Under the Black Flag

Celebrating Diversity

The very first day  I spent at a prestigious prep school—I was ten—I was punished for breaking the rule that no new boy was allowed to walk on the grass.  “Rhinies,” as we were called at Lawrenceville, had to stick to the paths, and the only time we could walk on the grass was during exercise periods.  The reason I broke the rule was simple: I didn’t speak English, and back then Americans spoke English, and even students from abroad were required to understand it.  Those were the good old days when America was a magnet for the bright and ambitious, even non-English-speaking boys like myself.  The headmaster was Dr. Healy, the assistant headmaster was Dr. Hyatt, the president of the school was Temple Brown, the captain of the football team was Karl McDonald, the campus hero was Homer Smith, and my housemates had names like Bill Trimble, Ben Cooper, Ludlow Miller, Carlie Ross, and Sam van Allen.  It was WASP heaven, and I fit right in with a name like Taki Theodoracopulos.  In those halcyon days one had to adjust to Uncle Sam, not the other way round.  People came over to find work, not to get free food and welfare.  I learned to speak de English in one week—not good English, but good enough to pass to the next grade the following year.

These memories came rushing back when I read Roger McGrath’s remarks a couple of issues back on Anglo-Saxon names of...

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