Balkinization  

Monday, February 08, 2010

The Invisibility of Whiteness

Brian Tamanaha

The great thing about being white in America is that, unlike non-whites, whites don't have a race. Whites are just...normal.

It would never occur to anyone to suggest that we need to cap the number of white students on college campuses. The very idea is an outrage, absurd, unthinkable.

So why this practice?
[1,623 is] the average [SAT] score of Asian-Americans, a group that Daniel Golden - editor at large of Bloomberg News and author of “The Price of Admission’’ - has labeled “The New Jews.’’ After all, much like Jews a century ago, Asian-Americans tend to earn good grades and high scores. And now they too face serious discrimination in the college admissions process.

Notably, 1,623 - out of a possible 2,400 - not only separates Asians from other minorities (Hispanics and blacks average 1,364 and 1,276 on the SAT, respectively). The score also puts them ahead of Caucasians, who average 1,581. And the consequences of this are stark.

Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade, who reviewed data from 10 elite colleges, writes in “No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal’’ that Asian applicants typically need an extra 140 points to compete with white students. In fact, according to Princeton lecturer Russell Nieli, there may be an “Asian ceiling’’ at Princeton, a number above which the admissions office refuses to venture.
Many high-performing Asian students come from immigrant families. Sheer hard work--often overcoming language, cultural, and economic disadvantages--explains their outstanding grades and high SAT scores.

It is hard to understand why elite institutions (run by liberals?) have adopted this policy.

The only justification I can think of is this (put bluntly): America is a white society, so universities--the training ground for our next generation--must maintain a substantial white majority of students to properly acculturate our youth. If that's the explanation, universities should have the courage to state and defend it on these terms (which won't be easy).

Why the cap on Asians? (And how many Asians are too many: 10%? 20%? 25?).

ADDENDUM: Several comments to this post suggest that this policy naturally follows from, and is continuous with, affirmative action for African Americans and Hispanics. Their argument, apparently, is that whites are entitled to affirmative action when matched up against Asian candidates.

One can characterize the cap on Asians as affirmative action for whites, I suppose, but that still does not answer the essential question of justification. Why should whites get the benefit of affirmative action against Asians? Affirmative action is usually justified as a way to offset disadvantages suffered by minorities. (Consistent with this rationale, my view is that white students from poor families should be entitled to affirmative action to offset the disadvantage of poverty.)

That logic is turned upside down here--when upper middle class white kids (the bulk of the Princeton applicant pool?) are given the benefit of affirmative action against the children of Asian immigrants (not all Asian applicants are from this background, but the article suggests that many are).

A better explanation for the caps on Asians, I suspect, has nothing to do with affirmative action, but with implicit racial comfort levels. Think, for example, of the Boston Celtics in the 1980s, when there was an implicit understanding that the team had to be stocked with a substantial number of white players.

Allowing too many Asians on campus would threaten racial comfort levels.




Comments:

Perhaps it's not a cap on Asians, but a system of quotas. It just so happens that quotas only look like a cap for classes of students who would be overrepresented in a system without affirmative action.
 

Perhaps it's not a cap on Asians, but a system of quotas.

Agreed. AA has destroyed the organic diversity that colleges and unis would have.

Link to a study why Asians are underrepresented.
 

Why the cap on Asians? (And how many Asians are too many: 10%? 20%? 25?). It is hard to understand why elite institutions (run by liberals?) have adopted this policy.

Welcome to liberal racial politics where merit gives way to quotas. A ceiling is placed on Asians for outperforming the norm while a floor is placed on African Americans and Latinos for underperforming the norm.

It would never occur to anyone to suggest that we need to cap the number of white students on college campuses. The very idea is an outrage, absurd, unthinkable.

The celling quotas on European Americans are indirect. They get the remainder of the slots after the quotas for racial minorities are met.
 

Has our intrepid former backpacker with this:

"The celling quotas on European Americans are indirect."

found a Tea Party movement substitute for WASP or has he come up with this all on his own on a continental basis to compare or compete with, you know "[fill-in-the-blank] American"? (Perhaps to include himself?)
 

"The only justification I can think of is this (put bluntly): America is a white society, so universities--the training ground for our next generation--must maintain a substantial white majority of students to properly acculturate our youth."

Poppycock. Absolute balderdash.

