Warning: Put down any beverage you may be drinking before continuing. If you don’t, please be advised that Liberty Unyielding takes no responsibility for spit takes that may occur.
Having so stipulated, let’s turn to the business at hand: the flap over the refusal of Sen. Elizabeth Warren to shake the hand at last week’s confirmation hearing of Betsy DeVos, President Donald Trump’s nominee for education secretary.
You can see it in this YouTube video at approximately 1:40. After shaking hands with other committee members, DeVos extends her hand in collegiality to Warren, who instead of reciprocating gives a curt wave and exits the chamber.
At least that’s what you think you see, according to HeatStreet’s Stephen Miller, who warns you not to believe your lying eyes. In an article titled “Warren vs. DeVos: How a Perceived Handshake ‘Snub’ Exposed The Right Wing’s Cultural Ignorance,” Miller first sets the stage for his analysis by noting:
Warren’s apparent snub was widely criticized on social media by pundits on the political right, who called the move classless and another example of the erosion of proper decorum in Washington, which has created a toxic, partisan atmosphere that voters can’t stand.
Then he gets down to cases:
What really happened? A closer look at the video of the altercation suggests it was neither a “snubbing” nor a “pwning.”
… Warren clearly does raise her hand to wave at DeVos before walking away. But what is being denounced as a vicious snub on Warren’s part is perhaps better understood as an example of cultural misunderstanding, or, at worst, racist insensitivity on the part of Warren’s critics, including DeVos.
Upon closer examination, Warren appears to be signaling to DeVos in her native Cherokee. The open hand gesture, first developed in 1823, is universally recognized among Native American Indian sign-language studies, according to manataka.org.
DeVos may have perceived it as a refusal to shake hands, but it was actually an attempt at a friendly gesture. Like a typical Trump supporter, DeVos failed to recognize and embrace the diverse tapestry of America. This is problematic on several levels.
The respected Senator from Massachusetts is clearly acknowledging DeVos with her native people’s “Hau” hand gesture, indicating “Greeting” or, more specifically, “I have spoken.”
Actually, that’s not even correct, though it’s a typical misreading by cisgendered white imperialists. In fact, “Hau” is the greeting used by Native Dakota Sioux tribes. The proper greeting used by Warren’s native Cherokee is “Osiyo.” Conflating the two would be problematic as confusing French and German.
This has got to be among the most unintentionally hilarious bundles of liberal claptrap ever uttered. For starters, even if we concede that Warren has any American Indian blood whatsoever — and one Cherokee genealogist is fairly certain she does not — by her own lights she is only 1/32 Amerindian. Assuming she is aware of the “how” hand gesture (and that she did not learn it watching the “Lone Ranger” on TV!), the likelihood that this palest of palefaces was using it in this instance is a pretty big stretch.