I just poured myself a glass of Drambuie. On the rocks. It’s a Scottish liqueur that was actually concocted by MacKinnons. Let me tell you about how this drink came to be and how this particular MacKinnon wound up here drinking it. In Britain there were a series of wars for the crown which details I won’t bore you with. But they end at the Battle of Culloden, when Prince Charles Edward Stuart listened to his fucking Irish advisor instead of his Scottish one and lost big time. Bonnie Prince Charlie was on the run, and he wound up holed up with his allies on the Isle of Skye… the ancestral homeland of the MacKinnons.
Why were we MacKinnons his allies? Because we were Catholics in an increasingly Presbyterian country on an island politically dominated by Anglicans. Stuart would never have been a good King, but I understand why they made the decision.
Right, back to Drambuie. Legend has it, Charles Stuart gave the recipe to Captain John MacKinnon. Now come on, no Princeling is going to have a recipe from the continent randomly on him to pass on. But that’s the legend they printed on the bottle for over 100 years.
So what happened to the MacKinnons after that? In retribution for the part the Highlanders had played in the failed uprising, the Hanoverians (later known as the House of Windsor) opted to commit one final purge of Catholicism in Scotland.
This was called the Highland Clearances. They were nominally targeting the Jacobites. But it was predominantly Catholic clans that were uprooted from the countryside and forced to live in cities. Wearing the Tartan was actually illegal for at least a century. The last MacKinnon Clan Chief died in prison.
Now there’s a big bridge between these historical events and where my family history picks up. But when it does, Archibald MacKinnon, my great-great grandfather is driving a cab in Edinburgh in the late 19th century. I’ve been to the street where he was born.
In 1904, he came to America, with my great grandfather Alexander Duncan MacKinnon as a wee babe in arms. They were looking for a country of opportunity, without aristocracy, and with opportunities for advancement other than serving in the British Army to subjugate the world. With the anti-Catholic sentiment rampant in America at the time, it was not the easiest transition.
Alexander wound up playing Baseball for the New York Yankees. He was their second string first baseman in the 1920s, but as Lou Gehrig was playing first base, he didn’t exactly get much time on the field.
His son, my grandfather, was one of the premier DJs in America. He was the top morning drive time DJ in Los Angeles until his untimely death in 1965.
And here I am, drinking my family drink in Alameda in 2017. And the President of my country has limited the people who can enter this country based on religion.
Upset. Angry. Enraged. None of it seems to really cover it. As a species, you’d think we would have learned from our mistakes. I’m more likely to be struck by lightning than killed by an Islamic terrorist. Our current vetting processes were extensive, and adequate.
Donald Trump and his immigration policies stand counter to everything my family stands for. Similar policies enacted by the nativists of 1904 would have excluded us as Catholics. Similar policies enacted by those who fear “economic migrants” would have prevented my family from coming to America.
If you support these policies, you oppose my existence.