Pudd’nhead Warren

Byline: | Category: Culture, Ethics, Race | Posted at: Tuesday, 1 May 2012

I’m one-sixteenth Bastard.  Those who know me well would probably claim that it’s a higher percentage.  But technically, I’m only one-sixteenth. 

That’s because my grandfather’s grandfather was born just a couple short months after his mother’s 1832 wedding to a man who may or may not have been his biological father and shortly before the couple and their infant child beat a hasty exit to the New World.

Why is my lineage relevant?  It’s not.  Or at least it shouldn’t be.  Except that, apparently, if you can trace 1/32nd of your ancestry to somebody who today would enjoy protected status, you too can enjoy that same protection.   At least that’s what Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat running for US Senate in Massachusetts, claims.  She used her 1/32nd drop of Cherokee Indian blood to bolster her resume so that she could advance through law schools all the way to a tenured post at Harvard as a minority applicant.   (Sadly for me, bastards are not a minority.)

Now if this all seems preposterous to you, you’re right. If Elizabeth Warren, by virtue of her great-great-great-grandmother is entitled to protected status, are my children also minorities as a result of their Powhatan Indian ancestry that dates to the 17th century?  As my eldest is applying for colleges next year, that would be awesome news!  And if her 1/512th Indian ancestry doesn’t qualify, where  is the breakpoint?  Is it 1/64th?  Or 1/128th?  Or 1/256th?  Exactly how many drops of minority blood makes one a minority?

Mark Twain exposed the folly of this system of racial discrimination in Pudd’nhead Wilson way back in 1893.  The story is set in the antebellum South and involves a baby, born (coincidentally) 1/32nd black, but who was white enough that his mother switched the infant with a white baby so that her son could be raised free from the stain of her race.  Twain originally started the story as a comedic interpretation of the mixed up social mores of his day, but as his writing continued the story evolved into a tragedy. 

That’s how I view the Elizabeth Warren story too:  farce that obscures tragedy.  The real issue is not Elizabeth Warren’s gaming of the system to her advantage; it is that this system of racial discrimination even exists.  Here we are in the 21st century arguing about how many drops of blood makes a white man black.  That’s a tragedy. 

Mark Twain is mocking us from the grave.

UPDATE:  Thanks to Glenn for the link.  While you’re here, please take a look around.

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7 Responses to “Pudd’nhead Warren”

  1. Instapundit » Blog Archive » ELIZABETH WARREN now says 1/32 Cherokee. Hey, I’ve got double that amount of Cherokee ancestry. If… Says:

    […] MORE: Bob Krumm on Pudd’nhead Warren: […]

  2. JimGl Says:

    Just think, all this discrimination was taken away from our personal freedoms and given to government as a mandate to discriminate. Now we have our gov’t enforcing race discrimination, sex discrimination, lifestyle discrimination, etc.
    All due to one “crack” in our “wall” of freedoms.

  3. VA Teacher Says:

    The dirty little secret of affirmative action is that there is nowhere any official definition of any of these racial classifications. It is all self-declared. As more and more mixed-race people come into the workforce (which they are, and which is a sign of progress), the old 20th Century system of racial preferences is going to get increasingly absurd until it finally collapses of its own weight…despite the Herculean efforts of the creators and beneficiaries of the system to keep it on life support.

  4. RebeccaH Says:

    I’m pushing the idea that, since our original ancestors all came from Africa, we all can apply for minority status. Every one of us.

  5. Trent Telenko Says:

    Oklahoma Indian Tribe Rule One:

    If you don’t have a tribal number, you aren’t an Indian.

    Where is Ms. Warren’s Tribal number?

  6. elkh1 Says:

    Warren claims 1/32 Cherokee.

    How did the German classify their victims’ Jewishness in the thirties? 1/4? 1/8? 1/16?

  7. PTL Says:

    My mothers maiden name was Morocco. Does that make me an African American? Too late now. Not a