Discrimination Against Asian American Students Is Discrimination Against Asian American Students: Why Is This Even Debatable?

The Trump administration has  fingered  Yale as discriminating against Asian-American and white applicants, just as an Asian-American student group had made the same claim in lawsuits against Harvard, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a recently filed case against the University of Texas at Austin. A federal judge ruled in Harvard’s favor last year, but i do not believe the decision will stand up on appeal, since it is dishonest and illogical. The Trump Administration is supporting the plaintiffs as it should…as everyone should.

I wrote about the Harvard decision here.  As you would expect, the analysis differs not at all from the ethics verdict regarding Yale’s discrimination, which is similarly indefensible. Also as you might expect, the “it isn’t what it is” rationalization (#64!) is rampant while the usual suspects try to defend it now, when the Black Lives Matter mob is demanding discrimination in favor of African Americans in all things—hiring, promotions, ring, college admissions, arrests, prosecutions, casting, honors, running for Vice-President—as if that is anything but racism, flat-out.

The New York Times–of course–is and will be embarking on a course of trying to obscure the obvious right and wrongs of the situation, as well as engaging in some ethics  jujitsu to make out the Trump Administration and anyone who thinks that no discrimination on the basis of race means no discrimination on the basis of race  as racist villains.  In this article, for example, the Times attempts or enables several dishonest arguments to discredit what should be self-evident, including…

  • “Samuel Bagenstos, a law professor at the University of Michigan, suggested that the Yale finding was motivated by t’he almost certain fear by Trump administration officials that there’s at least a substantial likelihood that come January, they won’t be here. So they want to put facts on the ground, to try them in a potential Biden administration.'”
  • “Legal experts saw the finding as an extension of conservative legal efforts to end race-based college admissions policies, a battle that is expected to eventually reach a Supreme Court that leans more conservative after two appointments by President Trump.”

Finding the concept of “race-based admissions policies” the equivalent of racial discrimination is sinister, apparently, in 1984—I’m sorry, 2020. What was I thinking?

Ann Althouse somehow found a tweet by a writer and independent journalist named Jesse Singal, who commented on the main rationalization in the Times piece, which was that Asian-American students at Yale were supportive of anti-white and anti-Asian American discrimination in favor of black applicants:

When Siddarth Shankar applied to Yale in 2017, he did not hesitate to identify himself as Asian-American, and wrote about how visiting family members in conflict-ridden Kashmir had shaped his worldview.

He did not expect to get in, because he knew he had tough competition as a student at a public high school in the affluent Washington suburb of McLean, Va., where most students were either white or, like him, Asian-American, and many apply to the Ivy League. But he was admitted.

Now he sees the Trump administration’s accusation that Yale discriminated against Asian-American and white applicants, leveled against the university by the Justice Department’s civil rights division on Thursday, as unfathomable and divisive.

“I think this is the oldest tactic in the book, to pit minority groups against each other,” Mr. Shankar, 20, now a junior majoring in economics, said on Friday.

Singal tweeted, “I mean whatever you think of the case itself this is a fantastic scoop by the Times, that the Asian kids who did get in don’t feel discriminated against.”

Bingo.

17 thoughts on “Discrimination Against Asian American Students Is Discrimination Against Asian American Students: Why Is This Even Debatable?

  1. “A federal judge ruled in Harvard’s favor last year, but i do not believe the decision will stand up on appeal, since it is dishonest and illogical.“

    Well, I guess that settles that!

    Oh, by the way, I read your previous piece when the Harvard decision came down where you quote law professor Melissa Murray. It would have been more fair to her opinion piece if you included these parts:

    “While the ruling will surely be appealed, the judge came to the correct conclusion.” Professor Murray goes on to note that economists found that “more than 40 percent of white students accepted to Harvard from 2009 to 2014 are classified as “ALDC” — athletes, legacies, “dean’s list” (donors’ kids) or the children of faculty members — a generally affluent, white demographic. The prioritization of these students is a larger distortion of the admissions process (and diversity goals) than the inclusion of race as one of many evaluative factors.”

    But, what almost knocked me off my chair was your follow up implication that Murray’s opinion should be discounted because, as you point out; “Hmmmm.…I wonder if she’s black? Let’s see…why yes, she is!” And you, by the way, are white. Hmmmm!

    • Why did that knock you off your chair? The major apologists for blatant racisl dicrimination in favor of blacks have been blacks, since they are the beneficiaries of it.

      Why would I quote that part of the professor’s argument? One can argue the fairness and utility of colleges favoring athletes, legacies, donor’s kids and faculty kids, but the fact is that there are legitimate institutional benefits flowing from those, and, moreover, they aren’t illegal. Colleges can also discriminate against idiots.

