Don’t ever play the racist game


A simple question: did Elizabeth Warren have an Indian ancestor? Yes. Definitely. As Carl Zimmer explains, the science is good and robust on this one. Anyone who is arguing that this is fake science ought to be immediately fired from any job that involves setting science policy. Bye, Donald!

More complex question: does Elizabeth Warren have any legitimate claim to any kind of Indian affiliation? Nope, not that she claimed she did. And she played right into Trump’s racist hand.

Warren ended up providing one of the clearest examples yet of how Trumpian rhetoric shifts the political conversation. The woman who is hoping to become the most progressive Democratic nominee in generations is not merely letting herself get jerked around by a Trumpian taunt. She is also reinforcing one of the most insidious ways in which Americans talk about race: as though it were a measurable biological category, one that, in some cases, can be determined by a single drop of blood. Genetic-test evidence is circular: if everyone who claims to be X has a particular genetic marker, then everyone with the marker is likely to be X. This would be flawed reasoning in any area, but what makes it bad science is that it reinforces the belief in the existence of X—in this case, race as a biological category. Warren’s video will hardly convince a Trump voter, who will see only a woman who feels that she has to prove something. Trump himself has already walked back his promise of a million-dollar charity donation. Warren, meanwhile, has allowed herself to be dragged into a conversation based on an outdated, harmful concept of racial blood—one that promotes the pernicious idea of biological differences among people—and she has pulled her supporters right along with her.

See? You can understand that it is good science while also recognizing that she’s promoting odious ideological implications that are contrary to her political position.

Comments

  1. nomdeplume says

    Trump has it down to a fine art – both the initial accusation and the victim’s response can be turned against them.

  2. says

    No she didn’t. It was a joke on him. “now where’s my million dollars?” However the MSM and gullible liberals will run with an “Oh my goodness how could she have done this? This is so tacky.” Well guess you just bought lock stock and barrel into the the media crap that is out there constantly. Stop it.

  3. John Morales says

    See? You can understand that it is good science while also recognizing that she’s promoting odious ideological implications that are contrary to her political position.

    So, if she challenges it, she’s promoting.

    Whereas likewise, if she doesn’t challenge it, she’s implicitly endorsing it.

    She challenged the literal claim using good science, didn’t address the implication, so a bit of both, no?

    Me, I’d rather trust her political nous over mine, and I doubt she believes that’s what’s she’s doing.

  4. acroyear says

    Without science and ‘facts’, how does one prove to a liar that one isn’t a liar? Trump had been harping on this, calling her a liar about it (more or less) for two and a half years. At a certain point one has to call a liar a liar, and the only way to do that is with facts.

    If this was not the way to PROVE that he is a liar, than what is? What do “we” need to do to finally convince people that he’s a liar, since everything else we’ve tried has failed?

    Answer that, because otherwise, all you’re saying is that there is no way to win against him and his lying ilk.

    And I refuse to believe this country is THAT hopeless…

  5. starghost1999 says

    The issue is that she used her ancestry in her college application which could have been dishonest. This “tactic” if that is what it was, has backfired on her badly, no tribe will accept the result and she gave fuel to a very hate filled person in Trump. I wonder why she would make the result public, she is not stupid? I suspect that someone else was going to do it so she did not. Lesson is don’t try to beat Trump he is the master, Sen Warren lacks the necessary evil to beat him. Just focus on your own message that seems to be working all over the country.

  6. dianne says

    Well, at least now all the nice “liberal” men have their excuse for not nominating Warren in 2020. Oh, sorry, they have all made their sound judgement that she is of insufficient character and can’t be nominated. We’d better get Biden instead. Or maybe Bernie and his Russian money. Yeah, that’d be much better.

  7. dianne says

    @9: And also men don’t live as long, so Warren is effectively a couple of years younger relatively speaking. Personally, I’d go for Cory Booker (49), but I think there’s going to be some excuse to declare him too…something or another…too. My prediction is that there’ll be lots of explaining about how Woman X and Non-White Man Y (or, FSM forbid, Non-White Woman Z) are too (radical/conservative/emotional/robotic/young/old/etc) and we’ll get a white dude to “challenge” Trump in 2020.

