Affirmative action in education looks an awful lot like bigotry — especially to Asian-Americans

Thousands of Americans suffer discrimination today because of their national origin. They are cruelly barred, solely on account of where their ancestors were born, from realizing their dreams. This discrimination violates the Constitution and makes a mockery of civil rights-era legislation.

Worse, the discrimination these Americans suffer is the result of conscious policy. This is not about “implicit bias,” which assumes that we all have racist impulses and act on them subconsciously. No, the discrimination against these Americans has Supreme Court blessing.

{mosads}I’m referring to Asian-Americans, or to be more specific, Americans of Chinese, Korean or Indian descent. Research demonstrates they’re discriminated against when they apply to Harvard and other elite universities, entry to which is an important rung on the ladder of success in this country.


The data is strong that diversity goals have led to discrimination against Asian American applicants. The Harvard Law Review, to its credit, last year explained why in a very good essay on this matter aptly titled “The Harvard Plan that Failed Asians.”

The essay, like most of the literature, quotes a study that showed that “in order to be admitted to certain selective institutions, Asian applicants needed to score — on the 1600 point scale of the ‘old SAT’ — 140 points higher than whites, 270 points higher than Hispanics, and 450 points higher than African Americans if other factors are held equal.”

The good news is that Chinese Americans are in a state of near revolt on this matter, and their actions may finally bring down the entire edifice of racial preferences. And when that happens, the whole Identity Politics project will crumble as well.

A lawsuit that charges that Harvard’s admissions plan is discriminatory has been given a tentative court date of October 15. The plan mirrors the anti-Semitic plan Harvard had in the early 20th century when it kept out talented Jewish applicants. The Justice Department has urged Harvard to disclose its admission policies.

As Wesley Yang writes in the Tablet, these cases and other actions by Chinese-Americans, many of them recent immigrants or their children, threaten “the entire system of racial patronage, in which America is organized into four racial collectives — white, black, Hispanic, and Asian, with the three non-white groups allied together to defend the interests of minorities amidst white hegemony.”

There would be a certain element of cosmic retribution if Chinese-Americans help end identity politics in this country.

One Chinese-American activist recently described to me with some passion how she and members of her generation had grown up in Maoist China with the “Five Black Categories” and the “Five Red Categories.”

The first included landlords, rich farmers, etc., and were enemies of the revolution; the latter included poor farmers, workers, etc. Members of the former group were routinely humiliated and forced to go to “struggle sessions” where they were made to expiate their privileged status.

“We were treated a certain way not because of anything we did, but because of government categories we were born into,” she said to me plaintively, before adding, “Now we have come to America and are presented with government categories again.”

If the Maoist craziness sounds familiar, it should. The entire identity politics, racial preferences and multiculturalism project has the same Marxist roots that produced the Cultural Revolution. As a New York Times Op-Ed celebrating Marx’s upcoming birthday put it this week, “Racial and sexual oppression have been added to the dynamic of class exploitation. Social justice movements … owe something of an unspoken debt to Marx.”

The Supreme Court blessed the concept of racial preferences in the 1978 Regents of the University of California v. Bakke case, in which it found there was a compelling state interest and a supposed educational benefit “in the attainment of a diverse student body.” Now Marxist professors are using “diversity” as a wedge to radically change America.

Just ask former Black Panther and self-proclaimed communist Angela Davis. “Diversity without changing the structure, without calling for structural formation, simply brings those who were previously excluded into a process that continues to be as racist, as misogynist as it was before,” Davis told an adoring crowd at the University of Virginia last month.

As the Law Review made clear, the diversity goal in the Bakke case inexorably led to proportional representation, which keeps Asians out if their numbers among the student body gets too much out of whack with their numbers in the population, whether they are talented or not.

Harvard limited Jews because it deemed them social inferiors. Today Harvard and other top schools do the same with Asian-Americans because, in the incredibly candid words of a former dean of admissions at MIT, they think Asian-Americans are “textureless math grinds.”

Yes, this is the intellectual equivalent of the bigot’s claim that Asians “all look alike.”

Small wonder that that Chinese-American parents and their children are organizing and storming state legislatures and public school hearings to protest any move they think will perpetuate this system. They’re wisely ignoring the pleas of their purported leaders at ethnic affinity organizations, which have completely bought into the racial spoils system produced by racial preferences.

They want a meritocracy. It’s hard to see the Supreme Court disagreeing if this year’s suit ever reaches it — and continuing to uphold a system that is so un-American.

Mike Gonzalez, a senior fellow in the Davis Institute for International Studies at The Heritage Foundation, is the author of “A Race for the Future: How Conservatives Can Break the Liberal Monopoly on Hispanic Americans” (Crown Forum, 2014).

Tags Affirmative action Discrimination Education Higher education Mike Gonzalez Regents of the Univ. of Cal. v. Bakke

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