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.
All communities should be treated equally without distinction
by Jehan Perera
The government was elected on a platform that stressed national security and unity. The elections took place in the aftermath of the Easter suicide bomb attacks of 2019 that caused the highest numbers of casualties in Christian churches. As the bombers were all Muslim, the Muslim population in the country came under public suspicion which was spontaneous and widespread. There was also equally widespread fear and anxiety about follow on attacks that could target Christians in particular and also the population in general. The cause of the attacks and the master minds behind them were a mystery then as they are now.
Due to the timely intervention of Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo, in whose diocese the two most serious attacks took place, there was no retaliation against the Muslim population by those who had lost their kith and kin. However, in the weeks that followed, there were mob attacks against the Muslim community in parts of the country that were distant from the bomb attacks. These attacks were not spontaneous but organised and intended to loot Muslim property and cause fear in them. The government, which was under political siege for having failed to prevent the suicide bomb attacks, failed once again to adequately protect the Muslim community.
It is in this context that Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith’s statement on the occasion of the second anniversary of the Easter bombings takes on significance. About two months ago he gave a deadline by which he asked the government to identify who was behind the Easter attacks and the cause for them. The Cardinal has consistently spoken up on the issue of the Easter bombing, first to ask for restraint on the part of the victims, then to ask the government to identify the perpetrators and prior to the elections to take the position that the people needed a government that could protect them. Now he has said that “Our brethren were attacked not by religious extremism, but by a group that exploited it to use the attackers as pawns in order to strengthen their political power.”
Two years after the Easter bombings in which they were branded as supporters of religious extremism, the Muslim community seeks in many different ways to overcome the suspicion that once engulfed them and which they fear can do so again. The use of the black Islamic dress that was an increasing trend among Muslim women has been much reduced. Muslim organisations are making energetic efforts to network with other religious organisations, join inter-religious groups and to liaise with civil society. They make available to them the Islamic teachings on peace and coexistence. This weekend I was invited to the opening of a community centre in the Kurunegala District by a Muslim organization.
On the walls of the community centre there were panels put up with sayings from the different religions on a number of important matters, such as how to treat others, and the role of spiritual values in everyday life. The foremost place at the opening ceremony was given to Buddhist monks who had come to attend the ceremony along with government officials and police officers. The monks who spoke said that the Muslim community living in the village had good relations with the Sinhalese living in the neighbouring villages, and this had continued for generations. Another monk said that after the Easter bombings they had heard there were violent gangs heading in the direction of the Muslim village, they had come there to ensure no harm would befall those people.
In this context, the announcement that the government will ban 11 Muslim organisations sends a negative message to the country at large about the Muslim community. It creates an impression that Muslims organisations are under suspicion and possibly even close to performing acts of violence which necessitates them being banned. Of the 11 banned organisations, two are foreign ones, the Islamic State and Al Qaeda which have been reported internationally as engaging in violence. However, the other nine are Sri Lankan organisations which do not have a track record of violence or illegality. Four of them have the name “Thowheed” in them, which in the Arabic language means “faith.”
The ban on these Thowheed organisations may be due to the fact that the leader of the suicide squad, Zahran, was part of an organisation that had the name “Thowheed” in it. The ban on them may also be due to the fact that the Commission of Inquiry into the Easter bombings recommended such action against them. However, the Commission also recommended that other non-Muslim organisations be banned which has not happened. This suggests that the Muslim organisations are being treated differently. The danger is that when it treats organisations differently, the government may be generating resentment in the Muslim community, especially the youth. If the words of Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith are correct, the problem lies not in Muslim extremism but in partisan power politics.
Sri Lanka has experienced Sinhalese youth insurrections twice and even the Tamil militant movement was started by youth, who were once called “the boys.” Perhaps in anticipation of such a radicalisation phenomenon, the government has recently passed an add-on called the “De-radicalisation from holding violent extremist religious ideology” to the Prevention of Terrorism Act. This will permit people who fall into its ambit to be send to rehabilitation centres for up to two years without trial. This may provide the government with an opportunity to release up to 250 Muslim citizens currently under detention on suspicion of being involved in the Easter bombings and send them for rehabilitation. On the other hand, this regulation may be used in the future in regard to other persons and other groups. The better way to prevent radicalization is to make people feel that the law is even-handed to all, and also to encourage engagement between communities.