  8. says

    Eh, I think it was probably correct for her to release the test results. By analogy, birtherism did in fact decline when Obama released his long-form birth certificate.

  9. Porivil Sorrens says

    I think, on the whole of it, Warren’s probably the best you could hope for insofar as democratic liberals are concerned. She’s not particularly exciting, imo anyways, but I’ll vote for her over any alternative at the moment.

  10. John Walsh says

    PZ you have a loud voice on the science-literate left and I think you’re missing the point here. The smearing of Elizabeth Warren over this has gone on for more than 4 years and was started by Scott Brown, the erstwhile Republican replacement Senator from Massachusetts who surprisingly won election to finish out the term of Ted Kennedy after he passed. The smear was based initially on the revelation that after being hired by Harvard Ms. Warren checked a box on an HR form that indicated Native American heritage, the kind of form that most employers have people fill out for tax purposes. However, what was not reported at the time was that she first indicated something other than white in 1978 at her first teaching position at the University of Houston (she checked the “other” box as there was no NA box – a fact that at least partially prompted her to do so), in part due to her family lore that they had a certain amount of Native American ancestry on her mother’s side. She did not do so, however, at her next career stop the University of Texas, but then later did register as a minority law professor after being recruited from Texas to Penn. In each instance it was a sometimes yes sometimes no sort of thing, not surprising from someone who wavered about claiming that designation. Whether this was right or wrong of her is beside the point. At each career stop she was an academic faculty star and none of her former employers or colleagues (including many conservatives) have ever asserted that it made any difference. The vast majority were completely unaware. But since 2014 conservatives have repeatedly aimed taunts at her to take a DNA test. Scott Brown’s supporters did it, Fox News did it, and Trump did it. So she got tested, not to somehow give in to the smears from the dimwitted right, but to demonstrate that she is not a liar, which is at the heart of the smears. Doing nothing lets smearers set the narrative.

    Native Americans have no reason to be offended by this. SJWs have no reason to be offended by this. A false claim was leveled at her and she refuted it with science-based evidence. That’s the right response and she should unapologetically triple-down on it and not give in. Where there’s a vacuum of fact, ignorance and lies will eventually fill the void. Wringing hands about this somehow legitimizing Trump’s rubbish is defeatist. It also lends credence to the now repeated false claims that her test was somehow bogus and that she actually has less NA DNA that the average American… which of course is meaningless nonsense as there is no average American amount of NA DNA admixture in any real sense…most European Americans have none, some have a more significant amount that Ms. Warren. That’s all irrelevant. But, if, as reported, she has an unadmixed ancestor 6-10 generations back, the size of the chromosomal regions that are shared with NAs will provide an essentially quantitative measurement that is pretty much unmistakable with competent bioinformatic analysis. Facts. The only way to defeat lies is with facts. And if I were her, even if I was calling it quits and riding off into the sunset, I would want to set the record straight.

  11. Holms says

    The claim she made was that her family had some native ancestry in it somewhere. She was challenged to prove it. If she ignored the challenge, she would be mocked by the right for making a false claim and that she is therefore a fraud. She met the challenge by proving her claim… and now the left is saying “how dare she mention race!” And so the left falls in line with the right’s narrative and places probably their best candidate in an unwinnable bind.

    Anyone criticising Warren in this manner is simply doing work for conservatives.

  12. lotharloo says

    Quoting the article:

    “The woman who is hoping to become the most progressive Democratic nominee in generations is not merely letting herself get jerked around by a Trumpian taunt. ”

    Translation: She should just have a thicker skin and cope with years of harassment and not be so dramatic about it.

    I have a suspicion they would not be saying the same thing if she were not a woman.

