Here at Persist, it’s no secret that we’re all about empowerment. We want to encourage our readers to remain Persistent in the face of all the obstacles life throws at us. A lesser-known fact about us, however, is where the inspiration for our name originated.
Earlier this year, US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was speaking out against US Attorney General Jeff Sessions when she was silenced by Senate Republicans. Coming to her defence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated, “Senator Warren was giving a lengthy speech. She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” Thus, Persist was born.
Unfortunately, as a woman, Senator Warren has often had to face opposition from her male colleagues. This week was no different.
During an event on Monday at the Oval Office in honour of Native American veterans, while addressing three Navajo code talkers from World War II, President Trump referred to Senator Warren as “Pocahontas,” an incredibly offensive nickname he has often used for her.
“You were here long before any of us were here,” the President said to the three Navajo men. And then, because he can never resist the urge to make a jibe at his political opponents even in the most inappropriate of situations, Trump added, “Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas.”
Turning to the three Navajo men, the president (somewhat condescendingly, may I add) stated, “But you know what? I like you. Because you’re special. You are special people,” as if these men, these amazing, brave, honourable war veterans, needed the approval of a president who continues to disrespect their culture.
Both Native American leaders and Democrats, including Senator Warren, have declared the President’s remarks racist and distasteful.
“This was supposed to be an event to honour heroes, people who put it all on the line for our country, who, because of their incredible work, saved the lives of countless Americans and our allies,” Warren said in an interview after. “It is deeply unfortunate that the president of the United States cannot even make it through a ceremony honouring these heroes without having to throw out a racial slur.”
Responding to these claims in a press conference after the event, White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said, “I think what most people find offensive is Senator Warren lying about her heritage to advance her career,” and claimed that the President’s remarks were not at all racist.
Further, Sanders expressed that Trump did not insult the elderly Navajo men, stating, “The President certainly finds an extreme amount of value and respect for these individuals which is why he brought them and invited them to come to the White House, spent time with them, recognising and honouring them today.”
It has also been noted that Trump’s speech took place under a painting of former US President Andrew Jackson – an ironic coincidence as Jackson is known for forcibly displacing thousands of Native Americans.