Progressive hero Elizabeth Warren, who is challenging Republican Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts' headline-grabbing Senate race, is in hot water after Brown's campaign accused her of exaggerating her Native American heritage so she could claim minority status to advance her career. Warren's campaign has since produced documents to prove at least one relative — a great-great-great-grandmother — was a Cherokee. Is this a phony controversy, or does it put Warren's integrity in doubt?
Warren is totally busted: "Goodbye, principled liberal Liz Warren," says Michael Graham at the Boston Herald. "Hello Princess Pinochio-Hantas." Warren played "the Cherokee card" to get on the list of minority law professors at the University of Texas in 1986 and at the University of Pennsylvania in 1995. When she arrived at the promised land, Harvard, she dropped off the minority lists, probably because she knew how "laughable" her claim to be a Native American really was.
"Stolen Indian identity"
But she is part Cherokee: If Warren's maternal great-great-great-grandmother was a full-blooded Cherokee, says Tim Murphy at Mother Jones, she's 1/32 Native American — just like Bill John Baker, who is principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. Obviously, then, she has a "legitimate claim to the title." So who's really being dishonest: Warren, who grew up in Oklahoma, where lots of people have some Cherokee blood, or the conservatives making "teepee jokes" and painting her as a "fabulist"?
"Elizabeth Warren is part Native American"
Blood alone doesn't make you Native American: What matters is whether Warren had "any personal ties to the tribe," says James S. Robbins at The Washington Times, "which she apparently did not." That's why it wrong for her to let herself be touted as a minority faculty member. This is the trouble with affirmative action — it "pretends to be a remedy for victims of discrimination," but the real victims are more qualified people who lose jobs to "imposters or exaggerators" like Warren.
"Pride and preferences"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- 10 things you need to know today: December 18, 2014
- Hey, bosses: Stop giving bonuses to your employees
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why torture doesn't work: A definitive guide
- Could better U.S.-Cuban relations thwart baseball's human smuggling problem?
- Dick Cheney's America is an ugly place
- Capitalism isn't a cure-all for Cuba
- The liberation of Barack Obama
Subscribe to the Week