Some conservatives argue that it's liberals who are the true racists. Sure, the Republican Party intentionally played off white racism to win southern votes after the Civil Rights Act, and some Tea Partiers have racist signs, the argument goes, but it's Democrats who use racism to their benefits these days. When Herman Cain was accused of sexual harassment, Fox News bemoaned his "high-tech lynching." When Trayvon Martin was killed, The National Review insisted that white racism was no longer a problem in America, and Pajamas Media argued Democrats talk about it because it's the only thing they have left to stir up their base. With the revelation that Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren once called herself Native American in the American Association of Law Schools directory, her opponent, Sen. Scott Brown, got the opportunity to portray her as an unqualified Affirmative Action hire without saying she got hired for being a woman. But the conservative site Breitbart.com took it a step further, taking up a charge usually left to lefties in academia: That Warren bears some responsibility for the racism of her white ancestors.
Most conservative sites are sticking to ridiculing Warren for claiming to be a minority when she was merely 1/32 Native American. The semi-conservative Boston Herald called her "Fauxcohontas" Tuesday; it was faux-outraged Warren didn't attend a Native American student event despite listing herself as Native American to make friends. Michelle Malkin nicknamed Warren the less-catchy "Pinocchio-hontas," and said her actions demonstrated "an Olympic competition of the haves to show their have-not cred." The National Review's John Fund wrote of the "diversity sham" at elite colleges. For the most part, they didn't take the bait last week when Warren clumsily reminisced about family stories about their heritage.
Warren explained, according to CBS News:
"I have lived in a family that has talked about Native Americans, talked about tribes since I had been a little girl... I still have a picture on my mantel and it is a picture my mother had before that - a picture of my grandfather. And my Aunt Bea has walked by that picture at least a 1,000 times remarked that he - her father, my Papaw -- had high cheek bones like all of the Indians do. Because that is how she saw it and your mother got those same great cheek bones and I didn't. She that thought was the bad deal she had gotten in life."
"High cheek bones like all of the Indians do" -- yikes! But the Breitbart post, by Michael Patrick Leahy, took the charge that maybe Warren's the real racist an unexpected step further. After researching Warren's Native ancestor, Leahy writes:
[T]he most stunning discovery about the life of O.C. Sarah Smith Crawford is that her husband, Ms. Warren's great-great-great grandfather, was apparently a member of the Tennessee Militia who rounded up Cherokees from their family homes in the Southeastern United States and herded them into government-built stockades in what was then called Ross’s Landing (now Chattanooga), Tennessee—the point of origin for the horrific Trail of Tears, which began in January, 1837.
Leahy details the terrible toll the Trail of Tears took on Cherokee families, then demands Warren admit she's a fake Native American -- and "a direct descendant of a Tennessee Militiaman who apparently rounded up the ancestors of those who truly have Cherokee heritage."
The Drudge Report linked to the story ("REPORT: Elizabeth Warren Ancestor Rounded Up Cherokees For Trail of Tears..."). But Leahy's argument that Warren must atone for the bad things the white people she's related to did more than 100 years ago is exactly the kind of lefty academic argument that conservatives usually reject. In fact, Breitbart.com has devoted significant space to arguing against reparations for slavery -- and warning that there's a serious threat they could happen. "The issue of reparations for slavery, once a hot topic of political speculation and conjecture among pundits everywhere, not to mention political agitation and racial tension, is fast becoming a possible source of yet even more crushing financial drain on an already shaky American economy," the site warned in 2009. "FARRAKHAN DEMANDS REPARATIONS FROM JEWS" a 2010 headline read. "OBAMA CIRCUIT COURT NOMINEE'S CONTROVERSIAL REMARKS ON REPARATIONS: 'WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO GIVE UP SOMETHING'," a May 2011 headline said. Guys, if you're still nervous about being forced to pay reparations, you're not helping your case by blaming Elizabeth Warren for something her great-great-great grandfather did.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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