Elizabeth Warren Under Fire For Listing Herself As Minority On Harvard Law Faculty

Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren is under increasing criticism over her listing herself as a Native American as a law professor — a status reported by Harvard Law School in counting her as a minority faculty member. There is limited evidence that Warren is indeed Native American. At most, the degree of indian blood is extremely low. Warren has answered the criticism by saying that she was not trying to use minority status for her own professional benefit but to establish personal associations. The controversy has caused a buzz among law professors as to the definition of minority status for professors and students alike.

Warren listed herself as a Native American minority for years on the directory of law professors. She insisted in an interview this week that “I listed myself in the directory in the hopes that it might mean that I would be invited to a luncheon, a group something that might happen with people who are like I am. Nothing like that ever happened, that was clearly not the use for it and so I stopped checking it off,.”

Warren is a very talented academic and I do not share the view that she was given her position at Harvard (or received her well-deserved praise as an academic) due to the claim of being a minority.

There is a mixed record on the question of her great great great grandmother. The article below says that genealogists at the New England Historic Genealogical Society were unable to support claims that her great great great grandmother is Cherokee. O.C. Sarah Smith is listed on an electronic transcript of a 1894 marriage application as Cherokee but they have been unable to find the original record. However, it would seem to be that the electronic record should give Warren the benefit of the doubt as to her beliefs in her ancestry. That does not entirely answer the question, however. Even if true, such a connection would constitute a reported 1/32 part Native American. Many Americans have such a small connection to Native Americans.

Is it relevant to running for political office if voters believe that Warren wrongly claimed or exaggerated minority status?  I see no reason why someone should not claim ancestry tied to Native Americans, no matter how tangential.  While I expect that there are a couple dozen of other bloodlines and cultures in the Warren family with equal or greater presence, it is clearly something that the family took pride in as part of its history.

Putting aside the hyper partisanship that seems to warp all analysis these days, there remains some difficult questions for the legal academy. While I do not believe that Warren’s well-earned success was due to this claim, she did make the claim for years and being a minority law professor does work to the advantage of both the academic and the school as institutions work to increase their minority numbers of both students and professors. The controversy also highlights the uncertain standards for claims of minority status among law schools. We are currently in the midst of a scandal over inflated employment numbers and the effort to impose concrete standards for how to count employment. Do we need the same reexamination of the claim of minority status or should it be entirely self-defined for each academic?

What do you think?

Source: Boston Herald

123 thoughts on “Elizabeth Warren Under Fire For Listing Herself As Minority On Harvard Law Faculty

  1. The people who seem to have their knickers in a twist about this are not people whose opinions I value. She is who she is. No one is a “pure” anything anymore. This country is a melting pot of ethnicity and race.

    Where I take issue is the scorekeeping of who is of what racial identity, as if that means something. Breaking News! The racial identity of a professor takes a very distant back seat to what they know and the subject matter they are able to impart to the students who pay good money to occupy a desk in the classroom.

  2. A century of the institutionalization of propaganda has had an impact on every American.

    Hell, corporations claim to be people.

    I doubt they have even 1/32 of people in them, because they are mostly paper and ink.

    Still, Liz made a mistake whatever her reasons were. I think her opponent Scott, has more redneck blood in him than he lets on too.

  3. In this case, it’s political hay being gathered. Think of all the obvious stuff her opponents had to go through to find something on her! We need more women like her to clean house in the Senate. Go, Elizabeth!!

  4. Warren recognized the advantages that the minority status would offer her career and to Harvard’s claims of diversity.

    Does Warren really believe that her family suffered in the same way as Native Americans have, and that she is entitled to the benefits of making such a marginal claim?

  5. If this is the best her opponents can do in attacking her credentials,. let ’em have at it. It’s amazing how frightened the corporate clans are of this woman.

    Minority status is a designation offered by the academic institutions. Exactly what it does for enrollment is probably rated by some mousy little guy in a basement office who will lose his job if the designation is abandoned.

  6. Shouldn’t the standard for reporting depend on the purpose.

    If the question is raised in the general census, perhaps the most important fact is self perception and corresponding self reporting.

    If the question is raised in connection with a benchmark to measure the possibility of institutional racism, then perhaps the standards should include something in addition to self reporting.

    But her response is curious. Apparently she list herself this way in the hope that the listing would help her meet some one with that kind of background. It never occurred to me before that the aspiration to meet someone was a tie to the community.

  7. OS is correct. This is a political response from the Brown campaign to stifle a worthy opponent. If the Republicans are to be believed, every white woman is a minority due to the Mexicans flooding into our country.

  8. I don’t know how being 1/32 part of a minority makes one a minority too when there’s a 31/32 part of you that isn’t. And if one wants to acquaint oneself with those who are part of that minority, then there’s all sorts of other organizations outside of your workplace with which you can join.

  9. If Winston Churchill can claim Iroquois ancestry from his socialite New York mother, Jenny Jerome, then us folks here in the states with 1/32 Cherokee blood can claim it too. For four hundred years Cherokee were told to hide it if they could, that they would be discriminated against. Lets see a show of hands on the jury venire panel of fifty five in Joplin, Missouri, for those that have Indian ancestory. In a jury trial twenty five years ago I got a show of hands of 46 out of 50. We are a nation of assimilation as well as castigation. Besides, she looks Cherokee.

  10. Nice summary of the points of this latest political jab by J.T. If Elizabeth Warren had gained some unfair advantage by listing herself as a Native American, then there would be something for Scott Brown to make hay of. But, so far we’ve not seen a scintilla of evidence that this has been the case. So, this amounts to just dumb political mud-slinging. I’d like to see both candidates focusing on some of the important issues for a change.

  11. I think it would be nice for a woman, and a woman who is proud of her Native ancestry, to be in the Senate. There are so few of them, of either category.

  12. Excerpt from the Boston Herald article:

    Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, fending off questions about whether she used her Native American heritage to advance her career, said today she enrolled herself as a minority in law school directories for nearly a decade because she hoped to meet other people with tribal roots.

    “I listed myself in the directory in the hopes that it might mean that I would be invited to a luncheon, a group something that might happen with people who are like I am. Nothing like that ever happened, that was clearly not the use for it and so I stopped checking it off,” said Warren.


    Ohmigod! What a terrible woman! She listed herself in a directory as Native American. Who’s asking “those questions” that Warren has been “fending” off? Were they questions planted in the media by big money PACs that support pretty boy Brown?

    Good grief is this the best the Brown acolytes can do to besmirch Warren’s character?????

    P.S. The Boston Herald is a conservative tabloid–only good to have around the house when one is house training puppies.

  13. Who is a Native American?

    As a general principle an Indian is a person who is of some degree Indian blood and is recognized as an Indian by a tribe/village and/or the United States. There exists no universally accepted rule for establishing a person’s identity as an Indian. The criteria for tribal membership differs from one tribe to the next. To determine a particular tribe’s criteria, one must contact that tribe directly. For its own purposes, the Bureau of the Census counts anyone an Indian who declares to be such. By recent counts, there are more than 2.4 million Native Americans, including Native Alaskans and Native Hawaiians.
    What she said she is she is…unlike many politicians….

  14. Looks like Senator Scott Brown’s machine may be gearing up to swiftboat Elizabeth Warren. The Wall Street banksters who support Brown do not want to see Warren elected to the Senate. I expect to see more attacks like this on her character.

  15. Not having read the comments, I express my views anyway:
    While not wishing to deny anyone his minority rights; instittution or person, I do look forward to´the day when these injustices are righted. How nice it will be to not have to say: “I’m not a racist”. or the silly: “I have many muslim friends”. The right to pride is not to be denied to them, but I hope it is to be accepted as a full value person to which they long It was and as yet is a denied status in the many minds who meet them..

  16. I am proud of Professor Warren, and intend to follow her example, listing myself as being 1/32 of one or more minorities whenever such an unprovable designation might help me even slightly. That way, I will have better odds of being invited to lunch, or getting into college, or winning a hiring preference, or gaining access to heretofore-unreachable cash, or being invited to speak to others in my oppressed community(ies). Such bold leadership on race should be emulated! Huzzah!