The justification is the exact same justification used to prefer black applicants over white ones. The school values "diversity" over individual merit. I guess you don't like affirmative action so much anymore now that it's not whitey that's getting screwed, huh?
 

Shag:

I am simply using the hyphenated American format required by the racial preference police. To me, we are all Americans - period. All references to race should be deleted from applications to University.
 

for further reading: "Wrestling with Diversity" by Sandy Levinson.
 

Opponents of affirmative action, like those in this comment thread, often fail to understand that the justification is to remedy past discrimination that has left certain groups on an uneven playing field, as opposed to some kind of weird Marxist desire to achieve numerical equality for its own sake.

Bound up in this is the notion that discrimination happened a long long time ago and so any numerical discrepancies which still exist must be attributable to merit and nothing else.
 

Following up on Steve's comment, there's an implicit assumption that SAT scores are evidence of "merit". They aren't. While I think it's arguable what should happen in cases where colleges use something as evidence of merit when it isn't, there's no doubt that they do overuse the SAT. The fact that certain groups score lower or higher doesn't impress me much.
 

Opponents of affirmative action understand perfectly well that the pretext for it is remedying past discrimination, but doubt that people who are perfectly willing to commit present discrimination really care all that much about past discrimination.
 

Affirmative action is usually justified as a way to offset disadvantages suffered by minorities.

Not true. Affirmative action is justified by the theory that a "diverse" environment benefits the learning experience of all the students. If seen from that perspective, the cap on Asians makes perfect sense.
 

Affirmative action is justified by the theory that a "diverse" environment benefits the learning experience of all the students.

Prof. Levinson's book has various essays that underline the falsity of this in practice.

This is underlined by the fact the "diversity" tends to target a few groups that tend to overlap with certain historically disadvantaged groups. So, even if we take it at face value, it isn't done very well.

But, the SC rejected social discrimination as a grounds for many types of AA programs, so diversity had to be a sort of backdoor mechanism to address the same problems "under the table."

Bottom line, I guess, both claims are sorta right.
 

"ADDENDUM: Several comments to this post suggest that this policy naturally follows from, and is continuous with, affirmative action for African Americans and Hispanics. Their argument, apparently, is that whites are entitled to affirmative action when matched up against Asian candidates."

Ok, the pretense of being totally clueless was kind of amusing initially, but you've carried it too far. Nobody asserted that whites were entitled to affirmative action against Asians. We pointed out that discrimination against Asians was a consequence of affirmative action in favor of blacks.

At least TRY to come to grips with the actual positions of people who disagree with you.
 

Steve M said...Opponents of affirmative action, like those in this comment thread, often fail to understand that the justification is to remedy past discrimination that has left certain groups on an uneven playing field, as opposed to some kind of weird Marxist desire to achieve numerical equality for its own sake.

That is the justification for what is basically a desire to achieve the socialist end of equal outcomes.
 

"Opponents of affirmative action, like those in this comment thread, often fail to understand that the justification is to remedy past discrimination that has left certain groups on an uneven playing field"

More balderdash.

If evening the playing field were you're goal, you'd just give a bonus to poor applicants, not black ones.

Face it, Affirmative Action is racist discrimination.
 

Is Brett playing the Lone Ranger with this:

"We pointed out that discrimination against Asians was a consequence of affirmative action in favor of blacks. "

and if so, guess who his Tonto is? And so AA in favor of blacks is discrimination against Asians and European-Americans?
 

"ADDENDUM: Several comments to this post suggest that this policy naturally follows from, and is continuous with, affirmative action for African Americans and Hispanics. Their argument, apparently, is that whites are entitled to affirmative action when matched up against Asian candidates. "

That is a Lie.

Nobody has made anything resembling that argument in this comment thread.

You should be ashamed of yourself.

My position (and I'm assuming Bart's as well, and probably nearly everyone's who opposes affirmative action) is that affirmative action is racist discrimination, and that it's wrong no matter which race is benefiting from it.

You really should be ashamed.
 

"ADDENDUM: Several comments to this post suggest that this policy naturally follows from, and is continuous with, affirmative action for African Americans and Hispanics. Their argument, apparently, is that whites are entitled to affirmative action when matched up against Asian candidates. "

CAN OF WORMS!!!!!!! The best person for the job should get it. PERIOD! Marx was wrong. This proves it.
 

