People of good will, regardless of their political leanings, abhor discrimination based on race. But it’s liberals who were on the right side of history, who were the ones who led the fight for civil rights here in America back in the ‘60s. And maybe it’s because of that they’ve long since seen themselves as morally superior to anyone who doesn’t adhere to their “high standards” on matters of race.
They are the self-anointed guardians of civil rights, the ones who have assigned themselves the role of shining a bright light on racial discrimination whenever and wherever they see it. So far so good.
But what happens if you have no racial animus, but you’re not a fan of affirmative action as it’s currently practiced? Good chance the progressives will call you a bigot.
And what happens if you think the concept of “white privilege” is bunk? Another good chance that some high-minded liberal will say you’re a member of the patriarchy and too stupid to understand.
Liberals, bless their hearts, have never been short on sanctimony.
So that’s why it’s interesting that the people doing the discriminating in one particular case aren’t those supposedly evil conservatives, but are none other than members in good standing of the enlightened liberal elite.
And not just any old liberal elite … but the edified Harvard liberal elite!
A group called Students for Fair Admissions is suing the school, alleging that Harvard has set up what amounts to an illegal quota in order to limit the number of Asian American students who get in.
Harvard has some history with this kind of bigotry. Back in the 1920s and 30s, the Ivy League set limits on how many Jewish students they’d let in.
If they’d tell the truth (which would never happen, of course) it might sound something like this: We have to limit the number of Asians we let in – or else the campus would be swarming with them. They’re smarter than everybody else. That’s why we had to keep those Jews out. You understand, don’t you?
According to the lawsuit, “An Asian American applicant with a 25% chance of admission would have a 35% chance if he were white, 75% if he were Hispanic, and 95% chance if he were African-American.”
In other words, if other words are really needed, Harvard doesn’t want too many Asian American kids at the school, no matter how smart they are because the Pooh-Bahs who run the place want a more diverse student body. And if they take in too many Asian students they might not have room on campus for other minorities, even if they’re less qualified.
Harvard, of course, would never acknowledge its bigotry. It says it’s a private school and its admission policies are a “trade secret” – a nice way of saying, “What we do here in Cambridge is none of your damn business.”
Not an especially convincing argument coming from a school that has no problem taking half a billion dollars a year in federal money. And it’s a good thing that federal civil rights laws apply to private schools like Harvard as well as public universities.
Harvard’s documents show that admission officers think Asian applicants are less well rounded than other applicants . They score low on personal traits –such as being likeable, and having a nice personality, and being helpful.
This is how sophisticated people manipulate subjective criteria. Or to put it more bluntly: how they mask their bigotry. If they weren’t so sophisticated they’d make Asian applicants tell admission officers exactly how many jellybeans are in the jar on the officer’s desk. That’s what bigoted white registrars did in the Old South to make sure blacks didn’t qualify to vote.
This is definitely not how affirmative action was supposed to work. According to the grand plan, it was OK for young white men to be turned away, regardless of merit. They were members of the oppressive class, after all.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the progressive Nirvana: People of color are being caught in the affirmative action crosshairs.
The case against Harvard may wind up in the Supreme Court where nine justices will have to decide how much discrimination is acceptable to sustain a system of racial spoils.
But whatever the Court decides the common sense verdict is already in: Harvard is guilty of discrimination based on race. But discriminating based on race is precisely how affirmative action works. It just wasn’t supposed to work against minorities.
As long as so-called privileged white kids were turned away from Harvard and other elite schools, liberals could justify their discrimination – and feel good about themselves at the same time. Let’s see how long they continue to justify discrimination against hard-working, talented people of color. Let’s see how long they can feel good about that.