  17. OT??
    Elizabeth Warren for President.
    Far bettter than Billary, that program we are tired of hearing.
    How did Warren do on the Tarp commission for Congress?

  18. One of my colleagues is Melungeon. They do not have a box labeled “OMG” on most forms.

  19. If it is in the cheekbones, then I must be one-fourth, but actually one-sixteeth.
    No, in truth the cheekbones are there, but the linkage is by way of marriage not in direct lineage. She was elevated to be a princess (?) by virtue of her husband, and was beautiful as a blue sky.
    Indian are popular now. How about a nation right in the middle of the corn belt?

  20. Blonde haired, blue-eyed New Englanders (via working class parents in Oklahoma) have no business passing themselves off as “minorities” for any reason. This looks like bureaucratic embellishing to shine up minority credentials for the school, Ms. Warren’s plea of enhancing her professional networking opportunities notwithstanding. (Maybe even that purpose is an abuse). At the least, it’s quite unseemly and flat wrong if a true minority person was passed up in the hiring process in deference to her and her rather expansive view of just what constitutes a “minority” and the disadvantaged status it undoubtedly connotes.

  21. Speaking of OMG boxes, where do we “street hybrids” list ourselves? I guess we are not accorded minority status anyway. And as for the melting pot, if anyone cherishes their heritage, then should be able to openly show it—–as long as they don’t do it on my front yard or in my bathroom.
    The bed is however open territory, so it was in my heritage.

  22. Ok I think I get it.

    According to current standards she can claim just about affiliation she pleases.

    Media attention to her claims are likely driven by political considerations.

    But pardon me while i stifle a giggle that she has any affinity at all for this group.

    She can say it, I can laugh at it – whats the problem.

    BTW, I had been hoping for an invite to dinner too. The actual records have been lost in the mists of time, but if am one 32nd film star. Cameron Diaz where are you?

  23. Being truthful is always a virtue, especially for politicians.

    This revelation gives me some pause and disappoints, because I think Ms Warren is a great candidate and outstanding citizen. If a body wants to associate with minorities, one reaches out in true friendship on “their turf.” One doesn’t wait to be invited to cocktail parties. Her reasons seem lame. I wish she had just conceded, “I did it. I shouldn’t have done it. I stopped doing it N. years ago.” and then move on. No excuses. No justifications. Apologize with sincerity and be direct. Then move on.


  24. Puzzling:

    an even more radical idea – why dont we do away with diversity and let the most able person be hired regardless of race or sex.

    Maybe we should all take a page from professional sports and hire the most able regardless of race. Competition and excellence seems to promote camaraderie and bonhomie among the races in professional sports.

  25. I’m 1/16th NA. I think that is the usual tribe and federal cutoff for Federal scholarship money or membership in most tribes. Proving it is another matter. My grandfather hid his heritage from society his whole life. He was worried they would force him to live on the rez……..if you could pass for white back then, you did so with no regrets.

  26. The Smearing of Elizabeth Warren
    By Ed Kilgore

    Until today, I was only vaguely aware that Scott Brown’s campaign and its allies were trying to make a big deal out of Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren’s past self-identification (and once, her identification by Harvard Law School) as a “Native American.” It mainly caught my attention because, like Warren (and for that matter, like many white people I’ve known from North Georgia or Oklahoma), I have a Cherokee ancestor, a great-great-grandmother as it happpens, though I’ve never self-identified myself that way.

    Then I ran across a Boston Herald (the original source of the whole story) column by a certain Howie Carr that shows exactly how ugly and overtly racial this attack-line has become. It’s not, in fact, really about Elizabeth Warren, but about an increasingly aggressive effort on the Right to invent a nightmare-world where incompetent women and minorities are lording it over the poor afflicted white male.

    Keep in mind that there is not a shred of evidence that Warren ever benefitted in any way from her self-identification; indeed, every university who’s hired her in the course of her very distinguished academic career has indicated they weren’t even aware of it, and certainly didn’t make it a factor in employing her.

    That doesn’t deter Carr from asserting that “Pocohantas” Warren “parlayed the racial-spoils racket all the way to a tenured position at Harvard Law,” or that her case “shows just how morally and intellectually bankrupt ‘affirmative action’ is.” For good measure, he lurches into an equally unsubstantiated claim that President Obama got a “free pass to Columbia and Harvard Law” because of his race.

  27. I thought Elizabeth Warren was tops (though I assume that will change some or a lot due to the way the Senate works) until I read this.


    This will have little impact on her run for the Senate. She will probably win it fairly easily as Brown was purely a gut reaction to the ghastly Martha Coakley who was all for eliminating the public option and all for the Stupac amendment (eliminating Federal funding for abortion) as long as it was what Obama wanted and who never refused a campaign contribution from the giant insurance corporations (who crafted the health care fiasco legislation) when they offered one to her. And they offered more than one.

    Massachusetts is a liberal state and they are not distracted quite as much as some states by things like simply using the name “Democrat” to cover up extreme right wing positions as “progresive” the way they do when they refer to newspapers or NPR or PBS as having a “liberal bias” . A ploy which, alas, works all to often all too well. But that being said, I think Warren’s militaristic stance for anything Israel to the determent of any sane approach to the Middle East will be muted or whited out for “liberal” consumption at least until the election is over.

  28. She should note that she is also approximately 50% male; her father was male, both of her grandfathers were male, etc.

    More seriously, I think the “minority race” rules are inherently discriminatory and should all be abolished.

    The criterion to address should be what the “minority status” was a proxy for: unequal socioeconomic circumstances due to past institutionalized discrimination by race, gender, and religion.

  29. Elaine, Warren would not have qualified for money under any federal NA grant program. So how could she have benefited?

    I have known many people who are part Cherokee, including a famous black jazz musician, all of them are now proud of having some NA heritage.

  30. Note, the militaristic stance on anything Israeli can be found directly on her web site (and it has been considerably toned down over the last couple of weeks):


    including her assertion that Iran is developing Nuclear weapons (“[…]Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, it is an active state sponsor of terrorism,[…]”) when even the Obama administration has explicitly denied that this is currently the case and the closest they can come to proving Iran is a sponsor of terrorism is Iran’s statement that they “will defend [themselves] if attacked”. By that definition, “Defending oneself if attacked”, which is essentially what all the major news papers used as proof — including the New Yourk Times — we would easily qualify as a state sponsor of terrorism as well.

  31. This is quite frankly bullshit pulled out to sully a candidate who threatens the corporate power structure. I’m glad I’m not a candidate for office, since in front of witnesses 50 years ago my High School Principal admonished me to “get my mind above my belt”. This charge against Warren is bogus. As Elaine stated:

    “Keep in mind that there is not a shred of evidence that Warren ever benefitted in any way from her self-identification; indeed, every university who’s hired her in the course of her very distinguished academic career has indicated they weren’t even aware of it, and certainly didn’t make it a factor in employing her.”

    I persoally believe that if elected she will be the Senator with the most integrity from the jump, save for Bernie Saders and that frightens corporations.

  32. @Tony C. “a proxy for: unequal socioeconomic circumstances due to past institutionalized discrimination by race, gender, and religion.”

    Good point. There are risks to developing and keeping records regarding ethnic background.

    But we care about ethnic background because of the past.

    It is a complex subject. But it is hard to see how we can measure our progress with out some kind of awareness of our background.

    On balance, it would seem that not keeping count is more dangerous than keeping count.

  33. Mike S.,

    “This is quite frankly bullshit pulled out to sully a candidate who threatens the corporate power structure.”

    You got that right!

    I think Brown and his machine want to destroy Warren before the primaries. I believe Brown is scared to death of running against her. He’s even whined about the media’s treatment of Warren.


    Scott Brown blasts media over Elizabeth Warren coverage
    By Lucy Madison

    Republican Senator Scott Brown on Wednesday took the media to task for allegedly being too easy on his Democratic Senate opponent Elizabeth Warren, imploring a reporter to “ask her some tough questions, too.”

    Brown, in an interview with the Boston Herald, accused the media of being harder on him than on his liberal opponent, a Harvard Law professor and longtime consumer advocate.

    “It’s all fluff. It’s all fluff. Gimme a break,” said Brown, about the press treatment of Warren. “I just think that if you’re going to find out where people stand, you gotta ask them tough questions like you guys ask me every single day. Every single day of my existence I get tough questions from you guys.”

