My previous post mentioned the controversy over Elizabeth Warren's claim to be a native American. The facts, as best I can determine them, are that she put herself on the minority law teacher list in her listing in the faculty directory of the American Association of Law Schools, from the mid-eighties until after she received tenure at Harvard, represented herself as native American to both the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard, and was so listed in federal filings by both universities.
When questioned, Warren explained that she believed, from family tradition, that an ancestor had been Cherokee. When the issue arose during her 2012 senatorial campaign, supporters claimed to have documentary evidence that one of her great-great-great grandmothers had been listed as Cherokee. It eventually turned out that the claim was based on an assertion in a 2006 family newsletter—no actual documentation ever appeared. For an account from a source friendly to Warren, see this Mother Jones article. For a much more detailed account from a critical source, this web page.
Most of the controversy has been over whether Warren's claim was true, but that does not strike me as the interesting question. I not only have no documentary evidence with regard to any of my great-great-great grandmothers or even my great grandmothers, I don't even know their names. And, in any case, what is relevant in evaluating Warren's behavior is not what is true but what she believed.
I will assume, therefor, that Warren really did believe that she had a distant ancestor who was Cherokee. We are still left with the case of a woman who took advantage of preferential hiring policies designed to benefit disadvantaged minorities by claiming to be one in spite of not being a member of a disadvantaged minority in any meaningful sense.
That is not admirable behavior, but neither is it, in my view, strikingly wicked—people quite often game systems for their own advantage in one way or another. But then, I am not a supporter of affirmative action. One would expect those who are to see it as a modern version of the proverbial offense of stealing pennies from a blind man's cup, diverting to her benefit resources that were supposed to go to other and worse off people. Yet Elizabeth Warren has not only not been ostracized by the liberal community, she has become one of their leading figures.
I can only see two plausible explanations. The less likely one is that most liberals do not really believe in their own proclaimed principles, do not care whether affirmative action policies actually benefit the people they are supposed to benefit. The more likely one is that this is an example of tribal behavior. Warren won back a blue tribe senate seat from a red tribe usurper. That gives her a free pass, the social equivalent of a get out of jail free card. Any evidence against her, however clear, is obviously enemy propaganda to be ignored.