“Today, President Trump met with Native American World War II heroes,” The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah began Monday night. “He met with them to apologize for America’s history and the way that it has treated—nah, I’m just messing with you. He made it worse.”
At a ceremony intended to honor Navajo Code Talkers, President Trump used the opportunity to take a shot at one of his many political rivals, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), referring to her, as he always does, as “Pocahontas.”
“You’re very, very special people. You were here long before any of us were here,” Trump said, flanked by Native American veterans. “Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas.”
“Now, I know your first instinct is to be disgusted,” Noah said, as his audience reacted to the clip. “But we have to give credit to the president. Because at least he did the right racism.” In a reference to a certain problematic Indian character from The Simpsons, the host joked that he wouldn’t have been surprised if Trump had said, “Thank you, come again.”
“And as if it couldn’t be worse, right behind him, there’s a picture of Andrew Jackson,” Noah remarked. “Yeah, that’s like inviting the American flag over to your house and having a picture of Colin Kaepernick on the wall. It’s bad hosting, that’s what it is.” Then, in a joke that may have worked a little better in the early ’90s, Noah said he wished the Navajo vets had given Trump the nickname “Dances With Putin.”
Shortly after Trump made his comments on Monday, they were denounced by both Warren, who found it “deeply unfortunate that the president of the United States cannot even make it through a ceremony honoring these heroes without having to throw out a racial slur,” and by the Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes, which said that to use native names as insults “is to reduce them to racial slurs.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, on the other hand, saw nothing “offensive” about Trump’s remarks, saying, “I think what most people find offensive is Senator Warren lying about her heritage to advance her career.” That specific charge has not been proved.