Elizabeth Warren And The Attacks By Cherokees: Another Perspective

Charlie Pierce waded into the political quagmire that is the controversy over Elizabeth Warren and her Cherokee heritage. Warren released a statement, and here are the pertinent parts: When I was a little girl, I learned about my family's

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Charlie Pierce waded into the political quagmire that is the controversy over Elizabeth Warren and her Cherokee heritage. Warren released a statement, and here are the pertinent parts:

When I was a little girl, I learned about my family's heritage the same way everyone else does -- from my parents and grandparents. My mother, grandmother, and aunts were open about my family's Native American heritage, and I never had any reason to doubt them. What kid asks their grandparents for legal documentation to go along with their family stories? What kid asks their mother for proof in how she describes herself? My heritage is a part of who I am -- and I am proud of it.

But that's not good enough for Scott Brown and the Republican Party. For several weeks now, they have orchestrated an attack against my family, my job qualifications, and my character. Earlier today, Scott Brown even questioned the honesty of my parents -- even though they are not fair game and are not here to defend themselves.
Scott Brown wants me to give up my family and forget where I came from. I'm not doing that -- not for politics and not for anything else. I'll hold on to every memory I can. My family is part of who I am, and they will be part of who I am until I die.

Despite evidence to the contrary, Scott Brown also claims I got special breaks because of my background. That's not true, and I need your help to fight back:

* The people involved in recruiting and hiring me for my teaching jobs, including Harvard professor Charles Fried -- the solicitor-general under Ronald Reagan and a Scott Brown voter in 2010 -- have said unequivocally they were not aware of my heritage and that it played no role in my hiring.
* I did not benefit from my heritage when applying to college or law school, and documents reporters have examined prove it.
* I let people know about my Native American heritage in a national directory of law school personnel. At some point after they hired me, I also provided that information to the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard.

I was talking about this with one of my dearest friends - a Native American who's married to a (blond) Cherokee. Her husband and kids aren't enrolled in the tribe, either - as protest against the tribe's refusal to accept descendants of the African slaves owned by wealthy Cherokees as part of the tribe. Most white people don't know that many Indians aren't enrolled, for any variety of reasons. (For one thing, the federal government won't recognize all the tribes. That way, they don't have to provide benefits to them - and the powerful tribal leaders don't have to dilute their casino profits or influence. Take a look - a lot of the unrecognized tribes claim to be Cherokee.)

Anyway, my friend just graduated from an Ivy League law school and is studying for the bar. But she took some time out to talk to me about how angry and upset she is about the Cherokees piling onto Warren. "First of all, they're Republicans," she said, practically spitting. "And that's how they think, instead of looking at the fact that Elizabeth Warren could be the best thing that ever happened to Indians, with all the work she's done for the economically oppressed."

She talked about Warren listing her heritage at the places she taught. "Remember when I applied for law school, and agonized over checking the box?" she said.

"Yeah, I remember," I said. "You said you'd be in school with a bunch of privileged whites, and that if you checked the box, it would follow you around forever. That people would assume anything you ever got was handed to you because you were an Indian."

"Exactly," she said. "So while all these people think Warren was doing this to get special treatment, they are so wrong. She didn't have to; she was a professor of commercial law. Do you know how few women are in that part of the law? She didn't need to be an Indian - she was a woman. That was enough of a minority status. That was diversity enough!"

"The fact that she checked the box is very meaningful to me. It meant that she wanted to be a role model for young Indians."

Yeah, but you're not going to hear that from your Librul Media, are you?

About Susie Madrak

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