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Sun Dec 2, 2018, 11:06 AM

On the Criticism of Elizabeth Warren for Publicizing her DNA Test Results

I find the criticisms of Elizabeth Warren for publicizing her DNA test results to be so inappropriate that I suspect them to be largely if not totally politically motivated.


Criticisms

There are two lines of criticism that I am aware of. One is a criticism – unsupported by any evidence that I have ever seen or heard, notwithstanding the repeated assertions of perhaps the most bigoted man to ever occupy the U.S. Presidency – discussed in an ABC News article by Chris Francescani, provocatively titled “The real problem with Elizabeth Warren’s DNA Test: Geneticists”. That article notes allegations that Warren has used her assertions of Native American heritage to further her career – such as to obtain school scholarships, jobs, or tax relief (Unlike Trump, Warren has made her tax returns public).

The other line of criticism, also noted in the ABC News article, goes along the following lines:

“… using DNA to claim an ancestral affiliation with Native Americans contravenes contemporary notions of Native American identity, and to some in the Native American community is simply insulting… Some experts… saw Warren’s DNA test as an affront to Native Americans’ spiritual heritage, which is based on long and deeply-held tribal beliefs that the tribes have for centuries occupied the land on which their reservations sit”.

Really? Warren’s DNA test result somehow has something to do with Native American claims to their ancestral lands?


Warren’s Defense


Regarding the allegation that Warren has used assertions of Native American heritage for political or financial gain, she says “Let me be clear I have never asked for, never got any benefit because of my heritage. The people who hired me have all said they didn’t even know about it”. The Boston Globe has backed her up on that:

In the most exhaustive review undertaken of Elizabeth Warren’s professional history, the Globe found clear evidence, in documents and interviews, that her claim to Native American ethnicity was never considered by the Harvard Law faculty, which voted resoundingly to hire her, or by those who hired her to four prior positions at other law schools. At every step of her remarkable rise in the legal profession, the people responsible for hiring her saw her as a white woman.

Warren has not made a big deal about her claim to Native American heritage. In her book, “This Fight Is our Fight – The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class”, she uses deeply personal anecdotes from her life experiences to help make many of her points. It includes a 4-page sub-section titled “Fight Bigotry”, which includes a discussion of the bigotry stirred up by our current president, and concludes:

“It isn’t enough to declare in private that our own hearts are good. We stand up in public for those who are attacked and we call on others to stand up. That’s how we tell ourselves who we are. That’s how we let the rest of the world know what we stand for”.


In another section of the book she notes briefly, presumably to make a more personal statement about bigotry, that her father’s parents objected to the marriage of her parents because of her mother’s Native American heritage, but they eloped anyhow.

Her decision to get DNA tested was spurred only by Donald Trump’s repeated ridiculing of her claim, by mockingly referring to her as “Pocahontas”. Trump also promised Warren, in one of his typical rambling semi-coherent statements at one of his rallies (though the statement was more coherent than his statements often are), that if someday he was in a public debate with her, he would agree to donate a million dollars to her favorite charity “if you take the {DNA} test and it shows you’re an Indian”.

Interpreting Trump’s claim as promising to donate a million dollars to charity if she produced a DNA test positive for Native American heritage (whether or not her interpretation of his promise was correct is not my point), Warren publicly released a report by a Stanford University professor who analyzed her DNA sample and concluded “strong evidence” of Native American ancestry from 6-10 generations ago.

It is important to point out, in response to the criticism that the DNA evidence that Warren presented
was not definitively conclusive, and that even if it was, it says nothing about her being actively affiliated with any Native American tribe, that Warren never made any such claims. She only presented the DNA evidence and her mother’s assertion to her of Native American heritage when she was a child, regarding her heritage. Her only reason for publicly revealing the test result was to rebuke the President of the United States for his repeated mocking of her over a period of more than two years, and to request that he pay up on his promise. It may also be significant that she designated a Native American charity devoted to protecting Native American women against violence, for him to send the money to.

