During this week’s Netroots Nation conference, Anne Sorock of Legal Insurrection asked a defender of the embattled Elizabeth Warren about the Senate candidate’s self-described American Indian status and was promptly called a racist by the left.
In keeping with Democrats’ precedence, Warren has exploited indigenous American heritage for her own personal gain. Bill Clinton and Al Gore did the same in the ’90s when they fleeced the Cheyenne and Arapaho of six figures by promising the cash was an investment towards reclaiming lands illegally seized from them by the U.S. government. Supporting Clinton/Gore, they were told, would bring their plight national attention. Clinton/Gore never delivered. Before them, it was Democrat Andrew Jackson who rounded up the Cherokee and forced them away from their homes and lands on the Trail of Genocide.
Now, despite heavy criticism and apology demands from numerous nations — including the maligned Cherokee who researched Warren’s ancestry back 188 years and found no connections to indigenous Americans — Elizabeth Warren refuses. For Kos panelists to accuse Sorock of “racism” in light of this is the height of hypocrisy.
It’s offensive that surrogates for the woman whose ancestors were responsible for helping round up Cherokee (including my documented ancestors, one of whom died on the trail) claim she is a victim of racism when questioned about the discrepancy. If Sorock is racist for asking that Warren own up to her tall tale, what does that make the Cherokee who have requested the same thing and researched Warren’s background? Will Daily Kos call the Cherokee racist? Will Democrats throw another indigenous nation under the bus?
Warren falsely laid claim to a heritage because she thought it made her look exotic. She bragged about it and exploited it for employment and attention befitting affirmative action. She filled out forms listing her ethnicity as “Cherokee” for such attention. It’s not some clique to which people can claim membership; people with indigenous heritage claim membership with Indian nations because those nations are sovereign entities within the United States, each with their own laws. Warren’s revisionist history shows a complete disregard for the Cherokee’s sovereignty and reduces affiliation to the level of a quasi-tourist trap.
Now this woman is claiming to represent them all so she can have another identity politics card in her deck. It’s almost pathological: she lied about creating the Occupy movement, about being the first woman breastfeeder to take the New Jersey bar (apparently monitored by the Department of Lactating Lawyers), and now this.
Indigenous nations have a richer history than that which pop culture stereotypically showcases. The lack of appreciation for, and knowledge of, American Indian history has allowed individuals to malign and, in the case of Elizabeth Warren, egregiously exploit them. If Democrats were true stewards of minorities as they profess while enacting policies which do the most to hurt them, they would side with the Cherokee and demand that Warren apologize. Sites like Daily Kos would cease promulgating excuses for Warren’s ignorance, and they wouldn’t accuse a reporter of “racism” simply because she’s echoing the (genuine) Cherokee’s questions.
Most of these progressives cosmetically picked up the cause of Leonard Peltier, the first most of them ever heard about the friction between indigenous sovereignty and U.S. law, because they saw it exploited in a Rage Against the Machine video and thought it looked cool. Their defense of Warren as a “mythical” indian is as intellectually shallow. It’s one thing to claim Indian heritage–many can–but it’s another thing entirely to exploit it for professional gain and accolades.