  13. Athaic says

    Genetic-test evidence is circular: if everyone who claims to be X has a particular genetic marker, then everyone with the marker is likely to be X. This would be flawed reasoning in any area,

    A flawed reasoning, unless you have robust negative control samples?
    I think I see the main point: ravens are black birds, but that doesn’t mean that all black birds are ravens. But in the cases of the genetic markers used to figure out possible ancestry, aren’t the markers been selected after some sort of comparative study of people from various ethnic background? Is it about the uncertainty of the initial claim of ‘I belong to X’?
    Since I’m not a specialist, I may be missing some point; When I read “Genetic-test evidence is circular: etc..”, I am tempted to read it as “genetic-test evidence” is indeed junk science.
    I feel like this reasoning keeps going back and forth between “Warren claimed to have NA ancestors” and “Warren claimed to be NA” as a premise.
    I’m also remembering the shock and subsequent denial of Brazilians people when a study found out way many of them had Black African ancestry. I’m wondering if part of the strong dismissal of Warren’s test results is similarly coming from the part about “having a below-average value of Native American ancestry, for a White American”. Trump and its people keep saying how that means she has none, when it’s actually saying that a lot of Lilly-white Americans have some.

    but what makes it bad science is that it reinforces the belief in the existence of X—in this case, race as a biological category.

    I’ll have to spend more time mulling on this one. I think my confusion steams from the mix of race and ethnicity/ancestry in the discussion. I get some of the main point, I think. At its basis, using genetic testing to label people as ‘they are from this group’ or ‘from this one’ is enforcing the flawed concept of ‘human races’ – arbitrary labels. Even if these genetic tests keep showing that we are all mongrels. The discussion boggles down to ‘one-drop’ levels and it’s not helping.
    OTOH, you have people who want to be defined by their ancestry – in this case here, the Native Americans. With good reasons, I believe, because of all the stuff about cultural appropriation. But I have some troubles talking about ancestry and not seeing it as a “biological category”. Not a race, I agree. But we are talking about labeling individuals based on a apparently objective definition of some aspect of their biology.
    If it was just citizenship, religion, or some other cultural/societal aspect anyone can be adopted into, OK, fine, the biological aspect is circumstantial at best. Even ‘ethnicity’ could be very hazzy. (heck, it seems that, when the Franks invaded Gaul, they did a very thorough job at genociding the locals, so we French may not have any Gaulish blood at all – mongrels the lot of us, I tell you).

    Now, the point may just be “people give too much importance to little genetic tests revealing approximately where some of your distant ancestors may have come from” and I’m over-analyzing this.

  14. Holms says

    #16 Athaic

    Genetic-test evidence is circular: if everyone who claims to be X has a particular genetic marker, then everyone with the marker is likely to be X. This would be flawed reasoning in any area,

    A flawed reasoning, unless you have robust negative control samples?
    I think I see the main point: ravens are black birds, but that doesn’t mean that all black birds are ravens. But in the cases of the genetic markers used to figure out possible ancestry, aren’t the markers been selected after some sort of comparative study of people from various ethnic background?

    Exactly. Those markers are selected precisely because there is a robust body of evidence establishing that they are a reliable marker for having – in this case – native American ancestry. Which is all that she claimed.

    but what makes it bad science is that it reinforces the belief in the existence of X—in this case, race as a biological category.

    I’ll have to spend more time mulling on this one. I think my confusion steams from the mix of race and ethnicity/ancestry in the discussion.

    I found this portion very puzzling, myself. Race absolutely is a biological category, in that there exist a number of detectable heritable genetic markers particular to various ancestries. And, it is also a social category, in that people are divided by ancestry and mistreated on that basis.

    Phrased another way, race is a biological category that should not – but is – taken as basis for social categorisation. I think that in their desire to eliminate race as a social divider, people sometimes overshoot and try to say that it is also not a biological fact at all.

  15. hemidactylus says

    If you take some individuals living in the US (a descendant of Swedes, a descendant of slaves forcibly brought from Western Africa, a descendant of Chinese railroad workers, and a member of the Miccosukee) you will look superficially at physical features and say: “Oh they are different.” and perhaps develop something similar to a traditional racial categorization that ignores the variation found when surveying the continents these people originally stemmed from. There is something biological to development of distinguishing features that the people within my parentheses above exhibit and genetic markers that may subcategorize them with more nuance, but where exactly does that get us? Asians and Africans are diverse categories as are Europeans. Even given Native Americans stemmed from a subgrouping of Asians, they are diverse too. So it is difficult for me to see race as anything more than a mirage. People genetically isolated will diverge over time. Humans are no longer isolated. We still declare our ethnicities and nationalities.

