Tuesday, May 22, 2012

“A Squall Over a Squaw”

Sydney M. Williams

Thought of the Day
“A Squall Over a Squaw”
May 22, 2012

“Honest Injun!” I am Cherokee. So proclaimed Harvard Law School’s pre-eminent “Native American” scholar, otherwise known by her white, Christian name, Elizabeth Warren.

Harvard’s difficulty in separating truth from fiction had already been questioned. Barack Obama graduated from the Law School in 1991. He became the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. Miriam Goderich, his literary agent and presumably getting the information from Harvard, referred to him as having been born in Kenya. We now know he was born in Hawaii, but, like having Cherokees on their staff, having presidents of the Law Review from Kenya sounds more ‘inclusive’ than having been born in a paradisiacal island like Hawaii. It is not the truth that shall set us free (at least at Harvard); it is whatever works in their politically correct world. Sixteen years later, Mr. Obama’s literary agent changed Mr. Obama’s place of birth to Hawaii. By that time, of course, Kenya would have been inconvenient as a place of birth.

All politicians lie. I don’t think Mark Twain had Ms. Warren specifically in mind when he said: “There is no distinctly native American criminal class, except Congress.” But he could have. Her claim of descendancy relied principally on the “high cheek bones” of her grandfather (from a Republican such characterizations would have been considered racial!) So she comes close to fitting Mr. Twain’s description of a criminal; she is an American and an aspiring member of Congress. Of course, if she were an “Honest Injun” she would never have made such a claim in the first place. If she had an ounce of respect for the law, which she taught, and regard for the people she hopes to represent she would have resigned her campaign. Further, if she also gave up her teaching position, she would provide an opening for a real Native American, so that Harvard’s claims would prove true. More than anything, she is a model for “Julia.” Ms. Warren inhabits the Orwellian world she would like to provide the rest of us. Affirmative action, now getting long in the tooth, served a valid purpose, but it was never intended to be based on lies.

What Ms. Warren did was not only unfair to Native Americans, in securing a position that may have gone to a person of true heritage, but is also insulting to women, in that it implies they need help. Campbell Brown, a former news anchor for CNN and NBC wrote an op-ed in Sunday’s New York Times, entitled “Obama: Stop Condescending to Women.” In the piece she wrote” “Women don’t want to be patted on the head or treated as wards of the state. They simply want to be given a chance to succeed based on their talent and skills.” They do not need to be patronized. As a society, we have moved beyond that point. Today, we all want the opportunity to succeed or fail based on our abilities, desire and diligence.

As I said, all politicians fabricate. It seems to be part of their genetic makeup. Republicans are as guilty as Democrats. The most obvious example was the crook, Richard Nixon, who dishonorably (but appropriately) resigned from the Presidency. But two others come to mind. John Rowland, former governor of Connecticut and Mark Sanford of South Carolina. As they should, both resigned, with Rowland spending ten months in Jail for corruption. He is now working for the city of Waterbury. Mr. Sanford, who was accused of misusing the State’s travel funds to visit his Argentinean mistress, was censured, but not impeached. In October of last year, he was hired by Fox News, where he has been noticeably invisible. In all three cases, immoral and illicit behavior condemned the perpetrators, properly, to lives far from the spotlight.

Democrats have fared somewhat better. Of course some of them disappeared into the miasma of politicians corrupted by greed and power. Wilbur Mills (for eighteen years, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee) had an unfortunate assignation with Fannie Foxe, a stripper from Argentina (it is fascinating how Argentina beauties have attracted powerful politicos!) When confronted by Park Rangers, she jumped from the car into the Tidal Basin. Mr. Mills had suspicious looking scratches on his face, and, in time, admitting being in the area. Gary Hart was the clear front runner to get the Democratic nomination for President in 1988 until his antics with Donna Rice became fodder for the press. Instead, he earned a Doctorate in Philosophy for politics from Oxford and, ironically, now has a blog, Matters of Principle. Eliot Spitzer, New York’s sanctimonious Attorney General-turned-Governor (another Harvard Law School graduate) made the silly mistake of paying for hookers (Emperors Club VIP) with his American Express card. He now pontificates about politics on a nightly TV show, “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer.”

But, some are covered in Teflon. The most obvious being the Kennedy clan, which continues to be treated by much of the press as though the mythical Camelot actually existed and, in fact, still does. It begs belief that a thirty-seven year-old U.S. Senator could abandon a trapped and drowning girl in a car that he had driven off a bridge on Martha’s Vineyard and then get re-elected six more times, becoming, in the words of an adoring press, the “Lion of the Senate.” Most people would have been taken in by the police and tried for manslaughter. His brother’s were rogues, at least where it came to women. His nephew Robert’s behavior this past weekend was repulsive, but, then, he is not a politician, only a Kennedy. Bill Clinton, the closest thing America has ever had to having a billy goat in the White House, seems to have survived and thrived his sexual escapades in the “People’s House,” if one can call oral sex, sex.

The cynicism toward Washington is not surprising given the feelings of entitlement our elected leaders have. That same feeling of entitlement pervades the upper reaches of much of Wall Street and corporate boardrooms. Crony capitalism, which includes politicians, union leaders and some in the corporate world have created an “us versus them” system. Other than Bernie Madoff, not one Wall Streeter or government official – those who helped bring our credit system to the brink of collapse – has been sent to jail. (Mr. Bush’s Attorney Generals were far more effective in sending corporate miscreants to prison than has been Eric Holder.) Mr. Madoff’s crimes, as bad as they were, did not cause nearly the costs as did the managements of Fannie Mae, Country Wide Credit, Freddie Mac, AIG, General Motors, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch – the list goes on and on. Congressmen like Bernie Frank and Chris Dodd were equally culpable, but they like their cohorts on Wall Street are held to a different – and lower – standard.

What is sad is that such behavior on the part of leaders is causing much of Main Street to lose faith in our system. But all is not lost. A week or so ago, I was in a taxi driven by a Bangladeshi, who had come to this country fifteen years ago speaking only Bengali. Within a few years he met the women who became his wife. She had come from Pakistan and spoke Farsi. Both became citizens. English became their common language, and is the only language their young children speak. His pride in his American children was tangible, as he told me, no matter what one reads of discontents in his native country or here, that America remains unique; it provided him an opportunity that would be impossible anywhere else.

The problem extends beyond this particular squall. When those like Elizabeth Warren game the system – pretending to an American Indian heritage she does not have, to secure a situation she does not deserve, while allowing Harvard to satisfy a dubious need – and when crony capitalism serves to protect the status quo, we are all the losers. When we allow those who cheat and steal, whether they be in government, businesses or unions, to go free because of who they know, it is all our loss. The fact that Ms. Warren can lie without a sense of shame speaks to her moral emptiness. There are millions of people, many of them recent immigrants, who believe in the principles that made this country what it is. For leaders to behave like entitled royalty goes against the fabric of which our country is made.

No comments:

Post a Comment