Media angst over low Asian-American support for Obama (updated)

Thomas Lifson
Barack Obama receives 90% of the black vote versus Hillary Clinton, but when another racial minority, Asian-Americans, shows signs of disproportionately voting for Hillary Clinton in primary elections, the media wrings its hands about possible racism. Lisa Takeuchi Cullen of TIME addresses these concerns:

"Maybe it's just my cynicism speaking, but you look at those numbers and on some level there has to be some element of race," says Oliver Wang, a sociology professor at California State University at Long Beach. While not discounting the myriad cultural reasons that could explain the support for Clinton, "on a gut level my reaction is that at least some Asian-Americans are uncomfortable voting for a black candidate."

Cullen notes that until very recently Obama has spoken of race almost exclusively in terms of blacks and whites.

... some Asians were sensitive to being left out of Obama's rousing stump speeches on racial unity - speeches that mentioned only black and white, according to Don Nakanishi, director of the Asian American Studies Center at the University of California Los Angeles. But following his clean sweep of the Potomac primaries on February 12, Obama pointedly thanked a rainbow of ethnic groups, including Asian-Americans. "He can turn it around," says Nakanishi. "He has a story to tell, one that we would get."

Cullen addresses a number of possible explanations for Asian-American support for Clinton over Obama, but strangely leaves out an obvious, if sensitive, issue: affirmative action preferences for blacks.

Many Asian-American families value hard work, education and upward mobility. Before California voters outlawed state-sponsored racial preferences, the ability of black applicants to be admitted to the University of California system with combined grades and aptitude score tests that would get an Asian-heritage candidate automatically rejected was a very sore point. One of the very serious problems with affirmative action  programs is the resentment they sow against its ostensible beneficiaries. For competitive schools like UC Berkeley which have ten applicants for every slot, there are many, many rejected students (and their families) who resent the relatively small numbers benefitting from preferences. "But for preferences, I would occupy that slot..." goes the reasoning. Arithmetically incorrect, but all too human.

Of course, affirmative action is a taboo subject when it comes to Obama. Nobody is willing to even suggest that he (Columbia, Harvard Law School) or his wife (Princeton, Harvard Law School) benefitted from preferences. I have never seen anyone even ask if either of them received scholarships.

Absent any evidence of race preferences enabling or financing either of the Obamas' educations, that would be mean-spirited and unfair, of course. But liberals are not so shy about claiming that Clarence Thomas was a preferences beneficiary, and he is regularly excoriated for alleged "hypocrisy" in opposing race preferences. Double standards applied to black conservatives are nothing new, of course.

But just because a subject is taboo, it does not necessarily vanish from people's minds. Arguably, a taboo only enhances the amount of attention paid in the privacy of an individual's thoughts. Call it a sleeper issue. Of course, it will be used as evidence of racism against anyone or any group that fails to support the only man who can save America's soul.

Update -- Richard Baehr adds:

Do not forget blacks beating  up Koreans in the Rodney King riots or Sharpton's verbal assault on Koreans in New York

Richard Wolffe of Newsweek has an excellent article on Michelle Obama's life experiences, including at Princeton and Harvard. A few excerpts:

She did well in school (she skipped second grade), but she was not at the top of her class. She didn't get the attention of the school's college counselors, who helped the brightest students find spots at prestigious universities. "Princeton, the Ivy Leagues swoop up kids" like Craig [her older brother -- a star basketball player], Michelle says. "A black kid from the South Side of Chicago that plays basketball and is smart. He was getting in everywhere. But I knew him, and I knew his study habits, and I was, like, 'I can do that too'." Some of her teachers told her she didn't have the grades or test scores to make it to the Ivies. But she applied to Princeton and was accepted. [snip]

Michelle felt the tension acutely enough that she made it the subject of her senior sociology thesis, titled "Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community." The paper is now under lock and key, but according to the Chicago Sun-Times, Michelle wrote that Princeton "made me far more aware of my 'blackness' than ever before." She wrote that she felt like a visitor on the supposedly open-minded campus. "Regardless of the circumstances under which I interact with Whites at Princeton," she wrote, "it often seems as if, to them, I will always be Black first and a student second." (Today, Michelle says, not quite convincingly, that she can't remember what was in her thesis.) [snip]

At Harvard, she felt the same racial divide. Verna Williams and Michelle became friends in their first year of law school. She remembers many of their fellow black students worrying that white classmates viewed them as charity cases. But she suggests Michelle was not among them. "She recognized that she had been privileged by affirmative action and she was very comfortable with that," Williams recalls.

Michelle recalls things differently. A campaign spokeswoman says she had an edge getting into Princeton not because of affirmative action, but because her older brother was there as a scholar athlete.