During the discussion that took place at the opening of the community centre in Kurunegala, it was noted that the younger generation had fewer inter-community linkages than those of older generations. This may be due to the changing nature of society and the economy where people spend less time with other people and more time with machines or doing narrow and specialised jobs. In multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies in which there is conflictual relations, the tendency on the part of those from different communities will be to live in their own silos rather than interact with those of other communities. Living in peace in plural societies requires purposeful and energetic interaction which is organised. Where there has been ethnic and religious strife the world over, the better answer has been to provide people with encouragement and incentives to mix together, which is what the Muslim organization in Kurunegala was trying to do.
TNGlive…a boon to artistes affected by the pandemic
No doubt, Covid-19 has ruined the entertainment industry, throughout the world.
Entertainment venues have been shut down, concerts cancelled…and musicians are finding the going pretty tough.
However, it’s heartening to know that there are performers who find solace in keeping the public entertained, via online performances.
In this instance, those responsible for TNGlive must be congratulated for creating this platform, on social media, in order to give lots of folks, from around the globe, the opportunity to showcase their talent, on a regular basis.
Quite a few Sri Lankans have been featured on TNGlive, including Melantha Perera, Suzi Croner (Fluckiger), Sureshni Wanigasuriya, Yasmin de Silva, and Kay Jay Gunesekere,
Suzi did this scene twice, and on both occasions her performance was highly rated, with bouquets galore coming her way…on social media.
On Saturday, April 10th, she was featured (8.00 pm Sri Lankan time) doing songs from the country and western catalogue.
It was a very entertaining programme, which also contained some dance scenes (line dancing) from the audience present, in her living room – her friends.
Her repertoire included ‘Joline, ‘Me And Bobby McGee, “Johnny B. Goode,’ ‘Blue By You,’ ‘Okie From Muskogee,’ ‘Tennessee Waltz,’ ‘Rose Garden,’ ‘Mississippi’ and ‘Cotton Eyed Joe.’
Suzi is to make her third appearance, on TNGlive, shortly, but this time it won’t be a solo effort, she says.
“For variety, I would be having a guy from the Philippines, and he sings the hit songs of Tom Jones and Engelbert.”
So get ready for another special from Suzi, who now resides in Switzerland.
Suzi was the frontline vocalist for the group Friends who were, at that point in time, top of the pops!
Another artiste who impressed viewers, performing on TNGlive, with his daughter, was Nigel Gerrard John Galway.
Nigel is from India, and has been a Chef for the last 23 years, with 12 years spent at the Oberoi hotels. He was also an executive Sous Chef at Taj, in Coimbatore.
In fact, Allwyn Stephen, TNGlive chief, referred to Nigel as…probably the first Singing/Dancing Chef in the world!
He, and his 18-year-old daughter, Lean Pamela Mary, did get the attention of many, with their unique style of presentation; while Nigel handled the vocals, Lean, using only gestures, expression, and movements, brought out the meaning of the lyrics in most of the songs her dad did. And, she did it beautifully.
Yes, she also did exercise her vocal cords, on this particular programme
Says Nigel: “We come from a family of musicians, but we attempted singing, only during the pandemic, on various social media groups, and we did so only because we were all stuck at home.
“We joined TNGlive, through a friend, and have been performing ever since. The love and support we received from people around only encouraged us to keep growing and now we have a page of our own called THE SINGING CHEF.”
Heard at the club
A member reminisced an incident that happened long years ago, during those peaceful times when terrorism was unheard of. He had been driving his car, on the Deniyaya Road, when about six miles from Galle, he saw a village in a state of panic. So he stopped his car near the village boutique and asked the mudalali what was happening? The mudalali had said that the self-opinionated ‘mudliyar’ of the village (a court interpreter) had organised a ‘dane’ (an alms giving) and was awaiting the procession of monks, complete with drummers, from the temple. And, seeing it coming over the paddy fields which was a short cut, instead of the village road as show off, put him in a paddy, and he had chased the monks away. So the monks had gone back to the temple. As the meal time deadline for monks was fast approaching, the villagers brought the meals they had cooked in their homes, to serve the monks! That was the panic.
