The comments about my post yesterday have become truly bizarre. Nothing I wrote had anything at all to do with how people in Queens talk as opposed to how people in Manhattan talk. I cannot even begin to imagine where that comes from. What was I referring to? Well, I have read (obviously I have no idea whether this is true or not) that Fred Trump, Donald’s father, wanted to be accepted by the big socially well-established real estate developers who operated in Manhattan and felt shunned by them. Donald Trump, I imagine, picked up that attitude from his father. Trump’s sycophantic attitude toward those whom he perceives as strong is well known. I was simply suggesting that it extended to Bob Woodward and that that explained both why he agreed to an extended series of taped interviews and also why he tried in those interviews to sound knowledgeable, failing to do so because of his misuse of “big” words. I should have thought this was obvious from what I wrote.
My comment about the Columbia University Board of Trustees was based on something I heard half a century ago when I was still at Columbia. According to the story I heard, Columbia owned the land on which Rockefeller Center is built, obviously an enormously valuable property. They were charging something like $3 million a year in rent which was ridiculously below what they should have been getting. The Columbia board in those days had a heavy representation of high dollar Manhattan real estate developers who certainly should have known what that property was worth. In 1969, the year after the student uprising, we were told that Columbia was in terrible economic shape and as I heard the story, it took the next president a decade to repair the damage to Columbia’s finances.
What on earth does this have to do with whether it is all right to make fun of the way people in Queens talk but not all right to make fun of the way African-Americans talk? I don’t even know how one would go about making fun of the way people in Queens talk. I guess since I come from Queens I don’t think I have a Queens accent, I just talk. And at least when I was a boy there was certainly nothing that could be called a Manhattan accent although there was something that could be called a Brooklyn accent. I leave it to the linguists among my readership to decide whether there was something that could be called a Bronx accent or a Staten Island accent.