The Boston Globe has a long article revealing in excruciating detail the extent of Harvard’s publicizing of Elizabeth Warren’s self-identified Cherokeness, as well as her lame claim that she was oblivious to the use and usefulness of her alleged ethnicity to her employer. The article reveals one delicious new item, namely that “[t]he administrator responsible for Harvard Law School’s faculty diversity statistics from 1996 to 2004, the period in question, was Alan Ray, currently president of Elmhust College in Illinois” and “a citizen of the Cherokee Nation who, like Warren, has fair skin, blue eyes, and Oklahoma roots” (apparently giving the lie to the old saw that it takes one to know one).
I continue to be struck by the horror Cherokee princess Elizabeth feels at the thought that anyone would think her ethnicity had anything to do with her hiring or extravagant salary, that her meteoric career from Rutgers Law School through Texas and Penn and ultimately to Harvard was based on anything other than “her extraordinary skill as a teacher and a groundbreaking scholar.” How does she think her repeated assertions that she was treated without regard to her advertised ethnicity makes those students and professors whose race and ethnicity were considered feel? If preferential treatment based on race is good enough for them, why not her?
No doubt the most important revelation in today’s Globe article, however, is the news that listing Warren as a Cherokee violated both “both Harvard’s guidelines and federal regulations for the statistics” that Harvard and other universities are compelled by law to provide.
The US Department of Labor requires large employers to collect diversity statistics annually and suggests they be based on employees’ classification of themselves. In cases in which employees do not self-identify, federal regulations allow some administrators to make judgment calls on the correct categories using “employment records or observer identification.”
The Harvard document defines Native American as “a person having origins in any of the original peoples of North America and who maintains cultural identification through tribal affiliation or community recognition.” It notes that this definition is consistent with federal regulations.
It is not a definition Warren appears to fit. She has not proven she has a Native American ancestor, instead saying she based her belief on family lore, and she has no official tribal affiliation. The current executive director of Harvard’s Native American program has said she has no memory of Warren participating in any of its activities.
Since both employment records and “observer identification” seem to be so unreliable, perhaps the Department of Labor needs to hire and train a cadre of highly specialized racial investigators to look below the self-serving institutional claims about the extent of their “diversity.” What’s the point, after all, of having a regime of racial preferences with no policing or enforcement of official definitions of race? Along those lines the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto has a helpful suggestion: “require that anyone seeking either to study or to work at a university submit to genetic testing to determine his precise racial background. That way preferences could be administered with scientific precision, measuring exactly how much diversity the applicant would bring to the student body or faculty.”
Scientific precision alone, however, is not enough. “Diversity” is only as good as “diversity” does. The problem, which Elizabeth Warren personifies, is that some “diverse” individuals simply don’t look “diverse,” defeating the purpose and justification of their preferential treatment. If, as every preference-giving institution religiously insists, “diversity” — being exposed to individuals of different
hues cultures — is absolutely essential to a good education, then it is correspondingly essential for students to be able to spot all the “diverse” admits and hires to whom they need to be exposed, not just those who are visibly black or Hispanic or Native American.
Here’s my proposal. In order to enable “diversity” to deliver on its promise and prevent some of the “diverse” from passing as un-diverse, thus failing to deliver the “diversity” to others that justifies the preference they received, the Dept. of Labor should distribute, and require the wearing of, color-coded arm bands: black for blacks; red for Native Americans; yellow for Asian Americans; brown for Hispanics.
If universities give preferential treatment to individuals who belong to certain groups out of a sincere conviction that other, non-diverse students have a compelling need to be exposed to them, that imposes an obligation to make identification of the “diversity”-providers easier and more reliable than it is now.