Elizabeth Warren’s Birther Moment
By Kevin Noble Maillard
This tactic is straight from the Republican cookbook of fake controversy. First, you need a rarefied elected office typically occupied by a certain breed of privileged men. Both the Presidency and the Senate fit this bill. Second, add a bit of interracial intrigue. It could be Kenyan economists eloping with Midwestern anthropologists, or white frontiersmen pairing with indigenous women. Third, throw in some suspicion about their qualifications and ambitions. Last but not least, demand documentation of ancestry and be dissatisfied upon its receipt. Voila! You have a genuine birther movement.
The Republican approach to race is to feign that it is irrelevant—until it becomes politically advantageous to bring it up. Birthers question Obama’s state of origin (and implicitly his multiracial heritage) in efforts to disqualify him from the presidency. They characterize him as “other.” For Warren, Massachusetts Republicans place doubts on her racial claims to portray her as an opportunistic academic seeking special treatment. In both birther camps, opponents look to ancestral origins as the smoking gun, and ride the ambiguity for the duration.
So conservatives hate whites who pretend to be minorities. They hate minorities (Barack and Michelle Obama, Trayvon Martin, Sonia Sotomayor, Shirley Sherrod, et al.) for not being submissive enough. Basically, if you're not white and proud of it--ready to support the white establishment--conservatives hate you.
For more on the subject, see NAJA Criticizes "Disrespectful" Warren Puns and Warren Column Uses Native Stereotypes.