Leave it to the inimitable Donald John Trump Sr. to do the seemingly impossible.
Three men — all heroes from World War II — came to the White House recently to be honored for their exploits during the great conflict.
So, what did the president do? With a thoughtless, careless quip he turned attention from the men and those who they represent and turned it onto himself for all the wrong reasons.
He said he “liked” the men who stood with him in the White House. He then chided a member of the U.S. Senate who has said she, too, has Native American heritage in her background. Trump just had to call Sen. Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas,” which he has used for years to deride her claim. That’s what the media have been talking about, not about the men who served so heroically.
The men are Code Talkers. They are of Navajo descent. They were deployed as Marines during World War II to communicate battle plans and intelligence in a language the Japanese couldn’t de-code. They were instrumental in several key Pacific Theater battles.
CNN.com published a story chronicling the men’s heroics.
See the story here.
The story notes that the use of Native American tongues in war began in World War I, when Choctaw soldiers spoke to each other to confound the Germans on the other side of the battle lines. But in the period between the world wars, the Germans figured out that language.
The Navajo was more difficult to decipher. As CNN.com noted, it isn’t a written language. Therefore, the enemy was unable to figure what they were listening to when the Navajo Marines were communicating.
They risked their lives. They fought for their country.
Only 13 of the Code Talkers are still living. They all are old men who are suffering the usual ravages of aging.
The president should have known better than to yank the spotlight from those heroes. He should have shown a semblance of class and grace as he welcomed these brave Americans to salute their commitment to their country.
Indeed, if the president understood or appreciated anything about the sacrifice these men paid, he might have seen fit to keep his mouth shut about a political foe.