    Brown, who in 2010 won his seat in a special election following the death of longtime liberal Senator Ted Kennedy, will face a tough re-election challenge from Warren in what is expected to be a close and costly race. Warren, according to a Boston Herald poll taken earlier this month, leads the incumbent Republican by seven points, and has so far pulled in strong fundraising numbers. (In the third quarter, having entered the race just six weeks prior, Warren earned $3.15 million compared to Brown’s $1.55 million.)

    “She’s going to have every advantage. … I don’t have a machine behind me like she will, and she does clearly,” Brown told the Herald. “It would help if you guys would ask her some tough questions, too, and ask her about how she would vote on things and why.”

  34. bigfatmike: it depends on whether you are speaking to my Grandfather, who would have faced discrimination every day if he had ‘come out’.

    Or me, who would have benefited from some college money as a NA student with very little or zero discrimination!

  35. @bigfatmike: There is good reason for counting, statistics can reveal instances in which potential discrimination should be investigated, and the power to discriminate should be curtailed.

    There is no good reason for tilting the scale based on genetic makeup; in fact it is the definition of institutional racial inequality.

    The modern world has plenty of data to be able to determine whether somebody has experienced a structural disadvantage in upbringing; be it bad schools, poverty, bad nutrition, a crime-stressed home neighborhood or whatever. Preferential treatment based on such structural disadvantages is NOT genetically based, even though it turns out that minorites are indeed the ones that suffer the most. But they are not the only ones; there are Appalachia teens that have been slighted just as much and are unfairly denied assistance because they do not HAVE the necessary genes; there are California blacks that were never disadvantaged at all but get preferential treatment based solely upon the content of their genes.

    We have the technology to correct such imbalances directly, we do not need to use the wildly flawed proxy of DNA at all.

  36. Swarthmore mom,

    Can you guess who is behind many of the attack ads against Elizabeth Warren? Here’s a hint: His initials are K. R. and his nickname is Turd Blossom.

  37. @shano

    Good point. It is a complex subject and there are risks. If I sounded like I have answers, I did not express myself clearly. I feel gratified if I get a good clear statement of the question.

    I try but cannot imagine what it must be like to live every day wondering if someone will discover my background.

  38. Elaine, Yep, Rove has to keep that seat in order to win back the senate for the republicans.

  39. BB,
    What’s one vote more or less for Israel worth? Does that steer you?
    I prefer a WS buster, and a consumer protector who can her stuff.
    Warren for President.

  40. MikeS
    “I persoally believe that if elected she will be the Senator with the most integrity from the jump, save for Bernie Saders and that frightens corporations.”MikeS

    Fine, but you don’t address the issue of her saying, as claimed by BB, to be supporting a militaristic Israel line, including claims that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Of course, that is your choice, and not suspect as such. It was the NA subject which was the thread. But it is being used against her for political purposes so her whole position comes up for discussion.

    I, myself, was very convinced of her worth. I mean, how many would go the anti-TARP and the consumer support road to office. An unlikely route.
    But this alleged convenient support of the USA doctrine of eternal middle east unrest which motivates power plays in the oil lands, disturbs me.

    Israel is playing our game, and will do so as it will lead to recovery of Palestina under its old Jewish names. Yes? No? Or?

    But as I said, what does one more Senator’s vote mean when there are so many pro-Israel now? It smells like the NA issue. Just a good reason to kick a good candidate down. Politics!

    BTW: My principal shouted: “Get on the ball” He was from the North. Nobody else said that. He would have gotten fired for going below the belt in our town. Everybody there had their thoughts below the belt.

    You can write me at fallingpetals696@hushmail.com if you like. I’d like your views on Iran and the Israel position vv Palestine’s status futurewise.

  41. Thanks Elaine for the whiny brat Brown piece from his buddy loose-paper BH. One thing is sure. The people quickly saw their mistake in electing him after Ted Kennedy. What a whiner. Booooohoo!

    Warren for President!

    I’d give the Kennedy’s a dynastic seat in the Senate if it were possible, just as long as the bloodline runs true. And not just the horny guys. How’s that grab ya’?

    Will save the best for later.

  42. SwM,
    “Agree with Mike and Elaine.”
    Are we voting already? The primary debates have just begun. Let’s hear it from the Brown supporters, if any. Should be good for a laugh.

  43. I think I have previously mentioned that rov(e) means ass as in arsle in Swedish. It is spelled röv, but skip the details. It is what comes out that counts.
    And salutations to the turdy-turd ladies gang.
    Nighty night from me.
    All this on a mug of tea. What would spirits have done?
    Irrepressible? Irresponsible? Irresistible? Irreproachable? Irreligious?
    Eery? Yeah.

    Warren for President. It’s time for it. Women must do better than the men.

  44. idealist,

    “The primary debates have just begun. Let’s hear it from the Brown supporters, if any.”


    Brown polls well here in Massachusetts. He is quite popular statewide for a Republican.

    He won the special election here because Martha Coakley was a godawful campaigner–and because he gots lots of support from the Tea Party and lots of money from Wall Street/banks.

  45. Id707,
    The notion that a candidate for office should pass everyone’s litmus test is folly. I see the same trsin of thought from some on Obama. The very fact someone would run for office tells me they have at the very least a strong sense that they know better than everyone else. It’ s precisely why I never went into politics despite the fact that I was a great public speaker, had the looks and waas generally very likable. My two runs for Union office proved to me that ego could win out over my ideals. Seeing that I decided that living a life selling my ideals for notions of glory was not an option. Knowing though that even I could be swayed by baubles of vainglory was a sobering lesson in not putting myself on a pedestal.

    As for the mid East my views are simple.
    1. As Jew I believe that having a Jewish nation is essential.
    2. I despise Bibi and his policies.
    3. The West Bank settlements should be dismembered and given to the Arabs.
    4. There needs to be a 2 state solution for peace to happen.
    5. The real best friend in the ME of the US is the Saudi’s.

  46. i generally check the other box and list myself as a norwegian-american.

    and everyone in the south claims to have a cherokee princess as a great grandmother.

  47. pete, those women were so beautiful they may as well have been princesses. Only the incredibly strong survived small pox in the Americas.

  48. Mike…. Elaine…I agree….

    Was the original “opt ad” ran may 1st….. Like maybe an indication that this is communist red day….. May 1st being May Pole day as I learned in school…. Or some catholic saints day as well?


    America is a great melting pot of many diverse well qualified folks….

  49. You heard it hear first folks: ‘Warren for president.’

    Just think Idealist707. The republicans could have had Warren safely tucked away at some nearly forgotten bureaucratic agency.

    Now they have cleverly promoted her nearly to the Senate with a near certain invite to the Presidential primary dance.

    I wonder what other issues the Republicans might refuse to compromise on?

    Who says things are not getting better. I am pretty sure Warren can name the newspapers she reads in the morning.

  50. I am 3/4 American Indian enrolled in the Puyallup Tribe of Indians. I worked for Indian Health Service, part of HHS, and the required blood quantum for services from IHS is 1/4. I believe this is true for any BIA benefits. Thus, I believe her listing the American Indian heritage is only giving people a full picture of her heritage. And, I don’t think she would even get any benefit from Affirmative Action with that small blood quantum. Some one above also mentioned that there was a period when admitting to an American Indian heritage could have been detrimental to the person’s life style, which is very true. [As an aside, I use the term, “American Indian” because while it is a misnomer, I believe it is more descriptive of my heritage than “native American,” which means anyone born in America.] But, this does seem to be an time-wasting issue.

  51. Elizabeth Warren may be only 1/32 Native Americans, but Scott Brown appears to be 31/32 jerk.

  52. An example of the Turd Blossom at work attempting to smear Warren:

    Rove-backed Crossroads GPS Ad Smears Elizabeth Warren (Again)
    Ari Berman
    December 8, 2011

    The last ad the Karl Rove–backed Crossroads GPS ran against Elizabeth Warren, which sought to tie her to violence at Occupy Wall Street, was one of the most disingenuous and inaccurate ads of the 2012 cycle. Their new ad against Warren is even worse—ludicrously suggesting that Warren supported the Wall Street bailout and has done the bidding of the biggest banks.

