WASHINGTON, D.C. — End of the year festivities at the White House always include honoring and paying tribute to many consider to be American heroes. In particular, those who fought and served in World War II — a veteran population that is ever dwindling — have been the focus of the Trump administration this week.
First, Mr. Trump hosted the Navajo Code Talkers, Native Americans that were recruited by the Marines during that war to help keep allied communications secret from the Axis powers. It was an early form of encryption, and the code talkers are largely hailed for playing an instrumental and albeit surprising role for U.S. forces, given the problematic history between natives and the government of the United States, which Mr. Trump was kind enough to remind the Navajo representatives he met with of by holding the ceremony under a portrait of President Andrew Jackson, a chief architect of the systemic genocide and concentration of the natives onto reservations.
Today, Trump took time to honor another group, composed of people of color, that served in World War II for the Americans, despite undeniable racism and bigotry they faced back home. The Tuskegee Airmen were the country’s first black fighter pilots, and in a simple ceremony today, Mr. Trump honored them, and used the presidency of his predecessor to mark “just how far America has fallen — er, I mean, come,”as the president put it.
“This morning, we pause to honor these brave men who answered the call of duty, and took to the skies to defend freedom for the whole world,” Trump said, patting one of the airmen on his shoulder as he spoke. “So you guys flew huh? I didn’t know you guys liked to fly; thought it was one of those things like swimming with you? No? Good, good for you!”
President Trump acknowledged that the Tuskegee Airmen served proudly at at a time when Jim Crow laws would have prevented them from having a sandwich with their white corpsmen. He said that shows what “real Americans do in the times when action is needed,” and said that their story shows the progress made on race relations in the U.S.
“Think about it. In just sixty or so very short years,” Trump mused, “We’ve gone from the racial tensions that divided us back then, to having civil and frank discussions over whether black people should get to quietly protest before playing football games. Now, I ask you, did the previous White House Ni**er ever acknowledge the great strides we’ve made, except every time he did? Exactly.”
Sensing the stunned silence in the room, and that his joke about Obama had fallen flat, Trump quickly ended the ceremony.
“Anyway, the point is we’ve come a long way because a rich, white/orange man could spend, say, eight years trying to prove that the black man in the Oval Office was born in Kenya, and that bastard will get to stay all eight years,” Trump said, “So, really, if you think about it, I deserve an honor too.”
Trump took a medal away from one of the airmen.
“There. That’s better. Don’t you think? I do,” Trump said. “I really, really do. And if anything I said today offends you — it’s your fault for hearing it.”