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Donald Trump can’t find a way to criticize Elizabeth Warren without demeaning Native Americans.

Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images

In theory, Trump has a good line of attack against the Massachusetts senator. She has claimed to have Cherokee ancestry, but this claim rests on family lore and is historically dubious. But Trump and his allies, including former Senator Scott Brown, whom Warren ousted in 2012, can’t help but turn an attack on Warren’s false claim into mockery of Native Americans. “She can take a DNA test,” Brown suggested. As The Washington Post notes, “The storyline eventually backfired on Brown, especially after some campaign workers were filmed war-whooping and making ‘tomahawk chops’ at Warren.”

These war whoops have been heard again at Trump rallies, who provokes them by nicknaming Warren “Pocahontas.” As Trump told NBC on Monday, “She is one of the least productive senators in the United States Senate. We call her Pocahontas for a reason.” Trump doesn’t seem to realize it, but by using one of the most famous Native Americans in history as a denigrating slur, he’s being bigoted. That’s the exact sort of blinkered attitude towards race that is making Trump one of the most unpopular presidential candidates with non-whites ever, rivaling David Duke.