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Victor Davis Hanson: Chameleon Nation
National Review Online ^ | May 10, 2012 | Victor Davis Hanson

Posted on 05/10/2012 5:13:33 PM PDT by neverdem

Sometimes a trivial embarrassment can become a teachable moment. It was recently revealed that Harvard professor and U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren had self-identified as a Native American for nearly a decade — apparently to enhance her academic career by claiming minority status. Warren, a blond multimillionaire, could not substantiate her claim of 1/32 Cherokee heritage. (And would it have reflected any better on her if she could have?) Instead, she fell back on the stereotyped caricature that a relative of hers had “high cheekbones.”

Not long ago, University of Colorado academic Ward Churchill was likewise exposed as a fraud in his claims of Native American ancestry. This racial con artist was able to fabricate an entire minority identity and parlay it into an activist professorship that otherwise would not have been possible for a white male of his limited talent.

In the Trayvon Martin murder case, the media was intent on promulgating a white-oppressor/black-victim narrative as proof of the endemic white prejudice that still haunts America and requires perpetual recompense.

However, a glitch arose when it was learned that Zimmerman had a Peruvian mother. By university and government diversity standards, he could be characterized as a “minority.” That bothersome fact threatened to undermine the entire hyped narrative of white-on-black crime. So the panicked media coined a new hybrid term for Zimmerman: “white Hispanic.”

Note that the media has so far not in commensurate fashion referred to President Obama as a “white African-American” even though he, too, had a white parent. In Obama’s memoirs, we learn that well into his 20s he self-identified as “Barry.” Only later did Obama begin using his African name, Barack, which at some key juncture offered a more valuable cachet than did the suburban-sounding “Barry.”

Is there anything wrong with such chameleon-like self-identification in an age when universities are full of hyphenated careerists and newscasters awkwardly trill their names to remind us of their particular ethnicity?

In the last 50 years, massive immigration from Asia, Africa, and Latin America, coupled with rapid rates of integration and intermarriage, have created a truly multiracial society. So-called whites, for example, are now a minority of the population in California, and millions of people of mixed ancestry don’t identify with any particular ethnic group.

Does a Joe Lopez, the son of a white mother and a Hispanic father, “count” as Hispanic while a Joe Schmidt, the son of a Hispanic mother and a white father, does not? What about a José Schmidt?

For that answer, ask George Zimmerman. Had he applied for college admission or a certain type of job, a politically correct university or an employer pressed to meet diversity quotas mostly certainly would have dubbed Zimmerman “Hispanic.”

Identities, in psychodramatic fashion, are sometimes put on and taken off, like clothes, as self-interest dictates — given that so often they are no longer ascertainable from appearance. If that sounds crass or unfair, ask Elizabeth Warren, who dropped her Native American claims as soon as she at last received tenure and found her 1/32 con suddenly superfluous — to the apparent unconcern of her similarly cynical but now mum employer, Harvard. 

Nor is race sure proof of either poverty or past oppression. Asian Americans, for example, have a median family income more than $10,000 a year higher than that of white Americans. And if pigmentation is proof of ongoing prejudice, why don’t darker Punjabis and Arabs — who do not qualify for special racial preferences — deserve consideration over those lighter-skinned minorities who do?

How long after a Mexican national crossed the border would he become a Chicano eligible for affirmative action? Do Attorney General Eric Holder’s children qualify? Do 1/32 (one great-great-great grandparent) or 1/16 (one great-great grandparent) Cherokees receive preferential treatment? And if so, who administers this odious Jim Crow one-drop DNA test, and how? 

In truth, after a half-century in our self-created racial labyrinth, no one quite knows who qualifies as an oppressed victim or why — only that the more one can change a name or emphasize lineage, the better the careerist edge. The real worry is that soon we will have so many recompense-seeking victims that we will run out of concession-granting oppressors.

How odd (or rather, how predictable) that something that started out as a supposedly noble lie — that to atone for past bias we must be judged by the color of our skin rather than the content of our character — has become utterly ignoble and beneath us.

— Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author most recently of The End of Sparta. You can reach him by e-mailing © 2012 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Editorial; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: elizabethwarren; vdh; victordavishanson

1 posted on 05/10/2012 5:13:34 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem
From an DNA analysis of Walking Eagle Warren that may help untangle the mess: Wlaking Eagle-an eagle that is so full of sh*t that it is too heavy to fly.
2 posted on 05/10/2012 5:36:10 PM PDT by CharlesMartelsGhost
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To: CharlesMartelsGhost

“Walking Eagle Warren”?.....more like Cheating Chicken Warren.

3 posted on 05/10/2012 5:44:16 PM PDT by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: blueunicorn6
She's the little Injun who couldn't...

Squaw speak with heap big forked tongue...but...HOW?

My particular fantasy...Brown and Warren show up to debate. In the audience, people start quietly patting their chair seats, or tap the floor with their feet...BUM bum bum bum BUM bum bum bum

4 posted on 05/10/2012 6:53:17 PM PDT by Mamzelle
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To: CharlesMartelsGhost
Shoot, I'm a one eighth Cherokee on my fathers side.
My Grandmother was a half blood Cherokee.

I have never self identified as an "American Indian" or "Native American".

I've always identified as an "American".

If more people did we might not have some of the issues we do in this day and age.

5 posted on 05/10/2012 7:48:49 PM PDT by Just another Joe (Warning: FReeping can be addictive and helpful to your mental health)
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To: neverdem
According to family history, I have more or less the same Native American contribution to my genetic mix that she does.

Once we worked through the math, we calculate that supposedly one of my big toes is 100% Cherokee...with high cheek bones.

Maybe it's different somehow for liberal women in Mass., but according to my math, I figure that makes me a standard issue, generic white guy.

6 posted on 05/10/2012 8:32:54 PM PDT by GBA (Isaiah 9:11)
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