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Native Oklahomans are not to be found everywhere. So when I hear that someone of prominence is an Okie, I tend to check my memory, asking whether we have ever met. Sometime ago, when Elizabeth Warren appeared on the scene and I heard that she was from Oklahoma City, I had a passing thought. “We are about the same age,” I figured. “I wonder what high school she attended.”
Tonight, at a moment when I had finished something that I was working on, I took a moment to look up Warren on Wikipedia, and here is what I found:
She was born Elizabeth Herring
on June 22, 1949, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to working class parents . . .At Northwest Classen High School, she was named “Oklahoma’s top high-school debater”. She received a debate-team scholarship to George Washington University at the age of 16.
Now, as it happens, I was born almost exactly six months before Fauxcahontas, and, yes, I attended Northwest Classen High School — from which I graduated in 1967, the year after Elizabeth Warren is said to have graduated (and did so if, indeed, she was awarded a scholarship to George Washington University when she was 16).
Even more to the point, I was a debater at Northwest Classen, and I went to every meet where we fielded a team when I was a sophomore, a junior, and a senior.
But I do not remember an Elizabeth Herring — although I found her in the 1966 year book, where she is listed as vice-president of the National Forensic League. But there is nothing in the yearbook about her being named “Oklahoma’s top high-school debater,” and it is very odd, indeed, that I remember nothing at all about that.
I do not remember everything and everyone, but I do remember the debaters. They were the people I hung out with — especially when I was a sophomore and a junior. Moreover, had one in our number been named “Oklahoma’s top high-school debater,” I would surely remember the person and the fact.
Someone should do a bit of investigative work. It is conceivable that Elizabeth Herring was a great star when I was a junior and that I have forgotten her. But I would not be surprised to learn that Ms. Warren has lied about things other than her supposed Cherokee heritage.
Was she named “Oklahoma’s top high-school debater?” And, if so, by whom?
UPDATE: One of the virtues of Ricochet is that it equips contributors with research assistants who correct errors and dig up information they missed. Stuart Crecque in a comment below cites an article published last year in a neighborhood newspaper in Oklahoma City, which reveals that Liz Herring was for three years the debate partner of Karl Johnson. He was, indeed, memorable as a debater, and I recall his going on to Williams College the following year.
If anyone in the class of 1966 was named “Oklahoma’s top high-school debater,” it was Karl. But there is nothing in the yearbook for that year about either of them being singled out in this fashion, and I have no memory of any body ever singling out any individual in this fashion. That Liz Herring and Karl Johnson as a team had considerable success in their high school years there is no question. The further claim about her may be fiction. Elizabeth Warren has a gift for making claims favorable to her career that are untrue.