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Great minds think alike. When the New York Times last week broke the news that President Donald Trump lost more than a $1 billion between 1985 and 1994—a span during which he touted his business acumen in the ghost-written Art of the Deal—I shook my damned head.
The dude’s broke, just as his critics have always claimed. He’s like Brokeahontas!
For those who don’t follow the daily shit-show our national discourse has become since Trump came down the escalator, that’s a play on “Pocahontas,” the name of the historical Native American woman who Trump turned into an epithet directed at Elizabeth Warren, the former Harvard law professor and present Democratic senator from Massachusetts, and one of 21 candidates running in the Democratic Presidential Primary.
Warren’s sin? She’s Trump’s nemesis in the Senate. Therefore, it was necessary to smear her.
In her 20s, Warren claimed Native American heritage on various college application forms, based on her own family’s lore. She gained no advantage in doing so, but her flawless porcelain skin caused some, when she began running for office, to question her claim. Trump picked that up and amplified it with the “Pocahontus” taunt at campaign rallies and even official White House events.
Warren was eventually goaded into taking a DNA test, which showed she did indeed have Native American ancestry, albeit minimal. It was too little, too late. Simply by responding to Trump’s taunts, Warren lost the battle.
But the war is far from over. “Brokeahontas” twists Trump’s racist epithet and turns the dagger straight back into the president’s softest part, his fragile ego. Before I could notify the Warren campaign about this valuable weapon, comedian Bill Maher beat me to the punch line.
Which is what I meant by great minds think alike.
“Brokeahontas” began trending on Twitter as soon as Maher spoke the nickname Friday night, eventually reaching No. 4 in a 24-hour period. The nickname may not stick permanently, but it can always be resurrected whenever Trump or one of his supporters boasts about the president’s non-existent business successes. Here’s a sample conversation:
Trump supporter: We need a businessman running this country!
Me: You mean Brokeahontas?
The fact that I still laugh out loud after writing this, and then reading it five times, tells me Brokeahontas has, as the alt-right trolls like to say, valuable meme magic.
When Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted
Unfortunately for anyone left of center, there are those among us who don’t want us to laugh out loud during the midst of “the most important election campaign of our lifetimes.” That would be rude.
Sure enough, as soon as “Brokeahontas” began trending on Twitter, some Native American activists began pointing out that the nickname was just an extension of the racism Trump had evoked in the first place.
The seriousness of such folk is understandable. They’ve placed their faith in reason, and reason, whether it be overwhelming evidence of Anthropogenic Global Warming, the expanded categories of gender identification in the social sciences or the documented historical genocide of Native Americans by white settlers, is under serious assault in the 21st century in these United States.
My dad, R.V. Scheide Sr., an obsessive, compulsive consumer of news media like myself, expressed this to me recently when he said he’d grown weary of surfing the internet “because nothing is true. You’ve got to read eight or nine stories just to figure things out”.
Just as Nietzsche and Dostoevsky predicted in the second half of the 19th century, when nothing is true, everything is permitted. The era of nihilism they foresaw is our own, and the popular computer game, Assassin’s Creed, is its echo.
It’s a selective sort of nihilism we’re enduring. My tribe is the best, screw all the rest. We’ve lost the sense of what makes us human: We make mistakes. All of us.
Even me. For example, in 2016, I voted for Donald Trump.
Mistakes Can Be Corrected
My mistake was falling for Trump’s populist rhetoric. Like many Americans, I’ve been concerned with the hollowing out of our industrial core, the widening gap between the uber rich and everybody else and our never-ending regime-change wars. In 2016, Trump spoke to those concerns more than any other candidate, with the exception of Sen. Bernie Sanders.
None of it was true—even Trump’s pretended aversion to the nation’s present immigration laws, which he has taken full advantage for his entire business career, in order to pay his employees the lowest amount possible. No matter what tribe you’re from, with the possible exception of right-wing evangelicals, Trump has lied to you.
There ain’t gonna be no wall. Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods aren’t going to bring factories back to America. Far from achieving energy independence, the fracking boom is a debt-driven pyramid scheme. Notice how gas prices aren’t going down? Income inequality is still on the rise.
Meanwhile, Trump’s alleged anti-interventionist tendencies have been superseded by the whims of delusional right-wing warmongers Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton.
Are you ready for war with Venezuela? How about Iran? China? Russia?
WTF is going on here?
I’ll tell you what’s going on. An idiot, a moron, a supposed 666-D chess master, is occupying the White House. If he is elected to a second term, he will destroy the United States just like he destroyed every business he’s ever touched.
Chaos is his game, not creation, and no one should be ashamed to call him by his new name.