BY BOB BEARDEN
Racist slurs about Native Americans in a ceremony that was to honor the Navajo Code Talkers from World War II, our president [and I use that term loosely] used the occasion to diss Sen. Elizabeth Warren in an obviously racial reference to her claim that she was under the impression that she had Native American ancestry [a claim never fully proven nor discounted].
He said people called her Pocahontas, when actually he is the only one who calls her that, and it became a racial slur because Pocahontas was a real historical figure of whom English explorer John Smith claimed he had an affair with [most historians do not give credence to this story or the one about her saving his life] and later married another Englishman named John Rolfe.
Pocahontas as a Native American teenager notable for her association with the colonial settlement at Jamestown, VA. She was the daughter of Powhatan, the paramount chief of a network of tributary tribal nations in the Tsenacommacah, encompassing the Tidewater region of Virginia.
In a well-known historical anecdote, Pocahontas is said to have saved the life of a captive of the Native Americans, the Englishman John Smith, in 1607 by placing her head upon his own when her father raised his war club to execute him.
In trying to diss Sen. Warren, Trump managed to revive a racial slur that was aimed at her during her first campaign for the Senate and, in the doing, dishonored the ceremony that had nothing to do with Sen. Warren or Pocahontas.
Not to mention that he held the ceremony honoring the Code Talkers in front of a portrait of Andrew Jackson whose racist policies led to the deaths of several thousand Native Americans when he ordered their removal from their native lands to Oklahoma Territory. But that was likely by design, for whatever Trump does he does it with calculating how what he does and what he says will play with his base because they are the only Americans he is ever concerned with. The rest of us be damned.
It was his base that got him elected president and he believes that it will be his base that keeps him in power, and whatever distraction he can use to pander to them is much like throwing red meat to a pack of wolves. And it works because it usually and quite effectively takes the focus off of more pressing and more important issues that he and his GOP enablers want to foist upon the rest of us.
Make no mistake his base is made up primarily by alt-right white males who are feeling the pinch of losing their long time protected status as the world around them drags itself into the 21st Century. Things like DACA, transgender, DOMA and now sexual harassment issues are driving the narrative away from white male dominance of our nation and its people.
That scares the hell out of a lot of white males who have long claimed superiority and have long controlled the narrative. And the fact that they are now becoming part of the unrelenting tide of change and [in their minds only] being driven from their lofty perches, they are clinging to the last vestiges of an ideology that no longer has a place in our society.
People like The Donald are becoming an extinct species and these crotch-gropers want no part of a world that expects them to be treated as equals with all the rest of us. They have had their day and their day is fast fading into the historical trash heap.
We as a nation have long clung to a past that was never as good as a lot of people loved to believe it was. We were founded as a socialistic nation in which our founders envisioned a future in which we all would truly be equal, regardless of race, color, creed, gender, who we loved, or what religion we worshiped or didn’t worship.
For far too long our history has been written in the blood of dissenters and those who have strived to make good on the promises of our founders and the enlightened document they created our living breathing constitution. The Donald and his kind are still trying to rewrite our history into something it never was.
We are in a clash of ideologies. Will we stand with our founders and their vision of what we could be or will be? Will we stand with those on the far right that want us to continue to rewrite our history as they wish it was and destroy the future that our founders with their gloriously socialistic, living, breathing Constitution meant it to be?
School is still out on that, but the trend is towards justice. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., noted, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
The Donald and his kind can slow the arc of the moral universe, but they cannot stop it, unless we allow them to.
– Bob Bearden is a trustee of the Central Oklahoma Labor Federation and a member of Mayflower Congregational Church in Oklahoma City