The Santa Clara
October 25, 2018
Have you ever seen the movie “Gattaca”? It’s a bit of an obscure film, but worth the watch. The film is centered around Vincent Freeman in his pursuit of his lifelong goal of voyaging into space.
Freeman is a minority in his society; one of the few natural-born children in a society almost entirely composed of those who have been genetically modified. Those without genetic modification are pushed aside and denied fair and equal treatment.
The story depicts Freeman’s journey into space, defeating all odds. It is an uplifting movie, and I highly recommend it to all, especially those watching the battle between Elizabeth Warren and President Donald Trump in regard to her ancestry. Warren could have learned from “Gattaca.”
In short, Warren has claimed Native American heritage throughout her career. In 2012, The Boston Globe reported Warren had identified herself as a racial minority to the Association of American Law Schools.
After this first report, more connections to her claims to Native American heritage were uncovered. Harvard listed her as a person of color. Most damningly, Warren also contributed to a Native American cookbook, identifying herself as “Cherokee.” When challenged on her heritage, Senator Warren was unable to provide substantial evidence to support her claims. This has brought criticism by many, most notably Trump.
In hopes to change public opinion, Warren recently released DNA testing courtesy of Carlos Bustamante, a Stanford geneticist. In his report, he comes to the conclusion: “While the vast majority of the individual’s ancestry is European, the results strongly support the existence of an unadmixed Native American ancestor in the individual’s pedigree, likely in the range of six to ten generations ago.”
At the minimum, that means her great, great, great, great grandfather/ grandmother was Native American. Warren thought the release of this data would end doubt, and in the process embarrass Trump. In reality, there has been great backlash against Warren.
The Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said in an official statement: “Using a DNA test to lay claim to any connection to the Cherokee Nation or any tribal nation, even vaguely, is inappropriate and wrong. It makes a mockery out of DNA tests and its legitimate uses while also dishonoring legitimate tribal governments and their citizens, whose ancestors are well documented and whose heritage is proven. Senator Warren is undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage.”
Not. Good. Needless to say, Warren is in the wrong, and quite possibly closed the door for her 2020 presidential run.
Rather than belabor the point, let us focus on what her ideas represent, and how they connect with “Gattaca.”
In “Gattaca,” Vincent Freeman refuses to let his DNA define who he is. Rather, he chooses to let his actions and his hard work define him. In the final scenes of “Gattaca,” Vincent and his genetically modified brother race each other. Because of the genetic modification, Vincent always loses the race to his brother. In a climatic final scene, Vincent not only defeats his brother but also saves his life. A lifetime of Vincent’s hard work is validated and his dream is realized.
Warren could take a lesson from Freeman’s character. Warren is focusing on her DNA—1/64th to 1/1024th of it to be precise. In her pursuit to be technically correct, Warren has failed to see the bigger picture. Being 1/64th (at best) of anything does not define us. Vincent Freeman did not let his DNA define him, and neither should Warren or any American.
Jake Souleyrette is a sophomore finance major