Only towards the end of Francescani’s article, following ad nauseum repetitions of criticisms, especially including reasons why DNA tests of Native American heritage are not definitively conclusive, does Francescani present a contrary view. He states, “Not all Native American leaders, however, have been publicly critical of Warren’s DNA testing”. He then goes on to cite the comments of Eastern Band of Cherokee Principal Chief Richard Sneed:

“Senator Warren has not tried to appropriate Cherokee or Delaware culture. She has not used her family story of evidence of Native ancestry to gain employment or other advantage… On the contrary, she demonstrates respect for tribal sovereignty by acknowledging that tribes determine citizenship and respecting the difference between citizenship and ancestry.”

Sneed went on to note that Warren has sponsored legislation to help prevent suicides in Native American populations, identify missing and murdered Native American women, and help tribes reacquire land they once owned.

Certainly, Native Americans living in the United States have a lot to be sensitive about, and wary about the motives of white Americans. As described in detail in “American Holocaust – The Conquest of the New World”, by David E. Stannard, between 1492 and 1890, men of European ancestry (including those constituting the United States of America) perpetrated a genocide against the natives of the “New World” that amounted to the loss of approximately 100 million Native American lives, which represented approximately 95% of the population that existed in 1492. Numerically, that is far more extensive than the Nazi Holocaust, and spread out over a longer period of time (though certainly if the Nazis hadn’t been defeated, their Holocaust would have been far more extensive and much longer than it was).

But why be angry with Elizabeth Warren, a woman without a bigoted bone in her body, for merely announcing the result of her DNA testing in response to unceasing mocking of her by the most famous bigot in the world today? I would like to know if those who criticize Warren for announcing her DNA test result have ever criticized Donald Trump for his crude mockery of her and every ethnic minority group in our country. And I would also like to know whether those same people ever criticized the Republicans of North Dakota for their recent efforts to disenfranchise the Native Americans of North Dakota in order to win a U.S. Senate election. If not, I would like to know why not. It seems crystal clear to me that those people warrant far more criticism than does Elizabeth Warren for anything that she ever did.

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Arrow 33 replies Author Time Post
Reply On the Criticism of Elizabeth Warren for Publicizing her DNA Test Results (Original post)
Time for change Dec 2 OP
shraby Dec 2 #1
Hortensis Dec 2 #14
InAbLuEsTaTe Dec 3 #26
marylandblue Dec 2 #2
Time for change Dec 2 #3
marylandblue Dec 2 #4
Awsi Dooger Dec 2 #11
DemocratSinceBirth Dec 3 #27
Garrett78 Dec 2 #6
InAbLuEsTaTe Dec 3 #28
LiberalLovinLug Dec 3 #25
McCamy Taylor Dec 2 #5
Mariana Dec 2 #10
violetpastille Dec 2 #7
ProudLib72 Dec 2 #13
Time for change Dec 2 #15
violetpastille Dec 2 #16
Time for change Dec 2 #17
violetpastille Dec 2 #19
Time for change Dec 2 #20
TexasBushwhacker Dec 2 #23
violetpastille Dec 2 #24
MrsCoffee Dec 2 #8
Iggo Dec 2 #18
elocs Dec 2 #9
rgbecker Dec 2 #12
JHan Dec 2 #21
GopherGal Dec 2 #22
dsc Dec 3 #29
AlexSFCA Dec 3 #30
Time for change Dec 5 #33
PoindexterOglethorpe Dec 3 #31
Kind of Blue Dec 4 #32

Response to Time for change (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2018, 11:27 AM

1. The best way to shut a bully up is to call their bluff. And she did.

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Response to shraby (Reply #1)

Sun Dec 2, 2018, 01:20 PM

14. Yes. And another tactic is to ignore them afterward.

Fox and Infowars get their people worked up over a lot of lies and phony issues, but if it stays with them, little harm. They're not exactly swing voters.

