The Corner

A For Effort

This has to be the best attempt to wave away the Elizabeth Warren story yet. It’s almost a work of art. Bernie Quigley writes at The Hill:

…The first poetic vision of Europeans in the new world was that of James Fenimore Cooper, who conjured Natty Bumpo. He had an “Indian name” — he had several: Hawkeye, Deerslayer, Pathfinder — indicating that he had been “reborn” in the new world in the Indian spirit. It is the oldest and most important myth in the American canon of our folklore, from Lone Ranger, who died and became “born again” via agency of an Indian shaman, and Fox Mulder, who returned from the dead via Indian intercession in “The X Files,” born anew with the past burned away in death, to enter a new age under the flag of the White Buffalo.

So Warren’s claim to be “part Indian” is correct in mythical terms. Every old-school white Oklahoman is in this regard even if this in nominally not true. But it is not a lie to want to be Indian and to imagine your ancestors were. It is to be free of Europeanism. Emerson saw the laggard Europeanism within the Yankee mind as a curse of the unformed American, living half in shadow. It would bring temptation unnatural to us raised free in the forest; fascism, as in Italy, Spain and German, and the perennial virus of French nihilism.

Warren in that regard brings a fresh, classical Americanism from the heartland back to us in Boston where we still have tendencies. The James brothers, both William and Henry, would appreciate it. Henry in particular, in The Bostonians, could only find one worthy character up here, the country cousin Basil Ransom, a lawyer visiting from Mississippi. We are lucky to have Warren among us. She adds stock and substance.

I hope Mitt Romney remembers this and incorporates Indian blessings and ritual in his inaugural ceremonies as Canadians do and as they did in those terrific Winter Olympics in Salt Lake in 2002. And I hope Elizabeth Warren doesn’t back down on this, because wanting to be Indian, like Hawkeye, makes us in a deeper sense fully American.

I am reluctant to get too deep into this, but I find it fascinating, even touching, while at the same time utterly ridiculous. With the Dan Rather memos we had the defense “Fake but accurate.” Now we have “Fake but mythic.”

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