"And so AA in favor of blacks is discrimination against Asians and European-Americans?"

Given the zero sum nature of distributing a fixed number of admissions, discrimination in favor of X is, of course, discrimination against not-X.

On average, European-Americans tend not to suffer the brunt of this discrimination, due to their position in the middle of the merit line-up. Some applicants lose at one end, some gain at the other, and it tends to cancel out. Asian-Americans suffer most from subverting merit based admissions, simply because they tend on average to be the most meritorious.

Though I wouldn't rule out a bit of unconscious racism being in the mix somewhere, simply subverting the merit system is enough to explain the results.
 

King of Ireland goes fishing with this:

"CAN OF WORMS!!!!!!! The best person for the job should get it. PERIOD! Marx was wrong. This proves it."

So merit should be the test. Let's examine the financial/economic crises to determine what meritocracy has foisted on us with the best and the brightest on Wall Street. But then there are the legacy admissions, which have subverted the merit system for ages that is ignored in favor or goring AA that addresses ages of discrimination.

Nah, King of Ireland should reel in to check his bait and avoid hooking himself.
 

Shag:

There is no justification for racial discrimination - None.

Diversity is racist drivel assuming that one's intellectual or cultural contribution to an activity is based upon the melanin content of one's skin. This is no different than saying: "All of those people are the same."

Next, I would have thought that kindergarten would have taught you that the one wrong justifies another argument is illegitimate. The intergenerational revenge argument is probably the worst of these, while your whining about legacies may be the most petty.
 

I don't know if our intrepid former backpacker benefited with a legacy admission, although his ending up in the backwaters defending "alleged" drunk drivers suggests he was not. Be that as it may, I personally am not whining about legacy admissions. Rather, that has been and continues to play a role for the so-called better colleges as it helps with endowment contributions that just might play a tad of a role with a legacy admission. Even a colorblind person would be aware of the bulk of the legacy beneficiaries. Surely that's not meritocracy.

Our yodeler makes this point:

"There is no justification for racial discrimination - None."

I would also put that in the past tense with regard to the pre-Civil War Amendments to the Constitution (Lysander Spooner notwithstanding). Originalists today while abhorrent to slavery would probably say that in applying originalism pre-Civil War Amendments, slavery laws were indeed valid. Some originalists separate from the Dred Scott decision, but not necessarily on originalist grounds.

The Civil War Amendments failed to quickly eliminate discrimination. There have been extensive discussions at this Blog on Brown v. Board of Education decided in 1954 that seemed to open the door towards eliminating discrimination going back to the founding Constitution. The deliberate speed was not that fast with education. The 1960s brought us LBJ's Civil Rights Acts that expanded beyond education. Yet discrimination did not abruptly come to a halt. It continues, including along racial lines, to this day.

I was attracted to this Blog by Jack and Sandy's writings on Brown and its aftermath. Consider the political changes that came about as a result of Brown that infect our politics today. Only a few commenters at this Blog have challenged the decision in Brown. Our yodeler has praised it as a great long overdue decision of the 20th century. In a perfect America, yes, " ... there is no justification for discrimination - None." Alas, imperfections remain.

And our yodeler reveals his real views with this:

"Diversity is racist drivel .... "

as issues of diversity are not limited to race as has long been known by non-WASP European-Americans.

And just where is our yodeler going with his reference to " ... intergenerational revenge ..."? Perhaps he wasn't toilet-trained when he was in kindergarten.
 

Shag:

Our Constitution's initial compromise permitting slavery was the price of union was the lesser of two evils, for which we paid an enormous blood price during the Civil War. It is not a justification for your current government racism.
 

If evening the playing field were you're goal, you'd just give a bonus to poor applicants, not black ones.

If we gave a bonus to poor applicants, you'd call it Marxism.

Lots of people are poor, but not all of them are poor because of state-sanctioned discrimination in the past. The latter is more urgent to remedy than the mere fact of poverty.

People like Bart who think that the slate is somehow wiped clean with each new generation are just amusing. "Gee, I'm sorry you live in a ghetto because we kept your ancestors as slaves and made it illegal for them to learn to read or write... but it would be RACIST for us to give you any advantage to compensate for the disadvantage you've been handed, sorry."
 

Unless Bart is older than I'm guessing, that must be the "you and him" version of "we".