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Response to shraby (Reply #1)

Mon Dec 3, 2018, 02:17 PM

26. She sure did... hat's off to Elizabeth!!

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2018, 11:32 AM

2. She just shouldn't have bothered.

It just gives more air to the issue and doesn't change anyone's mind.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #2)

Sun Dec 2, 2018, 12:00 PM

3. with retrospective knowledge of what happened, that is certainly true

This became a much more inflamed issue after Warren publicized her DNA results. But I can't really blame her for not being able to predict that ahead of time. I see nothing offensive in her decision to do what she did, and she certainly didn't mean to offend anyone.

The whole thing makes so little sense to me that the only way I can make any sense of it is to postulate a right-wing inspired attack because of the threat of a progressive Presidential contender.

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Response to Time for change (Reply #3)

Sun Dec 2, 2018, 12:09 PM

4. I am sure she didn't mean to offend, but the outcome was predictable.

Trump never cared about facts, and there was no reason to assume he'd start now.

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Response to Time for change (Reply #3)

Sun Dec 2, 2018, 01:07 PM

11. "But I can't really blame her for not being able to predict that ahead of time"

I blame her. That is the only thing I blame her for. The DNA itself is a non-issue. But the failure to understand that is the problem. Massive problem, if we are talking about a potential nominee. You can't trot out someone with weak instincts, because those weak instincts will attach to one important decision after another.

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Response to Awsi Dooger (Reply #11)

Mon Dec 3, 2018, 02:19 PM

27. You don't respond to Trump's every sucker punch.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #2)

Sun Dec 2, 2018, 12:22 PM

6. I suspect she felt it was necessary in order to run for president.

She may have thought it would eliminate Trump's line of attack.

It was a clear indication to me that she plans on running. Or planned on running.

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Response to Garrett78 (Reply #6)

Mon Dec 3, 2018, 02:19 PM

28. Sure hope she runs... no one gives The Dotard hell like Elizabeth!!

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #2)

Mon Dec 3, 2018, 02:12 PM

25. Damned if she did, Damned if she didn't

Reminds me of Obama's birth certificate. And his decision to call Donnie's bluff, and prove his citizenship once and for all.

But as others have said, Donnie didn't really care one way or the other on either of these accusations. It was just fodder for his "uneducated" base.

Its not like he's going to say in a press conference that he's sorry, and apologize to Warren, or Obama, for promoting the fake news he did. He is more than likely to re-tweet some InfoWars quote how Warren's DNA report was fake. And he will also, on the other hand, I'm sure, gloat to himself how he MADE Warren and Obama have to show their evidence like they did.

But its still better they both did. Weighing in that it should shut him up about it.

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2018, 12:11 PM

5. DNA tests can be revealing. I have a great grandmother who was shunned in her

small southern town. In her pictures, she is beautiful--and exotic. Her family claimed Native American ancestry. My DNA shows 3% DNA from the west coast of Africa. Explains a lot.

Re problems with DNA testing, I have read that Eastern Native American can be difficult to distinguish from Northern European, perhaps because there was more back and forth from Iceland to Greenland than people have realized. My mother has very characteristic Native American features and coloring--to the point where other Native Americans immediately recognize her as "Indian"--and yet my DNA read zero Native American---but tons of Norther European.

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Response to McCamy Taylor (Reply #5)

Sun Dec 2, 2018, 12:35 PM

10. Can you remember where you read that?

I'd like to read it, too.

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2018, 12:29 PM

7. I'm going to take my cues from Cherokee people on this

Op ed that will either resonate or not. It did resonate with me:

https://thinkprogress.org/elizabeth-warren-is-not-cherokee-c1ec6c91b696/

tldr;
Elizabeth Warren played a racist game white people like to play.

I'm a little bit something. Not enough to kick me out of the white privilege club, but enough to be exotic or interesting. And maybe, maybe get a little perk?"


No, it's not the biggest deal in the grand scheme of the awful everything.

But it angered Native Americans, I will not say they are wrong to be hurt.

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Response to violetpastille (Reply #7)

Sun Dec 2, 2018, 01:18 PM

13. I don't think she wanted to make it into a big deal

It was the idiot in chief who latched onto it and made it into something.

