“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 Wall Street Journal
As was discussed recently when a Minnesota senior was accepted into all eight Ivy League schools, the issue of race-based college acceptance is once again rearing its head. This time, though, it comes with a twist: students of color are the ones on the short end of the stick.
Many argue that elite colleges don’t judge candidates on their race. This is typically argued to defend the success of recipients. But I approach this wanting to move past this debate. These private colleges do factor race into their acceptance decisions, just as some public schools had done until it was ruled illegal.
The real debate is about whether such favoritism is justified. And the recent lawsuit filed against Harvard on behalf of Asian Americans throws a monkey wrench into the discussion.
Just weeks ago, the Indiana state governor was on a Sunday morning political television show being questioned about his state’s then-new law regarding the legal right to discriminate against gay people. This Sunday, it could just as well be Harvard’s president on television. Only his presence would be a real twist, because this time progressive–not conservative–policies are the reason for the discrimination. And Progressive ideology strongly condemns discrimination.
It also advocates diversity policies, designed to prevent discrimination against people of color. But now these policies are precisely that which are discriminating against individuals of color–because there are too many students of the Asian “color”.
To be real, diversity policy has always discriminated based on race–but with the angle that it’s helping David battle Goliath. Most of America has been okay with this.
Goliath is white people–especially white males. David is people of color–or sometimes women or gays.
But if diversity = good
and discrimination (against Davids) = bad,
…what side do you take when to get the “good” you have to commit the “bad”?
I’ve read one pundit defend Harvard (beyond the fact that they have the right as a private institution), because if Harvard didn’t hold Asians to a higher standard, then Harvard would be mostly Asian and not the bastion of diversity he and they want.
Maybe many other liberally-minded people agree but are keeping quiet. I don’t blame them. To come out and admit that what Harvard is doing is okay is to go against a moral tenet of liberal American thought. This is what makes this case so interesting: it forces those who would most likely be uproarious over discrimination to question their own favored polices.
This situation is actually very valuable in that it reveals the inherent shortcomings of an ideology–and all have shortcomings, embedded contradictions that force the adherent to reluctantly admit they don’t have all the answers, that life is more complicated than any ideology can best fit.
But it’s hard to admit ideological defeat, because our egos like our particular worldviews. To admit that our chosen ideological brand–liberalism, conservatism, libertarianism–is inadequate is like a religious person admitting their faith is baloney. It’s a huge rug being pulled out from underneath the person. Who wants to end up on their butt?
On the other hand, this case provides a unique opportunity for the Progressive ideologue to get over the fear of their worldview faltering. You just need to answer some tough questions:
Is it okay to discriminate?
Is it okay to discriminate against someone because they are part of an empowered group? (Affirmative Action)
Is it okay to discriminate against a person of color because their “color” is too plentiful? (Harvard and other college practices against Asians)
If not, are you okay then with such institutions representing hardly any black students? (The result if current discrimination ended)
This is an example where an ideological initiative has come around to bite its own implementers. But in general, it makes us all answer some tough questions about the price of diversity and the blanket judgment against discrimination we have in the US.