DAVID MAROTTOLO ’22
Several people are aware of the debate surrounding Senator Elizabeth Warren’s decision to post the results of a DNA test confirming her Native American heritage. While some may see this as a rebuke of President Trump and a victory for the Left, I am inclined to disagree. In fact, this revelation causes more harm to Sen. Warren’s campaign than it does President Trump.
Before delving further into this discussion, it would be prudent to provide some background information. There have always been stories within Sen. Warren’s family about a Cherokee ancestor. These stories referred to bigotry against Warren’s mother for her supposed Cherokee and Delaware blood. This became part of Sen. Warren’s academic and political career: she was listed as a “Native American” professor at the University of Pennsylvania and described as Harvard Law’s “first woman of color”. She even contributed a family recipe to a Native American cookbook. In response to this, many representatives of the various Native American tribes noted that such stories were hardly enough to prove such heritage. Other individuals argued that this was meant to bolster Sen. Warren’s political career. One such individual was Donald Trump, who derisively referred to Sen. Warren as “Pocahontas” during the 2016 electoral season.
In response to this, Sen. Warren recently released the results of a DNA test, confirming her Native American heritage. Sen. Warren possesses at least one Indian ancestor between six and ten generations back, making her anywhere from 1/64th to 1/1,024th Native American. The test was conducted properly by a confirmed expert, leaving no doubts as to the results. However, President Trump has claimed that the results were fabricated and that he would not accept the conclusions of any similar test unless he were to, in his own words, “test her personally.”
While I understand the temptation for Sen. Warren to flaunt the results of this test in President Trump’s face, this ultimately weakens her stance as a candidate for the upcoming elections. Many Native Americans feel that she is claiming an undeserved heritage, and are rightfully angered. I am inclined to agree; 0.06-1.6% is not enough to pose as a minority student or to have claimed the advantages of affirmative action which Sen. Warren took. Sen.Warren herself has never demonstrated an affinity for the tribes, merely toting her lineage as a genetic badge of honor.
We also cannot dismiss Sen. Warren’s political motives. With midterms approaching and the next Presidential election only two years away, this reveal can’t help but seem like a cheap bid for minority votes. Leveraging one’s supposed ethnic status for the sake of an election is rarely convincing to voters.
Furthermore, this does nothing to temper President Trump’s penchant for insults. A result of 0.006-1.6% Native heritage merely provides more fuel for his mockery and takes a dig at Native Americans and others who see affirmative action as a means of righting historical imbalances, not rewarding the elite. In light of these factors, I would maintain that this weakens, not strengthens, Sen. Warren’s chances in the upcoming election cycles.