Did you “FactCheck” your parents?  The “Pocahontas” case: what we take “for granted”

Donald Trump has referred dismissively to Senator Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas” and “the Indian,” and a “loser.”

Warren listed herself as part Native American in the papers related to her appointment to a named full professorship at the Harvard Law School.

She didn’t “FactCheck” her family lore.  (Nevermind that there was no “FactCheck” when she was growing up.)  I share this with her; I didn’t check mine either.

When questioned about this, by the Boston Herald, during her winning US Senate race, she said that she had learned it from family lore.  Her home state had many Native Americans.

Harvard listed her name in materials used to show the diversity of its faculty.  Whether appointment papers ask for one’s ethnic identity to report diversity results is unknown to me.  My guess is that, while answering is likely optional, they do.

I’d be surprised if any large percentage of the population did FactCheck its parents, even as more genealogical and ethnic history has become readily accessible.

How silly can it get?

On many matters that still inform my perspective on the world, I learned from my family.  They took it as their job to teach their children. They spoke of the things they “took for granted” and the lessons they drew from experience.  Just as they did, at least before the teenage years, I took it for granted that they were telling me the truth.  I still do.  If all the things I “take for granted” were “spelled-out,” and the questionable ones, especially those based on “anecdotal” evidence, were closely examined, I couldn’t navigate my world.

My maternal grandfather’s name was “Caudle” and I was told that was a French name.  My paternal grandmother’s maiden name was “McKnight” so there was a Scot in the line.   About any others, I know nothing although I’ve been told of one who was an industrial-scale mule thief.

One genealogy website (up to, but not beyond the paywall) reports “Wilkersons” as having arrived in England with William the Conqueror.  If so, it seems fair to say that “the stock’s run out” with me*

I’ve lived ignorant of my genealogy for 73 years and almost one week.  I hardly know how to say how easy that has been.

Now, as for Senator Warren being a “loser:” at the time of her reporting some Native American heritage, she was accepting a named professorship at the Harvard Law School.  She launched her legal education only after being a stay-at-home mother to two children.  She was recruited for her expertise in “commercial law” and “bankruptcy.”  (Note to Trump:  It probably wouldn’t be wise to get into a debate with her over your bankruptcies and, if commercial law includes real estate, maybe not on your own field of assumed expertise.  She might turn out not to be a “loser” after all.)

In his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump has demonstrated an ability raise and dismiss a question tangential -at best- to the important issues confronting the country.    (Marco Rubio’s masterful “small hands” insult of “The Donald” himself deserves “honorable mention.”)  They are often characterizations of other candidates and Trump critics, then repeated ad nauseum by the media that mostly scorns him.

The question that arises is whether we, not the media, not Trump or any other candidate, are ready to see through this foolishness and insist on straightforward answers to important questions.  I’m unsure about the answer.

*Isabel Wilkerson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration.  Wikipedia excerpt:  “In 1994, while Chicago bureau chief of The New York Times, she became the first woman of African-American heritage to win thePulitzer Prize in journalism,[2] winning the feature writing award for her coverage of the 1993 midwestern floods and her profile of a 10-year-old boy who was responsible for his four siblings.[3] Several of Wilkerson’s articles are included in the book Pulitzer Prize Feature Stories: America’s Best Writing, 1979 – 2003, edited by David Garlock.”

One thought on “Did you “FactCheck” your parents?  The “Pocahontas” case: what we take “for granted”

  1. The entire issue of Elizabeth Warren and this her heritage seems such a bogus one. Donald Trump has no legitimate line of attack on her, so he’s dredged up something that’s of zero importance. That’s how I read it anyway.


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