Famine, troubles, war and poverty in Tong island off Scotland. What would the President’s mother Mary Anne MacLeod make of her immigrant-bashing son?
By his own lights, Donald Trump’s mother came from one of the places he called “shitholes.”
When he called for a ban on all such immigrants from such strange places he could have been describing his mother’s own Tong, her isolated hometown on the Isle of Lewis, in the Hebrides, off Scotland.
Trump held it in such little regard that he made just one whirlwind visit.
While beautiful on the outside, the history of Tong, his ancestral hometown, is one of extreme poverty, violence and unemployment. The village only got running water in the 1960s.The residents spoke only Gaelic for generations making it difficult to find work elsewhere.
In 1929, desperate for a new life, Trump's mother, Mary Anne MacLeod, left the island seeking a new life in America. She left a troubled land behind, one that had been devastated by the same Famine that hit Ireland in the 1840s and torn apart by clearances, when rich landlords, many of them absentee, tried to drive the peasants off the land.
Sounds like a nasty place, an island to be wary of when accepting immigrants.
Indeed, a check on the history bears this out. Local historians say Trump has land agitators in his past, relatives driven off their land in Tong by absentee landlords who wanted the land for grazing sheep.
The agitators fought back, seeking access to their land. Some referred to themselves as Bolsheviks – hardly a title Donald Trump would want to own up to.
Why his mother might even have been stopped at Ellis Island with that family background.
It was bloody and unforgiving and mirrored the land wars in Ireland. The situation “beggars all description,” a land manager from the mainland wrote upon visiting Tong in 1828, according to the Scottish historian James Hunter.
“It is worse than anything I ever saw in Donegal [in Ireland] where I always considered human wretchedness to have reached its very acme.”
Mary Anne was born on the island of Lewis in 1912 and left for America in 1929 to be with her sister Catherine, banished from Tong because she had a baby outside wedlock. Like many immigrants Mary Anne worked as a maid and in many menial jobs. She was forever grateful to America for the opportunity it gave her
Unfortunately, her son seems oblivious to that reality. Does he not realize his mother was part of the same historical wave of immigrants from many embattled countries he is trying to block today?
I wonder what his mother, Mary Anne would make of her immigrant-bashing son.
Here's a short clip on Donald Trump's ancestral home during the President's election campaign: