Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Elizabeth Warren: 1% Native American, 100% foolish

Elizabeth Warren made headlines yesterday by releasing a DNA report showing she is somewhere between 1/1024th and 1/64th Native American – and then calling on Trump to follow through on his 2017 promise to pay $1 million to a charity of her choosing if she took a DNA test “and it shows you’re an Indian.”

…That was an astoundingly stupid thing for her to do.  In fact, it’s a perfect example of how foolishly progressives and the media play into Trump's hands.  

Here's a recap for those not tracking the context behind this.  Elizabeth Warren is a left-wing Senator from Massachusetts who grew up in Oklahoma, one of the states most heavily populated by Native Americans. Like many white Americans (myself included), her family taught her a legend of Native American ancestry on her mother's side, without really specifying how much or how far back.  Like many white Americans, she accepted this as true without caring to verify it.

Warren went on to launch a brilliant law career that included professorships at both UPenn and Harvard during the 80's, 90’s and 2000's. During this time, elite universities were particularly eager to promote diversity among their students and faculty, in order to combat the impression that they were a pay-to-play club of white Good-Ol’-Boys. And during this time, for reasons known only to her, Warren used her family lore of Native American ancestry to identify herself as a racial minority on multiple occasions.

In 1984, she submitted five recipes to a Native American cookbook titled Pow Wow Chow, identifying herself as Cherokee.  From 1986-1995, she listed herself as a “minority” in the Association of American Law Schools Directory of Faculty.  In 1996, a Harvard Spokesman identified her as Native American professor, as did a Crimson editorial three years later.  And in both 1994 and 2005, the University of Pennsylvania listed her as a “minority” professor in its Minority Equity Report.  None of this would have been possible had Warren not spoken up to promote her Native American ancestry to on multiple occasions, to professional peers and superiors who would have been much more eager to gobble up that claim than to verify it.

In 2012, Warren ran for Senator of Massachusetts, and the story finally caught up with her.  She was challenged to verify her ancestry by her Republican opponent, and was unable to, admitting honestly that she believed it solely because it had been passed down through family lore. A team of New England genealogists wasn’t able to conclusively trace any ancestry either, which made for a media embarrassment.  And although she won that race anyway, the issue resurfaced in 2017 when Trump brought it back up, calling her “Pocahontas” and making his $1 million pledge. His exact words were these:

“I will give you a million dollars, paid for by Trump, to your favorite charity if you take the test and it shows you’re an Indian.”

That’s it.  That’s the context.  That was the end of the story, until yesterday.

Yesterday, Warren released this video, three weeks before the crucial primary elections, “proving” that she had a Native American ancestor 6 to 10 generations ago.  With a smile!  Not with an apology…not with a “this is a distraction from the issues that matter” change-of-subject…but with an “I told you so” smirk as if she’d been vindicated – proven right! – after all this time.

The left-wing media played right along.  CNN broke the news with the headline “Elizabeth Warren releases DNA test with 'strong evidence' of Native American ancestry.”  Six generations would be 1/64th native, or 1.5%.  10 generations would be 1/1024th native, or 0.09%.  This is “strong evidence”?

The Washington Post article was titled, “Trump promised $1 million to charity if Warren proved her Native American DNA. Now he’s waffling.”  The Young Turks did the same, of course.  They really tried, for a whole day, to make this into a story that made Trump look bad.  Their political instincts are so off – their finger so hopelessly far removed from the pulse of the American electorate – that they still think reeaaaaaaaaching to show Trump plausibly reneging on another promise would make this into a story that hurt him.

Holy SHIT these people are thick!!!

Elizabeth Warren had an out here, people.  She could have just apologized, and it would have been totally forgivable.  We all tend to trust our family elders when they tell us things we’d already like to believe about ourselves, and romanticizing our Native American roots is part of white America’s founding mythology.  It’s sort of fun and mysterious to imagine we have some biological connection to the country’s original inhabitants (rather than just to the people who slaughtered them).  It might have even felt vindicating for a woman who fancied herself so progressive.  So she rolled with it, and subsumed it into her identity until the scrutiny of political prominence dug deeper than her pride had been inclined to dig.  Perhaps some UPenn administrator had sent out an email asking if anyone had Native Ancestry so they could play it up for their Minority Report, and she’d replied in the affirmative out of sincere misconception as to how it would be portrayed.  In comparison to all of Trump’s scandals, she could totally shake that off.

But she didn’t take the out.  Instead, she doubled down.  She took Trump’s bait, and made a professionally produced video arguing that a maximum of 1.5% Native ancestry was enough to justify identifying oneself as a “racial minority.”  She went full Rachael Dolezal three weeks before the primaries, on the apparent belief that reigniting this story would help her make political inroads in 2020 by enabling jokes bout Donald Trump’s “memory problems.”

Let’s ignore, for the moment, that Senator Warren’s DNA test literally proves Donald Trump right: she has barely any Native Ancestry, and was disingenuous to pretend otherwise for job security and social kudos.  Let’s pretend you’re partisan enough to think Warren really is vindicated and Trump really does owe her $1 million. 

What I wanna focus on is this: Elizabeth Warren wants to unseat Donald Trump as president in 2020.  How on God’s green Earth does she think this move will help her do that?

Donald Trump won the 2016 election because he won a series of crucial Rust Belt swing-states full of mostly white, blue-collar people.  White, blue-collar people who live in Rust Belt swing-states feel ignored, alienated, scorned and looked-down-upon by each of the following types of people:

1.     Liberal people
2.     Wealthy people
3.     Famous people
4.     People who live in cities
5.     People who live on the coast
6.     People with a college education

What they hate MOST of all are people who are all of these things at once, and then tell them that THEY – the relatively poor, uneducated, simple country flyover-folk farmers and truck drivers in the Midwest – are privileged because they are white.  This is why they hate Colin Kaepernick.  This is why they hated Barack Obama.  They hate anyone – from Hollywood actors to pretentious policy “wonks” at Vox.com – who uses their distant, detached, lofty positions of relative social power to lecture them about how racist and ignorant they are, and how really THEY (the powerful coastal celebrities) are the victims on account of their race.

You don’t have to agree with these white people on racial issues (and I certainly don’t) to realize that nothing rouses their political ire more than a story about a rich, educated, powerful white Senator from a coastal Yankee state pretending to belong to an oppressed minority!

How long will it take for the left to figure this out?   How many think pieces have been written since 2016 about this exact phenomenon?  How many autopsies of Clinton’s failed campaign against the least popular man in modern political history have to be conducted before the Washington Post stops fanning the flames of that resentment?

If you think this DNA test makes Warren look good, you are out of your fucking mind.  If you think it catches Trump “waffling” and makes him look bad, you are completely out of touch with reality. If you’re so wrapped up in the literal veracity of the unscripted sentences that Trump says that you ignore the broader themes he’s messaging on, and the latent sentiments they resonate with, you’re missing the forest for the trees.

The longer the story of white-as-paper Elizabeth Warren claiming to be a racial minority at all remains in the press, the more the right wing is going to gobble it up, and the more popular Donald Trump is going to become in the states that matter in 2020.  If I were Donald Trump’s strategist, I would very publicly write her a check for $976.56 – exactly 1/1024th of a million dollars – just to keep it in the news.  Most of the country would rightfully laugh their asses off and he would emerge as the clear winner of the exchange.

I didn’t think Elizabeth Warren had a great chance to be President in 2020 anyway.  But if Democrats know what’s best for them (and they don’t), they won’t touch her with a ten foot poll now that she's revealed such awful political instincts.