      So other than innuendo and snark, I don’t detect any substantive argument in your comment. Do better next time.

      • And the major apologists for blatant claims that diversity in admissions amounts to discrimination have been whites, since they are the beneficiaries of it. You missed the point. It’s not snarky to apply the same ad hominem argument against you. It’s fair, and I hoped persuasive, to expose an attack on an opponent’s character.

        There is “fairness”, “utility” and “institutional benefits” of admitting legacies, athletes, and donor’s children who would not have been admitted merely on their academic record, but not racial minorities. I’m just repeating your point—it refutes itself. Maybe you should just repeat in a bold font again that it’s illegal!

        • There is “fairness”, “utility” and “institutional benefits” of admitting legacies, athletes, and donor’s children who would not have been admitted merely on their academic record, but not racial minorities

          Title VI does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of athletic status or legacy status.

          It prohibits discrimination on the basis of race.

          • You might be more accurate to use the term “reverse discrimination” which, I suggest, in very short-hand form places such complaints within a proper legal, ethical, and historical context.

            If one does not consider a long period of historical and institutional racism to have created effects—morally wrong effects, and, further, if one does not consider addressing those effects a proper and moral function of public policy, then yes, “reverse discrimination” may very well be included within the legal scope of “discrimination” within Title VI. And that may finally be the interpretation by our Supreme Court. Time will tell.

            I am a newbie to this blog. I mistakenly assumed that a blog about ethics would be more nuanced than merely a debate on the interpretation of the law. My mistake. I’ll leave it to the lawyers to debate ethics.

            • I am a newbie to this blog. I mistakenly assumed that a blog about ethics would be more nuanced than merely a debate on the interpretation of the law. My mistake. I’ll leave it to the lawyers to debate ethics

              You’ll have to make your own way here. You imply that you have a worthy perspective and ideas and arguments more nuanced. Why not take the time to develop them?

              If one does not consider a long period of historical and institutional racism to have created effects—morally wrong effects […]

              My interpretation is that most who participate feel that significant efforts had been made to put the nation on a new course. I do not think they would be amenable to a protracted period of state intervention to force rectification or to equalize society. And they definitely are not agreeable to what is called social justice activism of the sort that results in burning cities and civic disorder. I think that they would argue that significant steps were taken, and the culture adjusted itself by making changes. And they also feel that they made many changes inside themselves. Now, they look out on the crazy landscape of America and notice (this is my interpretation of them) the lies that are told about America. I think that they feel there is a huge deception going on. Or perhaps I am reading in too much?

              Unlike them, I have actually studied Black liberation movements, Latino liberation movements, and anti-colonialist movements — and Chomsky by the ton — and it is easier for me to see the ‘logic’ of the anti-white movement and the ‘displacement’ and ‘dispossession’ movement that is on-going. I can explain it better, and in some ways empathize with it. But instead of joining it, or participating with it, I oppose it utterly.

              I am interested in your latent assertion about ‘morally wrong effects’. I think I understand what is most likely your *moral platform* — we have all been extruded from a similar machine — but I question if it is, when one examines its primary and foundational tenets, really & truly moral. I think it leads to and produces a ‘sham morality’.

              And that may finally be the interpretation by our Supreme Court. Time will tell.

              I assert — I hold it as a truth and a fact — that the US is heading into, and is significantly in, a very real and quite dramatic civil upheaval. It cannot be a civil war at all similar to other civil conflicts because it will take place within a vast social body (and not by divided sections). You know that the political maps all throughout history constantly shift. It is distressing that this is so. But it is part of earthly mutability. This is what is talking shape now. It needs to be encouraged, not suppressed (or denied).

            • It’s not just about interpretation of the law, it’s also about general consistency. If determining college applications by race is wrong, then it’s wrong regardless of the race being discriminated against.. If the purveyors of Title VI meant for it to specifically give black people a boost upward, then they should’ve said so. Of course, if they HAD drafted it that way, then every other ethnic group would’ve said, “What are we, chopped liver?” Which is what Asian-Americans are saying right now.

            • That last snipe is both unfair and a cheap shot.

              1) The Left objects to the term “reverse discrimination.”
              2) The blog is not about morality, though it does come up once in a while.
              3) The distinction between law and ethics is discussed here frequently, since I am a legal ethicist by profession.
              4) It’s clear from your dumb coda that you haven’t bothered to read the ABOUT section, the Rule Book, the Glossary, the Comment policies, or the list of Rationalizations, to name a few. Thus you don’t know what you are talking about, to who, and in what context. Not smart.

              It’s a waste of my time to have to explain basic logical errors and ethical misconceptions. Another comment like this, and I’ll invoke the Stupidity Rule.

