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The Boston Globe published a great big investigative piece Saturday on the burning question of whether Senator Elizabeth Warren had ever benefited as an affirmative action hire based on her claimed Native American heritage. After reviewing a whole bunch of records from all the colleges she ever worked for and interviewing scores of the faculty who hired her, the Globe concluded "Nope, every place that hired her considered her a white lady." Experts now conclude the matter, having been proven through evidence and logic, will now cease to be an issue, except for some small one hundred percent portion of Republicans who hate Elizabeth Warren, because JUST LOOK AT HER, AIN'T NO WAY SHE'S A INDI'N!


It really is an awfully good article if you care about fact-checking, and thorough journalistic digging:

In the most exhaustive review undertaken of Elizabeth Warren's professional history, the Globe found clear evidence, in documents and interviews, that her claim to Native American ethnicity was never considered by the Harvard Law faculty, which voted resoundingly to hire her, or by those who hired her to four prior positions at other law schools. At every step of her remarkable rise in the legal profession, the people responsible for hiring her saw her as a white woman.

The reporters also examined documents that have never been seen before, interviewed Warren and her husband, Bruce Mann, and interviewed faculty members involved in her hiring, including a couple who'd been in charge of affirmative action in their universities' hiring processes, and they all agreed Warren had been hired because she was fuckin' brilliant. The report also notes that at the University of Pennsylvania and at Harvard, Warren only identified herself on forms as "Native American" well after she'd been hired -- two years afterwards at Penn, and nine months after being hired at Harvard.

On a planet where evidence outweighed bullshit, this would put to rest the idea that Warren unfairly advanced her career by embracing old family stories that her Oklahoma ancestors included members of the Cherokee and Delaware tribes. But of course it won't make a difference at all, because facts no longer matter, and besides, it is literally the funniest joke rightwingers have ever heard, and possibly the only one. WOO-WOO-WOO TOMAHAWK CHOP!!!

For people who aren't completely racist fuckbonkers, the article actually offers a pretty comprehensive look at Warren's career as a law school professor. Coming from a decidedly OK but not stellar undergraduate background, she became passionate about bankruptcy law and how it hurt poor people, and she managed to just impress the hell out of almost everyone who saw her teach. The Globe's Annie Linskey argues persuasively that Warren's rise to the Ivy League was actually not the biggest shift in her academic status; rather, that would have been her jump from the U of Houston Law School to the University of Texas in Austin, because at the time, UT was the 11th-ranked law school in the country:

The University of Texas school didn't ordinarily hire professors with Warren's not-so-lustrous academic pedigree. "It was like going to the European league to find a great basketball player," explained Jay Westbrook, a law professor at the University of Texas who would later do ground-breaking research with her on consumer bankruptcy.

Oh, yeah, and in there with all the law school faculty who said they thought Warren was "a real whiz," we also learn she marked "white" on all of her affirmative-action paperwork, everywhere. Again, it was only at Penn and Harvard that she ever said she was Native American, and she appears not to have gotten anything out of it except some jokes behind her back from colleagues. Even faculty who don't like Warren that much, like Alan Dershowitz from Hahhvahhd, say it's a stupid, stupid controversy made out of nothing.

OH! But She LIED!!!! -- which also isn't really clear, either. Warren spoke with Linskey about the stories she'd been told by a number of family members, especially her grandmother, who died in 1969, and three aunts she was especially close to, and explained she had listed "Native American" on her forms as a way to honor what she genuinely believed to be her heritage and her connections to Oklahoma:

[In] the late 1980s, around the time that Warren began identifying professionally as Native American, she began losing [those women], too. Her aunt Mae Reed Masterson died in October 1989. Her aunt Alice Ann Reed Carnes died in August 1990. That left her mother and her aunt Bess Veneck, (aka Aunt Bee), who lived with Warren and helped her raise her children.

"The two women in my life who have always been my guides through the world began to focus even more on the past," Warren explained.

The notion that Warren made all that up to push her own professional advancement just doesn't have any evidence behind it, but of course it's attractive to rightwingers, because why the hell does anyone do anything if not for purely selfish, usually devious reasons? Donald Trump knew for sure in 1989 that

if I were starting off today I would love to be a well-educated black because I really believe they do have an actual advantage today.

So obviously that has to be why Warren claimed to be Native American, not because she believes she is.

The piece does note that while Warren never got a leg up from marking "Native American" on forms, Penn and Harvard may have, since they counted her as a minority faculty member in federal paperwork, and Harvard definitely included her status when arguing its rate of minority hiring was just hunky-dory. As for Warren, she may have had one factor in her favor on the affirmative action front: being a woman. Shame on her! She also chaired Harvard Law's admissions committee, and went out of her way to improve admissions of women and people of color.

Looking back on it, Warren says if she'd known more at the time about who "counts" as Native American, she wouldn't have made the change in her identification on the forms -- but not because of the political stupidity that's resulted:

"I wish that I had been more mindful of the distinction between heritage and tribal citizenship," Warren said, reflecting on the statistics and on her decision to list herself as Native American. "Only the tribes can determine tribal citizenship and I respect their right. That's why now I don't list myself here in the Senate as Native American."

So hey, guess that's all settled now! The bullshit rightwing narrative has been disproven, the right will ignore it, and Donald Trump will continue grinning like an idiot and saying "PO-CA-HONTAS!!!" to thunderous applause, and nothing at all will change, as this nice discussion by Vox's David Roberts explains. Facts aren't facts, after all; they're merely objects to be hurled with force at the enemy, and a heavy lie is a far more effective projectile than some silly research, after all.

And Yr Wonkette will also continue to sell this beautiful Warren Themed Socialist Merch, FOR PROGRESS!


Now do up your OPEN THREAD!

[Boston Globe / Mother Jones / David Roberts on Twitter]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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