It's an old debate the extent to which you can, to repair a past wrong, justify harming today people who had no part in committing that wrong. It's not advanced by pretending that the guilty are still around, and are the ones being targetted for payback.

Racism is, essentially, the proposition that if you know somebody's race, you know what's important about them as an individual. A policy which benefits some people on the basis of their sharing the race of people who were harmed in the past, at cost to other people on the basis of their sharing the race of people in the past who committed the harm, is definitionally racist.

And, as the post we're responding to notes, the people accually paying the price in this case are members of yet another formerly disadvantaged minority, and lack even the tenuous connnection to the guilty modern whites might have.
 

Steve M said...People like Bart who think that the slate is somehow wiped clean with each new generation are just amusing. "Gee, I'm sorry you live in a ghetto because we kept your ancestors as slaves and made it illegal for them to learn to read or write... but it would be RACIST for us to give you any advantage to compensate for the disadvantage you've been handed, sorry."

You are confusing socialism with racism.

Socialism argues that the government should level economic classes by redistributing wealth and opportunity from the wealthy to the poor.

Racism argues that you are poor because you are African American and may be the fourth or fifth generation descendant of a slave.

It is both racist and socialist to propose to set quotas by race for admission into college for the purpose of redistributing wealth and opportunity from the wealthy to the poor.

Both justifications are morally and legally reprehensible.
 

A policy which benefits some people on the basis of their sharing the race of people who were harmed in the past, at cost to other people on the basis of their sharing the race of people in the past who committed the harm, is definitionally racist.

Sure, the only thing black people share with their black ancestors is race. Economic and educational disadvantages certainly don't play a continuing role from generation to generation, no sirree. The slate is magically wiped clean with each new generation.
 

I think that the conservatives are right on this one (though I wouldn't call it racist or socialist). The preference systems are structured to grant preferences to minority groups who have historically lower test scores-- to do this, you basically have to let in fewer people with higher test scores.

That's the reality, and it's one of the reasons why affirmative action not cabined as a remedy to specific acts of past discrimination and identifiable victim sets, though well intentioned, is a hornet's nest as a policy.
 

Let's parse this yodel by our intrepid former backpacker:

"Our Constitution's initial compromise permitting slavery was the price of union was the lesser of two evils, for which we paid an enormous blood price during the Civil War. It is not a justification for your current government racism."

Ignoring the double "was" in the first sentence, his meaning seems to be that "union" was the "lesser of two evils," a matter with respect to which the slaves had no say (not even three-fifths of them). With the hindsight "benefit" of the Civil War, the price of union turned out to be the greater evil based at least on the 600,00 deaths. If the Civil War Amendments had promptly eliminated slavery's decades of discrimination, that might have been great. But politically the remnants of slavery traditions in the form of discriminations continued for a long, long time. So our yodeler says in effect:

"FAGGETABOUDIT!"

So do we forget about the Genocide of the early 20th century and the Holocaust 2+ decades later? NEVER AGAIN, it was proclaimed throughout the world. But it happens again and again. There are people in America who want to turn back the clock, including perhaps the Tea Bag movement based upon some members' comments at its recent convention. In America, NEVER AGAIN means being ever attentive and diligent to any and all efforts to turn back the clock. Deep down, our yodeler might be secretly wishing that Brown be reversed.
 

Brian Tamanaha,

It's interesting to look at the racial admissions outcomes of a university system, like the University of California, that is legally prohibited from engaging in affirmative action. According to state data, the racial distribution of high school seniors in California in 2008 was 43% Latino, 37% White, 10% Asian, 7% Black. The distribution of students in the UC system (without race-based affirmative action) was 35% White, 30% Asian, 14% Latino, and 3% Black. In other words, without race-based affirmative action, Whites nearly match their representation in the population, Black and Latinos are severely underrepresented, and Asians are significantly overrepresented.

Given these numbers, how should schools wanting to increase representation of Blacks and Latinos through affirmative action do so other than by reducing the overrepresentation of Asians?
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

Shag:

Can you get any more pathetic than arguing that universities ought to racially discriminate against Asian Americans in favor of African Americans because of lynching in the South a century ago?

Then there is the head scratcher of labeling those who oppose government racism as racist. Very 1984 of you. None of the folks arguing here in favor of government racial discrimination are members of the Tea Party movement, nor would their racist asses be welcome.
 

