Ed Driscoll

'Nominally Not True:' Elizabeth Warren and the Return of Fake But Accurate

During the election year of 2004, the New York Times attempted to help get John Kerry over the finish line by excusing Dan Rather’s hit job on George Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard as “fake but accurate,” and a classic Orwellian meme was born. The Hill’s Bernie Quigley is eager to do similar damage control for Elizabeth “1/32nd American Indian” Warren:

The first poetic vision of Europeans in the new world was that of James Fenimore Cooper, who conjured Natty Bumpo. He had an “Indian name” — he had several: Hawkeye, Deerslayer, Pathfinder — indicating that he had been “reborn” in the new world in the Indian spirit. It is the oldest and most important myth in the American canon of our folklore, from Lone Ranger, who died and became “born again” via agency of an Indian shaman, and Fox Mulder, who returned from the dead via Indian intercession in “The X Files,” born anew with the past burned away in death, to enter a new age under the flag of the White Buffalo.

So Warren’s claim to be “part Indian” is correct in mythical terms. Every old-school white Oklahoman is in this regard even if this is nominally not true.

As highlighted by Ace of Spades (read the whole thing, he’s having lots of fun here), who quips in response:

It’s not a lie for me to want to be George Clooney. But if I begin writing checks signed “George Clooney,” I’m pretty sure we’ve exited the realm of the “mythic imagination.”

Elizabeth Warren was noted as a “minority woman of color” at Harvard.

She displaced a minority woman of color — one whose status as a minority woman of color was more than “mythic” or “poetical.”

OK, back to Quigley for more “nominally not true”-style riffing:

So Warren’s claim to be “part Indian” is correct in mythical terms. Every old-school white Oklahoman is in this regard even if this in nominally not true. But it is not a lie to want to be Indian and to imagine your ancestors were. It is to be free of Europeanism. Emerson saw the laggard Europeanism within the Yankee mind as a curse of the unformed American, living half in shadow. It would bring temptation unnatural to us raised free in the forest; fascism, as in Italy, Spain and German, and the perennial virus of French nihilism.

“This just in,” Ace jokes. “Warrior-dominated tribal bands are free of the evils of power by militaristic rule.”

Beyond that, the allusion to Emerson is pretty rich, considering that last fall, Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen, a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison wrote a book titled American Nietzsche: A History of an Icon and His Ideas, which spotlighted Emerson as the one American inspiration of Nietzsche, who in turn was one of the inspirations for fascism, as in Germany, and the perennial virus of nihilism in general.

As Ratner-Rosenhagen wrote:

Nietzsche admired the ease with which Emerson made philosophy an ally of, rather than a retreat from or a corrective to, one’s own experiences and longings. He referred to him as “the excellent [treffliche] Emerson,” largely because he had shown Nietzsche how one can make philosophy “friends with life.” “Nietzsche loved Emerson,” observes Harold Bloom, who regards Nietzsche’s characterization of Emerson “the best comment, that I know, upon the American sage.”

None of the movements that Quigley quotes above were too keen on free market capitalism, and promoted violence in the street when it suited their goals — and funny enough, Warren is OK with those concepts as well. After all, as she said last fall, “I created much of the intellectual foundation for what they do. I support what they do.”

To be fair, they are “mostly peaceful” — just ask the media. Speaking of fake but accurate, and/or nominally not true.

Related: At Ricochet, a photo essay: “Pretendians: Why is it So Cool to be an Indian?”