorant incompetence, his contempt for decency, ethics and the rule of law, his apathy for the welfare of everyone but himself, have all made a mockery of the greatest office in the land. He has reduced America from the greatest superpower of three short years ago to be the laughing stock of the world.
At a recent interview with liberal TV commentator Rachel Maddow, she said: “I want people to understand what a failure of leadership this is, and the reason he’s failing at it is because he’s incapable of succeeding at it. It (Leadership) would have required taking responsibility – which would, in his mind, have meant admitting a mistake, which in my family was essentially punishable by the death penalty, symbolic or otherwise. She says she has heard and deplores the racial slurs he constantly uses against African Americans, including the n….. word, his anti-Semitic and misogynistic slurs, and being a lesbian herself, his derogatory comments against the LGBTQ community.
The author opens her book with a quotation from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables:
If the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but the one who causes the darkness.
When asked by Chris Cuomo of CNN what she meant by this quotation, she said that when Donald was growing up, his grandfather provided the darkness, with his personality and his wealth, under which Donald committed his immoral and fraudulent sins. When he became president of the United States, she hoped that the “best people” he promised to employ in his administration would help him to get out of this darkness into the light of good governance.
Unfortunately, by demanding total loyalty from everyone who worked for him and getting rid of anyone who disagreed with him, Trump has now surrounded himself with a bunch of sycophantic enablers who continue to provide the darkness under which he has openly committed the most egregious of crimes, up to and including treason. Paradoxically, he is committing these crimes right in front of our eyes, obvious to everyone except his enablers (and his storied “base”) who have chosen to remain under the cover of this darkness, to achieve their own racist, political and financial ambitions. “To this day”, she writes, “the lies, misrepresentations, and fabrications that are the sum total of who my uncle is, are perpetuated by the Republican Party and white evangelical Christians…. The lies may become true in his mind as soon as he utters them, but they are still lies. It’s just another way for him to see what he can get away with. And so far, he’s gotten away with everything.”
“The atmosphere of division my grandfather created in the Trump family is the water in which Donald has always swum, and division continues to benefit him at the expense of everyone else. It’s wearing the country down…. changing us even as it leaves Donald unaltered.” The polarization of the country today is evidence of the success of Trump’s strategies of self-serving deception and distraction. “What I think we need to grapple with now is why so many people are continuing to allow it.”
On November 3, voters of America will have the choice to throw light on this darkness, to bring back democracy into a country whose national pride has been, since the drafting of the Constitution, “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. National pride which has lost its way.
If voters continue to keep their eyes closed to the evil and the cruelty of this darkness in November, then Democracy would indeed have died in Darkness.
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Islamophobia and the threat to democratic development
There’s an ill more dangerous and pervasive than the Coronavirus that’s currently sweeping Sri Lanka. That is the fear to express one’s convictions. Across the public sector of the country in particular many persons holding high office are stringently regulating and controlling the voices of their consciences and this bodes ill for all and the country.
The corrupting impact of fear was discussed in this column a couple of weeks ago when dealing with the military coup in Myanmar. It stands to the enduring credit of ousted Myanmarese Head of Government Aung San Suu Kyi that she, perhaps for the first time in the history of modern political thought, singled out fear, and not power, as the principal cause of corruption within the individual; powerful or otherwise.
To be sure, power corrupts but the corrupting impact of fear is graver and more devastating. For instance, the fear in a person holding ministerial office or in a senior public sector official, that he would lose position and power as a result of speaking out his convictions and sincere beliefs on matters of the first importance, would lead to a country’s ills going unaddressed and uncorrected.
Besides, the individual concerned would be devaluing himself in the eyes of all irrevocably and revealing himself to be a person who would be willing to compromise his moral integrity for petty worldly gain or a ‘mess of pottage’. This happens all the while in Lankan public life. Some of those who have wielded and are wielding immense power in Sri Lanka leave very much to be desired from these standards.
It could be said that fear has prevented Sri Lanka from growing in every vital respect over the decades and has earned for itself the notoriety of being a directionless country.
