Trump’s ‘Pocahontas’ Slur Is Indefensible

No one has ever accused President Donald Trump of being eloquent or diplomatic, but at the very least many hoped that he could keep a simple public event from turning into a national scandal after almost a year in office . Unfortunately, that has yet to happen – and even worse, his family and staff can’t help but throw all decency aside to defend him.

President Trump’s latest press-event-turned-major-debacle happened on Monday, as he decided to go off script at a White House event honoring Native American code talkers in World War II.

“Trump told the veterans: ‘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,’” he said according to NBC, referring to his favorite derogatory name for Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren. “After making the crack, Trump turned to one of the Navajo code talkers, who served in World War II, and said: ‘But you know what? I like you. Because you are special. You are special people, you are really incredible people.’”

The ceremony for the Navajo war veterans was already off to an inopportune start as President Trump chose to stage it in front of a portrait of former President Andrew Jackson, an open enemy of Native Americans.

As the LA Times explains:

Jackson, who was president from 1829 to 1837, is known for signing the Indian Removal Act, which forced more than 60,000 Native Americans to relocate from their homelands in the Southeast to areas west of the Mississippi River. Cherokees, who were among those who endured what was called the Trail of Tears, called Jackson the “Indian killer.”

“The President calls a white woman ‘Pocahontas’—who was a Native American victim of child rape—at an event ‘honoring’ Diné WWII code talkers, all in front a portrait depicting the original architect of Indian removal, Andrew Jackson,” Lakota Law Project rightly noted on Twitter, describing the multiple ways that the president disrespected the very veterans he claimed to be recognizing.

Unfortunately, rather than learn from what one could hope was just a clueless and insensitive remark rather than deliberate provocation, the president refused to offer any apology. Even worse, his staff and family quickly came to Trump’s defense.

“Asked why Trump would choose to use a phrase that many people find offensive, [White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee] Sanders said that ‘what most people find offensive is Senator Warren lying about her heritage to advance her career.’ She added that seeing Trump’s use of ‘Pocahontas’ as a racial slur was a ‘ridiculous response,’ because it was not,” reports CNBC. “I don’t believe that it is appropriate for [the president] to make a racial slur, or anybody else,’ Sanders said, but ‘I don’t think that it is [a racial slur] and I certainly don’t think that was the president’s intent.”‘

And the White House press secretary wasn’t the only one to stand up for the president.

“The president’s second son, Eric Trump, defended his father’s use of the name on Tuesday, criticizing an ABC reporter who had questioned Trump’s remark,” USA Today reports. “‘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,” Eric Trump tweeted.”

It’s unclear if the younger Trump understands that Pocahontas is a real historical figure.

Sadly, it’s no surprise that an event meant to honor the achievements of a community of color was ruined by a president who made a racially derogatory remark to advance his personal agenda. And the unflinching support of those who surround President Trump — and their unwillingness to double down on his bad behavior — is no longer shocking, either.

After all, when you give unlimited power to a person without the gravitas or social graces to handle it, this will always be the end result — and it seems that there’s no one left in his administration or family with the authority or the courage to tell him he has gone too far.

Photo Credit: MarineCorps NewYork/Flickr

58 comments

Marie W
Marie W11 months ago

thanks for sharing

SEND
Sarah Hill
Sarah Hillabout a year ago

None of those in the room were insulted at all.

SEND
Carole R
Carole Rabout a year ago

He just doesn't get it. His comments show his age.

SEND
donald Baumgartner
donald Baumgartnerabout a year ago

Shameful comment by Trump, but, he has NO shame !!!!

SEND
Danuta W
Danuta Wabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing

SEND
Magdalen B
Magdalen Babout a year ago

I can see that in other circumstances, "Pocahontas" might be a sweet and affectionate nick name. However...

SEND
Paul C
Paul Carterabout a year ago

Strong men accept their errors and apologize, weak men don't dare to apologize. Intelligent men think before they speak, fools don't. A gentleman would never give offence to heroes who have served their country in a capacity he would never have had the courage to emulate. Say no more.

SEND
Joan E
Joan Eabout a year ago

I can't think of one thing about that racist, egotistical, cheating, lying, sexual predator that is defensible.

SEND
Karen Swenson
Karen Swensonabout a year ago

@Susan S---We do not have to LOOK for something to be offended by Trump, " it" stands in front of us like a Frankenstein Monster every single day! You don't think this was thought out--his Pocahontas remark, a picture of Andrew Jackson, for Christ sake--the most murderous President of Indians in History? He plays to his sick, twisted, base every time he opens his foul mouth.

SEND
Winn A
Winn Adamsabout a year ago

I could go on and on about tRUMPie who has no soul. He's disgusting, despicable and probably has dimentia too.

SEND