Published in the Martinsburg Journal, August 3, 2019

"You can't leave fast enough!"

Among the 194 recognized countries in the world, there is a hierarchy of which ones are considered industrialized, emerging, or (according to some) “s***holes.” These classifications are fluid, because factors like war, famine, and economic instability can bring total catastrophe to a once-developed nation. 

For example, the African country of Somalia was once a thriving trade center, not a “crime-infested place” as it’s been called. Puerto Rico, before being pillaged by the Spanish, was a tropical island inhabited by tribes of hunter-gatherers, not “broken,” as it was recently described.  And Puerto Ricans are American citizens, although they are not represented in Congress because they are not a state.

But one country, the Germany of 1914-1945, represents the gold standard of “complete and total catastrophe.” Guilty of war crimes beyond calculation, genocide on a scale never before seen, creator of weapons for the destruction of masses, manipulating its economy and currency to finance global domination; it was ruined after single-handedly provoking two global wars. In the ranking of nations, it would have earned the description of “the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world; totally broken and crime infested place.”  

So it depends on what era we use when describing a country that has sunk so low that its expatriates should return to “help fix” the place where they, or their parents and grandparents, came from. 

In the Germany of 1885, the age of conscription into the army was 16.  Leaving the country before fulfilling that obligation would cost a man his citizenship. But it was easy to quietly board a ship to America, where there was no military service required of him and plenty of opportunities to buy land and operate a brothel catering to the Gold Rush miners.  America had nearly-open borders at that time, and no one checked to see if the home country considered an emigration illegal, or, if they were “not sending us their best.”  

The problem for this particular man was returning to marry his girl back home in Bavaria.  A “Royal Decree for Exile” was enforced by the German government and gave him eight weeks to leave. He could never regain German citizenship due to the crime he committed, according to documents uncovered by Gwenda Blair, a journalism professor at Columbia University. Lucky for him, the United States granted him citizenship, with few questions asked.

By the way, the name on his immigration papers was “Frederick Trumpf,” grandfather of the 45thPresident of the United States.  


Today, most applicants with a criminal history would be rejected for a Green Card, which rigorously screens for any involvement in prostitution.  Since Frederick committed the draft-dodging crime before he was 18, it might not have counted against him.  But by today’s investigatory standards and application timelines, had he told the truth about his brothel, he would have been ineligible for American citizenship. He was, under German law, an illegal emigrant due to evasion of military service; he would now be, under current US law, ineligible for immigration based on his involvement in prostitution. 

His only alternative would have been to sneak over an unsecured border, and hope that he, and his American-born children, would escape deportation. 

Grandfather Trump, watching Germany digress into the Great War, never considered going back to “help fix the totally broken and crime infested place from which he came." The chant of “send him back” was never shouted at him because he denied being German. 


After the Second World War, that same “corrupt and totally inept” country surrendered in 1945, having no “functioning government at all,” and was bailed out with American dollars through the Marshall Plan. The United States and its Allies told the people of Germany “how their government was to be run.”  They probably should have done it “loudly and viciously,” but instead they did it with dignity in a courtroom in Nuremberg.  Those interventions restored its industrialized economy, democratic government, and eventually its respect among the nations of the world.  Germany now admits more refugees and asylum-seekers than we do, according to the Cato Institute.

None of the Trumps ever served in the US military at any time.  The company created by his son, Frederick Christ---which Eisenhower himself ordered to be investigated for “war profiteering” during the construction of housing for WWII veterans---is the same company his progeny continues to profit from today.  They take pride in paying, in secret, as few taxes as possible, because that’s “smart.”  Why wouldn’t they love America?  

If current immigration policies were ever made retroactive to 1885 to include deporting the descendants of the “illegal aliens” of that era, many in this country would tell the President “you can’t leave fast enough.”  And the candidate who constantly whined and whined that America wasn’t Great Anymore, evidently doesn’t realize that the Tweets, slurs, accusations and insults he thinks he’s hurling towards others, actually apply to himself.  

For starters, when he says, “if you don’t like it…. leave,” we could use his own words to remind him that “Nancy Pelosi would be happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”