The federal trial that began last week in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, featuring America’s oldest college being accused of discriminating against Asian-American applicants should, if there is justice in the world, both finally kill the lingering bigotry of college affirmative action policies and expose the U.S.’s most prestigious educational institution, and the ideological philosophy that has captured it, as the hypocritical and fraudulent entity that it is. Does Harvard discriminate on the basis of race? Why yes, it does. There is no valid argument that it does not. Evidence shows that the college ties itself into logical knots concocting ways to justify not admitting Asian-American applicant who would sail into freshman classes were not their race used to undermine their candidacy. The plaintiffs cite reports that Harvard itself conducted in 2013. The reports, by Harvard’s Office of Institutional Research, found that being Asian-American was negatively associated with being admitted. Harvard claims that it must consider race in order to have a “diverse” student body, which is important, it says, to the quality of education one can obtain there. “Diversity,” however is and has always been a rationalization for discrimination. No matter how affirmative action is framed, the fact is that it is a zero-sum game: for each individual whose race benefits their quest for admission, there is another individual whose race is used as a justification to reject him or her. There is no way of getting around this inconvenient fact, yet Harvard and other elite institutions persist in denying it.
Harvard’s internal statistics indicate that Asian-Americans would account for 43% of admitted classes in race-blind admissions, but their actual class percentage is only 23%. The methods that resulted in the reduced number mirror the ways Harvard managed to exclude as many Jewish Americans as possible well into the 1950s. The plaintiffs in the current lawsuit have evidence showing that Harvard consistently rated Asian-American applicants lower than others on traits like “positive personality,” likability, courage, kindness and being “widely respected,” according to an analysis of more than 160,000 student records. In many cases, these stereotypes were attached to students before any face-to-face contact between students and interviewers. Asian-Americans still scored higher than applicants of any other racial or ethnic group in other categories like test scores, grades and extracurricular activities, but the Asian-American students’ personality ratings worked to undermine them. You know—they are clannish. Cold. Ruthless. You’ve seen all those World War II movies.
Harvard, meanwhile, is using the “Who are you going to believe, me, or your lying eyes?” defense, with Harvard President Drew Faust’s indignant “How dare you accuse such a wonderful institution of discriminatory practices just because we engage in discriminatory practices!” spin. Initially it fought to keep the damning studies and documents secret, and now it’s trying to justify the unjustifiable. Tragically, polls show that a majority of Asian-Americans support affirmative action despite being victims of it. Thus does peer pressure and liberal cant warp minds and values. Discriminating on the basis of race to try to remedy the results of discrimination by race never made sense as a long-term policy; I can accept the argument that it was once justifiable–I executed affirmative action policies in business and academia—without fully believing it. Yet this case once again shows that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was correct when he wrote, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” Holding otherwise—“Discrimination is Equality”—is Orwellian logic. Do progressives really believe the illogic of “positive discrimination,” or are they deliberately arguing what they know to be lie? If Harvard is doing either, how can it be trusted to educate anyone? The institution either embraces cant over reality, or deception over truth.
The same is true of Harvard’s defenders.