BHARADWAJ: Warren’s lies about her heritage are an insult to minorities

Her actions reveal trends affecting our society at large, and undermine programs designed to help minority students and workers

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren recently released the results of a DNA test that she alleges support her previous claims of Native American Ancestry.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

This past month, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, released the results of a DNA test which she was prompted to take after continual goading from President Trump and other conservative talking heads. Senator Warren had originally claimed Native American heritage on several occasions, citing her relative’s “high cheekbones” and various childhood stories. However, the DNA test revealed that she is truthfully only around 0.1 percent to 1.6 percent Native American. Since the minimum requirements for tribe membership range between 12.5 percent and 25 percent depending on location and since she was openly condemned by the Cherokee Nation for her claims, it is clear that Warren’s past claims were simply bold-faced lies used to earn brownie points with her constituents. However, an examination into the history of these assertions reveals not only flagrant dishonesty, but horrible ramifications which affect our society at large.

In the early 1990s, following a relatively short teaching stint at the University of Pennsylvania, Elizabeth Warren applied for a position teaching law at Harvard University. She ended up getting the job, and would go on to teach at the esteemed institution for several years before her eventual political career. However, unbeknownst to many, Warren claimed Native American ancestry in her application. While Harvard’s actual admissions criteria are unknown to the public, the university has a history of encouraging race-based “diversity” hiring, so it’s not a stretch to think that her lie was a factor in her eventual hiring. In fact, a piece by the Fordham Law Review in 1997 had even hailed her as Harvard Law School’s “first woman of color.”

Whether or not one agrees with the concept of diversity hiring itself is irrelevant when evaluating the morality her actions. No matter your viewpoint, she gained an unfair advantage over other applicants based on a blatant lie, which is irrefutably unjust. Moreover, this incident speaks to a societal problem that is becoming more prevalent over time: individuals lying about their race or ethnicity for social advantages. One notable instance of this in recent years is the infamous Vijay Chokalingam — brother of Mindy Kaling — who purportedly claimed to be black on his medical school applications in order to gain admission. While there are no concrete statistics on this topic, a quick Google search will reveal hundreds of such cases, where applicants take advantage of colleges’ affirmative action practices for increased acceptance rates. 

This phenomenon doesn’t only hold in an academic context either. Who can forget the tale of Rachel Dolezal for instance — the former Spokane NAACP Chapter President who claimed to be of African-American descent despite her obvious European ancestry. Stories like these raise the question of why people feel inclined make such claims in the first place — why is our society creating incentives for white people to identify as minorities? 

I believe the root cause is none other than the “Oppression Olympics,” as those of us on the right often call it. In essence, modern left-wing political ideology has brought the concept of oppression among various ethnic groups and demographics to the forefront. Wherein, those who belong to more of these oppressed, minority classes are given more weight to their words, and lower standards in academic and industry contexts. It is an advantage to be viewed as an “oppressed” individual in these contexts and society at large, which has led to the institution of social programs that offer arbitrary advantages to certain ethnic segments, such as diversity hiring.

While this may not seem like too dire of a problem at first since many make good use of these programs, its ramifications will grow if not addressed, as people start to learn the benefits of feigning oppression. Programs designed to help minority students and workers are seeing their effects nullified, and left-wing political discourse has become a game of who can be the most oppressed, which is not conducive to meaningful change. 

The only solution is to return to the principles of our past leaders and forefathers. To paraphrase the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, we should all make it our goal to live in a world where individuals are judged not by their skin color, but by the content of their character. Only by altering these arbitrary racial biases and preferences in college admissions, hiring practices, and general discourse can we hope to correct this issue. These types of programs certainly should play a role in our society, but that role must be focused to help the people who really need them – such as low-income individuals. We must prevent people like Warren from gaming the system for an unfair advantage.       

Milan Bharadwaj is an Opinion Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at opinion@cavalierdaily.com.

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