Barack Obama receives 90% of the black vote versus Hillary Clinton, but when another racial minority, Asian-Americans, shows signs of disproportionately voting for Hillary Clinton in primary elections, the media wrings its hands about possible racism. Lisa Takeuchi Cullen of TIME addresses these concerns:

"Maybe it's just my cynicism speaking, but you look at those numbers and on some level there has to be some element of race," says Oliver Wang, a sociology professor at California State University at Long Beach. While not discounting the myriad cultural reasons that could explain the support for Clinton, "on a gut level my reaction is that at least some Asian-Americans are uncomfortable voting for a black candidate."

Cullen notes that until very recently Obama has spoken of race almost exclusively in terms of blacks and whites.

... some Asians were sensitive to being left out of Obama's rousing stump speeches on racial unity - speeches that mentioned only black and white, according to Don Nakanishi, director of the Asian American Studies Center at the University of California Los Angeles. But following his clean sweep of the Potomac primaries on February 12, Obama pointedly thanked a rainbow of ethnic groups, including Asian-Americans. "He can turn it around," says Nakanishi. "He has a story to tell, one that we would get."

Cullen addresses a number of possible explanations for Asian-American support for Clinton over Obama, but strangely leaves out an obvious, if sensitive, issue: affirmative action preferences for blacks.

Many Asian-American families value hard work, education and upward mobility. Before California voters outlawed state-sponsored racial preferences, the ability of black applicants to be admitted to the University of California system with combined grades and aptitude score tests that would get an Asian-heritage candidate automatically rejected was a very sore point. One of the very serious problems with affirmative action  programs is the resentment they sow against its ostensible beneficiaries. For competitive schools like UC Berkeley which have ten applicants for every slot, there are many, many rejected students (and their families) who resent the relatively small numbers benefitting from preferences. "But for preferences, I would occupy that slot..." goes the reasoning. Arithmetically incorrect, but all too human.

Of course, affirmative action is a taboo subject when it comes to Obama. Nobody is willing to even suggest that he (Columbia, Harvard Law School) or his wife (Princeton, Harvard Law School) benefitted from preferences. I have never seen anyone even ask if either of them received scholarships.

Absent any evidence of race preferences enabling or financing either of the Obamas' educations, that would be mean-spirited and unfair, of course. But liberals are not so shy about claiming that Clarence Thomas was a preferences beneficiary, and he is regularly excoriated for alleged "hypocrisy" in opposing race preferences. Double standards applied to black conservatives are nothing new, of course.

But just because a subject is taboo, it does not necessarily vanish from people's minds. Arguably, a taboo only enhances the amount of attention paid in the privacy of an individual's thoughts. Call it a sleeper issue. Of course, it will be used as evidence of racism against anyone or any group that fails to support the only man who can save America's soul.

Update -- Richard Baehr adds:

Do not forget blacks beating  up Koreans in the Rodney King riots or Sharpton's verbal assault on Koreans in New York

Richard Wolffe of Newsweek has an excellent article on Michelle Obama's life experiences, including at Princeton and Harvard. A few excerpts:

She did well in school (she skipped second grade), but she was not at the top of her class. She didn't get the attention of the school's college counselors, who helped the brightest students find spots at prestigious universities. "Princeton, the Ivy Leagues swoop up kids" like Craig [her older brother -- a star basketball player], Michelle says. "A black kid from the South Side of Chicago that plays basketball and is smart. He was getting in everywhere. But I knew him, and I knew his study habits, and I was, like, 'I can do that too'." Some of her teachers told her she didn't have the grades or test scores to make it to the Ivies. But she applied to Princeton and was accepted. [snip]

Michelle felt the tension acutely enough that she made it the subject of her senior sociology thesis, titled "Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community." The paper is now under lock and key, but according to the Chicago Sun-Times, Michelle wrote that Princeton "made me far more aware of my 'blackness' than ever before." She wrote that she felt like a visitor on the supposedly open-minded campus. "Regardless of the circumstances under which I interact with Whites at Princeton," she wrote, "it often seems as if, to them, I will always be Black first and a student second." (Today, Michelle says, not quite convincingly, that she can't remember what was in her thesis.) [snip]

At Harvard, she felt the same racial divide. Verna Williams and Michelle became friends in their first year of law school. She remembers many of their fellow black students worrying that white classmates viewed them as charity cases. But she suggests Michelle was not among them. "She recognized that she had been privileged by affirmative action and she was very comfortable with that," Williams recalls.

Michelle recalls things differently. A campaign spokeswoman says she had an edge getting into Princeton not because of affirmative action, but because her older brother was there as a scholar athlete.