To be honest, I haven’t followed the embarrassing Elizabeth Warren story out of the Ivy League too much. Primarily because it hasn’t been that interesting to me. Resume’ enhancement is the name of the game for these academia social climbers. Granted, there is something inherently humorous about a proud white liberal touting herself as a Native American in order to be accepted amongst her cohorts. But frankly I’ve just found a number of other issues more pressing.
But when I saw the headline from the lead editorial at National Review Online entitled, “Paleface,” I couldn’t resist. The editors there at NRO did an outstanding job, in my estimation, at pointing out what is actually substantial about this episode – and it doesn’t necessarily have to do with the embarrassment of Ms. Warren itself:
So while the situation is amusing, it is not a joke — it is the poison fruit of the Left’s long history of racial exploitation reaching its ripeness. It has long been known that affirmative-action programs advertised as benefiting blacks and members of other minority groups in government contracting and the like have mainly benefited white women — to a great extent college-educated, well-off white women such as Ms. Warren. When it comes to coveted benefits such as admission to prestigious universities, scholarships to pay for same, and academic appointments afterward, the racial spoils system has created powerful incentives for misrepresentation. Ms. Warren protests that her misty claims of Native American ancestry played no role in her being hired as a professor at Harvard or at Penn, but that claim, like her Cherokee ancestry, is undocumented, the universities’ personnel records being sealed against inquiry. To ignore such considerations would certainly have been out of character for Harvard Law, which proudly describes itself as an “Affirmative Action / Equal Opportunity Employer,” and which positively seethes with ideological discontent. In the academic world, “diversity” really means hiring liberals of all kinds.
Besides getting both government and private institutions into the distasteful business of imposing a politicized racial-classification system on the American public, “diversity” of the Harvard variety has undermined the genuine study and appreciation of human diversity. There is a world of difference between eating sushi on Asian Culture Day and learning to read the classics in Japanese — the difference between “multiculturalism” and culture. Elizabeth Warren is Cherokee in the same way the chow-mein sandwich at Nathan’s Famous is Chinese: Checking the box is not sufficient.
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Precisely. And might I suggest that the box itself may be insufficient for a country supposedly pursuing a colorblind society. Yes, this opens up all kinds of conversations about the wisdom of affirmative action programs. Yes, this opens up all kinds of conversations about any race-based or gender-based hiring hierarchy. But in its larger sense, I think of the statement Super Bowl winning coach Tony Dungy made after becoming the “first African-American coach” to win the big one. I’m paraphrasing, but when asked whether he felt like it was a big accomplishment for this country to now have a black coach who had made it to the top, Dungy said something along the lines of: “It will be an accomplishment for this country when we don’t notice.”
Again, it’s not an exact quote, but the principle is what’s important. We have succeeded when we stop paying attention to the fact that people who do things look a certain way. And when I look at liberal politicians and liberal policies that ensure that we continue focusing on the way people look – and then work the system to benefit them – I see the very obstacles standing in our way of achieving that end.