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. [Read more…]