    Heritage and genealogy are very important to some people and given historical context and current realities I can see how Cherokee and other Native Americans take great offense to how this heated political sideshow is playing out.

  16. auraboy says

    I’m extremely uncomfortable with the interpretation atl. Implying that the only way to deal with mendacious bullies is to keep quiet and put up with it doesn’t sound particularly progressive to me.
    I realise that wading even inch deep into debates around race in America is dangerous in the extreme, but I honestly can’t see what else Warren was supposed to do. The alternative to her course seems to be, ‘ignore them and they’ll go away.’ With all due respect, fuck that noise.

  17. Dunc says

    Race absolutely is a biological category, in that there exist a number of detectable heritable genetic markers particular to various ancestries.

    No. “Race” is not “ethnicity” or “ancestry”. It’s a social construct based on a handful of easily-noticed superficial traits, with a great deal of variation (across both time and culture) in both the number of “races” and in how the various markers are assigned to those races. Move from the US to Brazil or Japan, and while your ancestry doesn’t change, your racial classification might well do, because those cultures define “race” differently.

    In the US, and Australian Aborigine will be perceived as part of the same race as a West African (despite being genetically about as far apart as it’s possible to be) simply because the US definition of race assigns overwhelming importance to skin colour.

  18. Saad says

    Trump: Prove you’re American.
    Obama: Yes, sir. Here you go.

    Trump: You don’t have an Indian ancestor.
    Warren: I paid to have this test done to meet your demands, sir.
    Trump: LOL, Pocahantas

    Nation: Show us your tax returns.
    Trump: Nah.

  19. Danny Husar says

    I thought Elizabeth Warren was smart. What was she thinking putting this out there? There are so many dimensions to how messed up what she did was. To me, this is a terrifying vision of the future of intersectionality. I always thought the movie ‘Gattaca’ was the terrifying future of genetic testing, but Warren showed me that this may be what intersectionality becomes obsessed with. That is, the number of genetics markers that match some population group is what defines your racial status and therefore what defines your level of privilege. If a smart, thoughtful person like Warren used it like that, why couldn’t a crazy person like Rachel Dolezal do it too? Kill me now.

    @18

    Heritage and genealogy are very important to some people and given historical context and current realities I can see how Cherokee and other Native Americans take great offense to how this heated political sideshow is playing out.

    It’s worse than that. They are constantly inundated with people who take a 23andMe test, see that they have some fraction of some sort of Native American (north or south) ancestry and then attempt to use it to gain Cherokee citizenship. Warren opened up a whole can of worms for them that they will have to clean up for a long time.

    @19

    Implying that the only way to deal with mendacious bullies is to keep quiet and put up with it doesn’t sound particularly progressive to me.

    I don’t think anybody expected Warren to be shrinking violet (and she never has been) – but this is not how you fight Trump. If she was worried about this, all she needed to say was that this was a story told in her family, and she never felt the need to fact check her mom – and that’s it – you’re done. I have familial lore that my ancestors on my father’s side came from the steppes and originated in Turkey. I take that as a fact and never thought to question it but who the hell knows – maybe it’s not quite true (or true at all).

    And Trump was going to do what Trump was going to do – he was going to keep calling her ‘Pocahontas’ regardless just as he calls Hillary ‘Crooked’ and Jeb ‘Low-energy’. Frankly, I thought we already moved past this. There was no need to bring this up and no need at all to double-down on this notion of native heritage in this strange and quasi-racist way. She a white old lady with a family story that may or may not be true but should make 0 difference to her public persona.

    @4

    Without science and ‘facts’, how does one prove to a liar that one isn’t a liar?

