Media biased in favor of Elizabeth Warren on ancestry claim despite compelling evidence against it

Media biased in favor of Elizabeth Warren on ancestry claim despite compelling evidence against it
Notice the high cheek bones.

A DNA test suggests that Elizabeth Warren is between 1/64 and 1/1,024 Native American — almost none. Liberal reporters at the Boston Globe, NBC News, and the Associated Press are suggesting that this makes the blond-haired, blue-eyed Senate Democrat a “Native American.”

This suggestion is incorrect. The average American white person has more Native American ancestry than Elizabeth Warren. According to a comprehensive DNA study by the Genetic Literacy Project, an average White person in America has 0.18% Native American DNA. This means Sen. Warren has statistically less Indian DNA than the average white American. It also means that any Native American ancestor she may have had is likely from further back in time than the Cherokee ancestors she claims to have had. While Warren may have no Cherokee ancestors at all, Warren is apparently descended from a white soldier who helped send the Cherokee on an infamous death march known as the Trail of Tears.

George Zimmerman, who shot Trayvon Martin, has a black great-grandparent, but no one considers him black based on that, even though that would make him 1/8 black. The media repeatedly referred to him as a “white Hispanic.”

Ordinary people have been fired from their jobs for racial fraud for falsely claiming to be minority, despite having potentially far more minority ancestry than Elizabeth Warren. As law professor David Bernstein notes, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld the firing of two brothers from their jobs as Boston firefighters for racial fraud, since they had red hair and looked white, although they cited the existence of a black great-grandmother. Their employer viewed this as an attempt to game its affirmative-action program.

The average white South African has many times more black ancestry than Elizabeth Warren has Native American ancestors — especially the so-called Voortrekkers, the white settlers whose march into the African interior was celebrated by the Apartheid regime that ruled South Africa with an iron fist. But no one refers to white South Africans as “African-Americans,” even when they immigrate to America from Africa.

The lead plaintiff in a reverse discrimination lawsuit by white applicants against the University of Washington School of Law was 1/8 Native American, for example — many times more than Elizabeth Warren allegedly has. That young woman, a working-class person, was classified by the University as white. (See Smith v. University of Washington Law School).

While there are recorded instances of people being treated by colleges as Native American despite having even less Native American ancestry — like 1/16, for example — such applicants are usually expected to offset that low percentage with evidence of Native American cultural background or language skills.

Elizabeth Warren had none. Her fraudulent cultural-heritage claims, such as plagiarized “Cherokee” recipes, didn’t pass the laugh test. As the London Daily Mail reported, “Elizabeth Warren’s Pow Wow Chow ‘Cherokee’ recipes were word for word COPIES” of a “famous FRENCH chef’s techniques.” (The recipes included “Crab with Tomato Mayonnaise Dressing and Cold Omelets with Crab Meat,” nothing distinctively Cherokee).

Warren may not have much Native American ancestry, but that didn’t keep her from describing herself as Native American as a law professor. As the Daily Mail noted, she “listed herself as a ‘minority’ law professor in a professional directory in the 1990s.” Moreover, “when Harvard Law came under fire for having a poor diversity-hiring record and a faculty dominated by white male professors, the school widely publicised Warren’s alleged Native American roots.”

Prior to getting a job at Harvard Law School, Warren repeatedly listed herself as Native American, which her critics viewed as efforts to game the system. Later, after getting a job there, she stopped claiming to be Native American. Harvard Law School repeatedly and publicly described Warren as “Native American,” both while I was at Harvard, and afterwards, to address charges that it lacked racial diversity.

As former Harvard law student David French recounts:

For an extended period of time — at a key point in her professional life — Warren identified herself as a Native-American woman. She listed herself as Native-American on a key legal directory reviewed by deans and hiring committees. Former employers — such as the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Law School — listed Warren as a minority faculty member. Harvard Law School even trumpeted her as the school’s first tenured “woman of color.”

This was at a time when “Harvard was under immense pressure to diversify its faculty.”

Harvard University proudly practices race-based affirmative action. But it has predictably denied that it gave Warren any special break or advantage based on her purported Native American ancestry. This is not surprising — no employer is going to openly admit that it selected a less qualified candidate over a more qualified one based on race, even if it in fact did so, unless it absolutely has to make that concession. Admitting it did so would devalue the qualifications of the candidate it selected, even if that were the unpleasant truth. So a prudent affirmative-action employer never identifies which of the minority candidates it hired would not have been hired if it did not consider applicants’ race.

Hans Bader

Hans Bader

Hans Bader practices law in Washington, D.C. After studying economics and history at the University of Virginia and law at Harvard, he practiced civil-rights, international-trade, and constitutional law. He also once worked in the Education Department. Hans writes for and has appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.” Contact him at


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