            • If one does not consider a long period of historical and institutional racism to have created effects—morally wrong effects, and, further, if one does not consider addressing those effects a proper and moral function of public policy, then yes, “reverse discrimination” may very well be included within the legal scope of “discrimination” within Title VI. And that may finally be the interpretation by our Supreme Court. Time will tell.

              Explain how reverse discrimination addresses the effects of historical and institutional racism.

        • “And the major apologists for blatant claims that diversity in admissions amounts to discrimination have been whites, since they are the beneficiaries of it. You missed the point. It’s not snarky to apply the same ad hominem argument against you. It’s fair, and I hoped persuasive, to expose an attack on an opponent’s character.

          “There is “fairness”, “utility” and “institutional benefits” of admitting legacies, athletes, and donor’s children who would not have been admitted merely on their academic record, but not racial minorities. I’m just repeating your point—it refutes itself. Maybe you should just repeat in a bold font again that it’s illegal!”

          I am interested in the Tagore quote in your profile:

          “Emancipation from the bondage of the soil Is no freedom for the tree”.

          I am very interested in what actions people take that separates them from their own selves and from their own power. You likely have not read much of what I write — I tend to favor a White Nationalist perspective, and in any case I am very aware of it having read most of the important works on it starting with Madison Grant and Lothrop Stoddard. My largeer interest is in stimulating thought and consideration that breaks the bounds and the bonds so intensely operative in our present. Meaning, I wish to encourage radical thinking, and radical historical and self-examination.

          Naturally . . . I am hated for it! 😭Yet I love them that hate me.

          The whole premise of your post, quoted above. can be turned on its head, inverted. It is crucial that white people in America see what has been done to them, and notice who among themselves is participating in this destructive undermining and ‘uprooting’ to place emphasis on your Tagore quote. In his way — Hindu nationalism — Tagore and many of his generation advocated for ‘blood & soil’ and to throw off the yoke placed on them by colonization.

          Similarly, we are in a period of time where many — not everyone of course, but some — are beginning to take issue with the uprooting activism that has become so powerful in the Hyper-Liberal American Postwar. What I mean is that they challenge its assumptions. They challenge its ‘goodness’.

          White has every good reason and they have moral and ethical reasons to oppose being supplanted. The entire argument for ‘reclaiming America’ and of reasserting power in America, not to mention a movement directed to recovering supermajority status (if this were possible), is an argument that can be presented ethically, that is it is a sound ethical position.

          I do understand that you are here speaking of the superficial and minor aspect, and where the law stands, which I respect of course, whereas I am speaking of a far larger and a meta-political issue.

          The entire structure of view and perception that allows whites to relinquish their control over their own societies (America, Europe, the former English colonies) needs to be countermanded and opposed — and reversed.

          It is an interesting assertion. It overturns the entire *table* of American progressivism. Lifts it and tosses it to the side.

        • It’s unethical to ever use ad hominem, which apparently you don’t understand. Misusing that term is a big no-no here.

          That’s not the only part of your comment that risks triggering the Stupidity Rule. (See Comment policies.)

          And the major apologists for blatant claims that diversity in admissions amounts to discrimination have been whites, since they are the beneficiaries of it.”

          Discrimination on the basis of race is illegal. Fact. “Diversity” is a linguistic trick to try to justify racial discrimination. If a practice is wrong, the fact that those objecting to it are the ones primarily injured doesn’t make it right.

          “You missed the point. It’s not snarky to apply the same ad hominem argument against you. It’s fair, and I hoped persuasive, to expose an attack on an opponent’s character.”

          I didn’t miss the point; your point was nonsense. The writer was making an intellectually dishonest argument, and I correctly guessed that she was being led wrong by a race-based bias. Since my point is legally and ethically logical, my race doesn’t matter. An unbiased black analyst would reach the same conclusion I have, and indeed, many have. Moreover, I did not “attack” the writer’s character. Being warped by bias isn’t a character flaw, it’s human nature. And, as I already noted, you misuse “Ad Hominem.”

          There is “fairness”, “utility” and “institutional benefits” of admitting legacies, athletes, and donor’s children who would not have been admitted merely on their academic record, but not racial minorities. I’m just repeating your point—it refutes itself. Maybe you should just repeat in a bold font again that it’s illegal!

          IT’S ILLEGAL. It’s illegal because it’s wrong, and it’s wrong because it’s illegal. Whether using those other categories is unethical is a utilitarian debate: a college has to make trade-offs to ensure it institutional survival. Most Ivy League schools dumped “legacy” admissions because they decided that the negative perception wasn’t worth the benefit. If a basis for discrimination isn’t “invidious” by law, that means there has been a consensus that it has value and is not per se unjust. In simpler terms, your comparing legacy/donor/ athlete favoritism with racial, gender, ethnic or religious discrimination is invalid.

