Elizabeth Warren, the consumer advocate and Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, has now acknowledged that she told her employers at Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania about her “Native American heritage.” But she insisted in a statement released Wednesday night that those who hired her to teach at the Harvard and University of Pennsylvania law schools “have said unequivocally they were not aware of my heritage and that it played no role in my hiring.”
Query (as they say in law school) whether this statement helps Warren.
Warren seems to be saying that her “heritage” -- 1/32nd Cherokee, pending a cheek-swab DNA test -- was worth mentioning to her employers (and noting in a national directory of law professors) after she was hired but not before. But why? The implication is that there would have been something unfair about advertising her ancestry in an application or job interview.
Is that because it’s so meager? Or because Warren shares the conservative view that it’s wrong for employers and admissions committees to consider race and ethnicity as “one factor” for purposes of diversity? Surely a liberal Democrat isn’t going to take the latter position, but Warren’s insistence that she got her appointments on merit plays to affirmative-action opponents. If her Native American heritage was an important part of her worldview, why would it have been wrong for Harvard to take it into account?