Making the click-through worthwhile: Why Elizabeth Warren really fears the “woman of color” controversy, President Trump gets a win in the courtroom and some long-overdue questions about whether a self-promoting lawyer is really helping his clients, and an eye-opening article about American mercenaries operating in Yemen.
The Pallid Excuses of Harvard Law’s First ‘Woman of Color’
As I noted yesterday afternoon, back in 1997, Harvard Law School was touting Elizabeth Warren as their first “woman of color” law professor. A year earlier, the law school had told the Harvard Crimson, in response to claims that the faculty wasn’t diverse enough, that “although the conventional wisdom among students and faculty is that the Law School faculty includes no minority women, [Mike] Chmura [spokesperson for the Law School] said Professor of Law Elizabeth Warren is Native American.” A year later, a Harvard Crimson editorial declared, “Harvard Law School currently has only one tenured minority woman, Gottlieb Professor of Law Elizabeth Warren, who is Native American.”
This was consistent throughout Warren’s career. As Benny Johnson noted, “Warren self-identified as a ‘Native American’ in the Association of American Law Schools Directory of law professors in every edition printed between 1986 -1995.”
A 2005 report from the University of Pennsylvania’s Minority Equity Committee referred to Warren as a minority award winner.
Back in 2012, Warren initially claimed she didn’t know the schools were referring to her that way, which is extremely unlikely. This would mean that Warren wasn’t following the debate about minority representation at the law school back in the 1990s and that she didn’t realize the law school was citing her as an example of minority representation.
But then a few weeks later she said she “provided that information to the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard.” As we now know, Warren is anywhere from 1/64 to 1/1024 Native American, and does not meet the criteria of “Native American” under anyone’s definition but her own.
She certainly doesn’t meet the Cherokee Tribe’s criteria. Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin, Jr. issued a blistering statement yesterday:
A DNA test is useless to determine tribal citizenship. Current DNA tests do not even distinguish whether a person’s ancestors were indigenous to North or South America. Sovereign tribal nations set their own legal requirements for citizenship, and while DNA tests can be used to determine lineage, such as paternity to an individual, it is not evidence for tribal affiliation. Using a DNA test to lay claim to any connection to the Cherokee Nation or any tribal nation, even vaguely, is inappropriate and wrong. It makes a mockery out of DNA tests and its legitimate uses while also dishonoring legitimate tribal governments and their citizens, who ancestors are well documented and whose heritage is prove. Senator Warren is undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage.
What’s more, the story Warren has been telling about her family history for years doesn’t make much sense now:
My mom and dad were very much in love and they wanted to get married. And my father’s parents said, ‘Absolutely not, you can’t marry her, because she’s part Cherokee and part Delaware.’ After fighting it as long as they could, my parents went off, and they eloped. It was an issue in our family the whole time I grew up about these two families. It was an issue still raised at my mother’s funeral.
Warren describes her family being torn apart by racial animosity . . . when everybody in the family is white. The Boston Globe wrote a long article attempting to dispel the notion that minority status played any role in any of Warren’s job opportunities, promotions, or tenure, but it included this quote from David Wilkins, one of the only black law professors on Harvard’s staff who voted for hiring Warren: “Let’s be blunt. Elizabeth Warren is a white woman. She may have some Native American roots, but so do most people.”
Elizabeth Warren is, by just about anybody’s definition, white. At the very least, she was comfortable with Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania describing her as a “person of color” or a racial “minority.”
The “person of color” characterization is what really worries Warren, I suspect. It’s easy to imagine some future presidential debate stage, and Kamala Harris, or Cory Booker, or Deval Patrick turning to Warren and asking, “Did you really think you deserved to be called a ‘woman of color’ in American society?”
Stormy Daniels Defense-Fund Donors Watch Their Money Go to the President
How likely is it that Michael Avenatti is a better self-promoter than a lawyer?
A federal judge on Monday dismissed the defamation lawsuit that Stormy Daniels filed against President Trump, saying his tweet attacking the porn star’s credibility was free speech protected by the Constitution.
“If this court were to prevent Mr. Trump from engaging in this type of ‘rhetorical hyperbole’ against a political adversary, it would significantly hamper the office of the president,” Judge S. James Otero of the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles wrote in a 14-page ruling. “Any strongly-worded response by a president to another politician or public figure could constitute an action for defamation. This would deprive the country of the ‘discourse’ common to the political process.”
As some have noted, if you donated to Stormy Daniels’s defense fund, a portion of your donations will now be going to Donald Trump to cover attorney’s fees. Attorneys familiar with the high bar for defamation would note that Daniels almost certainly qualified as a public figure, and that the case would have to demonstrate “actual malice” on Trump’s part.
Trump threatens to sue people for libel and slander frequently, but rarely goes through and files the lawsuit. Either Trump eventually learned that threatening to sue and getting the headline and then forgetting about it is cheaper and more satisfying, or his lawyers persuade him that his chances of winning the lawsuit are extremely low.
Is Stormy Daniels better off now than when she met Avenatti? Maybe, but if she is, that’s probably more because of her own, er, entrepreneurship and self-promotion than because of Avenatti.
Is Julie Swetnick better off now than when she met Avenatti? Remember her?
How Comfortable Are We with the Idea of American Mercenaries?
BuzzFeed offers a dramatic story this morning about former American solders working for private contractors and killing what the United Arab Emirates government believed were high-value targets in Yemen:
On that night, December 29, 2015, their job was to carry out an assassination.
Their armed attack, described to BuzzFeed News by two of its participants and corroborated by drone surveillance footage, was the first operation in a startling for-profit venture. For months in war-torn Yemen, some of America’s most highly trained soldiers worked on a mercenary mission of murky legality to kill prominent clerics and Islamist political figures.
Their target that night: Anssaf Ali Mayo, the local leader of the Islamist political party Al-Islah. The UAE considers Al-Islah to be the Yemeni branch of the worldwide Muslim Brotherhood, which the UAE calls a terrorist organization. Many experts insist that Al-Islah, one of whose members won the Nobel Peace Prize, is no terror group. They say it’s a legitimate political party that threatens the UAE not through violence but by speaking out against its ambitions in Yemen.
BuzzFeed characterizes it as “militarized contract killing.”
You probably have one of two reactions to a story like this.
One: “This is awesome. I want every anti-American extremist in the world looking over his shoulder and hiding in fear, and if this is the sort of thing that gets a person afraid to join an Islamist group, or that will cut down the next Osama bin Laden early in his career instead of late in it, God bless them.”
Two: “Dear God, this is horrifying. This is an assassination program that is staffed by Americans, targeting and executing foreign political leaders without any charges or trial, and our government is, if not explicitly endorsing these actions, giving these actions a tacit blessing.”
One complicating wrinkle for those who have the second reaction: The BuzzFeed story begins by describing an attempted assassination on December 29, 2015, and discusses the campaign of covert strikes in Yemen progressing throughout 2016. In other words, this isn’t some horrific, brutal Trump-administration policy that enables these actions; all of this started on the Obama administration’s watch.
ADDENDUM: Hope to see you tonight for the second night of Conservative Podcasting School!