Of Right Wings and Indians: Warren Staff Circles Their Wagons

Is there a doctor in the house?

No?

Well, somebody telephone the paramedics because Elizabeth Warren’s already demonstrably impaired capacity to differentiate fact from fiction just devolved to 5150 proportions.

To paraphrase Sonny and Cher, the beat (of pseudologia fantastica that is) goes on, and, in the interests of being factual and accurate, misinformation disseminated on Tuesday evening by Warren campaign spokeswoman Alethea Harney necessitates clarification and correction. Fortunately, four Cherokee women are presently gilding the mean streets of Boston in an effort to inject just those elements into a Senate contest that has thus far highlighted a dearth of both. Led by Twila Barnes, the quartet includes members of each of the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes and entered the New England metropolis with the stated objective of establishing an open dialogue about Warren’s exhaustively reported and dubious claims to Native ancestry.

Although Warren has contended in recent weeks that, “My Native American heritage is part of who I am, I’m proud of it,” she welcomed Barnes and company (evidently not the variety of American Indian to whom she was referring when she explained her history of ethnic self-identification as attributable to a hope that “something might happen with people who are like I am”) by dispatching Harney to mischaracterize the Native perspective uncomfortable with the professor’s response to this issue over the course of the past six weeks as the precipitate of right-wing extremism. In their disingenuous generalizations, Warren and the Massachusetts Democratic Party (the communications director of which, one Mr. Kevin Franck, dismissed the Native protestors at the party’s state convention earlier this month as “rabble-rousers” motivated by a desire “to draw attention to themselves”) are effectively denying any agency to her indigenous opponents in this debate by dishonestly positioning them narratively as the cravenly self-exploitative or inadvertently dimwitted agents of the GOP. And this is the populist Joan of Arc who will most capably represent a spectrum of ideologies and advocate for the interests of the oppressed with respect to both locally and nationally repercussive legislation in the upper chamber of Congress?

If the Warren campaign has any sources of evidentiary support to substantiate their dangerous implication that Ms. Barnes and her cohorts rely on the financial largesse of a Republican “extremist,” it bears a civic responsibility to disclose them. The views expressed in the conservative new media that has reported on the professor’s embarrassing pattern of evasions are, like those of any journalistic outlet, entirely the prerogative of each particular website, and anyone with the most elementary facility for deductive reasoning understands that a reply to a request for further comment from a news apparatus does not constitute a collaborative public relations strategy.

It is unsurprising that Professor Warren has elected to distort the truth once again, as she has done nothing but underscore an, at best, fragile relationship with objective reality and conventionally accepted codes of ethical conduct since the Boston Herald, a paper unaffiliated with either Massachusetts Senate candidate, first illuminated the details of her extensive history of fabulist propensities, but, in accusing Indians appalled by her behavior of conspiracy with the Republican establishment, she is enthusiastically embracing an escalation to abject falsities.

If any degree of idealism permitted the foursome of CNO, UKB, and EBC citizens currently in Boston to believe that Warren earnestly aspired to cultivate a kinship with the Cherokee people or to acknowledge a traditionally invisible community, they can derive solace from the reliability of the stark but definite knowledge that the cultural costume of indigenous identity apparently qualifies as an “important issue” for Professor Warren when it allows her to maximize her relationship to a misappropriated history by declaring that she will be the first Senator from Massachusetts with a Native background (as she did but several weeks ago at the aforementioned state Democratic Convention), but that the marginalization of Native and female voices merits little concern when the opportunity to actually listen to Cherokee women presents itself.

But for those perturbed by the possibility that Northeastern leftists are invariably pathologically mendacious, take comfort: at least one is merely cynically so. In response to an e-mail containing my previous critique of Harvard Law and Professor Warren, Kevin Franck warmly wrote, “From one partisan hack to another—welcome to show!” Glad to hear that the defense of the professor and the disregard for Native Americans from a Massachusetts Democratic Party official is purely “partisan” in nature; here I was, naively concerned that both sentiments might be sincere.

To invoke the formula of recent viral video phenomenon, the message this unfortunate episode communicates to the Native youth of America is that it does not, in fact, get better because even aspirants to elected office who purport to share your cultural origins will first ignore you, then proceed to demean your perspective via prevarication and misrepresentation.

Educated at Darmouth College and Columbia University, Cole DeLaune is a native of Oklahoma and Tennessee. He currently resides in Atlanta, and has contributed editorial content to Vogue and Elle, among other publications. He is a member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma.

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Of Right Wings and Indians: Warren Staff Circles Their Wagons

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