To add insult to injury, the White House event took place in the Oval Office under a portrait of President Andrew Jackson, called “the Indian killer” by the Cherokees for his policies that brought about the forced resettlement and death of thousands of Native Americans during the Trail of Tears.
Some think the portrait was not an accident. Gyasi Ross, a member of the Blackfeet Nation tribe and author told the Washington Post that he thought the portrait was deliberate:
“It’s an incredibly distasteful wink in front of people who have sacrificed so much,” Ross said. “Donald Trump is not a stupid man. He understands visuals and optics: His background is in television. So all of that stuff, I believe, is very deliberate.”
After making the insensitive crack, Mr Trump turned to one of the Navajo code talkers and added: “But you know what? I like you. Because you are special.
The comments were blasted as an ethnic slur, but White House Press Secretary Sanders dismissed that as a “ridiculous response.”
Immediately, the Internet went wild, with posts from Trump protestors and supporters alike, including the following posts on Yahoo:
“We elected Trump because he is NOT politically correct. Clear that up any for you?”
“elizabeth warren likes to throw shots at trump and trump fires them right back, what was racist that he said ? he calls her pocahantas because she PRETENDED to be an indian to get into an ivy league school and to advance her career, i want to see if CNN will look into them allegations , but we all know they are just an “arm” of the democratic party – trump wins !”
“How is calling Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas” a racist term? He’s making fun of a white woman who claimed to be a Native American so she could get into Harvard and then get promoted by affirmative action. If anything, Warren is guilty of racism by cultural appropriation and native people should be upset at her.”
“Trump says what he thinks, which is better than someone that says what is “politically correct” while they are thinking something completely different.”
“I don’t think the comments were racist driven, but pretty funny. Warren shouldn’t have said she was native American to get financial aid to HARVARD. LMAO!!! Got to love a President with a since of humor.”
“Libtards can’t fathom that a conservative will fire back when attacked. They are used to being able to attack without reason and get away with it. NOW they are crying because someone (the President) is calling them out on it. Oh dems, time to go to your safe-house you losers.”
“Fake Newz. President Trump said, “They call her Pocahontas”. Not graceful, but that’s why we elected President Trump. No filter, no problem. He tells it like it is. Liberals need to go cry in their pillows.”
“Senator Squaw would have eagerly produced proof of heritage by now to humiliate Trump. So why hasn’t she?”
“When the Liberal Democrat Controlled Bias Media have nothing else they turn to spinning even a NATIVE AMERICAN WOMEN’S NAME a racist slur ! Seems these smarter then us Liberal Democrats have a hard time with understanding words like ILLEGAL ALIENS they call them immigrants ! What is worst is the Liberal Democrat base thinks they are right ! These collage’s need to stop graduating so many from that $100.00 fee to become a Liberal Democrat Bias Journalist puppet !”
Let us try to make sense of this matter and explain why calling someone “Pocahontas” is indeed a racist slur.
It’s about context.
It’s offensive when the name is used as a pejorative.
“The name becomes a derogatory racial reference when used as an insult,” the Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes’ general secretary said in a statement. “American Indian names, whether they be historic or contemporary, are not meant to be used as insults. To do so is to reduce them to racial slurs.”
Navajo Nation Council delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty cited the event as the “latest example of systemic, deep-seated ignorance” about Native Americans.
“The Navajo Code Talkers are not pawns to advance a personal grudge or promote false narratives,” Crotty said in a statement released Monday. “Such pandering dishonors the sacrifice of our national heroes.”
The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) was quick to condemn Mr. Trump for using a slur against Warren that overshadowed the intent of the ceremony.
“We regret that the President’s use of the name Pocahontas as a slur to insult a political adversary is overshadowing the true purpose of today’s White House ceremony,” stated NCAI President Jefferson Keel, a decorated U.S. Army officer and Vietnam War combat veteran.
Even that conservative National Review had harsh words for the president:
“Donald Trump is receiving flak for calling Elizabeth Warren ‘Pocahontas’ during an event meant to honor Navajo code-talkers. This is fair. The event was about his guests, not about Trump and his political rivalries, and his decision to go down that road was unstatesmanlike and, frankly, incomprehensible.”
And Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), whose father and grandfather were Navy officers in the Pacific during World War II, shamed Trump’s politicized remark among the Navajo.
“Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to the Navajo Code Talkers, whose bravery, skill & tenacity helped secure our decisive victory over tyranny & oppression during WWII. Politicizing these genuine American heroes is an insult to their sacrifice,” the Republican tweeted Tuesday.
The Navajo Nation, too, weighed in, saying that it “does not want to engage in this dialogue between” Warren and Mr. Trump, but the group’s president, Russell Begaye, complained that “in this day and age, all tribal nations still battle insensitive references to our people. The prejudice that Native American people face is an unfortunate historical legacy.”
The President’s son, Eric Trump, meanwhile, defended his father on Tuesday with a tweet knocking romanticized versions of Pocahontas’ life that appear in pop culture and reports about his dad’s latest controversy.
“The irony of an ABC reporter (whose parent company Disney has profited nearly half a billion dollars on the movie ‘Pocahontas’) inferring that the name is ‘offensive’ is truly staggering to me,” he wrote.
Unfortunately, most Trump supporters – and his family members – do not understand that the president’s use of the Native American’s name was done so in a racist and disparaging manner. This article will do little do convince anyone that doesn’t already see this fact. And for that, we are sad for America and the future we face.