All these ills and more are contained in the current controversy in Sri Lanka over the disposal of the bodies of Covid victims, for example. The Sri Lankan polity has no choice but to abide by scientific advice on this question. Since authorities of the standing of even the WHO have declared that the burial of the bodies of those dying of Covid could not prove to be injurious to the wider public, the Sri Lankan health authorities could go ahead and sanction the burying of the bodies concerned. What’s preventing the local authorities from taking this course since they claim to be on the side of science? Who or what are they fearing? This is the issue that’s crying out to be probed and answered.
Considering the need for absolute truthfulness and honesty on the part of all relevant persons and quarters in matters such as these, the latter have no choice but to resign from their positions if they are prevented from following the dictates of their consciences. If they are firmly convinced that burials could bring no harm, they are obliged to take up the position that burials should be allowed.
If any ‘higher authority’ is preventing them from allowing burials, our ministers and officials are conscience-bound to renounce their positions in protest, rather than behave compromisingly and engage in ‘double think’ and ‘double talk’. By adopting the latter course they are helping none but keeping the country in a state of chronic uncertainty, which is a handy recipe for social instabiliy and division.
In the Sri Lankan context, the failure on the part of the quarters that matter to follow scientific advice on the burials question could result in the aggravation of Islamophobia, or hatred of the practitioners of Islam, in the country. Sri Lanka could do without this latter phobia and hatred on account of its implications for national stability and development. The 30 year war against separatist forces was all about the prevention by military means of ‘nation-breaking’. The disastrous results for Sri Lanka from this war are continuing to weigh it down and are part of the international offensive against Sri Lanka in the UNHCR.
However, Islamophobia is an almost world wide phenomenon. It was greatly strengthened during Donald Trump’s presidential tenure in the US. While in office Trump resorted to the divisive ruling strategy of quite a few populist authoritarian rulers of the South. Essentially, the manoeuvre is to divide and rule by pandering to the racial prejudices of majority communities.
It has happened continually in Sri Lanka. In the initial post-independence years and for several decades after, it was a case of some populist politicians of the South whipping-up anti-Tamil sentiments. Some Tamil politicians did likewise in respect of the majority community. No doubt, both such quarters have done Sri Lanka immeasurable harm. By failing to follow scientific advice on the burial question and by not doing what is right, Sri Lanka’s current authorities are opening themselves to the charge that they are pandering to religious extremists among the majority community.
The murderous, destructive course of action adopted by some extremist sections among Muslim communities world wide, including of course Sri Lanka, has not earned the condemnation it deserves from moderate Muslims who make-up the preponderant majority in the Muslim community. It is up to moderate opinion in the latter collectivity to come out more strongly and persuasively against religious extremists in their midst. It will prove to have a cementing and unifying impact among communities.
It is not sufficiently appreciated by governments in the global South in particular that by voicing for religious and racial unity and by working consistently towards it, they would be strengthening democratic development, which is an essential condition for a country’s growth in all senses.
A ‘divided house’ is doomed to fall; this is the lesson of history. ‘National security’ cannot be had without human security and peaceful living among communities is central to the latter. There cannot be any ‘double talk’ or ‘politically correct’ opinions on this question. Truth and falsehood are the only valid categories of thought and speech.
Those in authority everywhere claiming to be democratic need to adopt a scientific outlook on this issue as well. Studies conducted on plural societies in South Asia, for example, reveal that the promotion of friendly, cordial ties among communities invariably brings about healing among estranged groups and produces social peace. This is the truth that is waiting to be acted upon.
Pakistan’s love of Sri Lanka
By Sanjeewa Jayaweera
It was on 3rd January 1972 that our family arrived in Karachi from Moscow. Our departure from Moscow had been delayed for a few weeks due to the military confrontation between Pakistan and India. It ended on 16th December 1971. After that, international flights were not permitted for some time.
The contrast between Moscow and Karachi was unbelievable. First and foremost, Moscow’s temperature was near minus 40 degrees centigrade, while in Karachi, it was sunny and a warm 28 degrees centigrade. However, what struck us most was the extreme warmth with which the airport authorities greeted our family. As my father was a diplomat, we were quickly ushered to the airport’s VIP Lounge. We were in transit on our way to Rawalpindi, the airport serving the capital of Islamabad.
