And, to the credit of that theory of survival instinct, and little known to a lot of the American electorate, historically, many world leaders have shunned handshaking.
In fact, the very first President of the United States of America, George Washington, did not shake hands. George Washington was born in 1732, well before the discovery of Penicillin, when germs couldn’t be treated with a simple pill from the doctor. Instead of shaking hands, he would say, “Sir, I do not take the hand” and bow to the person he was greeting. Most historians actually credit this habit to his proper, traditional upbringing. Regardless of the true reason for his not shaking hands, it was viewed as very old-fashioned by George Washington’s contemporaries.
The founder of Fascism, Benito Mussolini tried to actually ban handshaking. For the Italian Dictator, it was a matter of misguided principle, not a fear of germs. In an attempt to make Italians a harder breed, and as part of his Fascist, anti-Bourgeois tendencies, he wanted Italians to return to what is called the “Roman Salute.” So, Mussolini outlawed handshaking, instead insisting that every Italian raise their arm and hand in the air as the greeting upon meeting.
In his 1997 book The Art of the Comeback, Trump wrote, “One of the curses of American society is the simple act of shaking hands, and the more successful and famous one becomes the worse this terrible custom seems to get. I happen to be a clean hands freak. I feel much better after I thoroughly wash my hands, which I do as much as possible.”
And, who can actually blame someone for being leery of germs, especially when one of their family members died because of germs? Trumps paternal grandfather, Frederick Christ “Fred” Trump, Senior, died prematurely at the age of 49 during the virulent world-wide Flu Pandemic of 1918.
On many occasions Trump has referred to handshaking as “barbaric.” And, if you look at over half of the world’s population in Asia, they would agree that the practice is not only unhealthy, but uncivilized as well.