Hmmm, Harvard apparently touted Elizabeth Warren’s status as a Native American in the New York Times

posted at 1:21 pm on May 11, 2012 by Morgen Richmond

Throughout the controversy over Elizabeth Warren’s claimed Native American ancestry, Warren has maintained she was unaware that Harvard Law School touted her heritage in defense of it’s diversity hiring practices in the 90′s. As reported by the Boston Herald, the Harvard student newspaper The Crimson published at least two contemporaneous articles on this topic which made reference to Elizabeth Warren as a Native American professor, in defense of the Law School. But it turns out this controversy generated ink in more than just the Harvard school paper: it also found it’s way into the New York Times. This is the full text of a letter published by the Times on Feb. 1, 1998 (emphasis added):

To the Editor:

Re the Jan. 29 Op-Ed article on hiring at Harvard Law School: Since 1989 the school has appointed to the faculty or voted tenure for four African-Americans, a Hispanic professor and eight women, including a Native American.

The school first offered a visiting professorship to Lani Guinier in 1992. Because of her nomination by President Clinton and for personal reasons, she was unable to accept our offer until January 1996. We offered her a tenured professorship in February 1996 and were happy to receive her acceptance of the offer this month.

Over all, 44 percent of the people appointed to positions of professor or assistant professor since Robert Clark became dean in 1989 have been women or minorities group members. We expect this trend in faculty hiring to continue.

MICHAEL CHMURA

News Director, Harvard Law School

Cambridge, Mass., Jan. 30, 1998

The Jan 29 Op-Ed that this was in response to was an editorial written by former Harvard Law professor Derrick Bell, of all people, in which he questioned why it had taken Harvard Law so long to hire it’s first minority female professor (Lani Guinier). “At Last, Harvard Sees the Light” was the headline, and it was featured prominently on the Times editorial page (you can see an image of the story over at Breitbart, thanks to John Sexton who unearthed this at his local library.)

So Chmura’s letter was clearly an effort to counter the bad publicity generated by Bell’s Op-Ed. And given that Bell’s criticism was focused on the lack of minority women hired at Harvard, Chmura’s assertion that they had in fact previously hired one individual who fit this description – a Native American woman – was central to his case.

Now, obviously Chmura’s letter did not mention Warren by name. However, an article which appeared in the Harvard Crimson only 3 days later, welcoming Guinier to the School, also included the following text:

Harvard Law School currently has only one tenured minority woman, Gottlieb Professor of Law Elizabeth Warren, who is Native American. The racial makeup of the HLS Faculty has been an issue before as well: in 1989, Harvard dismissed Weld Professor of Law Derrick A. Bell after 18 years of teaching because the noted expert on race and law refused to end his leave in protest of the absence of minority women on HLS faculty.

Chmura himself also directly identified Warren as a Native American, and Harvard Law’s only minority female faculty member, in an article published a couple of years earlier in the Crimson. So it seems pretty unlikely to say the least that Chmura could have been referring to anyone other than Warren in his letter to the Times. Both this letter, and the article published in the Crimson just 3 days later, were directly related to the hiring of Lani Guinier. And as far as anyone knows, there was no one else at Harvard Law claiming to be a Native American woman in this time frame.

Ok, so what? I suppose this may be just another footnote to this whole episode. But I also think this further calls into question Warren’s claim that she was unaware that her heritage was being used by Harvard in this manner. Now that we know this controversy involved not only a long-simmering controversy with a prominent former law professor in Bell, but that it also spilled over to the pages of the New York Times. Could Warren have somehow been oblivious to all this? That a Harvard spokesperson was effectively promoting her claim to be a Native American to the world?  I suppose it’s possible, but it doesn’t seem very likely. In fact I think it’s much more likely that the reason no one has found any other references to Warren’s Native American status after 1999 is that Warren ultimately put a stop to it knowing how ridiculous it looked for Harvard to claim her as a diversity hire.

Even if somehow Warren was unaware of this as she now claims, Harvard Law School was clearly promoting her heritage as a counter-point to criticism over their hiring practices, and in the pages of the New York Times no less. Warren says she listed herself as a minority only in the hope of making new friends, but it sure seems to have played a more important role than this, at least for Harvard.

(For some additional background on just how prominent the controversy was over Harvard Law’s diversity hiring practices in the 90′s, I recommend this informative piece by Hans Bader who was a Harvard Law student in this era.)


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What you did there….I see it.

