By William Murchison
Amid the present uproar over immigration, is it hard to be hard on poor Harvard for the uproar over whether the school discriminates against Asian-American applicants?
Ask me another stupid question. It’s never hard to be hard on a school famed for sanctimony in the matter of disciplining criticisms of affirmative action in all departments of life.
The lawsuit that accuses Harvard of holding Asian-Americans to a higher standards than students of other races is the kind of thing you get, or should, when you hold others to lower standards for the sake of “diversity” – the practice of rigging admissions to come up with a student body that supposedly “looks like America.”
The Supreme Court’s continuing failure to rule out racial preferences in admissions policy doesn’t help. The practitioners of affirmative action – you get admitted because we need more African-Americans or whatever group — are nonetheless the ones responsible for the furor over Harvard’s subjective assessments of Asians (who are presently 20 percent of the student body).
It’s hugely problematical, of course, that more people than ever before are bidding for places at prestige institutions whose leisure to pick and choose on their own terms is no more. In other words, this didn’t happen in the ‘50s. Howsobeit, most prestige institutions have formally committed themselves to a sort of “social justice” agenda in admissions. There’s only so much “social justice” to be spread around among high rated schools – which, to satisfy demand, should probably be 10 times more numerous than they are. Good luck on that, in a time of falling standards.
Affirmative action clutters the agenda by making race in many cases the prime criterion for entry to a top-notch university. Why wonder when Asians say, hey, what about MY race? You’re according a white or a Latin American applicant priority over ME? How come? “Er, well …,” the admissions officer is obliged to say in preface, the whole time looking at his shoes.
The Supreme Court, where this case may wind up, could get academia off the hook by ruling out the racial criterion altogether, but you know what would happen then…and you know it wouldn’t be pretty.
Oh, what a tangled web academicians weave by pretending that making politically oriented choices in admission is all for a great public purpose. Then they get caught, which, never mind how cases like Harvard’s end up, serves them right.