However, I will agree that people with a little bit of native blood shouldn't go around bragging about it just to seem "exotic".

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Response to violetpastille (Reply #7)

Sun Dec 2, 2018, 01:49 PM

15. The author of the op-ed you refer to says, among many other things

"She is not a hero because ... she has done nothing to advance our rights".

But as noted in the OP, Eastern Band of Cherokee Principal Chief Richard Sneed is quoted as saying that "Warren has sponsored legislation to help prevent suicides in Native American populations, identify missing and murdered Native American women, and help tribes reacquire land they once owned".

Here is a link to much other Native American legislation that Warren has sponsored or co-sponsored
https://www.congress.gov/member/elizabeth-warren/W000817?q=%7B%22subject%22%3A%22Native+Americans%22%7D

I won't argue whether or not any of that makes her a "hero". But why would the author of the op-ed say that "she has done nothing to advance our rights". Whether she has or hasn't, it certainly appears that she's been trying.

Do you think it was fair for her to say that?

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Response to Time for change (Reply #15)

Sun Dec 2, 2018, 02:21 PM

16. We lost a lot when we lost Heitkamp. :(

Thank you for the handy dandy link.

And I thank my Senator Cantwell for sponsoring some of the legislation you link to.

You like Warren. I get it. And if she's the Democratic nominee she has my vote. And I have no complaints about her as a Senator. I have roses.

But this was an unforced error. She could have said nothing and been fine.

The moral of this story is probably not to wrestle with a radioactive pig.

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Response to violetpastille (Reply #16)

Sun Dec 2, 2018, 03:09 PM

17. I believe that our country is in dire need of people willing to wrestle with the radioactive pig



I read a short story yesterday of a reporter who essentially called him a liar to his face. He didn't know how to handle it so he just walked away.
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-fact-checked-by-reporter_us_5bfd0cb8e4b0771fb6bda02e
I want to see that kind of thing happening every day.

We need more people to stand up to him. I'm very much afraid that if that doesn't happen we may go the way of the German Nazis in the 1930s. I think that the vast majority of our Republican Congress are cowards at best, for supporting him or failing to take steps to remove him from office (at worst, they support him because they actually believe that he is steering us in the right direction). It should be crystal clear to every U.S. Congressperson that no good can come from Trump being President, that he has no morals, that he commits at least one impeachable offense almost every day (I believe that lying to the American people is an impeachable offense for a President), and that he poses a terrible danger to us and to the world.

Anyone who stands up to him to challenge him has my respect, win or lose.

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Response to Time for change (Reply #17)

Sun Dec 2, 2018, 03:53 PM

19. Yes. Reporters doing their job is very cool. Agree.

We don't disagree about reporters calling Trump a liar to his face.

But whether Elizabeth Warren should have taken that DNA test? Yeah. No.

I wish to hell she would have said that his Pochahontas remarks are offensive to Native Americans and just left it.

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Response to violetpastille (Reply #19)

Sun Dec 2, 2018, 04:47 PM

20. Yes, I do too

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Response to violetpastille (Reply #7)

Sun Dec 2, 2018, 06:56 PM

23. She's from Oklahoma

If you're from Oklahoma, it's very common to be told when you're growing up that you're part Cherokee. Many Oklahomans are and I'm sure many are not. My father was from OK and was told the same story.

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Response to TexasBushwhacker (Reply #23)

Sun Dec 2, 2018, 07:01 PM

24. I get that.

I tried to read, "A Fighting Chance" so I guess I'd get a semi passing grade on early Elizabeth Warren history.

Up until she married Bruce Mann. Then I bailed.

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2018, 12:30 PM

8. Oh, is this in the news again?

Or just concern?

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Response to MrsCoffee (Reply #8)

Sun Dec 2, 2018, 03:15 PM

18. Concern, I think.

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2018, 12:32 PM

9. Trump designed the game & the goad,

and Warren played right into it. Big mistake because it changed the minds of nobody and Trump can say, "Made you jump!"

