Adding Insult to Injury

November 29, 2017

Many of us are aware of the significant role Navajo Americans played during World War II. U.S. forces were unable to create a code the Japanese couldn’t break, until someone had a brilliant idea— use Navajo, an oral language indecipherable by the Japanese, as a code.


This week, Donald Trump once again proved himself unfit for the presidency when he denigrated a U.S. senator with a racial slur during what would otherwise have been an uplifting ceremony. He used the occasion to demean Elizabeth Warren by again referring to her as Pocahontas.


This was bad enough, but the hairs on the back of my neck were already standing up because of the image flashing on my TV screen. The last three Navajo code talkers, now in their nineties, were being celebrated in the Oval Office, and something disturbing was looming above them.


We all know Trump doesn’t read, he brags about it, and it’s doubtful his studies at the Wharton School of Business included American history, a subject he knows little about as evidenced by his comment that he looked forward to meeting Frederick Douglass to congratulate him on the good work he’s doing. Douglass died in 1895. We know Trump admires our seventh president, Andrew Jackson, probably because Breitbart’s Steve Bannon convinced him that Jackson was the president most like Trump himself.


A word about Andrew Jackson, arguably the most racist president ever elected. He was exceptionally thin-skinned and loved picking fights, surviving several duels. More important, Jackson was nicknamed “Indian Killer” and said on more than one occasion that he’d kill every last one of them, including women and children, if he could. Well, he couldn’t, but he did sign into law The Indian Relocation Bill of 1830, stripping Native Americans of their ancestral homes and prompting the infamous Trail of Tears. Like Trump, Jackson was no fan of courts. When the Supreme Court ruled against his plans to steal Indian land, he defied them. We don’t know precisely how many Indians died, but up to 6000 Cherokee alone perished along the way.


I know Trump is ignorant of American history, but someone in the White House should have realized the terrible irony of celebrating the life-saving heroism of these few remaining Navajos in front of a portrait of the man who wanted to exterminate their entire race.


I’m not suggesting we whitewash our history—Jackson’s portrait should hang in the White House with other presidents—but there are many rooms in the White House and West Wing suitable for such a ceremony. I suspect this didn’t happen because no one surrounding our president has an understanding of American history. No one gave it a second thought. This might seem like a small oversight, but small trickles can grow into floods. Careless disregard for human dignity can become a tsunami washing over all of us.


Trump has suggested a ban on all Muslims entering our country. I’m certain he’d deport all Muslim Americans if he could. His views on other immigrants are well known. If our leaders won’t benefit from a study of our past it’s up to us to remind them of who we are and what we hope to become—a nation that lives up to the ideals carved in stone on our sacred monuments. If we fail to concern ourselves with history, if we refuse to learn from the lessons of our past, we may one day find ourselves on our own trail of tears.





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He's sickening. More sickening is 62 million voted for him despite knowing exactly the sort of creep he is.
By: PT Dilloway on November 29, 2017
His racism is unchecked. He honestly thinks that his white heritage is like genetic purity gene. I hope he lives long enough to see the change that is coming when white man is the minority.
By: Tabor on November 29, 2017
I am speechless.
By: Kathe W. on November 29, 2017
Yeah, that was a mess, either by design or ignorance.
By: scott park on November 29, 2017
We allowed this pervasive disrespect to happen. It will be generations being cleaned up.
By: Joanne Noragon on November 29, 2017
I'm not so sure he studied business at The Wharton School of Business. Maybe he paid someone to attend classes and take his tests because he certainly doesn't know anything about how to run a business. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on November 29, 2017
Excellent post! I share your rage over the debacle and insults. I was surprised more journalists did not jump on the setting in front of the Jackson portrait. Evidently many of today's "working press" are bereft of a knowledge of history. trump is a despicable human being and wholly unfit for the office.
By: Tom Cochrun on November 29, 2017
He's a business man, and he needs to make it his business to learn history.
By: messymimi on November 29, 2017
Sadly, these displays of sheer ignorance are not even news any longer :(
By: Botanist on November 29, 2017
Well said. Ignorance crates some absolutely horrible images. Stuff must be put into historical perspective and you've done that well. You're up on your history.
By: red on November 29, 2017
A lot of people focused on the "Pocahontas" remark, but I'm not surprised you noticed the painting. What an ignorant, insensitive idiot.
By: Chris on November 29, 2017
I was so outraged when I heard about this, and yet I’ve almost reached a saturation point with my outrage. I can’t maintain this level forever. Sigh.
By: The Bug on November 29, 2017
I totally share your anger.. Just when we think he can not become more disgusting, he manages to top the previous day. This man is not fit to walk the streets, much less run a country. He makes my heart hurt.
By: Arkansas Patti on November 30, 2017
I still can't say the words "President" & "Trump" together. The man is a joke & he is far from funny!!
By: fishducky on November 30, 2017
Trump has just given us a taste of what you are putting up with all the time. He retweeted video from a hate crime fascist group one of whose members murdered one of our MPs for her internationalist views. He hasn't apologised.
By: Jenny Woolf on November 30, 2017
Oh, I wonder if the position in front of Jackson was truly an accident. That's a vile group of people dressing up the Donald Show.
By: Mitchell is Moving on November 30, 2017
I only can shake my head. Words fail me.
By: Pixel Peeper on November 30, 2017
I have always been fascinated by the history of the Navajo Code Talkers...I should read more aboutt hem. No comment on Trump.
By: Terri@Coloring Outside the Lines on November 30, 2017
It pains me to say it: our president is totally incompetent and may be suffering from dementia.
By: Catalyst on November 30, 2017
Sounds like we all share a similar view of the American President... Commander and Chief. I'm left wondering why he hasn't been removed from his lofty perch.
By: Daniel LaFrance on December 1, 2017
Well said. History is important!
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By: Smithd376 on December 16, 2017

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