    Everyone knows Trump lies. You don’t need any special techniques to catch him in the act. Limbaugh was even laughing that Trump lied about making the million dollar pledge. The thing with Trump is that it’s all priced-in, everyone knows what he’s about, and you just sort of ignore it now … because there’s nothing you can do until the next election or until something impeachable comes out of the Mueller report. You can yell and scream but that’s it.

  20. Saad says

    Danny, #22

    but this is not how you fight Trump.

    Bingo. If Warren’s results showed 100% Indian ancestry, Trump would have called it a fake document. You can’t win against that. He knows where his support comes from and he knows them very, very well. They’re not interested in facts, just in supporting Trump because he hits all the right notes for them. His Times Square comment wasn’t as much of an exaggeration as we would like to think.

  21. Chris Capoccia says

    maybe i’m missing something, but this seems like a straw man complaint. warren isn’t saying that she belongs in any particular tribe, that she’s applied to be in a tribe or accepted or anything like that. i expect in the future more focus on the story of discrimination her grandmother faced after she eloped because racist family didn’t want someone with native heritage. the video shows her interviewing relatives who confirm the story regardless of party affiliation

  22. Danny Husar says

    I also don’t really have a major problem with Warren’s occasional leaning on, or identifying as Native American, throughout her career. Don’t get me wrong, she shouldn’t do it now, given what we know about how she was raised and this stupid genetic test that she released.

    Identity and self-image is by definition deeply personal, and this is something that everybody struggles with, particularly in multi-cultural/multi-ethnic/multi-religious societies. Everybody sort of asks “who am I and how do I fit in society”. In Poland, 95% of the population has the same ethnicity, and the same religion so it isn’t something you spend your time worrying about. In Canada, you are forced to think about it. When I started university, I was nominally a Catholic and religion never entered my head. When I saw the tight community that my Muslim friends maintained it made me want to embrace the religion I was raised under. My thinking literally was as simple as “Maybe I should also embrace my religious heritage too and join with peers that share my heritage too”. When you’re younger this kind of thinking is very potent because every young person, regardless of race or gender, struggles with identity. I worry that this is what explains the rise of white nationalism, where some doofuses look around and think to themselves “There are all these political advocacy groups based around skin-color, why can’t I join a club based on MY skin-color”.

  23. Dunc says

    this is not how you fight Trump

    Indeed. This is definitely “playing chess with a pigeon” territory here. Trying to argue the facts with Trump or his supporters is a complete waste of time, because it’s not about the facts.

  24. Danny Husar says

    @26

    because it’s not about the facts.

    That’s kind of true. There is an emotional aspect to politics. One way it manifest is that people tend to interpret charitably statements made by people you like, and negatively statements made by people you hate. I suspect quite a bit of disparity between Trump supporters and Trump haters is that.

    Also, facts needs to be contextualized in a larger belief framework in order to be made sense of and be useful. For example “Sun rises in the East” is a 100% true fact, but this fact doesn’t tell you whether we live in a geocentric or heliocentric Solar System, since that fact is compatible with both.

  25. Marshall says

    one that promotes the pernicious idea of biological differences among people

    Shouldn’t this say “biological basis of race”? I don’t think the fact that there are biological differences between every single pair of people on the planet is contested by anyone, even non-scientists.

  26. brucegee1962 says

    @23 Saad

    If Warren’s results showed 100% Indian ancestry, Trump would have called it a fake document. You can’t win against that. He knows where his support comes from and he knows them very, very well. They’re not interested in facts, just in supporting Trump because he hits all the right notes for them.

    But this wasn’t aimed at Trump’s supporters — it was aimed at Democratic and lean-Democratic primary voters, some of whom may have been saying, “I like her stand on progressive issues, but if she gets the nomination, we’ll get a full year of Trump building wigwams and and donning face paint to make fun of her, and I don’t think I can stand that.” I think that, by releasing these results, she was trying to deflate the issue the way Obama did with his birth certificate.
    Of course, as we’ve seen, Trump is going to continue to lie by calling both of them liars regardless of what proof she offers. I’ve got to believe there are enough persuadable voters in the country that calling out his lies will still matter. If everybody in the country is already locked in on whom they will support in 2020, then elections are pointless and the country is probably doomed. However, I’d rather not believe that — which means this stuff really does matter.

