Apparent Racism in the Massachusetts Senate Campaign

The past few weeks have brought to the surface a great deal of seeming racism in the U.S. Senate campaigns of Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown of Massachusetts. Last week proved especially disturbing. Here are few posts by others who have been following the campaigns.

Joan Walsh, writing in Newspaperrock, noted, in part:

In last week’s debate, Brown channeled Helms when he attacked Warren. “Professor Warren claimed that she was a Native American, a person of color, and as you can see, she’s not,” he said. “When she applied to Penn and Harvard, she checked the box claiming she was a Native American. Clearly she’s not. That being said, I don’t know, and neither do the viewers know whether she got ahead as a result of checking that box.”

There are so many things wrong with Brown’s take on Warren’s heritage it’s hard to know where to start. For one thing, “as you can see” isn’t the way we classify people racially. Given our nation’s history of racial mixing, it’s a dangerous and insensitive place to go. It showed Brown up as cosseted in his own white world, unaware of the complexities of diversity—that people can wind up looking like one ethnicity when they are actually from another.

Gyasi Ross, also quoted in Newspaper rock has concerns about both candidates, especially Brown:

[T]he Scott Brown campaign decided to go a bit further than simply “questioning” her authenticity as a Native American. No, that wasn’t enough; instead, at a recent campaign rally, the campaign worked the crowd into a frenzy to the point where they were mocking and ridiculing the stereotypical Native “war cries” and “tomahawk chops.” Now, Brown said that he doesn’t “condone” the behavior, but in the same breath said that ”The real offense is that [Warren] said she was white and then checked the box saying she is Native American…”

No, the real offense is Brown excusing racism and attempting to deflect from the hate speech being conducted at his rally. The behavior there was bigoted, and his attempts to excuse it are likewise bigoted….

Finally, the Sun Chronicle wrote about a video that surfaced:

The chief of the Cherokee Nation condemned Sen. Scott Brown’s re-election campaign Wednesday for singing war whoops and doing the tomahawk chop during a Boston rally, actions the chief called “downright racist.”

Meanwhile, a second video surfaced Wednesday showing Brown speaking to supporters at a Chatham campaign appearance earlier in the summer while war whoops can be heard in the background.

The whoops escalate as Brown criticized Democrat Elizabeth Warren’s claims of Native American heritage.

All this collided with my own life history, and today I wrote a post about that, on  my Dreaming the World blog.

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