Scott Brown Finally Takes Some Responsibility for His Staff Members’ Racist Behavior

This morning, Principal Chief Bill John Baker of the Cherokee Nation released the following statement in response to the Scott Brown staffers who attacked Brown’s opponent in the Massachusetts Senate race, Elizabeth Warren, with racist “war whoops” and “tomahawk chops” in Boston last weekend.

The Cherokee Nation is disappointed in and denounces the disrespectful actions of staffers and supporters of Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown. The conduct of these individuals goes far beyond what is appropriate and proper in political discourse. The use of stereotypical “war whoop chants” and “tomahawk chops” are offensive and downright racist. It is those types of actions that perpetuate negative stereotypes and continue to minimize and degrade all native peoples.

The individuals involved in this unfortunate incident are high ranking staffers in both the senate office and the Brown campaign. A campaign that would allow and condone such offensive and racist behavior must be called to task for their actions.

The Cherokee Nation is a modern, productive society, and I am blessed to be their chief. I will not be silent when individuals mock and insult our people and our great nation.

We need individuals in the United States Senate who respect Native Americans and have an understanding of tribal issues. For that reason, I call upon Sen. Brown to apologize for the offensive actions of his staff and their uneducated, unenlightened and racist portrayal of native peoples.

Brown first responded by simply releasing a statement George Thomas, a member of the Pequot nation in Massachusetts.

“Being of Native American and African American ancestry, I find it insulting and wrong for Professor Elizabeth Warren to claim minority status as a Native American at Harvard,” Thomas said in the statement. “Professor Warren has never reached out to the Native American community within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to offer an explanation or an apology.”

Thomas said Warren should receive two ‘F’s: one for her failure to apologize, and one for fraudulently presenting herself to Harvard as a Native American.

I believe that Thomas made this statement some time ago–before the racist demonstration last Saturday. In addition, there is no evidence that Warren used her Native American ancestry for personal gain.

In any case, someone must have put heavy pressure on Brown, because this evening he released another statement that called the behavior of his staff “unacceptable.”

After a second day in which a video of racist behavior by his staff members threatened to overwhelm his re-election bid, Senator Scott P. Brown’s campaign issued a statement Wednesday evening saying he “regrets” what he called “unacceptable” behavior.

He also issued a verbal warning to his staff members who participated in the tomahawk chops and Indian war whoops — and to all of his staff — that such conduct would not be tolerated, according to a statement from his office.

The statement, from his spokeswoman, Alleigh Marre, follows:

“Senator Brown has spoken to his entire staff – including the individuals involved in this unacceptable behavior – and issued them their one and only warning that this type of conduct will not be tolerated. As we enter the final stretch of this campaign, emotions are running high, and while Senator Brown can’t control everyone, he is encouraging both sides to act with respect. He regrets that members of his staff did not live up to the high standards that the people of Massachusetts expect and deserve.”

I doubt that Brown wanted to do this, and he sure didn’t have the guts to stand up and say it himself. If he does ever appear in public again, perhaps a member of the press could ask him where he got the psychic power to determine an individual’s ethnic heritage by simply looking at him or her. I’m not sure how George Thomas does it either.

Meanwhile, Warren received the endorsement of the Firefighters’ Union today.

Flanked by firefighters in front of a station in South Boston, Elizabeth Warren accepted the endorsement of the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts and said she would stand by them if elected to the U.S. Senate.

“This race is not about what kind of truck you drive. It’s not about what jacket you wear. It’s about how you vote, and Scott Brown has turned his back on firefighters,” Warren told the crowd on Wednesday morning.

In the 2010 special election, there was some opposition within the organization to supporting Brown’s opponent, Attorney General Martha Coakley. The endorsement of Warren was unanimous, according to PFFM President Ed Kelly, whose union represents 12,000 firefighters.

Go, Liz, Go!!!

This is an open thread.


Leave Elizabeth Warren Alone!

Quixote wants the media to leave Ann Romney alone. In that spirit, I say it’s time for the media to get off Elizabeth Warren’s back about her Cherokee ancestry. Good Grief! This is the woman who stood up to Wall Street, Barack Obama, and Tim Geithner. Now she has to prove she’s 1/32 Cherokee?

Guess what? The Chief of Cherokee Nation is only 1/32 Cherokee. That ought to be good enough to satisfy the corporate media, although nothing will ever satisfy the right wing nuts, as we know from their continued demands to see a different birth certificate than Barack Obama has already provided.

Just plug in “Elizabeth Warren” on Google News, and all you’ll see are headlines about Warren’s Native American heritage, as if it mattered one bit as to her qualifications to serve in the Senate. Here are a few examples:

Elizabeth Warren’s Cheekbones

Elizabeth Warren shuts the door on Herald’s inquiry

Who’s an American Indian? Warren Case Stirs Query

And in the midst of the madness, it looks like Warren is going to have to deal with a primary challenger.

At the Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky calls it a “witch hunt,” and I agree with him. He calls it “the biggest media-manufactured story since the Lewinsky scandal.”

So now Elizabeth Warren has to prove that she’s 1/32nd Cherokee? The temperature on the story is rising. There was a huge article in the Boston Globe on Friday written to raise a number of questions and suggest that Warren used the minority designation to get her job, or get ahead—exactly at the same time that a poll was released (PDF) showing that 69 percent of Bay State voters don’t consider her heritage to be a “significant” story. It reminds me of nothing so much as Monica Lewinsky, and of the media’s need sometimes to get a grip.

Why Lewinsky? The situations are in fact almost precisely the same. You had then a press pack that had decided that whether Bill Clinton was telling the truth about Monica was a question on which the fate of the republic hinged. The press became self-righteously consumed with its search for The Truth. Meanwhile, outside the Beltway, and outside of Wingnuttia (it existed then, just at about half of its current GDP), nobody cared what the truth was. The media kept producing revelations; surely, now, swore Maureen Dowd and Michael Kelly, America will see this man for the reprobate he is! America looked, yawned, told the press to start acting like grownups, and continued to approve of the job Clinton was doing as president at rates near 70 percent and to oppose impeachment at similar levels.

The appearance Thursday morning of this Suffolk University poll (linked to above) made me think: Well, this story line is about to wrap up. If more than two-thirds of voters don’t care, then that’s that. But no—still going strong! And now it’s not the loopy, right-wing, and pro-Brown Herald, which pushed the story first, but the Globe trying to play catch up. Yes, yes, it’s all in the public interest. What, you say, the public says it isn’t interested? Well, we’ll teach them what’s in their interest!

This is sheer insanity.