An unexpected and unwelcome side effect of Donald Trump’s ascent to possibly the most powerful position on the planet is that the fine name of Donald has been profoundly sullied.
Until recently, the most world-famous Donald was a sweet, wholesome, goofy cartoon character. I’ve always had a soft spot for this name of ancient Scottish kings, which apparently (yes, really) means ‘ruler of the world’.
For Australians, the name is most commonly associated with one of our most venerable sporting heroes – Bradman – who was reputedly not just a genius at cricket but also a decent and humble man, a ‘ruler’ in the gentlemen’s game. Aussies also associate one of the diminutives of Donald with that catchy ad ‘Is Don, is good’.
Donald is a common name in my husband’s clan. The family tree, from generations back until the present day, is peppered with Ians, Finlays, Johns and Alistairs, Hamishs, Angus’ and Farquhars. And Donalds. They didn’t have many daughters; the few there were tended to be Marys, Catrionas, Alisons and Fionas. Both my family and my husband’s have Celtic roots, and the names associated with the Celts tend to be strong and uncomplicated and go nicely with surnames that start with Mac.
These names, including till recently Donald, bring to mind bracing winds and soft mists, the ancient forbidding bulk of Edinburgh Castle high on its hill, the wild mountain and seascapes of the Scottish Highlands and Islands, noble warriors and hopeless causes, the haunting tragedy of Culloden, single malt whiskey, brawny men in kilts and what is arguably the most attractive accent in the world.
We have two children of each gender; each bears the name of one grandparent. My father-in-law Donald, (nicknamed ‘The Don’) was a large, big-hearted man who wore his baldness unashamedly and whose impulse was always to be welcoming and compassionate to anyone who crossed his path. One of our sons (understated, thoughtful, smart) has Donald as his second name and now I feel I need to apologise for saddling him with this moniker.
Because Donald, which has up until now had only happy associations for me, is tainted. Now it’s a by-word for misogyny, racism, greed, stupidity, bad taste, bad hair and an even worse fake suntan.
It is a heavy burden to place on those bearing the name, but I hope that the legacy of great Donalds of the past, and the present and future Donalds, can redeem this fine name by associating strength and ruling with humility and kindness.