We quickly realized that the word “we are from Sri Lanka” opened all doors just as saying “open sesame” gained entry to Aladdin’s cave! The broad smile, extreme courtesy, and genuine warmth we received from the Pakistani people were unbelievable.
This was all to do with Mrs Sirima Bandaranaike’s decision to allow Pakistani aircraft to land in Colombo to refuel on the way to Dhaka in East Pakistan during the military confrontation between Pakistan and India. It was a brave decision by Mrs Bandaranaike (Mrs B), and the successive governments and Sri Lanka people are still enjoying the fruits of it. Pakistan has been a steadfast and loyal supporter of our country. They have come to our assistance time and again in times of great need when many have turned their back on us. They have indeed been an “all-weather” friend of our country.
Getting back to 1972, I was an early beneficiary of Pakistani people’s love for Sri Lankans. I failed the entrance exam to gain entry to the only English medium school in Islamabad! However, when I met the Principal, along with my father, he said, “Sanjeewa, although you failed the entrance exam, I will this time make an exception as Sri Lankans are our dear friends.” After that, the joke around the family dinner table was that I owed my education in Pakistan to Mrs B!
At school, my brother and I were extended a warm welcome and always greeted “our good friends from Sri Lanka.” I felt when playing cricket for our college; our runs were cheered more loudly than of others.
One particular incident that I remember well was when the Embassy received a telex from the Foreign inistry. It requested that our High Commissioner seek an immediate meeting with the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr Zulifikar Ali Bhutto (ZB), and convey a message from Mrs B. The message requested that an urgent shipment of rice be dispatched to Sri Lanka as there would be an imminent rice shortage. As the Ambassador was not in the station, the responsibility devolved on my father.
It usually takes about a week or more to get an audience with the Prime Minister (PM) of a foreign country due to their busy schedule. However, given the urgency, my father spoke to the Foreign Ministry’s Permanent Sectary, who fortunately was our neighbour and sought an urgent appointment. My father received a call from the PM’s secretary around 10 P.M asking him to come over to the PM’s residence. My father met ZB around midnight. ZB was about to retire to bed and, as such, was in his pyjamas and gown enjoying a cigar! He had greeted my father and had asked, “Mr Jayaweera, what can we do for great friend Madam Bandaranaike?. My father conveyed the message from Colombo and quietly mentioned that there would be riots in the country if there is no rice!
ZB had immediately got the Food Commissioner of Pakistan on the line and said, “I want a shipload of rice to be in Colombo within the next 72 hours!” The Food Commissioner reverted within a few minutes, saying that nothing was available and the last export shipment had left the port only a few hours ago to another country. ZB had instructed to turn the ship around and send it to Colombo. This despite protests from the Food Commissioner about terms and conditions of the Letter of Credit prohibiting non-delivery. Sri Lanka got its delivery of rice!
The next was the visit of Mrs B to Pakistan. On arrival in Rawalpindi airport, she was given a hero’s welcome, which Pakistan had previously only offered to President Gaddafi of Libya, who financially backed Pakistan with his oil money. That day, I missed school and accompanied my parents to the airport. On our way, we witnessed thousands of people had gathered by the roadside to welcome Mrs B.
When we walked to the airport’s tarmac, thousands of people were standing in temporary stands waving Sri Lanka and Pakistan flags and chanting “Sri Lanka Pakistan Zindabad.” The noise emanating from the crowd was as loud and passionate as the cheering that the Pakistani cricket team received during a test match. It was electric!
I believe she was only the second head of state given the privilege of addressing both assemblies of Parliament. The other being Gaddafi. There was genuine affection from Mrs B amongst the people of Pakistan.
I always remember the indefatigable efforts of Mr Abdul Haffez Kardar, a cabinet minister and the President of the Pakistan Cricket Board. From around 1973 onwards, he passionately championed Sri Lanka’s cause to be admitted as a full member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and granted test status. Every year, he would propose at the ICC’s annual meeting, but England and Australia’s veto kept us out until 1981.
