Not that it’s anything new, but this week’s news cycle has been an especially long one to follow as a Native American; by all indications, the next two years won’t feel any shorter.
The week kicked off with Elizabeth Warren deciding on Monday that she would one-up President Donald Trump in their prolonged and unnecessary pissing contest about her heritage by posting the results of her DNA test. It went as well as anyone should have been able to predict, which is to say it was an utter embarrassment.
Warren was slammed from the right and the left, and was forced to publicly defend her decision after an outcry from Indigenous people across the continent.
The right seized on the moment to kick Warren while she was down, and, like their beloved Proud Boys, decided to throw in some kicks for whoever else was on the ground with her. In this case, that would be Native Americans. The shitshow started where it always does, on the presidential Twitter account:
Trump’s goading naturally gave way to a string of bad-faith racist jokes from the usual bunch of misfit conservatives waiting their turn to go full Mike Huckabee.
Sen. Lindsey Graham kicked things off in only the way that he can, going on Fox News to dish on Warren only to end up making anti-Iranian comments so harsh and xenophobic that the hosts had to rein him in.
Graham was followed on Thursday by Fox News pud Jason Chaffetz, who decided Disneyland would be the appropriate place to land a sick burn and posed with a wooden statue of a Native American and calling it Warren:
Then it was former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley’s turn. Speaking at the annual Al Smith Dinner in New York on Thursday night, Haley cracked some lazy jokes at the expense of Warren, saying, per CNN, “I get it. You wanted an Indian woman, but Elizabeth Warren failed her DNA test,” and, “actually, when the president found out that I was Indian-American, he asked if I was from the same tribe as Elizabeth Warren.”
It was hokey stuff, so naturally the wealthy, homogeneously white crowd surrounding Haley ate it up, roaring with laughter both times, with some faux-concerned listeners adding in a smattering of “Ooooh”’s. Haley, beaming, followed it up with a joke about ICE and called it a night shortly after.
I don’t have much to add to this particular segment of the post-DNA test news cycle, mainly because I know it’s a waste of energy. This shit is just getting started. There are many reasons why what Warren did was so wrong, as I wrote about earlier this week. But one of them is that she’s opened the door to attacks like these for the next two years. And I’m not saying that out of a place of empathy for Warren’s 2020 campaign. I’m saying that because every single time one of these people gets on stage (or goes to Disneyland) and cracks her down a few notches, Native Americans are there, falling even faster as the room fills with the cacophony of drunken laughter and quick glances to ensure no would-be offended Natives are present. The real issues facing our people—patchwork healthcare systems, sexual and domestic abuse, K-12 graduation rates, general representation in media and government—are now to be shuffled off to the side, in favor of whatever the next best burn from some wealthy politician or pundit can come up with, all because Warren didn’t know how to just tune Trump out and shut the hell up.
We have time and again been made the butt of the typically cruel jokes Americans like to make, and this time, I fear, we won’t be able to shake it.