    First Crossroads claimed that Warren was the intellectual godmother of Occupy Wall Street. Now they’re claiming she’s Wall Street’s best friend. So much for consistency!

    Simon Johnson does the fact-checking that Crossroads GPS obviously didn’t bother to do. He notes at least five major inaccuracies in the new ad:

    1. TARP was a Republican program—proposed and implemented by President George W. Bush. At the time, Ms. Warren was busy championing people whose rights had been trampled by the financial sector through various kinds of abuses.

    2. Ms. Warren became chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel (COP) for TARP, precisely because people in Congress—on both sides of the aisle—trusted her to provide an honest and professional check on the support provided to financial firms. She did her highest profile work during the Obama administration, bringing relentless pressure on the Treasury and other agencies who just wanted to prop up big firms without any conditions.

    3. Ms. Warren has also been a strong supporter of all efforts to rein in Too Big To Fail banks, including by breaking them up. She has consistently been one of the strongest advocates for curtailing the abusive power of megabanks (and others who have behaved badly).

    4. At the same time, Ms. Warren has not demonized the financial sector. On the contrary, when charged with setting up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, she went out of her way to work closely with those in the financial sector who provide sensible products with reasonable conditions. Her emphasis throughout has been on transparency, fairness, and full disclosure in this sector. You are not allowed to sell dangerous toasters in the United States; her point is that you should not be allowed to sell financial products that have been proven dangerous.

    5. The idea that Elizabeth Warren would ever side with “big banks” against the middle class is preposterous. Time and again, she has stuck up for the middle class (and anyone who uses financial services) – even when it was deeply unfashionable to do so. The big banks have opposed her relentlessly and on-the-record, both directly and through various surrogates

    In a way, the Crossroads ad, despite its blatant falsehoods, is an admission that Warren’s brand of progressive populism is deeply resonant with voters. Her message of accountability for Wall Street and advocacy on behalf of consumers scares the bejesus out of Republicans. Indeed, in a new Boston Herald poll, where Warren leads Scott Brown by seven points, voters say they trust Warren more than Brown to fight for middle-class families and effectively regulate Wall Street.

  53. “I listed myself in the directory in the hopes that it might mean that I would be invited to a luncheon, a group something that might happen with PEOPLE WHO ARE LIKE I AM.”

    “Warren . . . was not trying to use minority status for her own professional benefit but to establish personal associations.”

    Now there’s a fine line to draw in the sand, and scarcely the brightest frame of mind for a Harvard legal educator.

    I would far rather Ms. Warren have believed that our lot as a society isn’t likely to improve much, until we awaken to recognize the inherent damage done by hyphenations.

    Maybe their intent was once to clarify. Who knows. But the reality is, in the year 2012, hyphenations function as totally unnecessary barriers; they set us apart; they demand overt recognition; they divide us.

    If simply saying you are an American isn’t enough, maybe we need to re-evaluate our goals.

  54. PatricParamedic, Rafflaw, pete, Shano

    I am content being human, having spent most os my life as a Martian residing on Earth. The tranformation process is not finished yet.

    However, I don’t know what boxes are available (only residents are censused?), but would gladly check “human” if I could.
    If pressed my ignorance would produce Scotch-Irish, English, and Norwegian. We were not into genealogy.

    But if my aunt with those blood lines marries a NA, then to my way of thinking, that in NO way makes me to any percent NA. However as one would have it, all we born here are NA. But human is my choice.

    I would gladly add several hundred more ethnicities to my checklist, just to claim them as kin. Particularly with the “primitive” ones who decided not to go the “king” route, property ownership, and were sharing long before Jesus came.

    A swedish author gives me a joke to finish off with:
    A bushlady was asked by the other ladies, chatting while processing the results of their food collection, “What is your favorite sex position?”
    She replied: “Why, on my hands and knees in the doorway to my hut where I can look out at my husband’s silly struttings, while my lover takes me from behind.”
    Wouldn’t we all love to have her as an aunt?

    The authors name is Berg. You’ll recognize his titles.

  55. “This merits a reexamination of the difficult question of what it means to be Native. Does that make the Chickasaw kid from Buckhead in Atlanta any less Native than the Navajo faculty candidate from Windy Gap? What does a Native even look like? It’s more than long black hair, feathers and beads. At the same time, it is more than checking a box.

    Someone’s subjective opinion about her heritage may conflict with tribal requirements for membership. The standards are not constant, and they may change with new tribal governments. This happened in my tribe in 2002, when the new chief decided that some members were not “Indian enough.” Even at home, the tribal government falls into stereotypes.

    For the Cherokee Nation, Warren is “Indian enough;” she has the same blood quantum as Cherokee Nation Chief Bill John Baker. For non-Natives, this may be surprising. They expect to see “high cheekbones,” as Warren described her grandfather as having, or tan skin. They want to know of pow wows, dusty reservations, sweat lodges, peyote and cheap cigarettes. When outsiders look at these ostensibly white people as members of Native America, they don’t see minorities. As a result, Warren feels she must satisfy these new birthers and justify her existence.

    Looked at from the inside, however, the Warren controversy is all new. When the Brown campaign accused Elizabeth Warren of touting herself as American Indian to advance her career, this was news to Native law professors. We have a good eye for welcoming faculty to the community and identifying promising scholars. We know where people teach, what they have published and we honor them when they die. Harvard Law School named its first Native American tenured professor? Really? In our small indigenous faculty town, we would have heard about it already.”

    Kevin Noble Maillard is a law professor at Syracuse University and a member of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma. He is the co-editor of “Loving v. Virginia is a Post Racial World: Rethinking Race, Sex, and Marriage,” which will be published later this month. NYT

  56. @Swarthmore mom

    People like me think that Warrens remarks regarding her ethnic background are hilarious and distinguish her as one the finer comedic minds Harvard has produced in recent years.

    But the question that interest most on this blog is ‘should these remarks influence ones decision to vote for or against her in the senate race’.

    Well, no, not unless you are electing her to give long reminiscence on her ethnic upbringing.

    The proper scope for deciding to vote for or against her is her stand on the issues.

    The fact is that Warren has shown a lot of understanding regarding the finance industry.

    The fact is that this is an industry that suggested that it did not need regulation because its products were so complex that government regulators could not understand the business. This is a business that argued that its clients were so sophisticated that they did not need the protection of regulation.

    I think we all know how deregulation worked out. The result was the greatest economic decline since the great depression of the thirties of the last century. The result was a decline that would have been far, far worse if the government had not stepped in and pulled the finance industry back from the abyss.

    This is a business that would be walking around with holes in its socks selling apples on the corner if it were not for ordinary people like you and me who through our elected representatives bailed them out. Yet they have the nerve, the audacity, and the plain bad sense to tell us to leave them alone, they have it all figured out. Does anyone really believe that the finance business has identified and corrected the excesses of the past?

    Warren not only has a great sense of humor, she understands finance. And she is tough enough to stand up to some of the toughest business men in the country.

    Not only that, she is tough enough to worry some of the toughest business men in the country.

    If that is not a great endorsement I don’t know what is.

  57. If I get high with cough syrup, does that make me a MD or an astronaut? I know it will not be healthy if I do it all too often.

  58. Swarthmore mom,

    When I began reading your comment, I thought those were your words at first. Thanks to you, I found Maillard’s opinion piece in the New York Times:

    Elizabeth Warren’s Birther Moment

    If you are 1/32 Cherokee and your grandfather has high cheekbones, does that make you Native American? It depends. Last Friday, Republicans in Massachusetts questioned the racial ancestry of Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic Senate candidate. Her opponent, Senator Scott Brown, has accused her of using minority status as an American Indian to advance her career as a law professor at Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Texas. The Brown campaign calls her ties to the Cherokee and Delaware nations a “hypocritical sham.”

    In a press conference on Wednesday, Warren defended herself, saying, “Native American has been a part of my story, I guess since the day I was born, I don’t know any other way to describe it.” Despite her personal belief in her origins, her opponents have seized this moment in an unnecessary fire drill that guarantees media attention and forestalls real debate.

