Asian-American groups filed a federal lawsuit challenging Harvard University’s affirmative action policies as discriminatory, and the Justice Department backs of plaintiffs who say the university is discriminating against Asian-American applicants. (I wrote about the lawsuit here.) Of course they are discriminatory. In its quest for “diversity,” Harvard and other schools have penalized Asian-Americans, who confound Charles Murray-haters and racial-privilege mongers by being disproportionately excellent in academics. On a level playing field, in a purely merit-based admission system, they would dominate elite institutions, with numbers far beyond what demographics alone would predict. Can’t have that! (This the leftist reaction, and they run U.S. education. My reaction: what an inspiring American success story!) Thus Harvard and other schools have used de facto quotas to reject Asian Americans who would have been admitted easily if they were a different color.
Outgoing Harvard President Drew Faust, a feminist proto-totalitarian who has shown an eagerness to stomp on basic human rights like speech, due process and association during her disastrous tenure, sent the campus a message this week attacking the law suit. Here it is:
Dear Members of the Harvard Community,
In the weeks and months ahead, a lawsuit aimed to compromise Harvard’s ability to compose a diverse student body will move forward in the courts and in the media. As the case proceeds, an organization called Students for Fair Admissions—formed in part to oppose Harvard’s commitment to diversity—will seek to paint an unfamiliar and inaccurate image of our community and our admissions processes, including by raising allegations of discrimination against Asian-American applicants to Harvard College. These claims will rely on misleading, selectively presented data taken out of context. Their intent is to question the integrity of the undergraduate admissions process and to advance a divisive agenda. Please see here for more information about the case.
Year after year, Harvard brings together a community that is the most varied and diverse that any of us is likely ever to encounter. Harvard students benefit from working and living alongside people of different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives as they prepare for the complex world that awaits them and their considerable talents.
I have affirmed in the past, and do so again today, that Harvard will vigorously defend its longstanding values and the processes by which it seeks to create a diverse educational community. We will stand behind an approach that has been held up as legal and fair by the Supreme Court, one that relies on broad and extensive outreach to exceptional students in order to attract excellence from all backgrounds.
As this case generates widespread attention and comment, Harvard will react swiftly and thoughtfully to defend diversity as the source of our strength and our excellence—and to affirm the integrity of our admissions process. A diverse student body enables us to enrich, to educate, and to challenge one another. As a university community, we are bound across differences by a shared commitment to learning, to pursuing truth, and to embracing the rigor and respect of argument and evidence. We never give up on the promise of a world made better by an assumption revisited, an understanding expanded, or a truth questioned—again and again and again.
Last month, I presided over our Commencement Exercises for a final time and reveled in the accomplishments of our graduates and alumni, and in the joy and pride of the faculty who educated them, the staff who enabled their manifold successes, and the family members who helped nurture them and their aspirations. Tercentenary Theatre was filled with individuals from the widest range of backgrounds and life experiences. It was a powerful reminder that the heart of this extraordinary institution is its people.
Now, we have an opportunity to stand together and to defend the ideals and the people that make our community so extraordinary. I am committed to ensuring that veritas will prevail.
Such transparent deceit is seldom trumpeted so loudly.
“Diversity” has always been a term of self-validating virtue. It is not a self-evident or undebatable good, and indeed, diversity can cause problems. The word started being promoted by colleges decades ago to obscure the ethical dilemmas with discrimination against some groups in order to benefit members of others for actual or alleged ideological, political, legal, and sociological agendas, or social engineering. It bypasses honest discussions and calculations of costs and trade-offs to just begin with the conclusion that diversity is a per se benefit to all systems at any cost. One would think that a distinguished institution of learning would want to reject this intellectually dishonest short-cut. Instead, Faust embraces it.
Specific examples of rhetorical dishonesty in the letter:
- “…an unfamiliar and inaccurate image of our community and our admissions processes”
Faust needs to get out more. The admissions processes of Harvard and other colleges, and the racial, gender and other preferences that they involve have been a matter of legitimate controversy since the 1970s.
- “…formed in part to oppose Harvard’s commitment to diversity”
That’s a little like saying opposition to Hitler’s genocide was “formed in part to oppose Germany’s commitment to a strong national defense.” It is the means that is under question here, not the goal.
- “…These claims will rely on misleading, selectively presented data taken out of context.”
Wow, Harvard must be really worried! This is a pejorative way to describe “evidence.”
- “…Their intent is to question the integrity of the undergraduate admissions process and to advance a divisive agenda.”
She’s shocked—shocked!— that deserving and qualified applicants who have been rejected solely because Harvard doesn’t want too many students with their ethnic background would be questioned as unfair! And imagine, someone actually suggests that handing out benefits according to group membership is a form of discrimination! Harvard claiming that the lawsuit against affirmative action is divisive is the poison ivy calling the grass green.
- “…an approach that has been held up as legal and fair by the Supreme Court.”
This is pretty close to an outright lie. The Supreme Court, from the first time it looked at affirmative action, has repeatedly concluded that it is a dubious and perilous process that will eventually be indefensible. From 2007:
Sandra Day O’Connor, the retired associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and author of the majority opinion in a landmark 2003 decision upholding the legality of race-conscious college admissions, acknowledged in a speech today that she is not confident the court had preserved affirmative action in higher education for much longer.
Speaking at Washington’s National Press Club at a symposium on diversity at colleges, Justice O’Connor said, “The future of affirmative action in higher education today is certainly muddy.” …Justice O’Connor, who retired last year, said the court’s majority “had tried to be careful in stressing that affirmative action should be a temporary bandage rather than a permanent cure” in the 2003 opinion she wrote in Grutter v. Bollinger, involving the law school at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. In the long term, she said, “It probably would be better if we could remedy the racial gap in academic achievement long before application for college admission,” by finding ways to improve elementary and secondary schools enough that race-conscious admissions policies will no longer be necessary. “I think we are falling down in that area,” she said.
- “We never give up on the promise of a world made better by an assumption revisited, an understanding expanded, or a truth questioned—again and again and again.”
Got it: “assumptions revisited” like the importance of equality and fairness, and the injustice of quotas, eh, Ms. Faust?
- “to defend the ideals and the people that make our community so extraordinary.”
Ideals like discriminating against one group to benefit another, creating an extraordinary community that blocks the inclusion of deserving students when their culture makes too many like them extraordinary.
I think Harvard and affirmative action are going down, hard, this time.