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Senator Elizabeth Warren's recent DNA test has been the source of a great deal of humor lately with one of my favorites, an allusion to an old Ivory Soap slogan, inspiring the title of this post. But something bothers me a little about the jokes.

It's not that making a big deal out of one's ancestry isn't ridiculous in a nation founded on the idea that all individuals are equal. It is. And it's not that Warren's professed reason for taking the test -- to "rebuild trust in government" -- isn't also ridiculous. In a nation whose political system was designed to keep government in check, that's arguably more ridiculous.

It's what the humor is allowing her opponents to hide from. Consider the following passage from a news story about why Warren took the test:
[Republican challenger Geoff] Diehl shot back that the issue "is not about Sen. Warren's ancestry, it's about integrity in my mind, and I don't care whether you think you benefited or not from that claim, it's the fact that you tried to benefit from that claim that I think bothers a lot of people and it's something you haven't been able to put to rest since the 2012 campaign," when she first mentioned having Native American heritage that led President Donald Trump to start mocking her by calling her "Pocahontas." [bold added]
Diehl is on the right track, but he is basically doing the same thing Republicans often do when they do not want to challenge something the Democrats advocate: Charge them with hypocrisy. Yes, Warren's negligible Amerindian ancestry makes her something of a hypocrite when she attempts to gain some kind of benefit from claiming it, even if it is simply political pandering. Not to downplay the importance of hypocrisy when judging a candidate, but there is a bigger issue here: The whole idea that an individual is entitled to something on the basis of ancestry is wrong. This is the idea that is not only going unchallenged here, but is even being tacitly accepted -- as if Warren should get some kind of advantage at the expense of others, but only if she were Amerindian enough.

The fact is that the Republicans have been presented with a golden opportunity to challenge racial entitlements, but all they have been able to come up with is a bunch of jokes. And if the laughter sounds a little forced, maybe it's because it comes from a place of cowardice.

-- CAV

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