(UPDATED) MA Senator Scott Brown, Staffers Race Bait Opponent Elizabeth Warren and Supporters
UPDATE: Cherokee Nation Chief Bill John Baker has now demanded an apology from the senator. From NPR:
Now, Brown and the GOP are under fire for supporters’ actions that “goes far beyond what is appropriate and proper in political discourse,” Cherokee Chief Bill John Baker said in a statement Wednesday.
“The use of stereotypical ‘war whoop chants’ and ‘tomahawk chops’ are offensive and downright racist,” he said. “It is those types of actions that perpetuate negative stereotypes and continue to minimize and degrade all native peoples.”
“9/22/2012, nearby Eire Pub in Boston, at a rally for Scott Brown including former Mayor Ray Flynn. Some supporters of Elizabeth Warren were also gathered around with signs. Here you can see Brown’s staffers making “war whoops” and “tomahawk chops”, presumably in reference to Warren’s Cherokee heritage. Identified in video making the chop are Brown’s Constituent Service Counsel Jack Richard (camoflage shirt) and — we believe — Massachusetts GOP operative Brad Garrett, front and center with tan baseball cap and gray hoodie, leading the whoops and chops.”
For his own part, Senator Brown has disavowed the video that he admits he has not actually seen. But it’s one thing to say one doesn’t condone this sort of behavior by supporters- and yet not apologize for it:
“The apologies that need to be made and the offensiveness here is the fact that professor Warren took advantage of a claim, to be somebody — a Native American — and using that for an advantage, a tactical advantage.”
And it is still yet another thing, when one has just said this in a debate:
Brown devoted his opening remarks to accuse Warren, a Harvard Law School professor who says she is part Cherokee Indian, of using her background to give her an advantage when competing for jobs throughout her career.
“The professor said she is a Native American, a person of color, and you can see she’s not,” Brown said.
As I said, this is ugly. Think “Jesse Helms” ugly. Salon’s Joan Walsh:
There are so many things wrong with Brown’s take on Warren’s heritage it’s hard to know where to start. For one thing, “as you can see” isn’t the way we classify people racially. Given our nation’s history of racial mixing, it’s a dangerous and insensitive place to go. It showed Brown up as cosseted in his own white world, unaware of the complexities of diversity – that people can wind up looking like one ethnicity when they are actually from another.
Most important, it showed Brown is willing to play on the anxieties of white men that women and minorities are using affirmative action to take jobs they should have. He came right out and said we don’t know “whether she got ahead as a result of checking that box.” It was astonishing. Watching the debate at the time, I tweeted, “I cannot believe Scott Brown talked about Warren’s racial background so stridently. It’s like the old ‘white hands’ ad.”
That Scott Brown, who won the late Senator Ted Kennedy’s seat in a special election, is now using a similar tactic to this Helms ad- that in part slams Teddy’s affirmative action work– is doubly disgraceful.