Then there is the head scratcher of labeling those who oppose government racism as racist. Very 1984 of you. None of the folks arguing here in favor of government racial discrimination are members of the Tea Party movement, nor would their racist asses be welcome.

"Racism" has a fluid meaning, but it's generally reserved for people who advocate hatred towards people of other races or that they should be discriminated against based on a badge of inferiority or some assumed stereotypical negative characteristic. (It's a form of the more general category of "bigotry".)

Advocates of race-based affirmative action may be wrong, but they aren't racist, because they don't think whites or asians are inferior or have some stereotypical negative characteristic that makes them unfit to be admitted to college.

There's a great desire among many conservatives-- perhaps to cover up the fact that movement conservativism has advocated, and continues to advocate, many bigoted positions (such as against gay rights and for racial and religious profiling)-- to say that the "real racists" are liberals who advocate race-conscious policies.

But while conservatives can certainly define "racism" any way they want within their movement (just as they can assert, if they wish, that the earth is 6,000 years old), that doesn't mean that the word actually means what they say it means.

Race-based affirmative action, where not utilized as a narrowly-tailored remedy to specific acts of discrimination, is probably bad policy. But it isn't "racism", and if conservatives want to be concerned about bigotry, they need to remove the log from their own eye before whining about the mote in the left's.
 

"Sure, the only thing black people share with their black ancestors is race."

Well, if you're a recent black immigrant from Keyna, you'll get the benefit from affirmative action, just as much as though your grandparents were lynched by the KKK. And kids whose grandparents were robbed of their every worldly good during WWII get the sharp end of the stick, rather than the grandchildren of KKK members. So, yeah, affirmative action is all about skin color, and nothing more.

And, yes, you can define "racism" to exclude racial discrimination that's conceived of as well meaning. After all, the only thing we didn't like about the KKK is that they were out to hurt blacks, if they'd done the exact same things to benefit whites it would have been cool.
 

And, yes, you can define "racism" to exclude racial discrimination that's conceived of as well meaning. After all, the only thing we didn't like about the KKK is that they were out to hurt blacks, if they'd done the exact same things to benefit whites it would have been cool.

Well, no, Brett. The KKK was a bunch of violent terrorists.

I don't think telling someone they have to go to Brown instead of Princeton is the same thing as what the KKK did, even if the races were reversed.

And that's the problem with the right wing claims about "racism". It's a matter of taking everything out of context.

Affirmative action has a lot of flaws. But it is simply not the same thing as KKK violence, or Jim Crow, or slavery, or even Driving While Black. It's not motivated by racial animus, the stakes are much lower, and it isn't terrorist violence.

And as I said, a lot of this is a desire on the right to try and change the subject. There's a boatload of bigotry against minorities, women, gays and lesbians, Muslims, hispanics, etc., on the right. There just is. And the right wing has been the historical home of a lot of bigots. Not all of them-- there have been bigots on the left too-- but many of them. Certainly enough of them that before the right wing goes along labeling well-intentioned policies as "racism", they need to clean up their own act first.
 

Our intrepid former backpacker puts forth this in the form of a question to me:

"Can you get any more pathetic than arguing that universities ought to racially discriminate against Asian Americans in favor of African Americans because of lynching in the South a century ago?"

Where in this thread - or any other thread - have I argued this? As to lynching in the south, why exclude such within the past century?

And is our yodeler with this:

"None of the folks arguing here in favor of government racial discrimination are members of the Tea Party movement, nor would their racist asses be welcome."

suggesting an absence of racists in the Tea Party movement? What about Tom's credo?

And note the silence from our yodeler regarding his secret wishes on Brown.
 

Ok, Dilan, make it the proverbial lunch counter. The guy running it doesn't have it in for blacks, he just likes being surrounded by whites. You wouldn't call that racism when he tells the black dude to eat out on the sidewalk?

Like hell you wouldn't. This business of claiming that it's not racism if your motives are good is just one of the excuses liberals tell themselves to feel good while they commit racial discrimination.
 

Dilan said...Advocates of race-based affirmative action may be wrong, but they aren't racist...

OK, let's use the dictionary definitions of racism:

1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.

2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.

3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

Dictionary.com Unabridged - Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2010.


Racial preferences fall comfortably into the first two definitions of racism.

