I thought, a few days ago, in their first televised debate, when Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts said of his opponent, Elizabeth Warren, “professor Warren claimed that she is a Native American… a person of color… and, as you can see, she’s not,” that we’d reached the nadir of this campaign. I was proven wrong yesterday, though, when the following footage of ‘war whooping’, ‘tomahawk chopping’ Brown staff members surfaced on the web.
The men leading the contingent of doughy-faced, loud-mouthed, middle-aged, white racists, who had gathered outside of the Eire Pub in Dorchester, have been identified as Brown’s Constituent Service Counsel Jack Richard (in the camouflage shirt) and Massachusetts GOP operative Brad Garrett (in the tan baseball cap and gray hoodie).
Brown’s uncanny ability to detect race by visual inspection not withstanding, it would seem that Warren is, as she has stated, 1/32 Native American, as her great-great-great-grandmother, O.C. Sarah Smith, according to the Boston Herald, was identified as Cherokee on her Oklahoma marriage certificate. Brown, though, for the purposes of his campaign, has chosen not to accept this fact, and, instead, paint his adversary as a lying opportunist, who falsely identified herself as Native American in order to attain a faculty position at Harvard.
The Native American community, as you might expect, is not too happy with Brown. Bill John Baker, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, who is himself only 1/32 Cherokee, demanded an apology today for what he called the “uneducated, unenlightened and racist portrayal of native peoples.” Baker went on to say, “The Cherokee Nation is disappointed in and denounces the disrespectful actions of staffers and supporters of Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown. The conduct of these individuals goes far beyond what is appropriate and proper in political discourse. The use of stereotypical ‘war whoop chants’ and ‘tomahawk chops’ are offensive and downright racist.”
Brown, who is behind Warren in the polls, declined to apologize. He did, however, say that the behavior of these men was not something that he “condoned.” But, right after saying that, he added, “The apologies that need to be made and the offensiveness here is the fact that Professor Warren took advantage of a claim, to be somebody, a Native American, and used that for an advantage, a tactical advantage.” Warren, when asked to respond, said only that she was “appalled” by the video of Brown’s staffers. “If this had happened on my staff,” she said, “there would be consequences… serious consequences.”
The whole thing turns my fucking stomach.
Thankfully, however, this may just be the last gasp of a dying movement. At least, that’s what I keep trying to tell myself, as I continue to do my part to eliminate the white race through inbreeding… Speaking of which, did you happen to see South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham’s quote a few days ago? “The demographics race we’re losing badly,” he said. “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.” One hopes that he’s right.
I was going to go on and rant some more, but, instead, I though that I’d share the following clip from an op-ed penned by Kevin Noble Maillard, who, like Warren, happens to be an Oklahoma-born law professor of native ancestry.
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.
In the Cherokee Nation, there is no minimum blood requirement, which would allow someone with as little as 1/128 Cherokee blood to enroll (that would be a great-great-great-great-great grandparent). Finding that remote relative is not conclusive, however. The ancestor may not have enrolled himself. Or he could have favored assimilation and counted himself as white. Or her application was rejected or she became ineligible for citizenship…
The bottom line is that Scott Brown, down by over two points in the polls, made a decision. Instead of campaigning on real issues that are important to Massachusetts families, he chose to be a despicable, pathetic, race-baiting piece of shit. One hopes he gets what’s coming to him on election day, and the voters of Massachusetts give him the tomahawk chop.
If you’d like to join me in contributing to Warren’s campaign, you can do so here.
[Speaking of racism, today's post was brought to you by Dearborn, Michigan, "the place where Amarica comes to hate Muslims."]