Monday, May 21, 2012

Carl Bogus's Bizarre Defense of Elizabeth Warren

Carl Bogus has posted a defense of Elizabeth Warren's claim to minority status here.  Brian Leiter has cited Bogus's post approvingly here.

Professor Bogus writes, "So here’s my theory. (And I stress this is only a theory.) At some point during the hiring process, Warren mentioned to one of the people from Penn that she had a great-great-great grandmother who was Cherokee. She didn't mention this because she thought it would make Penn hire her. She knew it was too inconsequential to matter. She also knew that claiming to be Native American when she was only 1/32 Cherokee, if examined by a hiring committee, would make her look foolish and be more likely to hurt rather than help her chances of being hired. She mentioned her great-great-grandmother simply because it was interesting. When Penn extended an offer of employment, however, it asked her to list herself as a minority. This wasn't of earth-shaking importance; but it did improve Penn’s statistics for AALS. Though she privately wasn't happy about it, Warren agreed. She listed herself as Native American on her next AALS form, while she was still at Texas but on her way to Penn, and continued to so list herself for the nine years she was at Penn. As far as she knew, no one at Harvard was even aware of that listing; so when she moved to Harvard in 1995, she immediately stopped listing herself as a minority."

Not only is this explanation pure speculation, it contradicts what Warren said herself. I find it bizzare that a Warren supporter would provide a reason for Warren claiming minority status when she provided an explanation for her claim:  "On Wednesday, she told reporters that she listed herself as such to connect with others like her, 'people for whom native American is part of their heritage and part of their hearts. There aren’t a lot of people like me in law teaching. And so I just thought I might find some others. That’s evidently not a particularly good use for the directory because it never happened.'”  (here)

Finally, I have a problem with Brian Leiter calling the Bogus piece a "sober commentary."  Since when is pure speculation that is contradicted by the subject of a piece sober commentary?

(Scott Fruehwald)

P.S. The strangest part of Bogus's post is this one, "Though she privately wasn't happy about it, Warren agreed."  This is strange even for a "theory."

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