  27. rietpluim says

    Why is it that every time someone on the left side of the political spectrum makes a mistake, or allegedly makes a mistake, the damage is substantial, while the right always gets away with it?

  28. Dunc says

    I’ve got to believe there are enough persuadable voters in the country that calling out his lies will still matter. If everybody in the country is already locked in on whom they will support in 2020, then elections are pointless and the country is probably doomed.

    You don’t need to persuade anybody to change their minds about Trump. You just need to persuade enough of the people who are already on your side to actually show up.

  29. Saad says

    rietpluim, #30

    I just posted this in another thread, but it’s simply one of the advantages that come with being the bad guys. Less moral restrictions and lower standards that you’re expected to meet by your base. It’s kind of like how a comic book villain can happily toss a school bus full of children at the superhero, but the hero has to look for non-sentient objects to throw while also trying to catch the school bus.

  30. Dunc says

    Why is it that every time someone on the left side of the political spectrum makes a mistake, or allegedly makes a mistake, the damage is substantial, while the right always gets away with it?

    They’ve spent decades working the referees (i.e. the media). In many cases, they explicitly own the referees.

  31. rietpluim says

    The funny thing is: nobody wants the comic book villain to win, while the real life villain receives heaps of support.

  32. says

    John Morales @ #3:

    She challenged the literal claim using good science, didn’t address the implication, so a bit of both, no?

    I don’t have time to watch it again, but I’m almost positive she did explicitly address this in the video.

    In my (it appears unpopular) opinion, the statement from the Cherokee Nation was a politically stupid move. Helped Trump and the racists and did nothing for their own cause. They could have made a politically savvy statement that advanced the discussion, but they chose instead to lash out at Warren, which is unfortunate.

  33. laurian says

    @25 “I also don’t really have a major problem with Warren’s occasional leaning on, or identifying as Native American, throughout her career.”

    But she didn’t. Why are you regurgitating this Right Wing lie?

  34. says

    @4

    There are two problems with that.

    1) Trump is not a liar. He doesn’t care about what the facts and truth are enough to be one. While most of the things out of his mouth are false he generally is not trying to deceive people. He is trying to enrage, demean, or frustrate them. (At times other motives). As such he is a bullshitter. You cannot combat bullshit with truth because truth is simply irrelevant to the bullshitter.

    2) There are dozens, if not hundreds, of other claims that Trump has made over the years which are fair easier to demonstrate as false. He spins wheel has claimed to have coined the phrase ‘priming the pump’ despite it appearing in print before he was born. If you could convince Trumpianist of Trump being a “liar” there are already legions of examples in the public record. Warren’s demonstration is logically unnecessarily, practically pointless.

    Wake the fuck up. The only way to combat this stuff is separation, boycott and if need be self-defense. Yes the Trumpkins are that far gone. Cut them out of your life like the tumors they are.

  35. stroppy says

    Hmm. Well speaking as someone who plays around with family history and is a mixed bag genetically, I can definitely see where my ancestors’ cultures have had a role in shaping who I am (even if it’s a soupy mix). Sooo, from what I’ve heard so far, I’m not convinced that this is about race.

    I got my DNA tested looking for interesting surprises. Unfortunately we’re as boring as I always thought we were, and the testing pretty much reflected my family tree. It was interesting though, insofar as it told a story of migration and mixing back in the olden days.

    As for Trump and his lackeys, they will try to trash anything you say about anything. The best defense is a good offense when it comes to dealing with them, says here.

  36. says

    rietplum @30,

    Why is it that every time someone on the left side of the political spectrum makes a mistake, or allegedly makes a mistake, the damage is substantial, while the right always gets away with it?

    I think because when the right makes a mistake, it’s dog bites man, and when the left makes a mistake, it’s man bites dog. People want new news in their news, not old news. Like when NYTimes recently released a massive report detailing how the Trump family has perpetrated possibly the biggest tax fraud in the history of the US, I think I was the only one on FTB who shared that, and the reader reaction was, we pretty much already knew that.