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2018, 01:13 PM

12. K&R

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2018, 05:07 PM

21. I felt politically it was a mistake. Bullies are not interested in facts,

neither should you allow them to set the narrative.

It was a classic schoolyard tactic, where a bully sets the tone - and no matter what the victim says, in defense of themselves, it doesn't matter, because facts don't matter. "Who cares?"

Bully : You <insert insult >!
Victim: But I'm not a so-and-so, here's proof!
Bully: No one cares dumbass!

And that's why responding to it was political folly. She responded to him on his turf where he set the ground rules. Did the revelations change anything? It was far from a slam dunk, she drew criticism because responding to Trump's game on his turf made no difference to her policy positions or her viability as a presidential candidate. Some of the ensuing memes were brutal and her position misrepresented. Which is why we're having to constantly explain it - never play Trump's games.

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Response to JHan (Reply #21)

Sun Dec 2, 2018, 06:40 PM

22. I don't like the idea of deigning to reply to Trump's BS

... but, on the other hand, preemptively taking care of it two years before she'd even go against him a possible election does kind of scratch it off the list at a time when it will get a little less oxygen (us discussing this now, excepted) than otherwise.

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2018, 02:25 PM

29. Her biggest problem was the rank innumeracy of the press

The press used the mean to cast her claim dismissively (ie she only had a little more NA blood than the mean) when the median is what matters. To see my point, imagine you have 100 people, 2 are 100% NA, 1 has 1/64 NA blood, and the rest have none. The median of that set is clearly 0. The mean is 200 + 1.5625 = 201.5625/100 or 2.015625. Now the person who is 1/64 is under the mean but that doesn't mean they have less NA blood than the typical person (in point of fact they have more NA blood than 97 out of the 100 people) but they do have less than the mean amount of NA blood. I exaggerated the numbers but you get the idea.

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2018, 02:35 PM

30. dems and DU are too often fall for RW propaganda

we need to get smarter how we control the message. Pelosi and AOC are great examples how many on DU took the bait from RW and allowed themselves to think that those are something less than excellent. Warren is a victim of bullying by a “president” who abuses his power daily. The dna test is not the story or even worth discussin, trump’s vile racism is.

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Response to AlexSFCA (Reply #30)

Wed Dec 5, 2018, 11:25 AM

33. So true!

The right wing propaganda machines are far reaching and extremely hypocritical. In order to attempt to get their propaganda to resonate beyond the hard right wing base, they often find ways to spread their propaganda through sources that will not be suspected as being right wing or having connections to them.

One well known example of that is the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the group that derailed John Kerry's campaign for President in 2004. Pretending to be a non-partisan group of veterans, they were heavily funded by Republican operatives, their claims thoroughly conflicted with those veterans who served with Kerry in Vietnam, and their lies were later thoroughly discredited -- but not before George W. Bush was re-elected President.

More recently, right wing operatives attempted to pay a woman to make false claims of sexual misconduct against :Robert Mueller:
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/robert-mueller-news-jacob-wohl-jack-burkman-surefire-intelligence-republican-trump-sexual-assault-a8610481.html

It is often difficult to put negative claims against public figures in proper context. If a very small proportion of a population or population group has negative feelings about a specific public figure, and if right wing forces wish to derail the political prospects of that public figure, they may be able to locate a small handful of people to come forward to make negative public statements about the public figure, giving a very false impression of how most people feel about it, or of the actual facts pertaining to the matter.

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Response to Time for change (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2018, 02:51 PM

31. I thought the criticism, especially the criticism from some Native Americans,

to be wrong.

She wasn't trying to claim tribal membership. All she did was verify the family stories about some Native American ancestry.

Some people have such stories in their family, and DNA testing shows no such thing. Other stories get verified. It's all quite interesting, but not all that important.

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Response to PoindexterOglethorpe (Reply #31)

Tue Dec 4, 2018, 10:20 AM

32. +1000 Thank You.

I'm glad that she cleared it up and stood up to the bigot. Doing so took nothing away from her but added a lot to her policy of being a transparent public servant, IMHO.

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