Jennifer C. Braceras | Boston Herald | Monday, June 4, 2012 | Op-Ed |

Remember when Liz Warren was a tough-talking “Wall Street sheriff?” Turns out, it was just an act. She’s actually a helpless damsel in distress who needs Big Daddy Deval to rescue her the moment the going gets tough.

That’s right. Seems Warren needs Gov. Deval Patrick to stick up for her against those mean ol’ Boston reporters. You know, the ones who keep asking all those pesky questions about whether it’s ethical for Warren to describe herself as Native American.

Last week, Warren said that, on questions about her purported ethnicity, she’ll “defer to the governor.”

And the governor tells us that people just “don’t care.”

Well, yes and no.

It’s true that Warren’s ancestry, in and of itself, is of no consequence. Certainly, voters should not care whether a candidate for public office is white, black, Native American, or whatever.

But in a country with an entrenched system of racial preferences, the question of whether a candidate exaggerated her ethnic background for personal gain is something many voters rightfully think relevant.

Opponents of affirmative action regard the Warren controversy as proof of the policy’s moral bankruptcy. Many who favor the practice worry that Warren abused the system.

But the governor is correct that some affirmative action supporters consider the whole matter insignificant.

Why?

Because those on the far left view race as “a social construct.” In other words, if you “think like a minority” (i.e., hold liberal viewpoints) and “feel like a minority,” then — by golly — you’re a minority!

Leftists — -particularly those who inhabit the academy — love the “social construction of race” theory because it empowers them to define “minority” to suit their political needs. They, therefore, describe George Zimmerman (the mixed-race man charged with shooting Trayvon Martin in Florida) as “white” or “white Hispanic” because those categories fit their preconceived racial paradigm.

To these people, the question of whether Liz Warren is actually Native American is irrelevant. What matters is how she perceives herself and whether she supports liberal policies.

From this perspective, Warren never misrepresented herself. Nor did she “game the system.” The system was always subjective.

Thus Warren answers direct questions about whether she is Native American by saying simply, “my heritage is part of who I am.”

Well, obviously.

But the question is not whether she embraces her heritage — whatever that may be.

The question is whether she embellished her identity for social or political expediency.

That Warren apparently submitted copied recipes to a Native American cookbook provides some evidence that she did. But for Warren, subjective construct is reality. Anyone who questions it is a bully.

In a recent letter to supporters, Warren plays the role of victim, complaining of attacks on her heritage and whining that her opponents want her to “give up [her] family and forget where [she] came from.”

Warren has it exactly backward.

Her opponents don’t want her to forget anything. To the contrary, they want her to remember: To remember whether she ever considered herself a member of a disadvantaged minority group; to remember whether she listed herself as Native American to catch the eye of law school hiring committees; to remember where she got those “Cherokee” recipes.

Ironically, it is Warren who has forgotten (or is at least confused about) where she “came from.” And she is hoping that voters will soon forget the entire debacle.

But why should they? The Warren/Native American flap exposes important truths about affirmative action, race and the American left. And these truths are worth remembering, and discussing, now and in the future.

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