Trump was clever, not racist, when he used a ceremony honoring Navajo Code Talkers to remind people that his nickname for Elizabeth Warren is Pocahontas.
The media and other Progressives in my world have been focusing non-stop on Trump’s decision, at a ceremony honoring WWII Navajo Code Talkers, to throw in a reference to Elizabeth Warren, whom he invariably calls “Pocahontas.” The media is correct that the line seemed weirdly out of place and that, if one assumes it was a joke, it failed to get any laughter — or, indeed, any response at all — from the assembled audience:
While the room was silent, within seconds of his referring to Warren as Pocahontas, the drive-by media and its political class went into action. How dare Trump be so “racist”! Old media and social media were flooded with a declamation from Warren herself about the utter racism behind calling her Pocahontas:
“There he was, at a ceremony to honor Native Americans, men who have really put it all on the line to save American lives, to save lives of people, our allies, during World War II, really amazing people. And President Trump couldn’t even make it through a ceremony to honor these men without throwing in a racial slur,” Warren told Cooper on “Anderson Cooper 360.”
Well, golly, I thought. Racist insults sure have changed since I was a kid. Back in the day, there were a lot of specific words of racist opprobrium floating around, such as kike, nigger, yid, spic, and pollak. Thankfully, except in small, ugly redoubts, those words have vanished from popular usage.
There were also insults tied to ugly stereotypes: “he jewed me down,” “look at that lazy negro boy,” “what a dumb pollak,” and “there goes another drunken Irishman.” We children in the 1960s had a lot of stupid jokes, which I won’t repeat here, tied to some of those stereotypes. Again, those insults have died away, as they should have.
And of course, there were “guilt by association” insults that tied a disfavored person, race, or religion to a particularly horrible representative of his class. No Jewish person ever wants to be called a Shylock. For a certain class of educated American, it’s still an insult to be called a Benedict Arnold. And we conservatives live in a world of reductio ad Hitlerlum. So yes, certain proper names can be insulting.
Having said that, I don’t ever recall an instance where it is an insult to be identified with the proper name of an honored person, and Pocahontas is now and has always been an honored person in America. I challenge you to find an insult along these lines: “Careful of him. He’s a real Moses.” “That woman is no better than Harriet Tubman.” “What a waste of a human being. He’s another Frederick Douglas.” “I hate him. He’s just like the Polish Resistance fighters.” “What a stupid Simon Bolivar he is.” Only a very stupid person, or one looking to score political points, would claim that it’s a “racial slur” to be identified with an honored, respected person.
So, looked at properly, Warren is ridiculous to claim that she was on the receiving end of a negative “racial slur” when Trump called her Pocahontas. What Warren is really complaining about, but cannot possibly say, is that Trump placed front and center the fact that Warren is the racial equivalent of stolen valor. She is a person who stole an identity to which she was not entitled in order to achieve fame and riches otherwise unavailable to her. The ones who should be offended are true Native Americans, who had to witness such an unworthy person parade about claiming to be one of them.
The really important question, which the media is incapable of asking, is why Trump chose yesterday’s occasion to throw in a remark about Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren? Although it made a good point, it wasn’t a funny remark, so it failed as a joke. Trump with his media savvy must have understood that most people, even those sympathetic to him, wouldn’t laugh. So why throw it into a ceremony honoring Native Americans?
Trump threw it in because he knew that the venue would ensure that his remark got airplay. Had it been in a speech before supporters in Alabama, no one would have bothered to report on it. He needed his reminder about Warren’s dishonorable act to get maximum airplay because he’s engaged in a battle with the Consumer Finance Protection Board (“CFBP”), which is Elizabeth Warren’s baby. This battle matters because it’s one of the most visible, and easily winnable, “Trump versus the Deep State” fights in Washington, D.C.
