On Monday, Donald Trump once again gave it the ol’ college try to not be racist at a special event. He failed, because he is constitutionally unable to not be a racist asshole any time he stands in front of people without a script.
The event was to honor World War II Native American code talkers, and it’s the kind of ceremony that should be an easy win for any politician with a soul. However.
The ceremony was set up in front of Trump’s favorite portrait of Andrew Jackson, a man nicknamed “Indian Killer” for the tens of thousands of Native Americans who died as a result of his Indian Removal Act. So that was cool. And then Trump felt the need to interrupt his praise of the code talkers with an out-of-context attack on… whatever, I don’t even know anymore.
“I just want to thank you because you’re very, very special people,” Trump said Monday afternoon, speaking to a small group of code talkers. “You were here long before any of us were here. Although we have a representative in Congress who, they say, was here a long time ago. They call her ‘Pocahontas.'”
On Monday, after the Pocahontas quip, Trump put his hand on one of the Navajo guests and said: “But you know what, I like you because you are special. You are special people.”
(Dude, “they” don’t call her that. You call her that.) “Pocahontas” is the name Trump uses for Sen. Elizabeth Warren because of her (dubious) claims of Native American ancestry. He’s referring, of course, to the actual Pocahontas, a teenaged girl who had to give up her infant daughter when she was kidnapped for ransom and raped by the English (who also killed her husband), who forced her to marry John Rolfe, convert to Christianity, and change her name and then dragged her to England and possibly murdered her. And then her father died of grief. So, you know, some lighthearted Disney shit, and definitely someone to be thrown around as an insult.
Curiously enough, the code talkers in attendance didn’t crack right the hell up at his clever comment, and the NCAI later responded:
“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. “Today was about recognizing the remarkable courage and invaluable contributions of our Native code talkers. That’s who we honor today and everyday — the three code talkers present at the White House representing the 10 other elderly living code talkers who were unable to join them, and the hundreds of other code talkers from the Cherokee, Choctaw, Comanche, Lakota, Meskwaki, Mohawk, Navajo, Tlingit, and other tribes who served during World Wars I and II.”
In response to an earlier use of the name by Trump, they released a statement saying, “The name of Pocahontas should not be used as a slur, and it is inappropriate for anyone to use her name in a disparaging manner.”