For want of a flack

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A competent PR counsel would have advised against this wardrobe choice:

The twitterverse immediately pounced, with captions like these:

Reinforcements from the 101st Fighting Ivies Have Arrived.
From the shores of Burberry, the 82nd heir-born has arrived.
Kush Body Armor by J.Crew. "When you don't know where you are or what you are doing."

Many of the comments were puns, often on movie and TV show themes:

A Farewell to Armani
A Few Good Emoluments
All Quiet On the West Hampton Front
All Tailored On the Western Front
Androgenous Now
Apocalypse Dow
Band of Brooks Brothers
Black Socks Down
Boys in Flack
Bridge on the River Khaki
Brogue One
Call of Duty: Modern Banking
Close Encounters of the Thurston Howell the Third Kind
Couture Under Fire
Delta Farce
Empire of the Son
Fedora! Fedora! Fedora!
From Here to Fraternity
Full Metal Blazer
G.I. Joke
Good Morning, Boca Raton
In the Armani Now
Iraq's Next Top Model
Nothing Special Forces
Operation Desert Nordstrom
Ralph Lauren of Arabia
Rambro: First Brood
Saving Private Equity
The Boys in Company LLC
The Day of the Jackass
The Douche of Hazard
The Fog of Dior
The Funds of Navarone
The Red Badge of Privilege
The Shirt Locker
Twee Kings
What Did You Do in The War, Preppie?
Zero Dork Thirty

Unfair to make fun of what someone looks like, in my opinion. But why make it so easy?


  1. Gwen Lenker said,

    April 9, 2017 @ 11:08 am

    They knew everyone else would be in uniform. They wore their own old (school) uniforms so they wouldn't stand out.

  2. Dan Lufkin said,

    April 9, 2017 @ 12:29 pm

    Why is it that a living, breathing human cliche can be criticized only by using another cliche? Viz: "You couldn't make this stuff up."

  3. Victor Mair said,

    April 9, 2017 @ 1:07 pm

    such creativity!! such wit!!

    in stitches!!

  4. Thomas P said,

    April 9, 2017 @ 1:13 pm

    Who is the second schoolboy?

  5. Q. Pheevr said,

    April 9, 2017 @ 1:35 pm

    Unfair to make fun of what someone looks like, in my opinion.

    I think it’s unfair to make fun of aspects of people’s appearance that they have little or no control over—e.g., the comments about the size of Trump’s hands.¹ But it seems to me that sartorial choices made by people with lots of money are fair game.²

    1. In that particular example, I’m much more concerned about collateral meanness to other people who happen to have small hands than I am about any unfairness to Trump himself.
    2. It would be rotten to make fun of poor people for wearing shabby or unfashionable clothes, but that’s not applicable here.

  6. PickeringPast said,

    April 9, 2017 @ 4:26 pm

    Elites fighting farce

  7. Gregory Kusnick said,

    April 9, 2017 @ 6:35 pm

    Q. Pheevr: Jokes about Trump's hands aren't actually about his hands. Trump himself set the tone for such jokes in a nationally televised debate. So he has no one but himself to blame for any subsequent mockery.

  8. bzfgt said,

    April 9, 2017 @ 7:07 pm


    Das Suit

  9. Viseguy said,

    April 9, 2017 @ 7:29 pm

    My favorite: Full Cashmere Jacket

    Dating myself here, but I can't help but wonder what fun tweeters would have had with Michael Dukakis tooling around in the M1 Abrams tank.

  10. Q. Pheevr said,

    April 9, 2017 @ 7:30 pm

    @Gregory Kusnick:
    As I said, I’m not really concerned about being fair to Trump himself—I feel that not only has he invited discussion of his anatomy specifically, he’s more generally placed himself so far beyond the pale of polite society as to have no claim to its normal courtesies—but the use of that particular form of mockery has the undesirable side effect of reinforcing the idea that having small hands (or whatever else) is a thing that people should feel bad about.

  11. AntC said,

    April 9, 2017 @ 8:34 pm

    With wit like this, I can almost forgive the internet's free speech for it's usual vile commentary.

    Before we all get carried away by criticising nepotism: isn't the reason Hillary got to be candidate that she's married to an ex-President?

    JFK appointed his brother into his administration. And would Ted Kennedy have fared so well without that moniker?

  12. Francis Boyle said,

    April 10, 2017 @ 3:01 am


    There was a joke going round during the Clinton administration which ended with the line "No Bill. I If had married him he would be the President of the USA".

  13. Francis Boyle said,

    April 10, 2017 @ 3:04 am

    "If I", of course. Damn the lack of an edit function.

  14. Sean M said,

    April 10, 2017 @ 3:35 am

    If only he had given gainful employment to a medievalist! They could have explained that the coat with your identification goes =over= your armour. For underneath there are some who like something plain and soldierly in white linen or napped and sheared fustian. But for someone of his predilections, I would personally recommend something in cloth-of-gold or crimson damask, to make a point that he doesn't mind getting it sweaty and rusty.

