Brian Wilson’s article in The Scotsman looking at the origins of the mother of Donald Trump, Mary Anne née MacLeod, in the Hebridean Isle of Lewis asks an interesting question: Why is Trump’s immigrant background so seemingly forgotten by the man and his arguments?
‘If only Donald Trump wasn’t such a nasty piece of work…” There are plenty in the Republican Party harbouring that sentiment at present, but for different reasons it also has resonance on the Isle of Lewis.
There has hitherto been nobody one step away from the title “most powerful man in the world” with such a direct Scottish, far less Hebridean, lineage. In other circumstances, it could be a source of community pride. Plans for a Trump Trail might already be in the making.
According to the Irish precedent, US presidential candidates with even the most tenuous connections to the old country milk them for all they are worth, while the place in which roots are claimed is only too willing to reciprocate. None of this translates into the case of Trump and Lewis – because Trump is what he is.
Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric would seem weirdly at odds with his own background, on any grounds other than race. He is the product of a second generation immigrant from Germany (though his father pretended for many years to be of Swedish origin) and a first generation immigrant from Lewis.
In the grim economic times of the 1920s, Mary Anne MacLeod, Trump’s mother, followed two older sisters to New York from the crofting village of Tong. She first made the crossing in 1928 at the age of 16 on the Transylvania, found work with a wealthy family as a nanny but lost her job when Wall Street crashed the following year.