September 4, 2018

Four “Persistent Gaps” In Elizabeth Warren’s Story About Her Heritage

Four “Persistent Gaps” In Elizabeth Warren’s Story About Her Heritage

This weekend, Elizabeth Warren made a feeble attempt to explain away why she has often falsely claimed Native American heritage, sitting down with the Boston Globe for an extensive interview ahead of an inevitable presidential campaign. Globe reporter Annie Linskey points out Warren’s inability to remember details about significant moments throughout her professional career.

The interview also demonstrates Warren’s shifting story about her heritage. In April 2012, Warren said she had no idea that Harvard touted her Native American heritage in the 1990s. The next month, she said, “Being Native American has been part of my story … since the day I was born.” Now she claims that she only started to claim Native American status in the late 1980s when her mother’s relatives began to pass away and she was trying to adjust to life on the East Coast.

Warren told Linskey she couldn’t remember the specific conversations where she instructed the University of Pennsylvania law school to switch her ethnicity from “white” to “Native American”:

Warren, as she has in prior interviews, said that she does not remember telling Penn to change her ethnicity on their forms. I can’t recall specific conversations,” Warren said. “The best I can do is tell you the overall. There is no one thing that stands out in that time period.”

In one of the most important career advances of her life, getting the opportunity to become a full-time professor at Harvard Law School, Warren shockingly couldn’t remember any details about the offer:

And, remarkably, Warren doesn’t even remember getting the offer. “I guess it should have been a big moment,” Warren said, reflecting on her inability to recall the details.

Warren also had trouble explaining whether her claims of Native American heritage may have hurt Harvard’s attempts to diversify its faculty:

Harvard Law School also used Warren’s ethnicity internally in December 1995 to bolster the case that they didn’t need to hire more minorities (even though publicly the law school continued to pledge support for diversity). … Warren doesn’t have a direct answer for whether her claims — even though they do not appear to have benefited her during her professional rise — might have harmed the efforts of others to press for more diversity at the overwhelmingly white institution.

At the end of the article, the Globe concluded that Warren had “persistent gaps in her memory about the specific decisions to list herself as Native American.”