2020 has come early this year, with Elizabeth Warren’s bizarre response to Trump’s claim that the senator fabricated her Native American heritage in order to gain entry to Harvard. Warren’s DNA test, which concluded that she did likely have Native American heritage, was published in the Boston Globe, and earned quick response from Trump, who Tweeted “who cares?” It’s a valid question.
Trump’s request that Warren take a DNA test, and offer to donate a million to charity in exchange for a test proving she was in fact Native, was strange on the face, but pretty in tune with his white nationalist instincts. Trump knows, probably inherently as he likely doesn’t hold active thoughts in his brain, that whiteness is a fluid, nonsensical concept, one that can be just as easily taken away from someone has granted. By capitulating to Trump, Warren is passively validating Trump’s views that an arbitrary blood quantum is not just a reasonable request to put upon an elected official and possible presidential opponent, but a valid concept at all.
Many Native American tribes respond negatively to the idea of DNA testing, for a wide. Variety of reasons, most prominently the idea that DNA testing in this context is a sort of commodification and sale of Native DNA. It’s also worth noting that DNA testing, especially the kind that tends to end up in Facebook ads or World Cup commercials, is grossly inaccurate (although it’s worth noting that Warren’s seems likely to be mostly accurate). It’s fickle in practice, as well as in ethics.
If any sort of critical analysis from the perspective of the potential impact on Native communities deems Warren’s choice at least problematic, political analysis concludes that Warren’s judgment is dubious at best. In her mind, she’s likely not making the same mistake the notoriously private Clinton made. The argument for her is that she’s getting out ahead of the story prior to any 2020 campaign activities to avoid any “emails” type storylines eroding her chances. This lacks not just political analysis but historical analysis; it’s been demonstrated pretty clearly over the past few major presidential campaigns that reactionaries are very willing to drive a story into the ground long after the material elements of it have been revealed.
People believed Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States, because the idea of a black president felt foreign to people who, passively or otherwise, had built their personal and civic identity around whiteness. It didn’t matter whether it was untrue or not, it felt true. The idea of the female academic climber, who has only achieved success due to demographic advantages not granted to the imagined white male default, is one that will resonate with Trump’s base. No DNA test will ever refute the idea that, to them, the fact that Warren’s success is unearned feels right. Their feels don’t care about the facts.
Dylan James Harper is the Political Editor for CSUITEMUSIC.com
Read more from Dylan at http://www.dylanjamesharper.com