A racist is one who holds the belief of racism. Proponents of racial preferences are by definition racists.

...because they don't think whites or asians are inferior or have some stereotypical negative characteristic that makes them unfit to be admitted to college.

No, proponents of racial preferences believe that "inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement" and that folks with a black skin are inferior to and unable to compete with folks with white and especially yellow skin, and thus require racial preferences to be admitted into college (or get jobs or contracts).

Pretty disgusting once all the excuses and spin is stripped away, isn't it.
 

BD: "None of the folks arguing here in favor of government racial discrimination are members of the Tea Party movement, nor would their racist asses be welcome."

Shag from Brookline said...suggesting an absence of racists in the Tea Party movement? What about Tom's credo?


Tancredo is a bomb thrower who has a problem with illegal aliens and ignorant voters. This is not racism.

You are probably referring to Tancredo's latest bomb thrown at the National Tea Party Convention, where he said: "We do not have a civics literacy test before people can vote in this country, people who could not even spell the word 'vote,' or say it in English..." In short, Tom prefers if voters knew basic civics and could spell and say the word vote in English. This also is not racism.

The left has twisted this statement into a call for the return of Jim Crow voting tests, when Tom said no such thing.

Indeed, an electorate who can both speak and write the national language and know at least the basics of how our system of government operates would appear to be a good idea. However, the Constitution does not and should not condition the right to vote on anything other than citizenship and age. It an affirmative duty of society to educate voters so they do not cast ballots out of ignorance.
 

Ok, Dilan, make it the proverbial lunch counter. The guy running it doesn't have it in for blacks, he just likes being surrounded by whites. You wouldn't call that racism when he tells the black dude to eat out on the sidewalk?


And if affirmative action policies were about college administrators who didn't want to associate with whites and asians, you would have a point. But they aren't and you don't.

Racial preferences fall comfortably into the first two definitions of racism.

Only if you read out the portion of the definition YOU quoted that says that racism is motivated by a belief that one's own race is superior. You have no evidence that affirmative action proponents are motivated by that.

In any event, you guys ignored the broader point, which is UNTIL YOU GUYS CRACK DOWN ON THE RACIAL PROFILERS, ANTI-MUSLIM TYPES, SEXISTS, GAY BASHERS, ETC., IN THE CONSERVATIVE MOVEMENT, YOU HAVE NO BUSINESS CONDEMNING AS "RACIST" AFFIRMATIVE ACTION PROGRAMS THAT CLEARLY WERE NOT MOTIVATED BY THE TYPES OF ANIMUS THAT MOTIVATE SO MANY RIGHT WING BIGOTS.

Clean up your own house, and then maybe you can talk about alleged liberal "racism".
 

Our intrepid former backpacker has taken to a dictionary and in doing so self-defined himself as a racist with his screeds.

The silence is deafening on our yodeler's secret views on Brown. (Or are they really, really secret.) Perhaps he has an inferiority complex.
 

BD: Racial preferences fall comfortably into the first two definitions of racism.

Dilan said...Only if you read out the portion of the definition YOU quoted that says that racism is motivated by a belief that one's own race is superior. You have no evidence that affirmative action proponents are motivated by that.


Of course racial preference supporters believe those with yellow and white skins are superior to those who have black skins. If they believed otherwise, there would be no need to provide preferences based upon nothing else but race to folks with black skins.

At best, supporters of racial preferences are rationalizing their support as something other than base racism. At worst, they are open and eager racists lying about their motivations.
 

Our yodeler with this:

"Of course racial preference supporters believe those with yellow and white skins are superior to those who have black skins. If they believed otherwise, there would be no need to provide preferences based upon nothing else but race to folks with black skins."

is in effect saying that he believes those with yellow and white skins are superior to those who have black skins.

By the way, is "Asian-American" limited to those with yellow skins or is our yodeler distinguishing Asian-Americans with yellow skins from Asian-Americans sans yellow skins? Or is this a demonstration of the coloring chart in his brain?
 

Those who absolutely refuse to admit that there might be a valid societal reason for attempting to enhance diversity in universities and other public venues which have traditionally been dominated by those who, coincidentally, resemble themselves are, at best, implicitly defending the highly unfair (and, in the long term, deleterious) allocation of resources by money, parentage, or influence. At worst, they are racists, lying through their teeth about their true motives, perhaps even to themselves.