    It’s the same principle behind why science journalism is all about reporting on the latest research (despite this being the least reliable scientific knowledge), while ignoring that there’s plenty of fascinating science that was discovered a hundred years ago, and which most of the public still doesn’t understand.

  37. says

    I disagree that she played into his hand. She knows this will be an issue in 2020 that even liberal progressives will want answered. With a vanishingly small percentage of genes or non-coding strings (I don’t really know what they look for, I’m an ecologist) associated with Native Americans, why did she mark a box for native ancestry? I have a much better claim, with two of my great grandparents coming from French/Abenaki families, but I check “white and privileged” every time because I am. I’m also not likely to still carry a significant portion of the genes from either ancestor. There’s no such thing as 1/4th Indian, since any lineage prior to parents is randomized, and it’s “possible” in the way it’s “possible” to win the Power Ball lotto every year for life that any individual person has genes from only two grandparents. So the meaninglessness of race is made even more so when we talk of “racial DNA” percents.

    Now, I support Warren for office. I’d rather Bernie, of the people that have any shot. I don’t see Warren’s self-identity as a college applicant many decades ago as being more relevant than her demonstrated policy toward disenfranchised communities. I would have much less issue with Trump’s racism if the communities of color were actually benefiting from his actions. I trust Warren to work with leaders of the tribes and enact fair policies.

    I think Warren wanted to be able to stop the line of attack in its tracks. She can just point to the articles “vindicating” her, say it’s already been argued and put to rest, and move on. With 2020 still a way off, she can have this whole issue made to a dead horse by then. There are other ways to attack her, and additional, valid points of disagreement for actual conservatives. But she’s exposed this political weak point to remove it well in advance of public scrutiny. If I were running for office, I’d also want the big no-nos of my past, either real or imaginary, dug up early enough to have them old-news by election day.

  38. Danny Husar says

    @30

    Why is it that every time someone on the left side of the political spectrum makes a mistake, or allegedly makes a mistake, the damage is substantial, while the right always gets away with it?

    Honestly, confirmation bias. It seems that way to you because you only notice the times your team did something wrong and suffered repercussions, and the times when the other team did something wrong and didn’t suffer repercussions.

    Trust me, the other side sees it the exact same way. For example, conservatives go nuts wondering how a known anti-semite (and a crazy person) Louis Farrakhan can share a stage with Bill Clinton (as they did during Aretha Franklin’s funeral) and not have the mainstream media care.

    @36

    But she didn’t. Why are you regurgitating this Right Wing lie?

    Are you gaslighting me? I tried to qualify my statement so as to not give the impression that Warren used her supposed native ancestry to get ahead or gain some advantage, but at various times in her career she did self-identify as a Native American. For example, isn’t it on the record that Harvard Law School referred to Warren as a ‘woman of color’ and Native American’ in response to an accusation of lack of diversity? Weren’t there times when Warren did self-identify as a Native American on certain forms she filled out?

    I’m not trying to push some conspiracy theories. I assumed that this all on the record. What am I wrong about?

  39. ethicsgradient says

    Masha Gessen is a journalist who studied architecture. Why is her opinion enough for you to accuse Warren of “promoting odious ideological implications”? Warren didn’t talk about ‘race’ at all. Gessen has just got this all wrong.

  40. dianne says

    @44: A caucasian Russian journalist. Neither US-ian nor American. Not someone with a deep understanding of the history and current experience of being a minority or even a white person in the US.

  41. John Morales says

    @44&45, really? So, an interested outsider, then. A less, um, invested view. More independent analysis.

    (You’re doing a similar thing, presenting one side of the coin)

  42. dianne says

    @46: So you’re going for the “nothing about us with us” approach then? Works for Trump.

  43. John Morales says

    dianne, nah. Addressing the complement of your joint claim on its own merits, for completeness.