  15. Rodger C said,

    April 10, 2017 @ 6:47 am

    He doesn't want his gipoun to get al bismotered.

  16. languagehat said,

    April 10, 2017 @ 8:11 am

    JFK appointed his brother into his administration. And would Ted Kennedy have fared so well without that moniker?

    Hence Vaughan Meader's "Vote for the Kennedy of your choice, but vote!"

  17. languagehat said,

    April 10, 2017 @ 3:17 pm

    If this were my site, I'd just delete that comment, which is openly racist.

    [(myl) Done.]

  18. KeithB said,

    April 10, 2017 @ 3:23 pm

    Aren't all names made up? Just because it means something in some dead language does not mean that it isn't picked because it sounds nice.

    And the reason we don't "make fun of made up names is that it is dangerously close to these kinds of clearly racist jokes.

  19. languagehat said,

    April 10, 2017 @ 4:56 pm

    Is it disconcerting when someone takes a sweet name like Mary and spells it Marie? Or writes Stacie instead of Stacy? What exactly is so awful about Malinda?

  20. ajay said,

    April 11, 2017 @ 3:56 am

    They could have explained that the coat with your identification goes =over= your armour.

    Doubtless his own arms,whatever they are, quartered with those of the Trumps, which I imagine would just be argent, a letter T or, upon a scroll of the first the motto NO, YOU'RE WRONG, I CAN PUT A METAL ON A METAL, THAT IS TOTALLY OK, MY HERALD SAYS IT IS FINE AND I HAVE A GREAT HERALD, THE BEST.

  21. Andrew Usher said,

    April 11, 2017 @ 5:37 am

    If the deleted comment was racist, it was because it brought in race to a discussion where it seemingly didn't belong (it could probably have been classed as 'trolling', as well, especially if the poster hadn't been here before). It could easily be believe, and that poster probably did believe, that this post was just an attack on Trump. With the political polarisation we have, you have to see that – personally, I don't think it matters one bit, as he and the other guy were likely just wearing what they were told after showing up in 'ordinary' clothes; I don't think they'd have been allowed to wear military uniforms anyway – and without making this any more political, I am not a Trump fan. I do see the humor in it, but have nothing to add in that regard.

    Anyway, I surely wouldn't have deleted it after someone else replied in earnest, as will I: 'made up' African-American names aren't just a racist joke, but an easily observed phenomenon. Indeed, it's been posted about on this blog at least once: . As for the retort that all names are 'made up', that's no more so than all words are made up, as all other European-language names (as far as I know) were regularly formed from word(s) or derivations in some language, even if it may now be opaque. That category of African-American names is different, and further, doesn't usually obey English spelling-to-sound rules (as noted in that previous LL post). Surely that's a more linguistic issue than the topic of this post, even if it was introduced by a troll.

    k_over_hbarc at

  22. GeorgeW said,

    April 11, 2017 @ 5:56 am

    Andrew Usher:
    Is there any evidence that African-American names conform less to English spelling conventions than non-African American names? Do other ethnic groups always comply with English spelling conventions? Spanish, Polish, German, . . . ? If not, should they also be characterized as 'weird' or whatever the adjective used in the deleted post was?

    What is the point?

  23. Francois Lang said,

    April 11, 2017 @ 6:01 am

    Now…back to the original topic:


  24. said,

    April 11, 2017 @ 1:03 pm

    Meh – his father-in-law probably told him, "you don't need advice, buddy – trust me, I've never needed it, and look where I am!"

  25. Andrew (not the same one) said,

    April 11, 2017 @ 3:46 pm

    Trump actually has a coat of arms, granted by the Lord Lyon of Scotland. It features a double-headed eagle and three chevronels. Motto: Nunquam Concedere (never give in).

  26. David Fried said,

    April 12, 2017 @ 5:36 pm

    "Operation Enduring Tweedom"?

  27. Jeff B. said,

    April 13, 2017 @ 1:32 am

    Sperry Lyndon
    Legends of the Mall

    That's all i got.

  28. Andrew Usher said,

    April 13, 2017 @ 7:07 am

    That's only a minor point. Of course many existing names don't conform with standard spelling conventions (and that's true in some other languages as well), but if you must create a new English word – which is what a name is – you should be able to, and do so. Similarly 'creative' (needless variant) spellings for existing names, which I must admit white Americans also engage in (although they are likely to at least respect normal phonetics), are no better than such spellings for common words. Anyway the major point was that African-American naming practices are a legitimate subject of linguistic study, as much as anything else.

    I believe the adjective used in the deleted post was 'ridiculous'.

    And, without the context that undoubtedly some people know, the original topic really does look like just a political attack.

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