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you wanna [highland] dance, mr. trump?

there's a story floating around about an inaugural poem written in celebration of donald trump's scottish heritage, which refers to barack obama as a "tyrant". it's a little unclear what's going on; the author is indeed an author, who does indeed write poetry. but it's possible that this is him playing a prank, and there's no indication that the poem was commissioned, or that it will be read at the [sparsely attended] inauguration ceremony.

that said, trump has certainly expressed an affinity with his scottish heritage, which comes from his mother, a macleod born in the hebrides who immigrated to the united states and married the son of german immigrants fred trump in 1936. of course, he doesn't have enough of an affinity with scotland to know anything about it, as evidenced by his tweet talking about how happy everyone there clearly was with the vote on the brexit referendum. [every constituency in scotland voted to remain. if they seemed joyful, it was because they were nationalists who knew the next vote on separation was in the bag.]

as it happens, i'm of scottish heritage myself [something that's pretty clear from my name]. in fact, we even come from the same area of scotland, the western islands, which include the hebrides, as well as the inner islands like islay, mull and skye. we're both descended from the lords of the isles, the norse-gaels [i've talked about them before] who ruled a lot of western scotland for hundreds of years. of course, my family, the clan donald, goes a lot further back than his, having descended from somerled, the first lord of the isles, whereas the name macleod only enters the books hundreds of years later. but that's ok, donald, you can still play. think of me the way you think of those manhattan bluebloods who still chuckle a little when your back is turned. you're admitted, but you're the social runt.

the donald's heritage in scotland is a lot closer than mine. my family emigrated to canada generations ago, although they settled in cape breton, which was almost more scottish than scotland at the time, so it really wasn't like being in canada at all. why was that? why were there all these scots suddenly pouring into canada? it's a sad story.

my family were driven out of scotland during the highland clearances. this was a wave of efforts by the english, and their scottish puppets, to disenfranchise and drive out the scots who resisted english rule, especially in the wake of the jacobite uprising of 1745. my family were tough. they hung on in the isles until well into the nineteenth century, well after they'd been stripped of their lands and reduced to serfs on the property that had been theirs for hundreds of years. but eventually, necessity won out over pride, and they, along with many others, left their ancestral homeland for the new world, choosing as their destination a tiny pocket of promising arable land that bore a striking resemblance to the rolling hills of great britain.

many, many scottish families ended up here. many years ago, a friend of mine was foiled in an attempt to look my number up in the phone book, because he couldn't figure out which of the macdonalds listed on my tiny street was me. and i don't come from the most heavily scottish part of the province. [both my parents do, although only one of them is scottish by heritage.] until very recently, people raised in my corner of the world tended to identify far more with the culture of their progenitors than with canada. we were a territory of castoffs, who were poorly served by confederation, but that's a different story.

that donald trump's scottish family is so recently arrived tells me something about who he came from. the clan macleod, as i mentioned, were later arrivals among the lords of the isles. the "originals" [those who could trace their ancestry to somerled, the original man to bear the title lord of the isles] were the clans macquarie, macdougall and macdonald. by the sixteenth century, the council of the lords had expanded, but the clan donald [which included an offshoot, one of the maclaines/ macleans] were still recognized as the highest "caste" among them. and at that point, there were members of the clan macleod. certain branches of the macleods were given to fighting with other clans, trying to establish themselves as one of the great families, and getting smacked down on a regular basis for their belligerent behaviour.

those quarrelsome branches of the clan macleod, however, did eventually come up with a way of sticking it to the other scottish clans: when the scots united in the jacobite rebellion in 1745, the macleods sided with the english and raised an army to fight alongside them, helping to ensure that the scots were roundly defeated and setting into motion the process that would eventually lead to the highland clearances- the forced displacement and conscious starvation of those who had defied the british. [something that would, by the way, fit the current definition of genocide.]

the macleods who had supported the english, of course, were allowed to stay in scotland, and were even given lands confiscated from the rebels. they were able to stay much longer, because they were not hounded out like some sort of disease. indeed, they profited from the misery of the countrymen they had betrayed.

so there's your little lesson in scottish history, mr. donald trump: your family has close scottish ties because they were traitors to their homeland, and complicit in the genocide of many of their countrymen. now that you've called my attention to that heritage, i feel even more comfortable saying that the rotted apple does not fall far from the family tree.

and in case you haven't read your clan's wikipedia entry, here's something i'd like to call your attention to:

The surname MacLeod means 'son of Leod'. The name Leod is an Anglicization of the Scottish Gaelic name Leòd, which is thought to have been derived from the Old Norse name Ljótr, meaning ugly.

air muir's air tir. per mare per terras, bitch. i know what you are.

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