Politics & Policy

No, Elizabeth Warren Doesn’t Belong in the Same Breath as Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Reuters photo: Kevin Lamarque)
The #ShePersisted campaign’s insistence that she does is offensive in the extreme.

‘Nevertheless, she persisted,” said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, explaining his decision to invoke Senate Rule 19 against Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, who was reading a letter in an attack on attorney-general nominee Jeff Sessions on the floor of the upper chamber.

Within hours, McConnell’s remark had become the latest inane liberal rallying cry, spawning the Twitter hashtag #ShePersisted and inviting endless inappropriate comparisons between Warren and female political activists from around the world.

Though Rule 19 isn’t often used on the Senate floor, it has certainly been exercised against other senators. On CNN yesterday, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum explained that the rule was used against him while he was on the floor “going after some folks.” But regardless, the mild skirmish doesn’t deserve the outraged response it has received, and Warren has done absolutely nothing to merit the acclaim that is pouring down upon her. Here is an assortment of foolish tweets and collages likening Warren to some of the most famous suffragettes, civil-rights leaders, and feminists in U.S. history:


Harriet Tubman suffered a traumatic head wound at the hands of her slave owner, went on to escape slavery, rescued about 70 fellow slaves as a worker for the Underground Railroad, worked as a scout and spy for the U.S. army during the Civil War, and fought for women’s suffrage.

Sojourner Truth escaped slavery with her infant daughter, devoted her life to the abolition movement, recruited black troops for the U.S. army, and fought to secure government land grants for former slaves.

Susan B. Anthony played a pivotal role in the women’s suffrage movement, went to jail for voting illegally in the 1872 election, and led the effort that resulted in the successful passage of the 19th Amendment. Elizabeth Cady Stanton worked as an abolitionist, led the women’s-rights movement alongside Anthony, and wrote the Declaration of Sentiments, which is often credited with being the basis of the women’s-suffrage movement in the U.S.

Coretta Scott King fought as a civil-rights leader beside her husband Martin Luther King Jr., and remained a leader in the movement after his death.

Rosa Parks refused to surrender her bus seat to a white passenger, instigating a boycott in Montgomery, Ala., and helping to launch and lead a nationwide desegregation effort.

Malala Yousafzai is a teenaged Pakistani female-education advocate who was shot in the head and neck by a Taliban gunman for her activism. After undergoing brain surgery and recovering from the assassination attempt, she continued to speak out for the education of girls worldwide.

Tubman and Truth were enslaved and beaten, Anthony and Stanton were denied the right to vote, Parks was thrown in jail, and Yousafzai was shot in the brain. Warren stood in the U.S. Senate insisting that Sessions’s “racism, sexism, and bigotry” are dangerous to American freedoms, a claim that is dubious at best. The idea that she has done anything even remotely comparable to these women is ludicrous at best. And at worst, it trivializes the courage of those in whose company it places Warren and makes a mockery of their contributions to democracy.

In fact, Warren herself is guilty of trivializing these women and the ideals they fought for by smearing Jeff Sessions with the charge of racism. The few weak, unsubstantiated accusations against Sessions from over three decades ago are hardly grounds to call him a bigot, yet Warren has led a vicious campaign against him, acting as if he had sanctioned or even perpetrated the very real evils that Tubman and Parks opposed.

Warren’s poor approval ratings in her home state suggest that McConnell made a smart political move by giving the Left a reason to embrace her as a martyr. But no matter how this skirmish unfolds, Warren and those invoking genuine female heroes in her defense ought to be ashamed.

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