  44. ethicsgradient says

    John Morales @46 , her “independent analysis” could have come from any one of perhaps 500 million people who can read and write English. She’s not a biologist, anthropologist, sociologist, or anyone with expertise that might be relevant to ‘race’. But since she brought up ‘race’, and Warren didn’t, her article is pointless. She’s just a random person with an opinion. But for some reason PZ thinks her red herring is worth a thread.

  45. John Morales says

    dianne, only one question, slightly incredulously.
    Your mistake was trying to rationalise your dismissal of the author’s competence thus inviting counter-rationalisations. At your service.

    ethicsgradient, same thing.

    She’s just a random person with an opinion.

    And a staff writer for The New Yorker. A lot less than 500M of those.

  46. dianne says

    You have to have expertise in genetics and the history of race in the US to be a staff writer for the New Yorker? I never knew.

  47. John Morales says

    dianne, no. Here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masha_Gessen

    Expertise at journalistic, political and activist writing and a decent CV is what she has.
    And that’s what’s she’s doing; her job.

    End of the day, you’re appealing to the author’s identity as precluding a valid essay regarding an aspect of the significance of EW’s action, and so dismiss the idea it may have any relevance.

    No?

  48. says

    If she lets herself get played like this by the orange one of all people, she doesn’t have the political instincts to be a fit primary candidate. How stupid did you have to fucking be to self-own like this? This was an unforced and avoidable error on every level.

  49. says

    Just because we might not know which native people we are descended from, doesn’t mean my family hasn’t been discriminated against because of that descent. People can’t tell with my sister or me, by that could with my mother, and with my cousins.

  50. dianne says

    @54: So what should she have done? Ignored him? Then people would have said that she must be lying because she won’t take a simple test for $1 million.

  51. ethicsgradient says

    John Morales @53, no, I’m pointing out that “staff writer for the New Yorker” gives her no more knowledge about “race” than you or me. Less that PZ, in fact, whose knowledge of what genetics doesn’t or doesn’t say about “race” is considerable. But, and this is the main point you’re studiously ignoring, Warren didn’t talk about “race”. Gessen is misleading about what Warren has said. Which is an alarming thing for a professional writer to do; especially one writing for a liberal publication. There’s no point in drawing attention to Gessen’s garbage, especially when it’s designed to hurt a liberal and thus benefits a bigot like Trump.

  52. John Morales says

    ethicsgradient, PZ quoted the salient bit; basically, the claim is that EW has helped to perpetuate a harmful racial narrative by reacting to Trump, not by literally saying so.

    I’m pointing out that “staff writer for the New Yorker” gives her no more knowledge about “race” than you or me.

    Heh. It just gives her a column there.

    As to not knowing more than you or me about “race”, you apparently think you know sufficiently more than her, given you call what she wrote garbage.

    So far, you’ve poopooed her credentials to have an opinion, but the only other basis you’ve given for thinking the article to be misleading is that you think Warren was misquoted or misrepresented. Which, as I noted, is not the case.

  53. ethicsgradient says

    She was not talking about ‘race’; she was talking about ancestry. Yes, ancestry exists. Yes, genetic markers can indicate ancestry; in this case, markers indicate Warren has some pre-Columbian ancestry in the Americas. This is not, as Gessen writes, about who “claims” this ancestry when they get their DNA tested; it’s from groups of people whose ancestors are known to have been overwhlemingly in the Americas (but not the USA, since most American Indians won’t allow their DNA to be used in these tests), or those whose ancestors were only in Europe in the Middle Ages. So we see that Gessen doesn’t understand the tests.

    Gessen claims Warren is talking about ‘race’, and about ‘one drop of blood’ changing someone’s race. She isn’t, and that’s a lie. Warren was showing that her family’s story that they have some American Indian ancestry is true.

  54. says

    60:

    Frankly, there’s a germane argument for doing just that, as this bullshit might have made matters worse for that slur. As it is, she showed that Trump can psyche her, which is very much not desirable in a candidate. This shit only mattered for folks who wouldn’t vote for her anyway, and she instead created a media circus and gave them legitimacy; total own goal, and just before the midterms too, that fucking idiot.

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