‘Native identity is about one’s lived experience with a culture and its history…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) Despite a waning margin of support in the 2018 election that caused even her home-base newspaper, the Boston Globe, to turn against her, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is not yet ready to abandon her place in the history books.
That place, of course, would be her claim as the first Native American to run for the presidency. Unfortunately for Warren, no less than two parts of that distinction are slipping farther and farther from her grasp.
The October release of a DNA test, which showed at most 3 percent Cherokee heritage—less than the average Caucasian American—drew reactions ranging from bemusement and derision to excoriation, with the Cherokee Nation itself blasting the political ploy.
Even Democrats now recognize that Warren’s appropriation of a minority identity early in her career creates a serious liability, as well as a moral and ethical dilemma, raising issues over whether during the nine years she claimed to be Native American she benefited professionally from the designation at the expense of actual minorities.
However, at least one prominent Warren apologist, her biographer, has come out (or been dispatched) to defend not only the release of the test, but also the lie itself.
Antonia Felix wrote an opinion piece for the New York Daily News on Wednesday saying Warren’s decision to get out in front of the dubious claim by providing even more dubious supporting evidence was not a mistake.
“Native identity is about one’s lived experience with a culture and its history,” Felix wrote. “DNA has nothing to do with that any more than ‘race’ is some scientific constant.”
Such an assertion, whether one can self-identify one’s own status, has been hotly discussed on the national stage and disputed within the Left’s own ranks as some question what constitutes an embrace of multiculturalism versus theft of someone else’s culture.
Felix, who received a Master of Fine Arts for fiction writing from Witchita State but now identifies as a nonfiction authority, made little effort to counter—or even address—the facts behind Warren’s DNA test, never mentioning in the opinion piece that it was the result that made it most troublesome.
Rather, she focused on Warren’s reasoning, citing precedent in President Barack Obama’s long-delayed release of his birth certificate in 2012, amid growing speculation over whether Obama was, in fact, born in Hawaii and constitutionally eligible for the presidency.
“The senator had a choice,” Felix said of Warren. “Endure Trump’s DNA taunts and racial slurs until 2020—or learn a lesson from Barack Obama and push back firmly.”
Felix’s article seemed to take as a given the validity of Warren’s heritage claims: “Like many whites from Oklahoma, Warren acknowledges family lore about Native ancestors but has never sought an affiliation with a Native community or tried to become a tribal member.”
Of course, most white Oklahomans also never try to formally designate themselves as minorities, which Warren did, even contributing to a cookbook to bolster her claims.
But no spin job would be complete without a thorough redirection. Felix attempted just that, saying rather than focus on the lie, the point should be how much Warren knows about minority identity from having lived years of her life in the trenches—even though it may be up for debate whether she was the persecuted or the persecutor.
“Instead of playing into Trump’s hands, progressives should celebrate Warren’s lifetime work in documenting systemic racism,” Felix wrote. “… Those now wringing their hands might instead look at the arc of Warren’s life and what it says about her progressive leadership [emphasis added—ed.] and commitment to equity and fairness.”