He was an unpopular villager who rose to a high position in the public service with political influence. Cussed by nature, he used his official position to harass villagers. When he met with an untimely death and, right at the moment the coffin was taken to the hearse, the whole village reverberated with the sound of fire crackers, organised by the irate villagers.
Once a terrible post office blunder very nearly wrecked a marriage. A certain sales rep sometimes sold his wares on credit. One such creditor was the owner of a shop named ‘Chandra Cafe’ who was slack in his payments. So the sales rep sent him a telegram that he would be coming to collect his dues, next Monday. On receipt, the owner of Chandra Cafe telegraphed the rep asking him not to come on Monday and the telegram received by him read, ‘Do not come on Monday – Chandra K.P.’ And when the rep’s wife read the telegram there was some misunderstanding at home which nearly rocked his marriage.
This reminded us of another telegram. An army officer was to go back to camp by the night mail. When he arrived at the railway station, he found a lady in an advanced state of pregnancy, almost in tears, because no berths were available. Gallantly the officer offered her his berth and, at the nearest post office, sent a telegram to his commanding officer saying ‘Unable to return tomorrow as ordered. Gave berth to lady. Arriving tomorrow evening.’
Obviously, the vital word ‘berth’ had been misspelt as ‘birth’, for the gallant officer received this reply from his commanding officer, ‘Your next confinement will be to barracks’.
A philanthropist donated a building to his old school. An opening ceremony was held with a VVIP as the chief guest. A group photograph was also taken. As the donor was keen to get this photograph published in the newspapers without delay, he sent the local correspondent in his limousine to Colombo. He met the editor who happened to be an old boy of the same school. After a look at the photograph, he folded it in such away to eliminate the principal and sent it for publication. The editor seemed to have an axe to grind with the principal!
It was in the early 60s and I was on my way to the club in the evening, when I met a friend near the club. With him was another, I invited them both to the club and after a few drinks we were headed out of the club, when near the gate, my friend pulled me aside and said that his friend was going for some trade union work to Hambantota and was short of funds. I told him that he should have told me that before I paid the club bill and also told him I had only Rs.18.00 which I gave. This trade union leader was non other than Rohana Wijeweera, who was to become JVP leader.
It was towards the end of the 1980s and a club member, a tea factory owner was on his way home all alone in his car, at the break of down, after finishing his factory work. He had to travel 12 miles. After about five miles, he saw a youth profusely bleeding with injuries, coming down a hill. The good Samaritan that he was, he took him in his car to the hospital. On the way, the police took him and the injured youth into custody for terrorist activities. Fortunately for him, Major-General Lucky Wijeratna, who was a classmate of his at school, was there to save him.
This happened several decades ago. There was a certain popular elderly club member, who was a wealthy businessman and drank nothing but whisky. That day when he came to the club, he seemed to have lost his bearings. He told his friends that he was going to donate all his wealth to the Home for Disabled Children which was close to his house, because his only child, a daughter, had eloped. His friends prevailed on him to defer his decision for a few months. About a year or so later, he came to the club one evening carrying a big flask in his hand. He said that it was for his errant daughter who has now reconciled, adding that he was a grandfather now!
A busy garage was located in a residential area and it was open day and night. To highlight their services, they put up an impressive signboard, ‘We never sleep’. The following day a prankster had written below it ‘and neither do the neighbours’.
During the day of insanity – 29th July 1987, the Open University at Matara was burnt down and the Ruhunu University remained closed. A wall poster came up. It read: ‘Close the Open University’ and ‘Open the closed University’.
A young teacher, met a young man at the Dehiwala Zoological Gardens. Although their native villages were far apart, they
became close friends and planned to get married in the near future. He posed as a private bus owner. One day on a visit to his fiancée, he stayed the night over and muttered in his sleep, “Borella – Battaramulla! Borella – Battaramulla!” This aroused serious suspicions about his identity. So a few days later, her parents came to the Borella junction, to see him in a sarong loading passengers to private buses as a ‘bus crier’. And the love story ended right there.