BigWyo on May 11, 2012 at 2:00 PM

dont need a smoke signal to see the way the wind blows on that one

t8stlikchkn on May 11, 2012 at 2:30 PM

BMM bmm bmm bmm BMM bmm bmm bmm BMM bmm bmm bmm…

Akzed on May 11, 2012 at 2:40 PM

What, you folks never heard of the composite Indian tribe? It seems the whole democrat party is full of composites, GB’s history of barak really portrays obama himself as a composite, all his stories are nothing but lies.

doublee on May 11, 2012 at 2:41 PM

I have it on good authority that, while in prep school, she held down a one-armed Cherokee girl and cut off her hair scalped her. faraway on May 11, 2012 at 1:35 PM

Akzed on May 11, 2012 at 2:42 PM

Ain’t REALITY a bitch?

GarandFan on May 11, 2012 at 2:46 PM

Fascinating how this story continues to evolve in your minds. First you claim that Warren used minority status to gain advantage, which then turns out to be false, so you fall back on… well Harvard said she was a minority!

Care to embarrass yourselves further?

Constantine on May 11, 2012 at 1:36 PM

I love it when you make it sooooo easy to blow up your post.
1. Harvard used Warren to advance the notion they were hiring minorities. It didn’t just fall from the damn sky. The had to get that info from somewhere.
2. I’ll help you out here, the place they got it from was from old high cheek bones herself. Who else put the name in minority law school professor listing? Warren admits to it.
3. So the law school uses Warren more than once to credit themselves for thier excellence in minority hiring. But never considered her minority status when hiring her?

Try posting your tripe on Huffington, maybe you’ll get to go to lunch with some like minded people.

buckeyerich on May 11, 2012 at 2:51 PM

As a youth I spent a lot of time on an Apache Reservation… The first time I heard “Hello” in Apache, (Yatahey), I thought they were saying “What the hey?”

What the hey, Harvard and Liz? Who the heck do you think you really fooled?

(And No, despite having actually lived on a reservation, I’m not claiming any minority status.)

LegendHasIt on May 11, 2012 at 3:01 PM

Fascinating how this story continues to evolve in your minds. First you claim that Warren used minority status to gain advantage, which then turns out to be false, so you fall back on… well Harvard said she was a minority!

Care to embarrass yourselves further?

Constantine on May 11, 2012 at 1:36 PM

I’ve got to agree with buckeyerich on this one. Anyone who has a law degree (I, unfortunately, do) knows that law schools (especially the Ivy League) are extremely picky about the pedigree of who they hire. Ivy League law schools hired Ivy League law graduates – you don’t dilute the brand – even if it meant you passed up skilled scholars. Pedigree means everything. Why? The ridiculous US News and World Report rankings, of course. The largest weighted factor in the ranking is prestige – which schoold has the best reputation. Law schools traditionally try to hire “star” professors to increase this ranking factor. To simplify the equation: more “star professors” = greater prestige = higher US News rankings. Now, the only factor that can trump the prestige factor in the rankings is the “diversity” factor – which is a fairly new factor compared to prestige. However, it was in the 1990s that the factor started to become important. So, now you could hire a Rutgers law school graduate who was a minority and if you risked decreasing the prestige factor, you were at least increasing the divserity factor! All the while, the schools touted the idea that what they were really doing was bringing in diversity of thought. Yet, if that was the case, they not look at graduates from “lower ranked” law schools for all kinds of reasons beyond just diversity based on race or gender? What about socio-economic upbringing, or religious diversity, political diversity, etc. Well, those didn’t really get ranked on US News.

So, this becomes a win-win for Harvard and Professor Warren. She makes a claim that she is Native American based on family hearsay (never bothering to do a little research to find out if it was true). Harvard can make a diversity hire, even though the good Professor graduated from – gasp – Rutgers law school. Everyone is a winner in the system … until Dereck Bell starts pointing out that all this diversity stuff is a sham (he was, at least, correct on this point – even if I disagree with him on other points). Harvard starts to defend itself using their prior attempts to hire diverse faculty – they tout, even to the New York Times, that they have a Native American. I’m sure at this point, Warren probably realized that what was once just an administrative “check the box on the form” trick used to get past the “pedigree” discrimination that is rampant in law school academia, was now being touted against serious (and potentially legal) claims of non-diversity. That’s when she probably decided to pull the plug on her self-identification as a Native American.

