Is “Pocahontas” a racial slur? [UPDATED] [With Comment By John]

Today, President Trump honored the “code talkers,” Native American soldiers who were deployed during the world wars to send messages between units in their native languages — an almost unbreakable code. During World War II, Navajo men were recruited and used for this purpose. Surviving Navajos came to the White House for the event in their honor.

After one of the code talkers gave a speech, Trump put aside his prepared remarks and spoke off the cuff. Here is the Washington Post’s account of what happened next:

“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 with a chuckle. “But you know what? I like you.” The audience was quiet.

The Post cut off Trump’s quote in mid-sentence. He said to the Indians, “I like you because you are special. You are special people.” (Emphasis added)

“Pocahontas” was not amused by Trump’s jab. Elizabeth Warren shot back, “It is deeply unfortunate that the president of the United States cannot even make it through a ceremony honoring these heroes without having to throw out a racial slur.”

I agree it’s unfortunate (though not “deeply” so) not to make it through a ceremony without taking a shot at a political enemy, even one as obnoxious as Elizabeth Warren. But is calling a fake Indian “Pocahontas” a racial slur or just a tired joke?

I say it’s the latter, but what I know? I couldn’t stay out of trouble with certain Indians, real or fake.

UPDATE: Warren also said: “Look, Donald Trump does this over and over, thinking somehow he’s going to shut me up with it. It hasn’t worked in the past. It is not going to work in the future.”

I’m pretty sure Trump doesn’t think he’s going to shut Warren up. He just knows a good punching bag when he sees one.

JOHN adds: I’ve gotten in trouble with lots of people over the years, but never (as far as I recall) with Indians. So I will just add this: the President’s comment was obviously not a racial slur. He mocked Elizabeth Warren not because she is an Indian–that would be a racial slur–but precisely because she is NOT Native American, contrary to her repeated claims and her affirmative action-fueled career. Warren has been exposed as a liar, and for her to defend herself by playing the race card is really beneath contempt.

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