When Marketable Minority Profiles Backfire

by Victor Davis Hanson

All authors know that their book bios at some point are always sent from the publisher to be checked, are usually adapted from what the author initially writes on the publicity forms, and are periodically updated. That Barack Obama did not know that year in and year out his book bio was listing him as born in Kenya is absurd. Like Elizabeth Warren, he cynically gamed the system, convinced that in postmodern America identities are put on and taken off like clothes. And while we all know that a Kenyan birth is better than a Honolulu one in the context of promoting a book on black/white and African/American heritages, and that a Cherokee pedigree is more advantageous than plain old “white” in getting a job in academia, we seem to forget that these are not just absent-minded slips, but deliberate frauds. These lies always result in making the author/professor/candidate more, not less, exotic and thus more marketable in today’s PC landscape. So when Obama, the former editor of the Harvard Law Review and current president of the United States, and Warren, a Harvard Law professor, fabricate their identities for career advantage, then who polices the police? If Harvard Law sets the standard, then we should assume that almost every minority profile needs to be double-checked, from place of birth to ethnic heritage.

Then we have the role of irony and nemesis in both cons — the fringe birthers were trying to find documents to “prove” that Obama was lying about his Kenyan birth and claiming a Hawaiian one, when in fact he had been untruthful about his Hawaiian birth while promulgating a Kenyan one. How odd that the birthers might have been of some advantage to Obama earlier in his career. In Warren’s case, almost everything that was advanced to support her ridiculous 1/32nd claim proved either bogus, embarrassing, or the opposite of what she intended, from the phony genealogical proof of a great-great-great grandparent, to the cooked cookbook, to the claim of relatives with “high cheek-bones.”