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The hypocrisy of Donald Trump

By Sunanda K Datta-Ray
October 18, 2018 12:04 IST
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'None of his grandparents, and only one of his parents, was born in the US or spoke English as their mother tongue.'
'Of his three wives, one was born in Czechoslovakia and one in Slovenia.'
'Where would Trump have been if they, too, had 'rejected the ideology of globalism and embraced the doctrine of patriotism'?' asks Sunanda K Datta-Ray.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/

It wasn't at all surprising that the packed United Nations General Assembly heard Donald Trump's attack on globalisation -- which he called 'globalism' like the Americans called non-alignment 'neutralism' -- in stony silence.

In India, he would have been howled down.

Or, perhaps, not.

We are such experts at dissimulation that it is quite likely that the very people who queued every day for H1B visas would in his presence heartily endorse everything Trump said in New York about staying at home to build up the country.

Foreigners quickly detect this duplicity.

'When I call on Cabinet ministers, the President, or governors, they all love to talk about their sons, sons-in-law and daughters in the United States and how well they're doing and how well they like things,' noted William B Saxbe, the American ambassador to New Delhi in the 1970s.

'The next day I read in the papers the very same people are denouncing the United States as a totally different kind of country.'


Migration is not a subject on which many Afro-Asians are honest or objective.

Many of the 84 heads of State and 44 heads of government who listened to Trump would count among their citizens the hundreds of thousands of Afro-Asians who are either hammering at the European Union's Greek door or risking (and losing) their lives in leaky tubs that should never be allowed to attempt to cross the Mediterranean.

Those kings, presidents and prime ministers packed in the UN's green malachite hall would never admit that the search for better living conditions is migration's main impetus.

That applies as much to the Nobel Laureate academic at a hallowed institution as to a street-corner sweeper.

Both are emigrants who have sought and found abroad the comforts the motherland denied them.

Some try to camouflage this uncomfortable truth by ponderously pontificating on migration as being a civilisational phenomenon.

Or they claim a justifying a mission -- like Indian doctors saving Britain's National Health Service.

A few try to submerge themselves totally in a newly acquired identity.

Occasionally, someone like Amit Anilchandra Shah, the Bharatiya Janata Party president, and some far right politicians in the West, seek comfort in applying double standards to different migrants.

Presumably, Shah did not look on as 'termites' the hundreds of thousands of Gujarati shopkeepers and small traders whom the natives of the old Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika resented so deeply?

Rightly or wrongly, they were blamed for standing aloof from Africans whom they exploited, and for trying to identify with the British.

When indigenous regimes threw out Gujaratis who had gone to East Africa on the colonial bandwagon, they could have returned to the motherland where their capital, skills and undoubted capacity for hard work would have been invaluable assets in India's development.

Instead, they begged and pleaded with an extremely reluctant Britain to let them in.

Instead of encouraging them to return to India, Indira Gandhi's government stupidly backed their demand.

It was determined to punish Britain, not realising that meant cutting India's own nose to spite its face.

Those Gujarati immigrants -- now numbering more than 620,000 -- include millionaires, peers of the realm and about half of the ethnic Indian members of the British parliament.

These were the people behind the Wembley Stadium extravaganza when Narendra Damodardas Modi visited Britain in 2015.

Like fellow Gujaratis in the US or Singapore, those who prospered (as they do everywhere!) in Britain never hesitate to help the BJP.

Would Shah still call them termites?

Some speakers don't appreciate how delicately they themselves are placed.

Queen Elizabeth, whose uncle, Edward VIII, boasted he didn't have a drop of English blood in his veins, never mentions migration.

But speaking in Sweden last month, the Dalai Lama was less astute.

He may even have provided Trump his cue by saying that refugees should 'ultimately develop their own country' because 'Europe belongs to Europeans'.

Where does that leave the 45th US president?

He is the son and grandson of immigrants: German on his father's side -- not Swedish, as he likes to say -- and Scottish on his mother's.

None of his grandparents, and only one of his parents, was born in the US or spoke English as their mother tongue.

His mother's parents came from the remote Gaelic-speaking Outer Hebrides.

Of his three wives, one was born in Czechoslovakia and one in Slovenia.

Where would Trump have been if they, too, had 'rejected the ideology of globalism and embraced the doctrine of patriotism'?

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Sunanda K Datta-Ray
Source: source