Discriminating against hard workers

Asian-Americans are complaining that they must meet higher standards to get into elite colleges. From the Washington Post:

Asian American students have higher average SAT scores than any other government-monitored ethnic group, and selective colleges routinely reject them in favor of African American, Hispanic and even white applicants with lower scores in order to have more diverse campuses and make up for past discrimination.

Some Asian-Americans have a “past discrimination” claim too, after all. Others are the children of recent immigrants, but that’s also true of black students at selective colleges, points out Ed Chin, a New Jersey physician campaigning for equity.

. . . Chin notes, Harvard humanities professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. recently estimated that two-thirds of blacks at Harvard are not descendants of American slaves but the middle-class children of relatively recent immigrants from the Caribbean and Africa. “Why should they deserve admission with lowered standards — relatively speaking — based solely on the color of their skin over a high-achieving Asian American living in a Chinatown ghetto or a black ghetto, or a poor white from the slums of New York City?” Chin asked.

The children of low-income Asian immigrants tend to do quite well in school. They work harder.

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  1. SuperSub says:

    Affirmative Action has become a political lightning rod. Politicians and leaders are scared of trying to end or alter it, due to the immediate and guaranteed claim of racism that will be launched by the African American community.
    Democrats fear losing a rock solid voting base, and many Republicans fear being painted as heartless. Ultimately, the only recourse will be, in my opinion, through the Judiciary, as was attempted recently. More cases need to spring up and force their way into the Federal system, giving the Supreme Court no option but to declare affirmative action as being constitutional or unconstitutional, with no middle ground in between.

  2. Bluemount says:

    There are a lot of complexities related to globalization at play. We imported the upper class of Asian countries and the poor from South America flee from proverty into our boarder. How is this related to providing people a suitable education. Of coarse you educate people at the levels they are able to attain. But it’s offensive to gloat about social advantage or to base human worth on academic achievement. The real problem is how well should people be rewarded for hard academic achievement as opposed to hard labor. We need both, and this is the issue China is dealing with also.

    We need to quit believing we are a nation of lazy morons in need of genetic improvement by a biological injection from the gray cloud of China’s tyranny. If you follow many Asian advocacy there is broad support for the obvious conclusion of genetic superiority. Unfortunately the Asian influence has been low wages, downsizing industry, and innovation replaced by procedural hierarchy. Their countries of origin they are more academically similar in interest to us, with the exception the men are more encouraged in core disciplines. It plays poorly for women, our fragil minorities, and our recent Hispanic immigrants who were not imported to deflate the US economy. Our job is getting everyone onboard for growing the nation’s middle class and not using our public tax base to reward test takers.

    If we want true academic excellence do not base wages on academic attainment. This has been the trend since the 60’s and the result is lower standards internationally as we make it simple or worse, psychobable complexity. We can not afford to buy into the glitz of a China’s expanding crushing economy that we don’t know or understand. If affirmative action has failed let deal with that, at least it’s a devil we know. Maybe the answers are not academic.

    Homeland Insecurity – T. Friedman

  3. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Equality under law means just that – the law is applied the same to everyone. You cannot compensate for rape by unraping, you just do what you can to prevent a repetition. Affirmative action is idiocy equivalent to requiring a different basket height for white or Asian players.

  4. While not really on topic, one of the things about affirmative action that’s always loomed large to me specifically because you never hear anything about it, or them, is the affirmative action cannon fodder. The black kids who get recruited to highly competitive schools just to make the schools affirmative action numbers. Schools that they don’t have the skills to compete in and that they flunk out of in disproportionate numbers.

    To me, the implicit assumption that one can take away from the relentless emphasis on affirmative action enrollment compared to the utter silence on affirmative action graduation is that affirmative action doesn’t have much to do with redressing past wrongs so much as it does inflating present egos. If affirmative action were about the kids you’d hear about graduation rates. Since you don’t, it isn’t.

  5. Bluemount says:

    Affirmative action has not been about our kids, but neither has education. Who cares about graduation especially if it’s not a measure of excellence, it’s about people having a job. The only way you are going to find enough jobs to pay well-educated people is by increasing government bureacracy and social services. If you want innovative people in education quit paying morons to attend. I’d like to see more carpenters.

  6. Independent George says:

    Man, that brings back memories. I’ve been gaming the system since the seventh grade. Back then, it was joining Model UN instead of the Math club. Now, it’s going out of my way to speak up at meetings and leading activities to show I’m more than just a technical guy.

    What gets me is why it’s taken so long for anyone to notice something so glaringly obvious. This was already an old, old story when I started college in 1996.

    By the way, that sound you just heard? That was every Asian-American in the DC area going, “Mmmmmm-hmmm!”

  7. Independent George says:

    The one thing that bugs me about this article is that Asians seem to be taking the, “We’re oppressed too!” angle, instead of the “Just treat us like anyone else!” angle. The first one will reinforce quotas and make everyone miserable; the second one will leave everyone better off.

  8. Implicit in this story and most of the comments here is the idea that a university should select students on the narrow criteria of grades and test scores. I’m certainly no fan of affirmative action as implemented by most of academia right now, but if I were selecting kids for a freshman class, I would definitely NOT pick the just the highest GPA/SAT applicants. That’s a recipe for a really boring student body.

    Even if you wanted to select a student body that was “the smartest”, which would be only slightly less boring, you couldn’t do this on the basis of grades alone.

    But at least this sort of argument illuminates the bankruptcy of the affirmative action practices in this country.

