Liberal affirmative action racism facing new threat
Finally, push is about to come to shove regarding the systemic racism exercised in the name of diversity. Almost anyone paying attention realizes that nearly all elite universities and colleges discriminate against Asian-Americans in admissions policy. In those rare elite campuses that don’t discriminate, such as the University of California system (where voters passed an initiative outlawing it) and California Institute of Technology, the most selective campuses have 40% to 50% Asian-American undergraduate student bodies. But elsewhere, the numbers are far lower.
Now, a large coalition organizations representing Asian-Americans has filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. Douglas Belkin reports in the Wall Street Journal:
The complaint, filed by a coalition of 64 organizations, says the university has set quotas to keep the numbers of Asian-American students significantly lower than the quality of their applications merits. It cites third-party academic research on the SAT exam showing that Asian-Americans have to score on average about 140 points higher than white students, 270 points higher than Hispanic students and 450 points higher than African-American students to equal their chances of gaining admission to Harvard. The exam is scored on a 2400-point scale.
The disparity in SAT scores is substantial enough to persuade many juries, but of course this complaint will be handled by education bureaucrats who are as committed to “diversity” and “holistic” evaluation (meaning valuing whatever subjective qualities are sufficient to produce the desired ethnic mix) as Harvard. However, the action is significant and has a chance of producing real-world changes for the following reasons:
- The large coalition of citizens’ groups will have clout based on their membership and their members’ political activities. (They took the time to join these groups and are paying attention.) Asian-Americans are an even faster-growing ethnic voting bloc than Hispanics, and they are increasingly conscious that the deck is stacked against their children in higher education. This has got to concern Democrats, who, after all, are also the party of the government bureaucrats and who also enjoy substantial margins of support among Asian-Americans.
- The investigation and response will produce data that could be useful in civil litigation. Jurors, even in liberal precincts like Boston, are less sympathetic to bureaucratic euphemisms than educrats.
- The information developed in the case is very comparable to the situation Jews faced in the Ivy League during the first half of the last century, when a “Jewish quota” was in effect. Jews, another key Democrat constituency, can’t help but pay attention and feel pangs of guilt. Jews are very prominent donors both to the Democratic Party and the Ivy League universities. The only real difference this time around is that the racial discrimination is accompanied by nauseating self-congratulating rhetoric about “diversity” and “inclusion,” whereas a century or so ago, against Jews, it came with a much more honest “not our kind of people” rationale.
A friend puts it well:
Even a Krugman could understand the math. It’s a zero-sum game. If you’re going to lower standards for Group A to increase the number of Group A students, you’re automatically required to increase standards for Group B students to decrease the number of Group B students.
Quod erat demonstrandum.
What is baffling, however, is why individuals who happen to have certain physical characteristics of members of Group A are entitled to something of great value taken from individuals who happen to have certain physical characteristics of members of Group B.
If you doubt that serious racial discrimination is handing slots at our most prestigious and selective universities to people who do not meet the standard, spend a few minutes reading Michelle Obama’s senior thesis at Princeton University and ponder for a moment the straight-A, math-genius, top SAT-scoring Asian-American who did not get in to leave a place for Michelle O.