Senator Elizabeth Warren let loose on Donald Trump on her Facebook page, calling him “a loser [whose] embarrassing insecurities are on parade: petty bullying, attacks on women, cheap racism, and flagrant narcissism.”
Trump’s response perfectly and terribly proved her point.
“Who is that, the Indian? You mean the Indian?” Trump asked, referring to Warren, who has said she has Native American ancestry.
The Indian. With two words, Trump hit the trifecta—racism, misogyny, and dehumanization.
Throughout the entirety of his campaign, he has relied on precisely those bigotries to attempt to discredit any individual or group with whom he has disagreements.
Undocumented immigrants are rapists. Muslims are terrorists. Women are pigs, dogs; they have ugly faces and they’re probably on their periods. Elizabeth Warren is “The Indian.”
Certainly, this is further evidence that Trump is a brittle, insecure man who reflexively uses demeaning language to defend himself against criticism.
But it is also indicative of a man with nationalistic, authoritarian tendencies who embraces the rhetorical devices of despots. David Neiwert, in his terrific book The Eliminationists, documented how dehumanizing and eliminationist language is a hallmark of profoundly illiberal totalitarianism.
Trump isn’t just offensive; he’s dangerous.
When he refers to Warren as “the Indian,” he’s not merely being insulting—although that, too—but he is seeking to to discredit her critique on the basis that she isn’t fit to criticize him; isn’t his peer; is less than; isn’t even deserving of recognition of her complex humanity.
This reductive dismissal, like so many others he has issued, is a clear signal of his contempt for marginalized people, unless he can exploit their support to undermine credible challenges to his ubiquitous claims of being well-liked by “everybody.”
He is not well-liked by “everybody,” in no small part because he does engage in wanton bigotry. That he claims otherwise is only further proof of his insistence in devaluing the humanity of anyone who doesn’t genuflect to his view of the world.
It must be “everybody,” because anyone who does not like him is a “nobody.”
It is a terrifying position indeed for a presidential candidate to hold—a willingness to dehumanize and discount anyone who refuses fealty. That way lies fascism.
Trump must be held accountable for his sickening reliance on racism, misogyny, and dehumanization. He is not an insult comic. He is a candidate for President of the United States of America.
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)