September 26, 2012

Why Brown and Warren are wrong

Senator Scott Brown’s Racist and Anti-Indian Campaign Rallies: Why Progressive People Should Give Money to Elizabeth Warren’s Campaign in Order to Get this Bigot Out of Office

By Gyasi Ross[T]he Scott Brown campaign decided to go a bit further than simply “questioning” her authenticity as a Native American. No, that wasn’t enough; instead, at a recent campaign rally, the campaign worked the crowd into a frenzy to the point where they were mocking and ridiculing the stereotypical Native “war cries” and “tomahawk chops.” Now, Brown said that he doesn’t “condone” the behavior, but in the same breath said that ”The real offense is that [Warren] said she was white and then checked the box saying she is Native American…”

No, the real offense is Brown excusing racism and attempting to deflect from the hate speech being conducted at his rally. The behavior there was bigoted, and his attempts to excuse it are likewise bigoted.

Disgusting. Don’t believe me?

Now obviously, this isn’t real Native American behavior—it’s the evil fantasy of what a bunch of racist white men think Native American behavior looks like. That doesn’t make it any better—imagine if they were slanting their eyes and acting like they were doing karate in mocking gestures of stereotypical Asian gestures. What would the reaction be then? Or alternatively, if they were in blackface and shuffling their feet in mocking gestures of unpleasant and racist African-American imagery?

There would be hell to pay. There should be hell to pay now. Objectively.

We need to hold Warren’s feet to the fire and figure out relationship with Indian country; I am hopeful that she will be an ally. It’s safe to say that she owes us some answers. Still, I would much rather roll the dice with Ms. Warren than with a man who excuses racist behavior within his campaign—he’s obviously not a friend to Native people, and you can probably safely assume that is not much of a friend to any vulnerable people. Remember: if it were you or your group, you would take action. Take action now—please give to Elizabeth Warren’s Campaign and let’s get this bigot out of office.
Massachusetts Senatorial Race: Identity Standards, Not Identity Politics

By Suzan Shown HarjoBrown and Warren are lawyers—he’s been making law and she’s been teaching law. They know the meaning of evidence and standing. They should know that federal and tribal Native American identity centers on nationhood and citizenship, under criteria set by each Native nation. The standard is political relationship, not racial composition.

“I never asked for documentation,” said Warren, “What kid would?” Kids of the 39 Native nations in and pre-dating Oklahoma (Warren’s home state) have all sorts of documentation, from treaties and governance documents to tribal IDs to verify eligibility for health care.

Even if Warren never sought or noticed proof about her family or ties to Native peoples past and present, is she curious about or interested in others, such as the many Native students at her Northwest Classen High School in Oklahoma City? Did she make friends with any? Did she ever go to a pow-wow or to a Cherokee or Delaware event? Oklahoma has the second largest Native population of any state today and Oklahoma City has the fourth largest Native population of any U.S. city. It’s hard to miss Native peoples or history in Oklahoma. Did she notice the awful “No Indians or Dogs Allowed” signs in Oklahoma when she was growing up?

As an adult, did she contact the Cherokee Nation or Delaware Tribe? As a lawyer or law professor, did she contact any tribal courts to find out how they are structured or how they handle cases in her areas of legal interest? Did she seek Native lawyers, teachers, students or policymakers in D.C. or Michigan (she was there at the height of the treaty fishing and hunting courtroom wars) or Harvard? Why didn’t she meet with Native American Delegates at the Democratic National Convention in August? They were trying to help her.

If she were so proud and certain of her family history and she did check the Native American box, why not admit it? If she did not, why not? And why the box-hopping from white to minority to Native and back to white?
Comment:  Pundits have made similar points in both Brown's and Warren's case before. Brown's campaign is a thinly veiled attempt to stoke racial prejudice: Racial Politics of Warren Case. Warren hasn't been begun to answer the questions put to her: Warren Benefited from White Privilege.

For more on Elizabeth Warren, see Brown:  Warren Doesn't Look Native and Brown Staffers Whoop and Chop.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This debate has gone on long enough. It's basically:

Brown: LOL! She lied!
Warren: **** you, I'm an Indian. This is srs bzns.

Can't they talk about issues?