    This tactic is straight from the Republican cookbook of fake controversy. First, you need a rarefied elected office typically occupied by a certain breed of privileged men. Both the Presidency and the Senate fit this bill. Second, add a bit of interracial intrigue. It could be Kenyan economists eloping with Midwestern anthropologists, or white frontiersmen pairing with indigenous women. Third, throw in some suspicion about their qualifications and ambitions. Last but not least, demand documentation of ancestry and be dissatisfied upon its receipt. Voila! You have a genuine birther movement.

    The Republican approach to race is to feign that it is irrelevant — until it becomes politically advantageous to bring it up. Birthers question Obama’s state of origin (and implicitly his multiracial heritage) in efforts to disqualify him from the presidency. They characterize him as “other.” For Warren, Massachusetts Republicans place doubts on her racial claims to portray her as an opportunistic academic seeking special treatment. In both birther camps, opponents look to ancestral origins as the smoking gun, and ride the ambiguity for the duration.

    Proving Native American ancestry is a complex, bureaucratic process. It’s more than showing up at the tribal enrollment office with a family bible and some black and white pictures. Many people are rejected, even when family lore tells them otherwise. Tribal citizenship depends on descent from an enrolled ancestor, and every tribe has its own requirements.

  59. Elaine,
    Can you get it placed in a Massachusetts newspaper, like the BH?
    Well written too. Makes me envious for that alone.

    SwM, thank you too.

    “There should be a law…..”,.as some would say.
    Outlawing Republicans.

    I think Google should start a new type of political ad. You buy and specify placement near Warren and negative birther sentiments on Warren. Google does the scanning and instant ad space buying with the publicatio. When the laptop notices your eyes perusing such an article, the Google ad emit a loud raspberry. Think it’ll sell?

  60. I can’t believe the comments that Warren cannot identify as Native American because she doesn’t “look” Native American or her ancestry is too remote. The different tribes have sovereign power to determine who is a member of the tribe. A person can identify as a Native American without being a member of a tribe. This whole discussion illustrates that we are hung up on our ridiculous 19th century definitions of “race” when science has rejected race as a meaningful concept of human classification. Is the Brown campaign so far removed from a member of the Reichstag in Hitler’s Germany accusing an electoral opponent of falsely claiming to be a Jew?

  61. Dagmar,

    Brown is a man of little substance. He drove around in a pickup truck and wore his “common man” barn jacket when he campaigned for Teddy Kennedy’s senate seat. I think he is deathly afraid of facing Elizabeth Warren in the November election. The “liberal” Boston media have gone pretty easy on him–maybe because his wife Gail Huff had been a broadcast journalist in this area for many years.


    This just in from the bizarro world department: teachers and cops are rich, but Senators aren’t

    Scott Brown talked to the Lowell Sun’s editorial board yesterday. He’ll no doubt get the Sun’s endorsement, but that was a given anyway, and the interview may well have done him more harm than good. Just check this out.

    Brown also took on President Barack Obama for proposing tax hikes on families who earn more than $250,000 per year, saying that would hurt “teachers, firefighters, policemen, folks who work two jobs.”

    Asked which public servants earn that much money, Brown said it is common for police officers to earn well over $100,000 annually when overtime is factored into their pay.

    “You throw in a teacher who’s working, plus a summer job, it adds up pretty quickly,” he said. “There’s quite a few of them.”

    Whoa! That’s a head-snapper right there. Apparently, the 1% is populated with teachers and cops – who knew? But, of course, this is hogwash. TPM explains why:

    It doesn’t sound like there’s an epidemic of high-income public servants based on the available data for the area. According to Salary.com, which tracks average pay across various professions, 90% of Boston police patrol officers made a base salary below $75,307 last year and 90% of Lowell patrol officers made a base salary below $70,857. 90% of firefighters in Boston make under $68,793, and below $64,729 in Lowell. The average teacher in Lowell makes about $80,841 a year, according to the Massachusetts Department of Education, higher than the statewide average of $68,781.

    It is, of course, possible that there’s a handful of teacher/cop couples whose combined income exceeds $250,000 – as TPM notes, “a couple hundred turnpike cops were found to be making $100k+ salaries in 2009 thanks to prodigious overtime numbers, for example, and in theory some of them have a spouse in a similar position.” But we’re talking a trivial number of people. One might also ask whether, if a two-cop family is indeed making over $250,000, there’s some good reason that they should nonetheless pay less tax than other high-income earners.

    Brown was also asked about his own salary.

    “No one has ever really asked, but if they want to see what Gail and I pay, then whatever. I don’t care,” said Brown, referring to his wife, former Boston television reporter Gail Huff. “It’s not a heck of a lot. I mean, you know, I don’t make a heck of a lot, so I’m paying what I should be paying. Trust me.”

    Brown, who earns $174,000 as a senator and received a $700,000 advance to pen his autobiography, was asked to clarify his comment.

    “I mean, aside from the book deal that I got, which is really a once-in-a-lifetime thing, I get paid what every member of Congress is paid,” he said.

    Wow. So we need to worry about all those cops and teachers who are raking it in, but Scott Brown, who earns nearly $200,000 all by himself, never mind what his TV personality wife makes, plus all those book advances and the rest of it, “do[es]n’t make a heck of a lot.” I can think of a lot of people who wouldn’t mind not making “a heck of a lot” the way Brown does.

    Nobody is claiming that Scott Brown’s wealth is anything like, say, Mitt Romney’s – obviously, it is not. But when Brown starts getting worried about the teachers and cops who are in danger of climbing into the 1%, while also thinking that he and his wife don’t make “a heck of a lot” even though they are almost surely in the top 5% of income earners nationally … well, let’s just say it makes one wonder whether Scott Brown really has any clue about this stuff.

  62. As I recall, it was Scott Brown who grew up in a wealthy family and it was Elizabeth Warren who had to work her way through college.

    So, the “elite” family label belongs to Scott Brown, not to Elizabeth Warren.

  63. firefly,

    Brown did not have an easy life as a child. His parents divorced when he was very young. I believe both parents remarried three more times. Brown was sexually abused by a camp counselor. I haven’t heard that his family was wealthy. He did, however, attend Tufts and Boston College Law School.

  64. “Elizabeth Herring[2] was born June 22, 1949,[3] in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to working class parents Pauline and Donald Herring.[4] She was the Herrings’ fourth child, with three older brothers.[5] When Warren was twelve, her father, a janitor, had a heart attack, which led to a pay cut, medical bills, and eventually the loss of their car. Her mother went to work answering phones at Sears and Warren worked as a waitress.” From wikipedia. Neither Brown nor Warren came from elite backrounds.

  65. Thanks, interesting stuff.

    I am not sure how their backgrounds inform the politics of either one.

    But certainly both have overcome much through their intelligence and effort.

    Their achievements also speak to the importance of social mobility, a feature of our society that many of us fear is being decreased by political and economic circumstance.

    It seems likely that neither of these two could ‘just go for it and borrow from their parents’ in order to complete college or law school.

  66. Yeah, well Limbaugh is also the kind of guy that thinks that mispronouncing or adding a disparaging adjective to a persons name advances his argument.

    The only one I recall right now is ‘Turban Durbin’ – don’t ask me I don’t have a clue, but if I had to guess I would say it is supposed to suggest that Durbin was less than strong in the war on terror.

    In any case Limbaugh had a favorite malapropism for most of his political enemies.

    Aside from Limbaugh I haven’t know anyone since junior high used this as a tool in debate.

    It is hard to know which is more bizarre, Limbaugh or those impressed with his remarks.

    OK, maybe that was unkind. But I did not disrespect his name.

  67. rafflaw,

    I think most of the politicians in Washington aren’t living in the real world. Congress is filled with millionaires. Many of them don’t care about the common working and retired folks like us.

  68. “Many of them don’t care about the common working and retired folks like us.”

    I noticed that your word choice was “don’t care” instead of “don’t know”, Elaine.

    Most appropriate.

  69. rafflaw,

    Brown said: “You throw in a teacher who’s working, plus a summer job, it adds up pretty quickly,” he said. “There’s quite a few of them.”


    If only I had worked a second job, I might have earned $250,000 a year! I’d like to know how I could have made $200,000 at a second job. The man is clueless.

