Earlier this week, Elizabeth earned plaudits from her most devoted fans -- denizens of elite coastal newsrooms -- for apologizing to Native Americans at a forum she attended. The Massachusetts Senator acknowledged that she'd made "mistakes" and caused "harm," but failed to detail what, specifically, those harmful mistakes actually were. Her campaign also memory-holed her disastrous DNA stunt video, which had been hailed by some in the press as brilliant when it was first released, only to slide into the "problematic" column when (once again) genuine Native Americans strongly objected to the nature of her supposed "proof." Out: This dodgy evidence shows I was (1/64th to 1/1,024th) right all along! In: I'm really sorry for unspecified errors. And so, for the umpteenth time, Warren is trying to put this nagging controversy behind her. She can't do so, however, until she persuasively and compellingly addresses two fundamental questions.
(1) Is she a Native American -- as in still, to this day? Her response to this has been to deflect, instead answering different but related questions. She asserts that she is not a member of a tribe, an about-face from her longtime claims of being a Cherokee, and that she is not a woman of color. She was bludgeoned into the first reversal under harsh criticism from real Cherokees. The second point is more perplexing. Are Native Americans...not people of color? A Native American candidate forum attendee seemed understandably and suitably confused during an appearance on MSNBC:
“Is Elizabeth Warren going to be a woman of color?” a Native American woman asked during an interview with MSNBC at the Sioux City forum. “She says she is not,” an MSNBC reporter replied. “How can she say she’s not when she took a DNA test stating she is?” the woman fired back. “So she’s either one of us or she’s not.”
Warren recently told a liberal podcaster that her supposed Native American identity is "what I believe," but quickly emphasized the tribe and person of color caveats. But setting those caveats off to the side, the core issue remains: Does Warren still consider herself a Native American? Like, now, today. If so, based on what actual evidence? And how does that square with saying that she's not a person of color? If she says she no longer considers herself a Native American, that's a costly admission that she exploited an inaccurate identity, either out of calculating malice or insulting ignorance. If she says she is a Native American, we're back to the glaring problem of, you know, evidence. So there's a reason why she is avoiding this seemingly simple question. She knows it's a trap, and that she set it for herself.
(2) Why did she stop listing herself as a Native American just after securing tenure at Harvard Law School? Warren claims that she did not gain any financial or professional benefit from formally classifying herself as a racial minority in the 1980's and 1990's, but powerful circumstantial evidence and common sense suggest that's not true. Documents chronicle how she flipped from categorizing herself as a white person to a Native American just months before she was hired into the Ivy League for the first time, during a period in which elite institutions were under heavy fire for non-diverse faculties. She proceeded to continue to check the 'Native American' box in a key professional directory, widely known to be consulted by hiring deans, for roughly a decade -- abruptly ceasing this self-classification upon being granted a tenured position at Harvard, the peak of her trajectory. I suppose Warren could concoct any number of reasons why she began listing herself as a Native American when she did. It's a lot harder to explain the highly suspicious timing of her reversion back to being a white person. To my knowledge, she's only attempted to justify this incriminating timeline once, and it was embarrassingly weak:
Warren's explanation to the Boston Herald was that she listed herself as a minority in the hopes that she would be invited to a luncheon so she could meet "people who are like I am" and she stopped checking the box when that didn't happen. Perhaps it "didn't happen" because at no point, at any of the schools she attended or worked at, is there any evidence that Warren ever joined any Native American organizations on campus or in any way interacted with anyone in the Native American community.
Not only is this absurd-sounding on its face, it was directly refuted by real Native Americans who were at Harvard contemporaneously:
Dr. Gavin Clarkson, a citizen of the Choctaw Nation who received both a doctorate and a law degree from Harvard while Warren was a professor, says he "personally invited" her three times to visit with Harvard's Native American Law Student Association (NALSA), which he headed while attaining his dual degree. Warren, who had identified as a minority in law professor directories and was touted by Harvard as a Native American hire, never accepted his invites. "I was on campus at Harvard for five years, from 1998 to 2003," Clarkson said. "Warren was identified in the AALS law teacher directory as an American Indian faculty member." "Hi, we're the Native American students on campus and it would be nice to meet the only Native American professor on the faculty," was the message Clarkson was attempting to get across, but he says he was dismissed by Warren every time.
Her initial explanation was silly and implausible. The refutation blows it out of the water. So, really, why did Warren stop listing herself as a Native American when she did? Warren should not be allowed to wriggle free from this scandal until she convincingly, specifically, and thoroughly addresses both of the questions laid out above. The most obvious explanation for her conduct is that she seized on dubious family folklore at an opportune moment, in order to exploit diversity push for her own personal advancement, dropping the unethical ruse as soon as it was no longer useful to her. If there's stronger evidence that points in another direction, let's hear it. The trouble for Warren, I think, is that she literally cannot answer these two elementary questions in a satisfactory way, and that exculpatory evidence does not exist. I'll leave you with my monologue on this topic from my radio show:
My monologue on the two fundamental questions Elizabeth cannot answer about her 'Native American' debacle:https://t.co/mocGDgepOE— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) August 21, 2019
One more thought on media accountability:
Now that Warren herself has withdrawn the supposed proof of her supposed Native American heritage, where does that leave the newsrooms that reported initially that her DNA stunt “proves" her ancestral claims?https://t.co/hVAuzKYvOG— T. Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) August 20, 2019
And the false cries of "racism" at Trump on this subject are preposterous:
Warren, who’s white, claimed w/o evidence to be Native American during a key stretch of her career, then dropped the designation once she’d reached the apex of her trajectory. The RNC is calling out her indefensible appropriation. This is not racism against real Native Americans. https://t.co/Y8p4hmoBlP— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) August 19, 2019