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    Was it a lie if Elizabeth Warren believed it?

    Was it a lie if Elizabeth Warren believed it?

    Blogger Bernie Quigly at The Hill, in what now is a classic, raises a novel defense, Elizabeth Warren’s true American lineage:

    Elizabeth Warren might be excused for wanting to be Native American. She can claim an old American soul, going back generations in Oklahoma. In  the heartland it is almost universal for those who have been there for a few generations to claim Indian blood; that is, to wish it were there  even if it isn’t. It is not so much a lie as it is the acculturation of  personal and regional American myth; the fabric of old-soul American  consciousness. “Our spirit will walk among you,” said Chief Joseph.  Indeed it does….

    So Warren’s claim to be “part Indian” is correct in mythical terms. Every old-school white Oklahoman is in this regard even if this in nominally not true. But it is not a lie to want to be Indian and to imagine your ancestors were. It is to be free of Europeanism.

    As much laughter as the blog post has garnered, isn’t it really the heart of Warren’s defense?  She didn’t lie, she believed what people (allegedly) had told her about her heritage.

    Did she ever check? Did she have doubts? Why would she form her ethnic persona based on family lore, when she had provable non-Indian ancestry?

    To whom did she represent that she was Native American, and what did she tell them about it, as she was building her career.  (wink, wink)

    Does the truth even matter, or is it simply what Elizabeth Warren believed to be true?



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    OldSoul7777 | May 29, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    1/32 Native American, even if true, does not constitute minority status. Tribal membership requires a minimum of 1/4 ancestry. I have a blue-eyed, red-haired step mother from a state in the deep South who is 1/8 Choctaw. She believed through family lore that her ancestry was Cherokee, but research disclosed that the tribe was Choctaw. My blue eyed half-siblings, including my blonde half-sister are each 1/16 Choctaw. This is not minority status. My brother is a Harvard grad and my sister graduated from Wellesley. All are MDs. None ever had minority status.
    I live in Minneapolis and we have the largest urban population of Native Americans in the USA. Many are fair skinned and some are blue-eyed blondes.
    To me the issue is claiming minority status for a infinitesimal fraction of ancestry, particularly by Harvard, but also by Ms. Warren. With all the burdens people of all combinations of ancestry might face, such as disability, poverty and national origin, why would anyone consider credit for a 1/32 ancestral claim either for diversity compliance or career advancement?
    My ancestors on my father’s side were not even in the USA 5 generations ago, some having come 4 generations ago to mine iron on the Northern Peninsula of Michigan. They were miners from the Alps and found a home in the iron mines of Northern Michigan. Their children became doctors and their children’s children and their children’s children’s children. (Except for me–I am a lawyer.) One generation and the whole lot broke out of poverty when this was the “land of opportunity.”
    What is deeply disturbing to me about this story is that Harvard was trying to make itself look diverse by using a 1/32 ancestry claim of a person who was evidently trying to gain some advantage by making 1/32 of a claim for being disadvantaged. As a female lawyer who is older than Elizabeth Warren, we had plenty of hardship of our own in the field, trying to compete with child-raising responsibilities for which there was not only no credit, but considerable discrimination. We persevered. Failure would have been our fault, having been given the opportunity for professional education and service to the public.
    My step-mother, a decade my senior, when interviewed at her state university medical school, was asked by the Dean, “Why should I admit you to medical school when, if I do, the man who does not get admitted because you are might end up selling cars?” To which she replied, “If I am a better doctor than he is, he should sell cars.”

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