  70. @rafflaw

    You know the inevitable questions and comments are coming don’t you.

    Did you even try. It is not as though $200,000 temporary jobs in the summer are easy to find. But with a little effort, a little perseverance, a little creativity you ought to be able to find something.

    I mean if you did not even try, then surely your not going complain to us – are you?

    I mean its only $66,000 a month. How hard could it be?

    OK lets try an easier problem. Suppose you would make $250,000 on an annualized basis, but you only work 9 months of the year.

    So for 9 months effort you are in at $187,500 and only have to find a temporary summer job that pays $62500 for three months work in order to reach your financial goal of $250,000.

    Or am I missing something.

    Here I get a little rusty. I haven’t checked Bureau of Labor Statistics lately to know what temporary jobs might pay $20833 per month so that we can reach or summer goal of $62,500.

    But I am pretty sure bank robbery is out. Typical bank robbers only get a few hundred a job, so forget that.

    I would suggest dealing drugs but even in that lucrative field it takes a while to work your way up to clear approximately $21000 every month.

    I not giving up. But Unless getting a temporary job at Bain Capital is in the cards I think you might have to lower your financial expectations a just a bit.

    Or perhaps you could talk to mom and dad, get them to cash in their 401K’s, show a little entrepreneurial spirit, start a company and knock down, maybe, $100k in the summer.

    It is just not that complicated. I don’t know why you guys are complaining.

  71. Yeah, I like that.

    Assuming your parents did not have a preference for heart warming pictures of children painted in the Norman Rockwell style there might be some real money in that.

    Or how about your parents taking a second mortgage on the family mansion. Even at today’s reduced real estate values, your parents might have a boat load of equity tied up in the family house.

    At at today’s historically low interest rates, even a 2nd might be a good deal for your purposes. And, with a little luck, you might be able to float your new business and help your parents pay the 2nd so it would be painless for them.

    Just be sure you know what your are doing, because if you miscalculate your parents could be spending their golden years at the local homeless shelter.

    BTW, I am not now nor have I ever been Suze Orman, so any consideration of financial advice seen here ought to include assessment of probability of detection and sentencing guidelines.

  72. I guess what we have here is a problem in perception.

    If I were cum laude, order of the coif, law review editor, white shoe NY law firm, then I would probably think $250,000 was chump change too. I would probably believe most anybody with a college degree, with a little extra effort could put together a job, or a couple of jobs, or a business and make 6 figures.

    Well I am not and I don’t believe that. I haven’t checked the stats for income distribution recently. But many, if not most Americans will work years to put together $250,000. $250,000 might as well be $250 million or $250 billion as far as most American are concerned. They are never going to get close to that kind of annual income.

    Part of the problem is that many of today’s so called conservatives have forgotten what Ronald Regan knew. It has to trickle down. The economy has to work for every body. Regan knew that when the pie gets bigger, everybody has to get a bigger slice. For decades that has not been happening in this country.

    In a sense this is a self limiting problem. For decades the top 10%, the top 1%, the top .1% have been taking a greater share of available income. Eventually, the 99.9% will not have enough share of income to support the economy. It is in no ones interest, absolutely no ones interest, to have that happen.

  73. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

    native n :one that is native; esp :a person who belongs to a particular country by birth

    I was born in America. Therefore I am a “Native American”. Now can I open my casino?

  74. Yes, I see now where my recollection was incorrect and what I should have written is this: It was Scott Brown who went to the “elite” schools, and it was Elizabeth Warren who went to a state college and then to Rutgers Law School, which may be a fine school but is not thought of as an “elite” school. Scott Brown went to Tufts University and Boston Law School, which are considered elite schools. I guess my point is that Scott Brown supporters have tried to portray Elizabeth Warren as part of the out-of-touch elite because she is now a Harvard professor. The fact is that she got to where is is today because of her hard work and outstanding intellectual ability.

    The Wall St. boys hate Elizabeth Warren because she wants to rein in the unregulated chicanery they have been so free to indulge in since the passion to de-regulate Wall St. began in the 1980s.

  75. Idealist said:

    “(I) would gladly check “human” if I could.”

    Possibly the most prescient comment on the board?

    I have to wonder how many eons will pass, before we cease this playground nonsense. A select few holding themselves out as special lifeforms? A self-aggrandizing government demanding it? An entire society believing it makes sense? And the justification is? Well, because we – some of us, not all – just happen to have the unmitigated good fortune to be blood-related to poor souls who were once seriously, societally, undeniably, mistreated.

    I’m having a hard time imagining another more arbitrary; more inherently flawed; more appropriately ready to be given its own Christian burial custom, than this continued jockeying for social advantage, made possible by poor dead relatives who experienced far worse days than we will ever know.

    My take is, a decent moral compass means not tap-dancing our good luck, on the graves of those who – were they alive today – are the only ones deserving of being ushered to the front of any line.

    But that’s just me.

  76. @Patric: Even though I would be personally be entitled to NONE of it and would be on the paying side of things, I think there is some merit, for three or four generations, in which the offspring of the oppressed are entitled to some special consideration.

    There are structural losses involved. If Sam is a slave to Oscar (hypothetical names to indicate slave and owner) his entire life, then Oscar profited from Sam’s labor and Sam was denied any fruits of his own labor.

    So suppose Sam dies but leaves a son, Trent, who is also a slave of Oscar, but while Trent is a baby Oscar is forced by war to free his slaves. So he does. After the war Oscar has a son, Pete, and then Oscar dies, and Pete inherits his lands and other wealth.

    So Sam and Oscar are now dead, leaving sons Trent and Pete.

    Well, Pete is still enjoying the wealth created by Sam the Slave. Pete was never a slave-owner himself, but he is rich on slavery nonetheless, and Trent, the freed slave, may be morally better off free, but was still denied the leg up in life he might have enjoyed if his father’s labor had not been systematically stolen.

    I don’t think Pete should be allowed to receive stolen goods just because his father stole them, and not him. Those goods belonged to Sam, in some sense, and Trent is the rightful inheritor of them.

    We may not be able to unravel all the relationships in something like slavery, but we can know that they exist, and collectively we can do SOMETHING to alleviate the losses. Even if the guilty are not thoroughly punished, we can undo some of the provable harm done to the innocent.

  77. Thomas Sowell
    The reparations fraud

    http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com — SELF PRESERVATION is said to be the first law of nature, and this applies not only to human beings but also to organizations and movements. The March of Dimes was set up to fight polio but it did not disband when polio was wiped out by vaccines. Nor did civil rights organizations disband after civil rights laws were passed.

    The fatal mistake made by those who imagine that they can appease movements and organizations with concessions is that concessions are incidental trophies for those who receive them, but unmet grievances are fundamental to their continued viability.

    Back in the 1930s, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain thought that he could buy off Hitler with concessions to avoid war. More recently, both Israel and the Clinton administration discovered that offering even the most extraordinary concessions could not buy off Yasser Arafat. For either Hitler or Arafat to have made a lasting peace would have been to say that his grievances had now been met — and that would have been a devastating blow to the movement which provided his power.

    Against this background, it may be easier to understand why a demand can be made and a crusade launched to get something that everyone knows in advance will not be given — reparations for slavery. No way are millions of white, Asian, and Hispanic Americans going to pay reparations for something that happened before their ancestors ever set foot on American Soil. Even those whites whose ancestors were here before the Civil War know that most of those ancestors — whether they lived in the North or the South — owned no slaves.

    Seen in this light, the demand for reparations may seem like an exercise in futility. However, seen as a source of a lasting unmet grievance, it is a stroke of genius to keep blacks separated from other Americans and an aggrieved constituency to support black “leaders” in politics, organizations and movements.

    This demand also mobilizes a certain amount of support or sympathy among whites, especially those in the media and in academia, where such support or sympathy costs nothing, and allows those who give it to relieve their own sense of guilt, while risking other people’s money — and national cohesion. Some white politicians can also benefit at little or no cost to themselves by expressing sympathy with the reparations cause or even voting for meaningless apologies for what others did centuries ago.

    For these various groups, reparations is a win-win issue. For everyone else, including the vast majority of blacks, it is a lose-lose issue.

