I was eager to see how MSM would treat the latest controversy surrounding Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard Law Professor who is running against Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown.
The right has begun to probe the significance of Warren’s claim to be Native American, but isn’t fully aware of the importance of the issue, treating it as just an embarrassing pratfall in an already painfully inept campaign. Powerline’s Scott Johnson’s “Are you kidding me?” fairly summarizes the reaction of many, and some have used this latest example of liberal meltdown –and liberal hypocrisy— as a prompt to contribute to Scott Brown’s re-election effort, a very good thing and one to be encouraged all weekend long, and which you can do via this link.
But the left knows. Read this full-throated defense of Warren from Syracuse Law Professor Kevin Noble Maillard in the New York Times. Maillard is himself a member of the Seminole nation, and his defense of Warren is that she couldn’t possibly have claimed to be Native American in order to benefit from the affirmative action advantage such a claim would confer, because had she done so, he would have know about it. Really, that is his argument:
When the Brown campaign accused Elizabeth Warren of touting herself as American Indian to advance her career, this was news to Native law professors. We have a good eye for welcoming faculty to the community and identifying promising scholars. We know where people teach, what they have published and we honor them when they die. Harvard Law School named its first Native American tenured professor? Really? In our small indigenous faculty town, we would have heard about it already.
Suffice to say this isn’t rigorous analysis or a robust defense, and the left really ought to stay away from the subject because any amount of attention to it invites the obvious three questions that should have been immediately asked of Professor Warren:
Did Professor Warren communicate Native American status in any way when she sought the law school jobs at Harvard or her posts at Rutgers, Houston or UT?
If so is it possible that the hiring committee at any of those law schools gave any weight to her self-designated status as Native American?
If so, was that just to other candidates for the position, minorities and non-minorities alike?
It is this last question which is most dangerous to Professor Warren’s political career, but also most relevant for the affirmative action debate, which will return to the Supreme Court this fall in the case of Fisher v. University of Texas, No. 11-345.
The debate about affirmative action ought always to have been about not who got into colleges and graduate schools or who got contracts because of the preferences, but who didn’t “get in” or get the contract because of the advantage conferred on others simply by status as opposed to merit. Individuals got passed over not because of merit, but because of boxes checked by others and decisions made to increase “diversity.” “Diversity,” as Jonah Goldberg discussed in his brilliant new Tyranny of Cliches, has always been a cover for social engineering of the worst sort, and the Warren controversy draws the attention of voters to the injustice of racial preferences in a way sure to disadvantage her and the cause of “diversity” generally. (Jonah will be my guest for two hours on Monday when I am back in NYC for the Sean Hannity’s Great American Panel.)
I served on the Faculty Appointments Committee of Chapman Law School for most of the first decade of the school’s life, and have worked through the thousands of applications to the Association of American Law Schools, each one of which has a box on which the applicant can choose to declare ethnic background. Those boxes help get interviews and jobs, and only a fool or a dishonest defender of “diversity” will claim otherwise. Thus the three questions for Professor Warren. They aren’t hard to answer, but whether the Boston Globe or any other MSM outlet will patiently press for their full and complete answer remains to be seen. It hasn’t happened yet.
Watch for a discussion of this on CNN today or any of the weekend shows. Of course you won’t see it. CNN won’t cover it in the way it deserves or in any way that will threaten to attract viewers lest the network’s death spiral be disturbed. Piers Morgan’s display of gracelessness and ignorance in his Goldberg interview this week perfectly conveyed the fog of elitism that has captured the entire network and which communicates itself to every viewer on every show save those of the old school’s Wolf Blitzer, John King, and Candy Crowley. Elizabeth Warren is very much a made-for-the-new-CNN candidate, and as her arrogance and sense of privilege oozes out to the voters, it will deeply offend and drive them away, especially when the word spreads it may have been built on a fraud.