A long time ago a wealthy industrialist, a popular member of the club, was having his drink in a secluded corner of the club, most unlike him. He appeared to be quite agitated. Some concerned friends asked him what happened. He said that his only daughter (he also had a son) had married a man of her choice adding that his wife was in favour of the marriage. The daughter he said, was 22 years old. His friends told him that at that age, she was entitled to choose her partner in life and appealed to him to take things easy as his wife too approved of the marriage. After about a year or so, a friend visited him. Proudly pointing out a large multiple storey house in his sprawling garden, he had said that it was built by his son-in-law.
A certain member served abroad for many years. One morning he come back to his native Galle in a hired helicopter. That evening he came to the club and ordered a case of beer for his friends!
Several years ago, a member had gone to the Galle Post Office to send a telegram to a close relative. He was informed by the postal authorities that there was a breakdown in the telegraphic services and that it was unlikely that his message, about a bereavement in the friend’s family, would reach his relative in time. They advised our friend to telephone someone in the area where his relative lived and to get the message delivered orally. Those were the days when only a few had telephones. As the member did not know anyone in that area with a telephone, he thought of S. Jayasinghe, known as Mr. S, who was not know to him personally and who was a Junior Minister residing in the area where our friend’s relative lived.
When our friend telephoned him from the post office, he had just got into his car to go somewhere. Soon after he was speaking to our friend over the phone as if he was talking to an old friend. He also told our friend that he was about to go to the site where he was building a new house. Our friend then gave him the message and appealed to him to get it delivered. The rest of the story was told to our friend by his relative who had said that during a heavy shower of rain, he found a car near his gate and that when he went up to the car he recognized him to be the Junior Minister. Like my friend, he did not personally know the Junior Minister. Instead of giving the message then and there, he had got off the car and had gone to our friend’s house and not only given the message but also consoled him by talking to him for a few minutes.
It was in the late 1980s, at the height of the insurrection, that this member was travelling all alone to Galle in his jeep. He was going through the Kottawa Forest which was famous at the time for tyre pyres. The Navy had stopped his vehicle and asked him to take a young man who was injured in a motorcycle accident, to the Galle Hospital, about eight miles away. The young man was bleeding profusely. He got him admitted to the hospital but our friend was forced to stay there for a long length of time, culminating in his having to give his consent for a surgical operation on the injured, whom he had never seen before. Alas! The purpose of his visit to Galle was lost.
A member had two sons, twins aged three years. As they fell ill, he channelled a specialist doctor who examined one twin and refused to examine the other, as an appointment was not made for him. So our friend had the other twin channelled as well. Certainly, it was no personification of Hippocrates!
A popular elderly member used to come to the club only on his pay day to keep himself warm. He worked at ‘Sathosa’ (C.W.E). The younger members would then tell him that he is very fortunate to work in a historic establishment like ‘Sathosa’ which is also referred to in Guttila Kavya (an epic) thus:
‘Sara Salelu Jana Sathose.’
Highly elated he would order a round of drinks, adding ‘Surapana karathi mese’.
This happened many decades ago. A member who was an inveterate gambler once lost heavily at the card table and mortgaged his expensive wrist watch. A member who was not well disposed towards him had sent a post card to his wife informing her that her husband sold his watch to gamble. He also had a 15-acre well-maintained tea estate which he had to sell when his gambles failed.
This story was related by a member and is about the ‘kings’ in the planting circles. A planter in the coconut belt of the North Western Province who owned acres of coconut, once named himself ‘King Coconut’. He argued that if a planter in the Kalutara District who owned vast acres of rubber could be referred to as a ‘Rubber King’ why shouldn’t he be called ‘King Coconut’.
One day a member related a story, which is hard to believe. A teacher who served in an uncongenial station, in his quest for higher knowledge, had studied for an external degree at a university. And he passed the examination with flying colours, obtaining first class honours and was highly commended by the university authorities for his brilliance, while serving in a different area. He had confided to his friends that his success at the exam was due to the gift of seeing all the question papers in a dream, before the examination!
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