I always felt that our Cricket Board made a mistake by not inviting Pakistan to play our inaugural test match. We should have appreciated Mr Kardar and Pakistan’s efforts. In 1974 the Pakistan board invited our team for a tour involving three test matches and a few first-class games. Most of those who played in our first test match was part of that tour, and no doubt gained significant exposure playing against a highly talented Pakistani team.
Several Pakistani greats were part of the Pakistan and India team that played a match soon after the Central Bank bomb in Colombo to prove that it was safe to play cricket in Colombo. It was a magnificent gesture by both Pakistan and India. Our greatest cricket triumph was in Pakistan when we won the World Cup in 1996. I am sure the players and those who watched the match on TV will remember the passionate support our team received that night from the Pakistani crowd. It was like playing at home!
I also recall reading about how the Pakistani government air freighted several Multi Barrell artillery guns and ammunition to Sri Lanka when the A rmy camp in Jaffna was under severe threat from the LTTE. This was even more important than the shipload of rice that ZB sent. This was crucial as most other countries refused to sell arms to our country during the war.
Time and again, Pakistan has steadfastly supported our country’s cause at the UNHCR. No doubt this year, too, their diplomats will work tirelessly to assist our country.
We extend a warm welcome to Mr Imran Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan. He is a truly inspirational individual who was undoubtedly an excellent cricketer. Since retirement from cricket, he has decided to get involved in politics, and after several years of patiently building up his support base, he won the last parliamentary elections. I hope that just as much as he galvanized Sri Lankan cricketers, his political journey would act as a catalyst for people like Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene to get involved in politics. Cricket has been called a “gentleman’s game.” Whilst politics is far from it!.
Covid-19 health rules disregarded at entertainment venues?
Believe me, seeing certain videos, on social media, depicting action, on the dance floor, at some of these entertainment venues, got me wondering whether this Coronavirus pandemic is REAL!
To those having a good time, at these particular venues, and, I guess, the management, as well, what the world is experiencing now doesn’t seem to be their concerned.
Obviously, such irresponsible behaviour could create more problems for those who are battling to halt the spread of Covid-19, and the new viriant of Covid, in our part of the world.
The videos, on display, on social media, show certain venues, packed to capacity – with hardly anyone wearing a mask, and social distancing…only a dream..
How can one think of social distancing while gyrating, on a dance floor, that is over crowded!
If this trend continues, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Coronavirus makes its presence felt…at such venues.
And, then, what happens to the entertainment scene, and those involved in this field, especially the musicians? No work, whatsoever!
Lots of countries have closed nightclubs, and venues, where people gather, in order to curtail the spread of this deadly virus that has already claimed the lives of thousands.
Thailand did it and the country is still having lots of restrictions, where entertainment is concerned, and that is probably the reason why Thailand has been able to control the spread of the Coronavirus.
With a population of over 69 million, they have had (so far), a little over 25,000 cases, and 83 deaths, while we, with a population of around 21 million, have over 80,000 cases, and more than 450 deaths.
I’m not saying we should do away with entertainment – totally – but we need to follow a format, connected with the ‘new normal,’ where masks and social distancing are mandatory requirements at these venues. And, dancing, I believe, should be banned, at least temporarily, as one can’t maintain the required social distance, while on the dance floor, especially after drinks.
Police spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana keeps emphasising, on TV, radio, and in the newspapers, the need to adhere to the health regulations, now in force, and that those who fail to do so would be penalised.
He has also stated that plainclothes officers would move around to apprehend such offenders.
Perhaps, he should instruct his officers to pay surprise visits to some of these entertainment venues.
He would certainly have more than a bus load of offenders to be whisked off for PCR/Rapid Antigen tests!
I need to quote what Dr. H.T. Wickremasinghe said in his article, published in The Island of Tuesday, February 16th, 2021:
“…let me conclude, while emphasising the need to continue our general public health measures, such as wearing masks, social distancing, and avoiding crowded gatherings, to reduce the risk of contact with an infected person.
“There is no science to beat common sense.”
But…do some of our folks have this thing called COMMON SENSE!