Elizabeth Warren and the Progressive One-Drop Rule

Here is the great Bruce Thornton on the Democrats’ one-drop rule:

The leftist senator’s diversity con turns into career suicide.

The Massachusetts Senator who during her career has tried to pass as a “Native American,” a “Cherokee,” and a “woman of color” for careerist advantage, has been stoking the fires of her self-immolation ever since she released results of a DNA test to prove her claim. As the whole country knows, the tests show no such thing, since the DNA results make her between 1/64th and 1/1,024th Native American, a proportion less than the average American’s. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham waggishly announced he will test his DNA to show he’s more Indian than Warren.

Warren’s ongoing political suicide-by-gaffe is entertaining. Who doesn’t delight in the numerous, exquisitely multicultural Cherokee activists and organizations scolding Warren for exercising her paleface privilege to appropriate American Indian culture? Then there’s Warren’s bizarre, petulant, passive-aggressive, and clueless twitter rant that made Donald Trump’s tweets read like one of Shakespeare’s soliloquys. One imagines numerous DNC officials and consultants frantically making the cutthroat gesture as Warren’s tweets metastasized.

That’s all great political fun, but the whole episode shines a light on something more serious: the larger incoherence of identity politics, that illiberal reduction of citizens into groups defined by superficial physical characteristics, and by tendentious definitions of “culture” that reduce people to stereotypes. The danger of this political idea is that it undercuts the philosophical foundations of the Constitution in “inalienable” rights possessed by all individuals as part of their common humanity, no matter how varied their ethnicity, cultures, mores, and social habits–– the unum that binds multiple pluribus.

Warren is a particularly preposterous example of how identity politics often has little to do with the reality of human diversity. One marker of ethnic “culture” is recipes handed down from parents and grandparents. So naturally, Warren contributed five recipes to an American Indian cookbook called The Pow Wow Chow Cookbook, and signed herself as “Elizabeth Warren, Cherokee.” Notice the double verbal cultural appropriation, by the way, in the book’s title: “pow wow” stolen from the Narragansett Indians, “chow” from Chinese.

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