Wake up, Tiger Mom!

Yes, Tiger Mom, your son did not make it into the Ivy League because he is Asian. All those Advance Placement courses, SAT seminars, extra math classes in the church school on Sunday after services did get him to crash through the 2200 base score that the Ivies require, but that was part of the problem. You see, a full 46% of all students who get over 2200 are Asian, and you are only 5% of the population.

In America, we are terribly troubled by the underrepresented. Those identity groups that suffered from not having Tiger Moms, did not want to take AP courses, or attend SAT seminars, not to mention give up a Sunday afternoon to study math. I mean, these days, parents are told not to read to their children because there are children out there who are not being read to, and, well, if you read to your children it’s unfair and probably a form of micro-aggression.

You did see the statements from Ivy League general counsels or administrators who claim there is no discrimination against Asians, and the admissions process is “holistic.” That’s just a shibboleth that lets the admissions committee give preference to the underrepresented, meaning the students who would not otherwise make the cut, but represent some identity group with strong political leverage. 

Your problem, Tiger Mom, is that you believe that academia and America are meritocracies. They are not. Merit is just one variable. Competing with merit is social justice. It is social justice that demands that we create a temporary policy of preference that gives assistance to the previously excluded. You say that preferential policies go back to the era of Lyndon B. Johnson, and that was at least half a century ago, and Asians have long been excluded -- even deported -- and there was the terrible Asian Exclusion Act.

True, but Asians failed to do something that is more important in America than getting a good SAT score or acquiring the ability to do vector calculus as a freshman. You failed to publicly attain and embrace the status of victimhood. You saw that as an impediment to success.

But in America, we love victims and their stories of injustice. We have a burning need to embrace our guilt and question our privilege and expiate our sins, especially in academia. I cannot tell you how good bending admissions standards makes us feel in our self-absorbed quest for righting the wrongs of the past as if we ourselves are responsible for the evils of every generation before us.

Asians deprive us of that opportunity. I mean, really, everyone has heard of the evils of slavery and segregation, the plight of the undocumented, but who has heard of Angel Island or the exploitation of Asian labor to build the industrial infrastructure of this country and the Chinese Exclusion Act?

Besides you are do not organize politically, on or off the campus. And we do pay attention, to political organization and protest, especially when it disrupts the normal flow of campus activity.

In his freshmen year, Eric Holder, was part of an armed group that took over a ROTC building at Columbia that was subsequently renamed Malcolm X lounge. At Cornell, Tom Jones was among the gun toting students that had taken over Willard Hall, and threatened faculty members in an infamous radio interview at the time.

Holder, of course, went on to become the Attorney General of the United States and a strong supporter of gun control. Tom Jones became the head of the TIAA/CREF investment firm, one of the largest and most ethical in the nation.

Both incidents were heralded as heroic watersheds in the struggle for equality by some and acts of violence by others, who argued that universities are a place for the exchange of ideas, demands, and negotiations, not armed occupation.

But the heroic image is the one that persists to this day.

So, when have Asian students ever seriously protested for something? The only protest I can remember is when a group of Asian physics majors demanded the physics library stay open later. An issue that was solved by granting them keys.

Who gets what, when, where and how in academia is the “who” that exerts power. That power can come from organized protest, the seizure of buildings, the brandishing of weapons or from the external political process.

Politically cultivated victimhood is merely a justification for power. Not every affirmative-action minority is a disadvantaged victim. After all, Barack Obama was reared in the middle class family of his grandparents; his mother had a doctorate, as did his father. He probably is withholding his grades from public view because he got into both Columbia and Harvard Law on affirmative action.

White students, no matter how impoverished their backgrounds, are never designated as victims. For all one knows, the middle class, intellectually nurtured Obama displaced some white student whose father was a millwright and grew up in a culturally deprived industrial suburb.

Asians theoretically qualify for affirmative action, but they already outstrip their proportions in the population. No one asks if an Asian student was reared in a home where English was a second language by immigrant parents. Would Amy Tan have qualified for affirmative action?

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a scathing attack on the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the right of the Michigan electorate to have voted down affirmative action. Sotomayor cites her own narrative as being given a leg up as a child of a poor home where English was a second language. But Sotomayor never thinks about whom she might have displaced in getting that leg up,

If we are looking for social justice, race and ethnicity should be immaterial. If 46% of the most qualified applicants to the Ivies are Asians, then so be it. All that should count is the quality of their achievement. The Tiger Mom’s efforts require no apology.