Who knew that Massachusetts would provide an opportunity to add a touch of color to the almost-all-white U.S. Senate? Who knew that when Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren tailored her professional biography to cultivate ties with people who are “like I am,” she had in mind not left-leaning academics, or advanced-degreed professional women, or bankruptcy-policy wonks, but Oklahoma Cherokees? There is a rich vein of humor in the Boston Herald’s revelation that Harvard Law School touted the clearly Caucasian Warren as a Native American, and that for nine years Warren listed her ancestry in the same manner in official law-school directories.
To be sure, the Warren campaign handled the damage-control front with a skilled deflection: Team Warren has professed much outrage over any insinuation that the candidate’s climb up the academic ladder was given a boost by affirmative action (a claim her Republican opponent, incumbent senator Scott Brown, has not remotely made), and The New Republic has equated the whole thing with far-right birtherism regarding Barack Obama’s background. It’s a clever dodge that minimizes Warren’s creative use of her ancestry while reviving the liberal meme that Republicans have a beef with achievements that don’t belong to white men.
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