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View Diary: First Nations News & Views: Eliz. Warren, UN Special Rapporteur, Indian energy, Apache skaters (13) (127 comments)

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  •  Too late. The meme has been set by the... (5+ / 0-)

    ...clumsy way her campaign team handled this. I can only hope that the race isn't so close in November that this issue is the one that makes the difference against her. Probably, it will be mostly forgotten.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Mon May 07, 2012 at 12:26:21 AM PDT

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    •  ...but M.B., we could be pushing back more. (0+ / 0-)

      I agree that the meme has been set. But that doesn't mean we can't push back, or that all resistance is futile. When I read your diary (or Andrew Kornacki's Slate piece, which is where I first heard of this), I agree with everything you are saying, content-wise --- and your diary was particularly good in providing a nuanced and honest response with lots of background. But I can't help but feeling that both essentially adopt the opposition's meme that "this is a BIG DEAL." It doesn't have to be. If Warren was illicitly reaping personal rewards from affirmative action, I'd agree that it is a serious issue that should not be swept under the rug. But so far as I know she didn't. And by offering "balance" --- or by agonizing over the inherently ambiguous issues of who really is a Native American and who isn't --- we are ignoring what this is really all about: stoking white resentment and portraying Warren as a hypocrite (which I for one am not at all convinced she is). Even some of her flatfooted responses seem to reflect a campaign in panic mode. What she needs to do is assert that what she did ---taking pride in her ancestry, real or imagined --- was not wrong. It was right and good. And the belief that somewhere in one's family tree there was an Indian ancestor is incredibly widespread. It may not be true, but its something that means a lot to people, and so long as they are not stealing benefits from those who really deserve it (or falsely claiming to speak for Native Americans, à la Ward Churchill), I see nothing wrong with it. It is a part of popular American culture, and I say we should embrace it.

      •  It's tricky. (1+ / 0-)
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        And I think MB threaded the needle as best he could, but the reality is that there is something there, if not quite the 'there' the Republicans are chasing.  While Republicans are focused on their pretense that she was trying to 'make up for' not being 'qualified' for her job by using 'affirmative action', the reality is that Warren did what a lot of folks have done out of ignorance and thoughtlessness.

        She 'appropriated'.  Does she have some small Indian heritage?  Sure.  But as MB said, she showed no significant interest in fully embracing such heritage, no commitment to weaving it into the tapestry of her life.  It was more akin to college teams using 'Indian logos' or 'Pocahontas parties'.  Thankfully, she didn't parody Native Americans, but her heritage was still merely used like an ornamentation.

        Do I think Republicans have any legitimate gripe with her behaviour?  No.  But I do think those who have embraced their heritage, those who live every day, every breath with the pain and mistreatment the rest of American society has heaped upon them over the centuries do.

        But I also think as MB pointed out, as humans, we're all flawed in various ways, and what's more important in situations like this is leading people to see their own mistakes and to grow from it, and become better and stronger, not to simply use mistakes to solidify negative feelings that get in the way of achieving greater goals.

        •  It is. (0+ / 0-)

          I just think there's got to be a way for people to claim their Native American heritage (real or imagined---in many cases we just can't know) without claiming to "be" Native American. It can't be about blood %age, as both M.B. and you in different ways point out. Being Native American, as you both emphasize, is about embracing this heritage in a full-fledged way (getting involved, weaving it into the fabric of one's life, as you nicely put it). And given how much suffering Native Americans have endured, that's probably a part of really being Native American today too.

          But the way census forms and box-ticking works is that there is no way for anyone to claim Native American heritage (which is real too) that does not simultaneously require you to also claim to be Native American. It was only recently that US census forms began to allow people to claim mixed racial status. This was a step forward, because the reality is that races are not air-tight categories.

          It would be nice if there were some way for people to say, "I have some Native American 'blood,' but sociologically I am white (or black, or whatever) because that is how people treat me and because I'm not involved with Native American organizations, culture, etc." But of course this will never happen. My point is simply that we ought to recognize that the predicament Warren is in is not due to some natural fact about the universe, but due to the way we habitually categorize people (on box-ticking form, and so on), which doesn't recognize the real diversity and nuance of lived experience.

          This is not the argument we need to be making in television ads and press releases --- obviously something so complex would never get traction. But it is something I think we ought to think about before judging this woman too harshly.

          I can understand why Native Americans would resent it when people with no real connection to (or involvement in) their culture, and who have never been discriminated against, claim to be Native American. But I just don't think that was what Warren was really claiming when she checked that box.


      •  I agree with most of what you say... (3+ / 0-)
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        navajo, Nate Roberts, nomandates

        ...the problem is that Warren took the wrong approach in responding and it's hard now to backtrack on that. She had a brief window of opportunity to get it right and, for whatever reasons, didn't. You can't murk things up with a (imo) unbelievable response and then try to unmurk them with a contradictory response now, which is what she would have to do. If she taken your approach to begin with, she would have nailed it, the situation would already be half-forgotten and the chatter would be about how smoothly the campaign handled the matter.

        Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

        by Meteor Blades on Mon May 07, 2012 at 08:07:42 AM PDT

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        •  You're right. But it's bigger than Warren (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Meteor Blades

          ... as you said, it's also about the chatter. And we're part of that. We may not be able to change the course of how things are spun this news cycle. But it doesn't have to just continue along this track indefinitely. If progressives want to change the narrative, we have to first get straight in our own heads where we stand on this. And this site is one of the places to do that, hence my previous comment, which I tried to expand on in response to Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN's intelligent reply (above).

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