It’s rare to see President Trump reference American history, but when he does, it’s normally either (1) wrong or (2) evil.
Consider his tweet on Saturday, which mocked Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren using a racist slur and then seemingly referenced the Trail of Tears, the 19th century Native American genocide.
“Today Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to by me as Pocahontas, joined the race for President,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Will she run as our first Native American presidential candidate, or has she decided that after 32 years, this is not playing so well anymore? See you on the campaign TRAIL, Liz!”
Today Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to by me as Pocahontas, joined the race for President. Will she run as our first Native American presidential candidate, or has she decided that after 32 years, this is not playing so well anymore? See you on the campaign TRAIL, Liz!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2019
Following the Indian Removal Act of 1830, thousands of Native Americans were rounded up and forced to relocate to Oklahoma to live on reservations. Thousands of people died from hunger and disease along the way.
Critics accused the president of trivializing the 19th century genocide. Others, however, thought the president might be too dumb to make reference.
It should be noted that President Trump has listed President Andrew Jackson, who shepherded the policy, as his hero. So.
The president’s critics reacted with predictable shock and horror on Twitter.
Please stop saying he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He mocked those who were massacred at Wounded Knee and now he is targeting those killed on the Trail of Tears. His racism against Native people is informed and purposeful. https://t.co/XOswfQ7Y6G
— Ruth H. Hopkins (@RuthHHopkins) February 10, 2019
I try to never dignify this man’s tweets, but there is little doubt here that he uses “TRAIL” to evoke the genocidal Trail of Tears, and does so to land a political jab. Warren has taken justifiable heat on this issue—but he used the murders of Indigenous people as a punchline. https://t.co/LiyK2iruDF
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) February 9, 2019
I’m just seeing the Trail of Tears tweet. I’m still amazed at all the stupid debates and finger wagging and tut tutting about whether it was proper to call the president racist.
— Dad (@fivefifths) February 10, 2019
Trump put up a portrait of Andrew Jackson in the Oval Office. He knows who he is, and likely knows what he did. And even if he didn’t yet know the full history of the Trail of Tears, something called the “Trail of Tears” is usually not something that you use as fodder for a joke.
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) February 10, 2019
“Angry responses from people on Twitter” might be the only form of reprimand the president will receive for this apparent joke.
I’m tired of living in a society where there will be no consequence for the fucking President making a joke about the Trail of Tears.
— Rick Godden (@RickGodden) February 10, 2019
America, please do … better.