On Friday, April 28, President Donald Trump gave a speech to the National Rifle Association (NRA), something that hasn't been seen in a very long time. Not since former president Ronald Reagan, back in 1983, has a sitting president delivered an address to the country's biggest and most powerful gun rights advocacy group, a hugely controversial organization thanks to its hard-line positions against virtually any gun safety reforms or restrictions. And yet, the most offensive thing the president said at the event had nothing to do with guns ― Trump called Elizabeth Warren "Pocahontas" in his NRA speech, a racist attack on the leading progressive politician that he's used before.
If you followed the 2016 presidential race at all, then you've heard this one before. But it doesn't make it sting any less. Whenever Trump refers to the Warren, a progressive, popular Massachusetts senator, there's a pretty good chance he's going to call her "Pocahontas," an overtly racist joke about her family's claim to having Native American heritage.
It's not as though Trump hasn't been told he ought to stop saying this, derogatory as it is both to Warren and Native Americans. In fact, he was called out for it during a campaign appearance last year, but blithely ignored the urges for him to stop; he even repeated it later. In other words, the president seems to really enjoy this explicitly racist joke.
I have a feeling that in the next election, you're going to be swamped with candidates, but you're not going to be wasting your time. ... You'll have plenty of those Democrats coming over and you're going to say, "No, sir. No, thank you. No, ma'am." Perhaps "ma'am." It may be Pocahontas, remember that.
Trump reportedly made the same remark during a congressional meeting in February, an act that drew uncomfortable silence from the Democratic members in attendance. Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, who was not at the meeting, later said he wouldn't have stayed quiet if he'd been in the room, but rather would've told Trump he was being racist.
Needless to say, there's no reason to expect the 70-year-old Trump to change his behavior, because as in so many areas where he says deliberately inflammatory or hurtful things, he simply does not seem to care. Not even the knowledge that he's standing in front of an audience, and a bevy of cameras, seems to give him any pause. So what if people are watching? Time for a racist attack on a political opponent!
On the contrary, he often seems downright giddy and gleeful when he drops the "Pocahontas" line, as if he considers it one of his greatest hits ― which means you can expect to hear it over and over again at least for the next four years. Sadly for all of us, Trump isn't great at coming up with fresh material.