“Fauxcahontas.” Elizabeth Warren & Randolph Churchill: “Race: Human”

by Richard Langworth on 6 May 2012

Pocohantas (Wikimedia Commons)

A colleague forwards Mark Steyn’s hilarious rant on Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts politician who passed herself off as a native American (because she has “high cheekbones”) in order get invited to lunch (and not, understand, for any career advantage).

“A friend got his son into a better public school by saying he was a native American,” my colleague writes. “Unfortunately they didn’t tell the kid, so he was quite bewildered when the principal approached him one day about an after-school meeting for those interested in Indians. He also told me that this city you can change your racial identification, but only once.”

During a recent encounter with the medical world I was handed one of those questionnaires with the inevitable question “Race.” I checked, “Other” and then wrote in “Human,” hoping for a repercussion—but alas no one noticed.

I was inspired by Randolph Churchill, son of Sir Winston, who used a parallel but obviously different tactic when confronting the Race Question on a South African landing card in the old days of Apartheid:

“Damned cheek!,” said Randolph, and he began writing furiously:

Race: human. But if, as I imagine is the case, the object of this enquiry is to determine whether I have coloured blood in my veins, I am most happy to be able to inform you that I do, indeed, so have. This is derived from one of my most revered ancestors, the Indian Princess Pocohontas, of whom you may not have heard, but who was married to a Jamestown settler named John Rolfe …

The story goes that the authorities did not take this too well. Upon landing Randolph was denied admission to the Republic of South Africa and put on the next plane out….


Historical note: A leading Churchill myth is that Winston was descended in part from an Iroquois Indian. Even the myth does not claim Pocohantas, who has been linked as an ancestor to two American First Ladies, Edith Wilson and Nancy Reagan, but not to the Churchills. I suspect Randolph knew this, but with his usual zeal was adding to the legend to express his outrage.

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