“When the president uses the name of Pocahontas as a pejorative with the intent to insult, it becomes a racial slur.”—Native American Journalists Association
President refers to senator as ‘Pocahontas’
WASHINGTON D.C. — Faux pas is defined as an embarrassing or tactless act or remark in a social situation. Some believe this is becoming the norm in Donald Trump’s White House.
In a ceremony earlier this week, meant to honor the Navajo Code Talkers, President Donald Trump opted to use the moment as a set up for a verbal jab directed at U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
The president, following his speech recognizing the contributions made by the Navajo veterans went ‘off script’ saying, “I just want to thank you because you are very, very special people. You were here long before any of us were here. Although, we have a representative in Congress who has been here a long time … longer than you — they call her Pocahontas!”
Warren, a vocal opponent of Trump since he announced his candidacy in 2015, responded to the president’s barb in an interview with MSNBC saying, “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.”
Shortly after the ceremony White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders defended the president saying Pocahontas was not a racial slur and not meant to be taken as such.
Sanders went on to shift focus onto Warren saying, “I think what most people find offensive is Senator Warren lying about her heritage to advance her career.”
The lie to which Sanders was referring was a claim made by Warren that she is of Native American ancestry.
Soon after the ceremony some figures in the Republican Party spoke out against the president’s comment.
U.S. Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma and member of the Chickasaw Nation issued a statement calling the president’s remark, “insensitive and unnecessary.”
Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye elected to stay clear of the political skirmish between Warren and Trump.
He did however speak to the encounter saying, “The prejudice that Native American people face is an unfortunate historical legacy.”
A statement issued by the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) countered the White House denial of the offense stating, “When the president uses the name of Pocahontas as a pejorative with the intent to insult, it becomes a racial slur.”