John L. Micek, 6/29/2016 [Archive]

Trump's Latest Insult is Everything You'd Expect It Would Be

By John L. Micek

Donald Trump's latest presidential pivot didn't last long.

His rapacious ego dented and his equally thin skin nicked by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren's criticism of him during a joint appearance with Hillary Clinton on Monday, the presumptive GOP nominee went right back into fourth-grade tyrant mode.

"Crooked Hillary is wheeling out one of the least productive senators in the U.S. Senate, goofy Elizabeth Warren, who lied on heritage," he tweeted.

Trump's retreat to the playground was later confirmed by a Tweet from MSNBC reporter Hallie Jackson, who noted that Trump had again referred to Warren as "Pocahontas."

Trump has been calling Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, "Pocahontas" for a while now. It's a reference to the controversy surrounding her claim of having a Cherokee heritage.

Trump trots out the nickname whenever Warren scores rhetorical points, as was the case on Monday, when she hammered Trump and his "goofy" campaign slogan.

"Donald Trump says he'll make America great again," Warren said, according to The New York Times. "I ask, for who exactly? For families that don't fly to Scotland to play golf?"

While she hasn't been able to prove her Cherokee blood sufficiently to qualify for tribal citizenship, Warren's claim that family lore indicates Cherokee descent is common in her home state of Oklahoma.

Whether she's used her heritage for political gain is a separate matter entirely - and worthy of debate.

That still doesn't justify or excuse Trump's use of the Pocahontas name to turn Warren into some kind of progressive Disney princess.

The only intent there is to minimize Warren - and, by extension, Clinton -- in the eyes of voters.

Trump is calling "on the only image of a native woman he's ever heard of, who has been commodified and sexualized beyond belief," said Karenne G. Wood, the director of Virginia Indian Programs at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities in Charlottesville, Va.

His pop at Warren could be "construed as racist," Wood, a member of Virginia's Monacan Indian tribe, said, adding that the nickname "minimizes Sen. Warren as a female leader. It makes her look like a character in the Disney movie."

That Trump invokes only the basest racial, ethnic and religious stereotypes is hardly a shocker. In his reductive calculus, all undocumented Mexicans are rapists and murderers and all Muslims are potential terrorists.

It's also a reminder that, when it comes to their own history, Americans - from presidential candidates on down - are depressingly blind.

The real Pocahontas, a Powhatan woman from Virginia named Matoaka, was a much more complex - and far more tragic - figure. Pocahontas was a nickname, according to a tribal history.

The real Matoaka, was taken prisoner at age 17 while on a social visit to Jamestown Colony and was held hostage for more than a year, according to the tribe's website.

She was released from captivity when she agreed to marry a colonist named John Rolfe, with whom she had only one child. The real Pocahontas, by then renamed Rebecca Rolfe, died at age 21, almost right after the family returned to England in 1617, the tribal history indicates.

Capt. John Smith's famous tale about Matoaka saving him from stoning by her father, Chief Powhatan probably didn't happen as advertised. And Smith and Matoaka were never an item.

So when "Trump makes cracks against Warren, he uses the Native American community like a whip -- like an inanimate object, or a people dead and gone, not likely to respond," journalist Simon Moya-Smith, a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation, wrote for CNN back in May.

But with Pocahontas and her storythrust back into the headlines, native people are responding.

Trump's shot at Warren is a "misappropriation of who we are, not only the Powhatan people, but of over 500 federally recognized tribes," said Roy Bundy, the tribal representative for the Powhatan Renape Nation in Riverton, N.J. "He lumps them together under this one name 'Pocahontas.'"

In Trump's eyes, "if you don't look like a Native American, ifyou don't have long hair and braids and feathers hanging from your hair, you're not a Native American," Bundy continued. "He deems us only externally, if you don't look like a native to him, you're not a Native American."

And based on that measure, Trump doesn't look much like a President of all Americans - native or otherwise - either.


© Copyright 2016 John L. Micek, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

An award-winning political journalist, Micek is the Opinion Editor and Political Columnist for PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Readers may follow him on Twitter @ByJohnLMicek and email him at

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