Short Take: Warren’s Truth

The kerfluffle (and it is truly a kerfluffle, nothing more) about Senator Elizabeth Warren’s native American ancestry provides the backdrop to the overarching question of whether she’s entitled to facts or truth. Her truth.

A defender of the faith offered this in response to the ridicule sent Warren’s way.

Warren suffers from epistemic injustice where her assertions of heritage are given unjustly low weight based on stereotypes associated w/her identity. It’s her story, her family’s story, her truth. Why a need to deny her identity that has informed her entire life?

If Warren family lore was that they were, to some extent, Cherokee, is that not enough for her to believe it’s so? Is her belief not good enough to accept the fact that she believes? And if her belief is sincere, what difference does it make that the facts don’t bear her out?

Whether Warren is of Native American heritage or not is good for some lulz, but so what? Maybe she is. Maybe she isn’t. It’s not as though she made it up out of whole cloth, assuming that it was her family’s “story” and “her truth.”

This isn’t about Warren, so keep your opinions about Warren to yourself. This is about the relative merit of facts v. truth, of whether people who believe in something are absolved from gravity, the laws of thermodynamics, facts. Even if we can accept the premise that their belief is sincere, is that good enough to take it the next step and apply that belief as reality? Or are we just coddling the believers by joining in their factless delusions?


Facts are objective.

Truth is subjective.

So if being Native American is Warren’s truth, do we let her have it, let it be “the truth” because it’s “her truth,” or do we sit her down and tell her something that’s going to make her sad? And moving beyond Warren, what of the many people who similarly believe their own truth despite the facts? Are they entitled to it, and does it mean the rest of us have to respect their truth and acquiesce in their self-delusion?

Moving one step further away, can we solve societal problems, form public policy, based upon people’s “truth” even if it’s nothing more than their belief, flying in the face of facts? Does anything get fixed by indulging delusions?

There isn’t much of a question that our vulgar, amoral, ignoramus president spews a never-ending stream of lies, nonsense and, on a good day, merely inappropriate gibberish. But there was never any expectation of better from him. Is the alternative of a fantasy world of “her truth,” offered with better intentions, a better option? When no one gives a damn about facts or logic, these are the questions presented. Not much of an option, really.

19 thoughts on “Short Take: Warren’s Truth

  1. Pete

    Ironically, the source of that quote has this in he bio:

    “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” ~ Daniel Patrick Moynihan

  2. Hunting Guy

    Hunting Guy.

    “Just because you don’t believe in the law of gravity doesn’t mean you won’t go splat when you jump off the roof.”

  3. Henry Berry

    Just when I was beginning to accept that gender was fluid, now I have to accept that ethnicity is fluid too.

      1. LocoYokel

        Does this mean I can claim Indian heritage if I receive a blood transfusion from a Native American?

      2. Nemo

        It might be useful to note here that the “one drop” idea was the basis for dishonest people to do dishonest things in its inception, and that not much has changed, but that can leave one with the impression that this particular flavor of bullshit doesn’t exist on both sides of the political fence.

        As far as folks who have pushed agendas far beyond what can be provably claimed go, I don’t even have to tap the current, verboten reference point. Ward Churchill will do.



    1. B. McLeod

      If it’s good for Rachel Dolezal (and I don’t see why not), it has to be good for senators. By the same current “Progressive” “logic” that works in “gender discrimination” cases, if you don’t respect someone’s subjective, ethnic identity, you are racially discriminating against them for not conforming to the stereotype you objectively associate with their physical appearance. The decriers of “cultural appropriation” will just have to suck it up on this one, and exclude from their usual hate speech those appropriators who subjectively “identify” as members of the culture in question.

  4. Black Bellamy

    I love this new language. Whenever I hear a possessive pronoun in front of “truth”, I know the speaker to be a narcissistic liar. I can just put them in the bullshit bucket. So easy.

    The popularity of the phrase “my truth” was completely flat for like 50 years, then in 1990 it starts trending upwards. Up and up and up, and it’s now 3 times as popular as before. Same with “misremember”, also a red flag for self-centered liars. No movement all 20th century, then in the 80s it starts to skyrocket.

    Hat Tip: Google Ngram Viewer

    1. SHG Post author

      Misremember might be more a euphemism for lie. “My truth” is just a facile delusion to escape the tyranny of facts.

  5. Lawrence Kaplan

    People assume that in the clash between Trump and Warren they can’t both be right, and consequently one is right, the other wrong. But in this case while they both can’t be right, both can be, and are, wrong.

  6. Mark J Mullins

    You can have whatever personal truth you want – that’s basically religion. When you start shouting it from the rooftops though you’d better be ready to defend it.

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