  9. BadaBing says:

    US immigration policy is foolish, naive, and bad for the country. Since we’ve decided to tolerate illegal immigration to the tune of 13 million illegals currently living here, I believe there should be a moratorium on immigration from Asia, since this is where the bulk of legal immigrants are coming from. Asians in my school are tribalistic. They all use the same AsiaSpeak when speaking or emailing. They own the tennis club. They huddle together like a herd of horses that think they’re faster and more high-bred than all the other herds in the community. They are fast becoming a sub-culture that lives, moves, and has its being in their own communities, like the one I’m currently living in. I’m not a diversity monger and think that multiculturalism is one of the worst concepts of the past 50 years. Human beings by nature are tribalistic, and not even Alexander the Great could cement together the different ethnicities in his empire, which fragmented after his demise. Three ethnic groups (white, hispanic, and black) under one monoculture made this a great country. Now everybody’s a victim except the members of the tribe that founded it. Yeah, all right. I’m a xenophobe and a racist, but that’s the way I see it.

  10. hardlyb wrote:

    That’s a recipe for a really boring student body.

    First, are you sure? Are there any schools that are blinkered enough to look at nothing but grades and do they select a really boring student body? How would you know? What’s your definition of “boring”?

    This strikes me as one of those articles of faith that are used as a litmus test for identifying the unsophisticated and the stupid. If you don’t accept without discussion the assertion that a campus consisting of students with high test scores will be a boring place then you’ve self-identified and you can be ignored.

    I’m not trying to be deliberatly contrary but, thinking about it, I have wonder whether a school with the simple standard of the highest test scores wouldn’t be an exceptionally interesting place to learn?

    One thing you can be sure of is that no one would have to get angrily defensive about their affirmative action status. Another aspect of a scheme like this that might be attractive is that it would tend to break down racial group identity politics. After all, you’re in that school because of a different group identity: you’re pretty damned smart.

    I wonder how well the pull of racial identity politics would do when competing against the draw of intellectual superiority “politics”?

  11. Badabing –

    I believe you’re wrongly attributing a sign of the times, namely minorities creating their own enclaves, to Asians. The way I see things, it’s the hard focus on identity politics that encourages this.

    If you look at the history of Asians before 1970, you’ll find that many adopted American ways and contributed to the prosperity of this country. I don’t see anything about being Asian that leads to being any more tribal than any other ethnicity.

    I work in a neighborhood with a predominantly hispanic population, and when I’m walking to or from my client’s home I get stares because I’m not hispanic.

    When people hear so often that so much of who they are is in their race, they will start to act it out. We need to start teaching that people are more than their race. That’s what will stop this fracturing of our society.

  12. Bluemount says:

    It takes about 30 seconds for people to create a new tribe. If you don’t work on my ailse, your the enemy. I don’t really think much of racial measures past noting it takes generations to overcome a social event like slavery or a war. I’m sure if you actually measured the impact of the Civil War on Whites in the South, they are still paying a price economically for social conflict. I think it’s better to acknowledge how easily our minds are twisted into false truths. It’s a human attribute everyone is guilty of.

    I like to think hard working people can survive somehow. In an ideal world being middle class would be attainable for a hard working person. I think most people feel deprived if hard work is not rewarded in some way. The issue with all social differences is we only know about the people on our aisle. Religon, education and goverment have never been able to change that even though they all try.

  13. BadaBing says:

    Good point, Adrian, and I didn’t mean to pick on Asians. It’s just that I’m stuck in the middle of them all here in this particular area of California. Racial identity politics, which is militantly fostered in our universities, is definitely fragmenting the US into tribal groups. I know what you’re talking about with the hispanics. I teach in a high school in which the student population is over 90% hispanic, and I’m always hearing hostile remarks about white people. However, that kind of thing usually comes from the lower echelons of the student body, especially the kids of “undocumented workers.” Back to the Asians. They attend universities in dispproportionate numbers compared to other groups and, unfortunately, are readily buying into the race, gender, class paradigm of postmodern higher education. I can tell you that one thing they’re really pissed off about is the high number of Asian females going with or marrying white guys. They have heated discussions about this non-issue in chat rooms, web forums, and in classrooms. There are just too many immigrants coming here, and we are not affording them the time to assimilate. And it does take generations to assimilate. Of course, the multiculties love it this way. It results not in a melting pot but a salad bowl, which is their analogy for the multicultural wonderland we are all now living in.

  14. georgelarson says:


    My experience has not been Asians forming tribes. I have noticed Chinese forming exclusive groups, Koreans forming there own groups and Vietnamese forming similar groups. I have even seen Mandarin speaking Chinese staying separate from the non Mandarin speakers. I have seen similar behavior among Hispanics. I think the categories the EEO professionals use do not reflect reality

  15. BadaBing says:

    George, I thoroughly agree with you about not lumping Asians into one category. I had a Taiwanese girlfriend about fifteen years ago whose son was arrested in a local Chinese vs. Korean gang fight. His mother sent him back to Taiwan for his own safety. I’ve been in the Far East and know that Vietnamese harbor antagonistic feelings for Chinese, that Chinese have it in for Japanese, etc. It the school where I teach, however, it seems that the members of these different Asian nationalities have merged into one larger group that everyone, including themselves, refers to as Asian. Even Filipinos, who are Pacific Islanders, according to the EEO, often gravitate toward hanging out with so-called Asians. I personally know of Koreans that will not have anything to do with their Chinese neighbors and Chinese that will not have anything to do with their Japanese neighbors. Gangs such as Asian Boyz seem to be more inclusive than gangs such as Hua-ch’ing, which is strictly Chinese. I lived with Chinese roommates for seven years, Taiwanese who also spoke Mandarin but who had it in for Mandarin-only speakers due to past political injustices. It’s quite a bit more complicated than meets the eye.

  16. georgelarson says:


    Thank you. I was not aware of this very interesting development.