Writing at National Review, Andrew McCarthy explains what’s going on with the CFPB, as well as how vile the CFPB is:
Some legal questions are tough. The question of who should lawfully be considered the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is not one of them. President Trump unquestionably has the power to name Mick Mulvaney (his Senate-confirmed budget director) to the position, and he has done so. The lawsuit seeking to block this appointment, filed by the CFPB’s deputy director Leandra English — who hopes to take the job herself — is frivolous and offensive.
The CFPB is an unconstitutional monstrosity that ought to be abolished. Indeed, the current tiff is but a symptom of the underlying disease: The political progressives who created the CFPB sought to make it an “independent” agency, beyond political accountability and inter-branch checks and balances. It would be a boon if the dust-up over the acting leadership of the agency would spur a case that could invalidate the entire enterprise.
The CFPB, brainchild of former Harvard law professor (now senator) Elizabeth Warren, was rammed through by the Democrat-dominated Congress in 2010. Under the statute creating the CFPB (section 5491 of Title 12, U.S. Code), the director is appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the Senate, and the deputy is appointed by the director.
There was partisan infighting over leadership of the agency. Finally, in January 2012, President Obama unconstitutionally installed Cordray as a “recess appointment” despite the fact that the Senate was not actually in recess. Cordray was nevertheless confirmed in 2013, and he failed to fill the deputy position after it became vacant in August 2015. The acting deputy was David Silberman. Leandra English was Cordray’s chief of staff. On his last day in office, Cordray abruptly appointed English as deputy.
As his aggressive stewardship of the CFPB demonstrated, Cordray is a progressive zealot, deeply opposed to the Trump agenda of rolling back regulations. The English appointment was so sudden that, as this is written, the CFPB has not had time to post English’s bio on the agency website. There is just a press release announcing the appointment.
We’d call this sleight of hand, but there was nothing hidden: Cordray was quite explicitly attempting to ensure that he, rather than the president, would choose his successor. Under the aforementioned CFPB statute, the deputy director serves as the director “in the absence or unavailability of the director.” Cordray was paving the way for English to argue that his resignation as director creates an “absence or unavailability” that makes her the director as a matter of law.
This is an absurdly strained reading of the statute. What Cordray has created is a vacancy. He is not merely absent or unavailable in the commonsense, temporary understanding of these words; he is gone. Nonetheless, as the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel explains in a persuasive memorandum, even if we assume that English is correct that a vacancy qualifies as an “absence or unavailability” under the statute, this does not constrain the president’s authority to name a different, qualified official to the position of acting director.
You should read the whole thing, because you’ll come away with a very clear understanding that Trump is completely in the right on this one. Unless he ends up with a panel of judges like the execrable Derrick Watson in Hawaii, who has no time for or understanding of the Constitution, because he’s got an agenda to pursue, Trump will have an easy victory. And if he ends up with a Watson, while Blue areas will celebrate, most of the rest of America, especially those Americans who have no access to credit thanks to the CFPB, will still cheer Trump’s efforts.
In other words, Trump wanted to make a point, and he needed media outrage to do. Without the media’s endless reply of “Elizabeth Warren is Pocahontas,” Trump would have had a hard time associating the CFPB in American minds with its creator, a lying white woman who stole the valor of Native Americans to advance her career. What a despicable woman — and what a despicable administrative agency. You see, it’s a package deal.
Once again, Trump intentionally got the media to squeal, “Look at the awful thing Trump just did.” And once again, ordinary Americans, those who distrust the media and what their old country back, won’t be thinking, “Trump is bad.” Instead, they’ll be thinking, “Fake Native American creates fake ‘consumer protection’ bureau.”
I’ll leave the last word to Thomsa Begay, who was wise enough to understand that Trump was not insulting him, his fellow Code Talkers, or the Native Americans generally:
Just met Thomas Begay who was “puzzled” but not offended by Trump’s Pocahontas quip: “The Marines made us yell ‘Geronimo’ when we jumped out of planes + that didn’t offend me either.” pic.twitter.com/6wOonggocE
— Joshua Green (@JoshuaGreen) November 28, 2017