    • more than 40 percent of white students accepted to Harvard from 2009 to 2014 are classified as “ALDC” — athletes, legacies, “dean’s list” (donors’ kids) or the children of faculty members — a generally affluent, white demographic.

      I read about the study that Dan is referring to. The actual figure is 43%. But this fact doesn’t “highlight the starting privilege of white kids,” as Dan seems to think it does. It in fact highlights the extreme discrimination at Harvard against white kids who are not legacies.

      Harvard’s official numbers says their admissions in 2019 were 14% African American, 25% Asian American, 12% Hispanic, 2% Native American and Hawaiian and 13% international. https://college.harvard.edu/admissions/admissions-statistics

      That means that only 34% of Harvard’s class is white, non-hispanic American, compared to 61% of the population of the United States. Note that white, non-hispanic Americans are the only identifiable ethnic group that is allowed to be underrepresented at Harvard relative to their share of the US population. (For brevity, I’m going to stop saying “white, non-hispanic” and just say “white” for the rest of this post.)

      By contrast, African-Americans are 14% of the students and 14% of the US population. Even assuming that blacks and whites scored equally well on high school grades and the SAT, that would mean that black Americans are being admitted to Harvard at almost twice the rate of white Americans.

      But, as Dan points out, 43% of those white students are legacies, so only 19% of Harvard’s students are drawn from the 60%+ of white, non-legacy students. So black kids are actually being admitted at almost three times the rate of white, non-legacy kids, again even assuming that the two groups had equivalent academic credentials.

      And, of course, it is not true that blacks and whites perform equally well in high school and on the SAT. On average, whites score much higher than blacks; and at the SAT levels that are required for a non-legacy white kid to get into Harvard (say, above 700 on the math portion), whites outnumber blacks by 25 times or more. https://www.brookings.edu/research/race-gaps-in-sat-scores-highlight-inequality-and-hinder-upward-mobility/ It is safe to say that almost every white, non-legacy student on the Harvard campus scored higher on the SAT that almost every black student on campus.

      You can favor discrimination against whites in Harvard admissions or you can disapprove of it, but you can’t pretend it doesn’t exist.

      • Clarification: a lot of those legacies, athletes and children of donors would have been admitted anyway, or might have been. Like, say, me. My Dad was a Harvard grad. I was told that that fact might just about cancel out the disadvantage of being a WASP from the Boston area, along with applying for early admission.

  2. Maybe Asian Americans will be the salvation of the American academy. But maybe they’re reluctant to go into academia rather than business or medicine or the sciences. But I think they’d make great administrators who’d be interested in getting the best student and faculty minds on board in their institutions and see right through the diversity fallacy.

  3. I fear Dan already bailed on the blog. He wanted to comment assertively without bothering to be consistent, make sound arguments, or know what he was talking about, and didn’t expect to be called on it.

    • Ethics Alarms just rang twice in my head. I recall a story about a young man, second in his class at Columbia, pre-med, who was turned down for admission to Columbia’s Medical School in 1935 because “our Jewish quota is filled.” Skip to nearly 80 years later, (I know, I know, but “80” adds another whole decade!). The young man ended up in a very fine med school in Canada, became legendary in his field but didn’t live long enough to see his great nephew, his brother’s grandson, finish 19th in his class as a pre-med major with a total score of 482 on his MCAT tests … sort of low end of Average. He didn’t bother to apply to any Ivy League schools. He just wanted a school that put patient care before research. He’d learned that much from his granddad’s elder brother. But one of his professors kept bugging him to apply to Columbia med school anyway – he was good enough and the prof would write a mega reference. He’d work harder; he was meant to be a doctor. Nevertheless, he was surprised and a bit uneasy when, instead of getting an envelope in the mail, he was called in for an interview, more so when he was greeted by the Admissions officer and three others, all with wide smiles, He said he thought they had mistaken him for someone else and started to introduce himself, quickly interrupted by “we’re proud to have the grandson of …”. “Uh, great nephew,… I don’t think…” “The finances can be managed….” And so on. Finally he was out of the building. It took most of the night, walking, talking to himself, thinking. In the morning he went back to the medical school, walked into the Admissions Office and said (he says)., “first you shut out my great uncle because he was Jewish — and now you want to make a legacy student out of me because you want to use my, name? Med school is tough enough for the superbright guys; no, I don’t need the extra pressure of a free ride I didn’t earn (sputtering on the other side of the desk). That;s twice you … this school … insulted my family. But thanks for making up my mind, sir. I don’t know where I’ll wind up but it won’t be here.

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