College entrance exams are a tremendously flawed method of ranking candidates. I speak as someone who got top scores on all of them.

If fairness is the primary criterion, then we should, as a nation, do as the Irish have done and guarantee an opportunity to go to a good college or university to all.

(And then allow the educators to flunk them if they can't make the grade. This wouldn't be too much of a threat to the elites, who would still monopolize Yale, Harvard, and the like, to populate all the really important positions of authority.)
 

shag:

Your attempts to label my description of the racist assumptions underlying racial preferences as somehow racist is beyond silly.
 

C2H50H, what about the original remarks about Asians apparently being put to a higher standard?

As to 'good college or university,' what would that mean? There still would be certain "elite" institutions. The problem would still be there since there will be a push to enter them.

The response to certain opponents of race based preference programs is that the students could still get into other less "elite" places that are "good" all the same. Thomas puts his actions where his mouth is in fact by noting he appoints his clerks often from non-Ivy league law schools.

Overall, "diversity" is a legitimate interest; the question is how to get there. As suggested, I wish Sandy Levinson would respond to this post, since he after all has a book on this very subject.
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

C2H50H said...Those who absolutely refuse to admit that there might be a valid societal reason for attempting to enhance diversity in universities and other public venues which have traditionally been dominated by those who, coincidentally, resemble themselves are, at best, implicitly defending the highly unfair (and, in the long term, deleterious) allocation of resources by money, parentage, or influence.

Sorry, the economic class dodge will not work in justifying racial preferences.

If the disparity of economic resources were your true concern, you would propose a program to provide resources to those who could not afford to attend university regardless of race.

If legacy admissions were your true concern, you would propose to outlaw such admissions regardless of race.

Instead, you are defending racial preferences based upon economic class. This means you are assuming that folks with yellow or white skins are superior to folks with black skin at making money and obtaining economic influence simply because of their race. This is pure unadulterated racism.

We can do this for as long as you like, but racial preferences are by definition racism. There is no way around that fact.
 

Joe said...Overall, "diversity" is a legitimate interest; the question is how to get there. As suggested, I wish Sandy Levinson would respond to this post, since he after all has a book on this very subject.

Diversity based upon race is also by definition racist. The underlying assumption here is that all folks who share the same skin color also all think alike and share the same culture and philosophy.
 

I nominate our yodeler for a Monty Python award for this:

"shag:

Your attempts to label my description of the racist assumptions underlying racial preferences as somehow racist is beyond silly."

My, my, is our yodeler feeling superior?

And no response on "Asian-American" re: yellow skins. Asia is big continent not all Asian-Americans are alike.
 

Joe,

I thought it was pretty clear from my comment that I don't care for race-preferential admission, despite the fact that there may be sound reasons for them. As for over-representation by asians, I've been a professor in technical areas. I'm not involved in admissions. Let me just say that, as far as my experience can be summarized in a short sentence, a well-prepared and motivated student from anywhere is a better choice than someone who looks just like you.

I vastly prefer the "opportunity for all" methodology. I'm curious as to whether this would satisfy those who complain about race-based preferences.

As for what constitutes "good" in a university, the government can either offer vouchers to all or subsidize public schools, for all I care. Having been at several universities and colleges, I'd say "good" varies with the student and with the college or university. I'd insist that any voucher or subsidy be restricted to accredited institutions with non-discriminatory admissions policies, but that's just me.

Please note that the elite schools are almost all private, and, as such, have admissions policies that are not easily affected by federal law.

The state-supported schools have admissions policies that vary greatly from state to state but to a degree (often depending on how much federal money they accept) fall under federal law restrictions.

I see Bart didn't manage to understand my earlier comment, in which I did, in fact, propose guaranteeing an opportunity for all to go to a good school. Try and keep up, Bart. When you see every opposing comment as indicating racism, you may be exhibiting projection again.
 

Thanks for the follow-up C.

Funding seems to be one way where private institutions can be controlled by state and federal law. Conditions can be attached there.

As to BP: "Diversity based upon race ..."

Maybe you should read Prof. Levinson's book, or at least the essay directly related to race.
 

Of course racial preference supporters believe those with yellow and white skins are superior to those who have black skins.