    Blacks have already begun suffering losses from con men who have asked them to sign up for their individual shares of the reparations — and have then stolen their identity and used it to defraud them. But this is just a down payment on the losses from this futile crusade.

    In a democracy, a minority that is no longer even the largest minority cannot afford to alienate, much less embitter, the majority which ultimately holds the political power in the country. Too often, unending demands and grievances from black leaders and spokesmen create the impression that most blacks want something for nothing. In reality, most blacks lifted themselves out of poverty before the civil rights laws or the welfare state programs took effect.

    Not only do most whites not know this, neither do most blacks today, for their leaders have taken credit for this progress by depicting it as the fruits of their civil rights movements and political efforts. But the poverty rate among blacks fell by half between 1940 and 1960, before any of the major federal civil rights legislation or the vast expansion of the welfare state under President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs.

    Between 1940 and 1960, black males’ number of years of schooling doubled. How surprising is it that doubling your education raises your income? In short, most blacks raised themselves out of poverty, but their leaders robbed them of this achievement and the respect it deserved — in the eyes of blacks and whites alike — by making it seem like a concession from the government and a product of agitation.

    Pointing blacks in a direction from which little can be expected, and away from the enormous opportunities open today in the economy, is a formula for personal frustration, even if it benefits “leaders.” But then, that frustration is itself a benefit to “leaders,” who need a constituency with a sense of grievance.

    JWR contributor Thomas Sowell, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, is author of several books, including his latest, The Einstein Syndrome: Bright Children Who Talk Late.

  78. I invite all of you to come to the reservation that borders my hometown to witness the “advantage” of being a Native American in the USA in 2012.

  79. Dagmar:

    As a desert paramedic for years, I’ve been involved with several reservation councils, working to improve a variety of issues. So I’ve experienced your concerns firsthand. And they are undeniable.

    But my take is this: If you are not succeeding by what you are doing – do something else.

    And if you are not doing well where you happen to be – move.

    That is, is it not, how most of us came to be.

    I believe it is entirely possible to liberate oneself from the unsustainable load of the victim complex.

    We all pack our own baggage..

  80. Mike said:

    “It’ s precisely why I never went into politics despite the fact that I was a great public speaker, had the looks and was generally very likable.”

    Shoulda done it Mike. I’d have voted for you. Your humility would have won me over.

    Just kiddin.’

  81. Tony C. said:

    “. . .I think there is some merit, for three or four generations, in which the offspring of the oppressed are entitled to some special consideration.”

    Agree 100%.

  82. Patric,
    That wasn’t lack of humility. I was just being truthful. To paraphrase Emerson: A false humility is merely the hobgoblin of little minds.

  83. @Bron: Sowell is right about the mechanics of this thing, specifically regarding Self Preservation for organizations. But some of his diatribe is slanted, and ignores routes to success that are plausible.

    It is true that most people do not want to lose their jobs, so organizations like the March of Dimes, instigated by Polio, did not disband upon the defeat of Polio. They adapted and looked for other causes to drive them, and who is to say an organization cannot find honorable and good reasons to continue its existence?

    From an efficiency standpoint, why should the waste the infrastructure and working intelligence of their organization? They banded together to do one good thing, they have a victory, why not continue to do good things?

    From the standpoint of reparations, I was speaking in the literal sense of “repairing damages,” not giving every black person ten thousand dollars or whatever. I find that concept ridiculous.

    However, on the other hand, Sowell’s point can be taken: Where there is money to be had there will be sociopaths competing for the money, and that is true of charitable (and religious) organizations in spades, because they are largely unaccountable to anybody about how their money is spent and what benefits the leaders of the organization can derive from that spending.

    I believe the correct approach is information-heavy. The damages done by slavery and discrimination (against blacks or women or any other repressed group) that needs to be repaired is lost opportunity; the economic effect of repression is to control the limited resources of opportunity, to deny opportunity to one group and reserve it exclusively for their preferred groups. For example, whites, or males.

    This means we can repair the damages of repression by addressing disparities in opportunity, which are easier to find and prove than discrimination.

    It is true that a large chunk of documentable disparities in opportunity may not be due to discrimination, but so what?

    If they are due to the poor choices of somebody’s parents (like drug addiction, or gambling or drinking problems), what is wrong with helping the kids of those parents to achieve their potential?

    If the problems trace to parents that could not earn money due to physical or mental illness or disability, what is wrong with helping the kids of those parents achieve their potential?

    The solution is to classify the TYPES of disadvantages the repression could cause, and when we can document that a particular person suffered that TYPE of repression, regardless of their physical characteristics, we help them get over it.

    As time goes by, the number of qualifying people will naturally diminish, and the number of government employees necessary to oversee the process will diminish too. But government need not suffer from the “self preservation” trap of Sowell. It is large enough that the employees can be reabsorbed into other duties, and attrition is significant enough to shrink the overall ranks of government pretty quickly.

    Direct reparations is a simpleton shotgun approach that depends upon a correlation between skin color and the effects of slavery and official repression that are ever shrinking.

    The intelligent approach is to try to minimize the secondary effects, of poor education, poor nutrition, poor safety, and diminished opportunity.

    When it comes to university acceptance, I do not even believe in preferences for THOSE conditions (or other preexisting conditions, like wealth). I believe in a meritocracy, the highest test scores win.

    However, I do believe that society should pay for remedial education, if somebody wants it. If they have the potential to win a spot in the university of their choice, and they are willing to put in the time and effort, we should help them in their attempt to become skilled enough to achieve that.

    I believe those investments would be better for society as a whole, the more people we rescue from low-wage laborer existence to become educated professionals, the more productive we are and the happier we are. The less desperation we have, the less crime and drug addiction we have, the less welfare we need, the less police force we need, the fewer prisons we need. We even need less medicine and emergency room care, because people that earn more engage in more preventative care that saves money, and are more likely to visit a doctor and catch a cancer or other illness early enough to be treated.

    That is WHY those are investments, the cost to society of NOT giving everybody the chance to reach their potential is poverty, and the price we pay for poverty, in our taxes and insurance and health-care and in our losses of life and property due to crime, far outweigh the cost of simple nutrition, education, shelter and safety in the streets.

  84. Oops. I should proof before posting, not after. I meant to say, “When we can document that somebody suffered that TYPE of disadvantage, regardless of their physical characteristics, we help them get over it.”

  85. My wife is 1/8th Cherokee, and has never claimed native American status on any job applications, or anywhere else, and that would make our two sons 1/16th. The also have never attempted to use native American status for anything, but maybe they should.

  86. To those who advocate a “color-blind” society without affirmative action for historically-disadvantaged groups — I’ll buy your argument when applications to Harvard do not contain last names, such as “Romney” or “Bush.”

  87. @Dagmar: I wish all applications were numbered and vetted by an independent party to ensure anonymity of family, gender, race, age, disability, nationality, religion, and any other physical or social characteristic that is not correlated with academic performance.

    And if that makes too many at the top equivalent, have them take another test! (Harvard, for example, typically receives more applications from high school valedictorians than it has freshman slots available, and I think being your high school valedictorian is a valid academic criterion to consider).

  88. In the Republican Nirvana, nobody helps nobody, and they refer you to Thomas Sowell. Or Ayn Rand. And then go back to counting their money with a clear conscience.

  89. Elizabeth Warren Did Not Claim Minority Status, Records Show
    By STEVE LeBLANC 05/10/12

    BOSTON — Records show that the leading Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts identified her race as “white” on an employment record at the University of Texas and declined to apply for admission to Rutgers Law School under a program for minority students.

    The records on Elizabeth Warren were obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday. Warren’s heritage has been under scrutiny after it surfaced that she had listed herself as having Native American heritage in law school directories.

    Warren’s campaign said the records reinforce her earlier statements that she never relied on a claim of minority status to get teaching jobs. She has criticized the campaign of Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown for suggesting that might be the case.

  90. The Racist Assault on Elizabeth Warren
    by Paul Canning
    May 7, 2012

    Many Native Americans are angry at the GOP assault on Elizabeth Warren for, Republicans claim, misusing her ancestry to advance her career.

