Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

A Fraction of a Reaction

“A little dab’ll do ya.”

That was from Brylcream, not 23andme.

President Donald Trump has been mocking Senator Warren, relentlessly, for her claims to native American heritage, calling her “Pocahontas.”* Some have dubbed him “racist” for doing this, but his point was plausibly anti-racist. In 1995, Harvard Law School ballyhooed her as its first “first woman of color” hire. 

 Some argue Warren benefited from this racial categorization, but that’s not been shown. Warren has ceased labeling herself Native American and defended her belief that she was of Cherokee or Delaware descent based on family lore as well as her physiognomy (“high cheekbones”). 

“Let’s say I’m debating Pocahontas,” Trump declared during an uproarious routine at a Montana rally back in July, promising the crowd that “when she proclaims that she is of Indian heritage,” he would toss her a DNA kit and offer: “I will give you a million dollars, to your favorite charity, paid for by Trump, if you take the test and it shows you’re an Indian.”

Under pressure, Warren took a DNA test.** And (inadvisedly?) made a big deal about it.

Upshot? Six to ten generations ago she may indeed have had one ancestor who was a native American. The post-test squabbles have been mostly embarrassing, but Trump at least had the wit to note the lower end of Warren’s native mix was “1/1024, far less than the average American.”

The “memed” jokes on the Internet have been hilarious.

But who gets the last laugh? While we allow ourselves to be done in by little dabs of trivia, the great crises of our age build ominously. 

At what ratio, though, I don’t know.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.


* And then apologizing to the real Pocahontas for the comparison.

** The full story of who she went to, and the reliability of her DNA report, is itself bizarre and complicated. See “Did Elizabeth Warren Just Kill Identity Politics?” See also Tim Pool.

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