Yesterday Michael Barone at the Washington Examiner posted an article about the recent dust-up about Elizabeth Warren‘s American Indian heritage. I live in Massachusetts and this story has been rather widely reported here.
The point of concern is not whether Elizabeth Warren is Native American or not–I really don’t care. The question is whether or not someone who may be 1/32 Native American can use that fact to be given special consideration when applying for education or employment opportunities.
The article notes:
Let’s assume the 1894 document is accurate. That makes Warren 1-32nd Native American. George Zimmerman, the Florida accused murderer, had a black grandmother. That makes him one-fourth black, four times as black as Warren is Indian, though the New York Times describes him as a “white Hispanic.”
What’s wrong with what Warren did? Capehart seems to understand that. “The implication in these stories is that Warren used minority status to advance her career,” he writes.
Well, yes. When she was hired, Harvard Law School had just denied tenure to a female teacher and was being criticized for not having enough minorities and women on its faculty.
Of course Harvard and Warren say her claim to minority status had nothing to do with her being hired. And if it did, no one is going to say so. Nothing to see here, just move on.
Quotas really don’t help anyone actually succeed–they may open a door for someone, but if a person is not academically qualified to take advantage of an opportunity, opening a door for that person does not help anyone–it simply puts an unqualified person in a position that a qualified person could fill. We need to remember the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “A man should not be judged by his skin color but by the content of his character.” A person should be given opportunities based on his (or her) abilities, not race or sex.
America has made some serious mistakes in the way certain groups of people have been treated. As Americans, we need to acknowledge that, stop doing it, and learn from our mistakes. We can’t redo the past, and discriminating against the majority of Americans will not change the past.