    Last month, the Boston Herald reported that Harvard Law School had listed Warren, the presumed Democratic candidate for Senator in Massachusetts, as a minority professor to deflect criticism that it lacked diverse faculty. Sitting Senator Scott Brown’s campaign and right-wing media have not let up, even though it has since been reported that Warren definitely is one 32nd Cherokee.

    Warren told reporters on May 2 that she listed herself as a minority in Harvard’s directory in order to connect with others like her, “people for whom ‘Native American’ is part of their heritage and part of their hearts. There aren’t a lot of people like me in law teaching. And so I just thought I might find some others. That’s evidently not a particularly good use for the directory because it never happened.” That’s why, she says, that she stopped calling herself a minority in the directories after having done so for almost a decade.

    Warren says she was qualified for her position, and the Native aspect didn’t play a role in her hiring, which has been backed up by the Harvard officials who hired her.

    But people like conservative blogger and Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin have not let up, calling Warren names like “Pinocchio-hontas,” “Chief Full-of-Lies,” “Running Joke” and “Sacaja-whiner.”

    Donna Akers, a professor with the Department of History and Native American Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, told Indian Country Today that she is skeptical of the conservative outrage:

    “I think this is simply a cynical ploy by right-wing propagandists trying to find a piece of mud that sticks against Warren,” she says. Akers believes Republican politicians sometimes use racial issues to divide voters and to play on their insecurities. In this case, she says that the Brown campaign is trying to make it seem like a white person may have lost out on a position due to Warren’s situation.

    “Smearing Warren by the suggestion that she benefited unfairly by claiming Native ancestry panders to the racism extant in many sectors of the right wing—especially the working class,” Akers says. “The Republican Party today solidly embraces a thinly veiled racist agenda that privileges white Americans at the expense of Native Americans and other peoples of color in the United States.”

    “The mainstream media definitely has added to this controversy due to their well-known ignorance about tribal citizenship and other tribal issues,” says Julia Good Fox, a professor at Haskell Indian Nations University. Good Fox notes that the media has largely failed to explain tribal citizenry and blood quantum issues to give context to the situation because these aren’t easy stories to tell. It’s easier to label the case ‘convoluted,’ blame Warren, and move on to the next political gotcha story.

    “Unfortunately, for the most part, their coverage is just adding to the confusion and threatens to feed racism or anti-Indianism,” Good Fox says. To do better, she says the media should start by noting that tribal nations have a right to determine who their citizens are, rather than focusing on the misunderstood notion that tribal citizens can only be determined by U.S.-imposed mathematical fractions.

    Writing for Politico, Sarah Burris, an Oklahoman like Warren, points out that the current chief of the Cherokee Tribe also is 1/32 Cherokee.

    “Conservative commentators scoffed all last week at what they assert is Warren’s low percentage of native ancestry. Their problem — like most people who didn’t grow up in a place like Oklahoma — is they have no real frame of reference for how much blood is removed with each generation,” writes Burris.

    “These commentators ignore a history tracing back to a mixed heritage, like Warren’s, that is the epitome of the American story. Seems like a double standard.”


  91. Sen. Brown: Warren Should Release Job Transcripts
    By The Associated Press
    May 8, 2012

    BOSTON — U.S. Sen. Scott Brown is calling on his Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren to authorize the release of her law school applications and all personnel files from the universities where she has taught.

    The Massachusetts Republican said Tuesday that serious questions have been raised about Warren’s claims to Native American ancestry and whether it was appropriate for her to assume minority status as a college professor.

    Harvard Law School professor Charles Fried said Monday that any suggestion that Warren enjoyed an affirmative action advantage in her hiring as a full professor is “false” and that Warren was recruited because of her expertise in bankruptcy and commercial law.

  92. Harvard: Warren Got Job Only On Merits As Teacher
    By The Associated Press
    May 7, 2012

    BOSTON — A Harvard Law School professor and former Reagan administration official is calling “false” and “complete nonsense” any suggestion that Elizabeth Warren enjoyed an affirmative action advantage in her hiring as a full professor.

    Harvard Law School professor Charles Fried, who served as U.S. Solicitor General under President Reagan, said the Democratic Senate candidate was recruited to be a tenured professor because she was preeminent in the fields of bankruptcy and commercial law.

    Fried, a member of the appointments committee that reviewed Warren, said the subject of her Native American ancestry was never mentioned.

    Fried said the notion that Warren “attained her position and maintains her reputation on anything other than her evident merit is complete nonsense.”

    State Republican Party Chairman Bob Maginn had asked Harvard to review Warren’s hiring.

  93. Scott Brown double dips on massive Wall Street campaign donations
    By Joan McCarter
    May 2, 2012

    No wonder Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) is working so hard to distract Massachusetts voters with non-issues. That’s so they don’t pay attention to just how much he is owned by Wall Street.

    US Senator Scott Brown, who played a critical role in the battle over the 2010 financial regulatory overhaul, has used a joint fund-raising committee to collect $2.9 million in political donations over the last year, nearly half of which came from the nation’s financial sector.
    The mechanism is a joint committee, the Scott Brown Victory Committee, between Brown and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Campaign finance laws allow this kind of committee much higher donation limits than traditional campaign committees, $30,800 per donor per election cycle versus the $5,000 limit for regular committees.
    So he has this Victory fund, along with his regular campaign committee, allowing for seven times the donation power for donors, an effective limit of $35,800. Among those donors, the Globe reports, are “deep-pocketed venture capitalists, bankers, and leaders of some of the country’s largest investment firms.”

    Brown’s spokesman tried to brush off the dominance of Wall Street financing in the campaign by saying, “Scott Brown was the tie-breaking vote in favor of the same bill that Elizabeth Warren called the ‘strongest set of financial reforms in three generations.'” Which is, of course, not the whole story. Brown’s tie-breaking vote came after he was able to extract some serious concessions for Wall Street in return for his vote:

    Brown delivered for Wall Street in the battle over Dodd-Frank when he extracted a pro-industry concession from the Democratic majority: the elimination from the bill of a proposed $19 billion tax on banks, money which would have been used for part of the regulatory overhaul. He also championed a provision that curbed restrictions on certain investment activities by banks and insurance companies.

    With the financial industry’s primary nemesis, Elizabeth Warren, running strong against Brown, they’ve massively stepped up their support for him. Whereas the financial sector contributed just four percent of Brown’s takings in his special election in 2010, it now represents “a full 13 percent of what he raised” in the first quarter of this year, just to his campaign committee. “He collected another $431,000 for his Senate campaign committee during those months from that sector, according to a Globe review of Brown’s latest quarterly filings.”

  94. The Smearing of Elizabeth Warren
    By Ed Kilgore
    May 2, 2012

    were trying to make a big deal out of Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren’s past self-identification (and once, her identification by Harvard Law School) as a “Native American.” It mainly caught my attention because, like Warren (and for that matter, like many white people I’ve known from North Georgia or Oklahoma), I have a Cherokee ancestor, a great-great-grandmother as it happpens, though I’ve never self-identified myself that way.

    Then I ran across a Boston Herald (the original source of the whole story) column by a certain Howie Carr that shows exactly how ugly and overtly racial this attack-line has become. It’s not, in fact, really about Elizabeth Warren, but about an increasingly aggressive effort on the Right to invent a nightmare-world where incompetent women and minorities are lording it over the poor afflicted white male.

    Keep in mind that there is not a shred of evidence that Warren ever benefitted in any way from her self-identification; indeed, every university who’s hired her in the course of her very distinguished academic career has indicated they weren’t even aware of it, and certainly didn’t make it a factor in employing her.

    That doesn’t deter Carr from asserting that “Pocohantas” Warren “parlayed the racial-spoils racket all the way to a tenured position at Harvard Law,” or that her case “shows just how morally and intellectually bankrupt ‘affirmative action’ is.” For good measure, he lurches into an equally unsubstantiated claim that President Obama got a “free pass to Columbia and Harvard Law” because of his race.

    Look, I can understand how people can legitimately question this or that aspect of academic affirmative action policies, but this seething hatred against any woman or minority member who has won a measure of success in a system where white men still massively, overwhelmingly run the country is just bizarre. Anyone looking at Barack Obama or Elizabeth Warren and immediately seeing the beneficiary of a “spoils racket” is just deranged beyond redemption—or perhaps, in Carr’s case, just cynical beyond belief.

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