What does this all say about her? In my opinion, not much. The whole system is simply broken. The Ivy League law schools (and all the other law schools down the rankings) play this stuff all the time. She used the system to get past another form of discrimination – the fact that there was no way a Rutgers grad was going to be on the faculty of an Ivy League (it can happen, but it is so rare, you’d be better off playing Lotto). She based the whole thing on a scintilla (ha! legal term) of information in her family and UPenn and Harvard accepted it because they needed what she had to offer – supposed diversity. More than any statement about Elizabeth Warren (although it does speak to her willingness to take part in such an overt farce), this whole episode should have us all screaming about how the College and University system in the US needs some serious house-cleaning and overhaul.

studentofhistory on May 11, 2012 at 3:22 PM

With any luck, and totally without meaning to, Sister Lies Badly will have done the country an enormous favor by exposing the hypocrisy that is affirmative action hiring.

If all it takes is a check mark on a form to be proudly hailed as a minority hire, and Harvard et al, care so little about actual minorities that they don’t even check to see if the mark is correct, the public should know.

I think that is probably the biggest scandal in all of this.

Harvard obviously cares not one whit about actual minorities it just wants to be seen as caring about minorities and known to be sensitive in their hiring.

Lily on May 11, 2012 at 3:23 PM

Harvard/Warren are only reinforcing what the truth is to a liberal. The truth to a liberal is what they want it to be rather than what the facts substantiate. Pretty obvious why Obama is completely incapable of the truth.

volsense on May 11, 2012 at 3:26 PM

I shall not be Senator. I shall run and lose. Bury my heart at Harvard Law.

Narrative of the Forktongue Squaw

spiritof61 on May 11, 2012 at 3:28 PM

Sorry, ladies and gentlemen, I thought I had ended the “emphasis” after the words “exremely picky”. Clearly, I need to pay better attention to my posts before submitting.

studentofhistory on May 11, 2012 at 3:28 PM

How? hawkdriver on May 11, 2012 at 1:42 PM

What you did there….I see it. BigWyo on May 11, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Dang, I missed it. To subtle for me. Bravo.

Dingbat63 on May 11, 2012 at 3:38 PM

So Harvard was as diverse as Obama’s re-election team.

sdbatboy on May 11, 2012 at 3:39 PM

next one’s on me!

DanMan on May 11, 2012 at 2:02 PM

I’m actually the founding member (admittedly only member) of the Hellaskinnyhao’le Tribe seeking federal recognition for myself … er … my people. My tribal name is “Hurts In Sun”.

hawkdriver on May 11, 2012 at 3:42 PM

Try posting your tripe on Huffington, maybe you’ll get to go to lunch with some like minded people.

buckeyerich on May 11, 2012 at 2:51 PM

Yeah, his post was too much of a softball for me. The HuffPo article he linked to was where the revelation that UPenn had her listed as a minority too.

hawkdriver on May 11, 2012 at 3:44 PM

Whole lotta baggage in Fauxcahontas’ papoose.

viking01 on May 11, 2012 at 3:58 PM

HOW! And how…

ghostwalker1 on May 11, 2012 at 5:45 PM

Squaw Walking Eagle caught again in heap big lie. Must bang war drum harder.

Gator Country on May 11, 2012 at 7:29 PM

I believe this is known as hoist with her own petard.

Jaibones on May 11, 2012 at 7:53 PM

Why is this still a story? Hell – I’m a Caucasian and I claim “Native American” on everything. I don’t do it for favoritism – I do it to out of spite for the whole Equal Opportunity program.

You can be whatever you want to be – you don’t have to prove a thing and if you want to cloward – pivven the fu** out of the Government’s EO apparatus then there is no better way to do than for all white people to claim to be something else.

HondaV65 on May 11, 2012 at 8:15 PM

Why is this still a story? Hell – I’m a Caucasian and I claim “Native American” on everything.

Dang…hadn’t thought of that. I was born in America ergo I’m a native American.

Dingbat63 on May 11, 2012 at 8:51 PM

Harvard publishing something completely fabricated in New York Times is nothing new. Publishing articles that are untrue are standard operating procedure for the most intellectually bankrupt propaganda machine in the world.

volsense on May 12, 2012 at 5:04 PM


Yeah, sure,

whenever I have to fill out my ethnicity, I check the box for hispanic, africanAmerican,NativeAmerican, Asian, Caucasian, I check everything! I check LGTB, marsian, arabic, jewish and palestinian

I want to be friends with everybody!

huntingmoose on May 13, 2012 at 3:25 AM

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