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Looking at “Native American” Differently

I was struck by something Donald Trump said on Monday. Because Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) appeared with Hillary Clinton, Trump attacked Warren and her listing herself as a Native American minority in Association of American Law Schools (AALS) directories from 1986-95.

“She used the fact that she was Native American to advance her career,” Trump said. “Elizabeth Warren is a total fraud.”

Now, I could write an entire blog based on everything Trump says and fact-check and correct his usage. In this case, Warren said she had self-identified as a minority in the directories to meet others with similar tribal roots. Her brothers defended her, stating that they “grew up listening to our mother and grandmother and other relatives talk about our family’s Cherokee and Delaware heritage.”

Whether you believe Warren or not, or whether you side with Trump or not, it makes no difference to me. The point I want to make is, if you break down the words, you’ll see that Warren, millions of others and I are, in fact, native Americans.

Native means “belonging to a particular place by birth.” Warren was born in Oklahoma City (notice Trump doesn’t question her birth as he did with President Obama in 2011). The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution begins, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” This makes Warren an American.

And a native American.

Until next time! Use the right words!

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June 30, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I “Advise” You to Take My “Advice”

Here’s one  in which seemingly everyone gets wrong (including me) because we don’t know the origins.

Legal people will use “advise and consent” when describing a relationship between an attorney and a client. The attorney advises and the client consents.

However, the original term is “advice and consent,”and it refers to when the executive branch in England (the King or Queen) enacts something the legislative branch already approved. So, the monarch legally enacts the bill, but he/she had nothing to do with it. This matches the definition of the word advice,  a noun meaning “recommendation.”

In the United States, “advice and consent” refers to the Senate being consulted on a treaty the President already has approved or appointments he already has made. The term “advice and consent” appears in Article II, Section 2, Paragraph 2 of the U.S. Constitution.

Advise and consent” does not appear in the Constitution but today is an actual Senate motion that shows the Senate has no formal power to sign a treaty or appoint someone such as a Supreme Court justice, federal judge or cabinet position. Typically, congressional hearings are used. Advise is a verb meaning “to give a recommendation.”

“Advise and Consent” also is a 1959 novel by Allen Drury that explores the Senate confirming a former member of the Communist Party to be Secretary of State . It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1960 and was made into a movie in 1962 starring Henry Fonda and many others.

Nice to know the government isn’t misusing these words.

Until next time! Use the right words!

March 12, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Comprise/Compose/Constitute Confusion

Continuing my march through various words people butcher because they don’t know the definitions, we come to comprise, compose and constitute.

I find “comprise”  most often misused. It means to include or embrace all. So, the United States comprises 50 states. It is NOT composed of 50 states.

That’s because “compose” means to create or put together. The United States did not compose itself of 50 states. People did. In doing so, some of these people composed stories or songs.

As for “constitute,” use it only if the other two choices don’t work. But they usually do.

Finally, don’t forget to use include if you’re not listing everything that is comprised, composed or constituted: The 50 states includes Oregon.

Until next time! Use the right words!

September 8, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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