Bart, at this point you've lost the argument, because you are just making ridiculous and wild-ass allegations of the motives of a group of people whose actual motives are well known and, indeed, have been critiqued by many more honest conservatives. (Dinesh D'Souza, for instance, hates affirmative action in education as much as you do, but he'd never claim that the motivation behind such policies was a belief in racial supremacy. Neither would Terry Eastland and William Bennett.)

You just REALLY WANT the word "racism" to apply to something a lot of liberals favor. It would serve your political purposes if it did. But outside of Orwell, you don't get to twist the language that way.

There's plenty of very good arguments against affirmative action. I happen to agree with more than a few of them. But I guess it's more important to you to serve your political purposes of having "racism" as an epithet to hurl at liberals than it is to tell the truth. That's quite sad, and it says quite a lot about your character, but it isn't a persuasiave argument.
 

Dilan:

I am completely serious that the only grounds for supporting racial preferences are by definition racist.

I am not following shag's lead by calling others racist to score some cheap partisan point. Rather, I have spent a great deal of time on this thread detailing my arguments.

I do on care whether other conservatives think that discretion is the better part of valor and decline to call out what can only be racism. I call things exactly the way I see them.

Your defense to my charge of racism is that the supporters of racial preferences do not hate anyone because of their race. It is not necessary for a racist to hate anyone as I noted above. Indeed, I believe that many whites who support racial preferences do so because they do not believe blacks have the capability to help themselves. However, racism arising out of pity or condescension is no less racism.
 

Bart,

Pity isn't the only emotion that can engender a desire to help those who may be disadvantaged. There's this other emotion, called empathy, which most humans have, but which you apparently lack.

Again, your inability to attribute any reasons beside pity and prejudice speak volumes about you, but very little about others.
 

I've looked through my comments on this thread and challenge our yodeler to substantiate this:

"I am not following shag's lead by calling others racist to score some cheap partisan point."

In fact it is our yodeler who has used the term racist with respect to those who support AA, and not just once. Maybe we need to get some of his DNA to see if there is even one drop of decency in him.
 

I remember when Herrnsteinwas hot to tell us that academic scores were heritable. And following from that, programs to help black folks were a waste of time and money. They were doomed. Their genes were inferior.

Of course, if you buy all that, the fun thing was, it followed that white folks were also doomed. Scores from Asian kids were even better, equally heritable, and the argument that others just couldn't keep up was equally compelling.

And yet somehow Herrnstein never mentioned that. Odd.

Oh, wait, we can account for it. Racism dressed up as science is perfectly OK when the winner is you. And folks who look like you, talk like you, eat the shit you like to eat, and so on.
 

E.J. Dionne's Op-Ed in today's (2/11/10) WaPo takes on the Tea Party movement, including it's racist aspects via Tom's credo as well as the lack of support from traditional Republicans down the road. Our yodeler describes Tom as a bombtosser but not a racist, that Tom is misunderstood by the left.
 

Afirmative Action greatest problem is that it is silly. Asian-Americans consist Indians and other South Asians, Chinese and other East Asians and some others. They had not anything to do with each other until somebody lumped them together Now they hang out in schools as a single bloc.
White Americans a Generation or two ago did not feel any connetion. Wasps and Trailer Folk, Italians and Irish, Jews and USSR immigrants are all bunched in this stew.
"Hilda, which quota do Turkish kids
fall under?"
Arabs, I assume have no quota.
 

The chief connection they have is cultural, and a lot of that is their parents passing through the filter of immigration, which tends to leave behind those who'd pass lazy habits onto their children. This has left Asian-Americans with a culture of achievement.

Similarly, blacks aren't being kept down by "the man", they're being kept down by each other, by a culture of anti-achievement, which is partially a legacy of slavery, but at least as much a legacy of the war on poverty.

Honestly, I don't see how you fix that from the outside, in a free country. Blacks desperately need to change the aspects of their culture which discourage success, but they're never going to do that so long as they're encouraged to fix the blame elsewhere.
 

Brett says this about blacks:

" ... they're being kept down by each other, by a culture of anti-achievement, which is partially a legacy of slavery, but at least as much a legacy of the war on poverty."

in contrast to Asian-Americans with their culture of achievement.

Perhaps Brett can explain the legacy of the war on poverty impact on blacks. Brett seems to minimize the legacy of slavery. The Asian-Americans he speaks of were not enslaved in the US for decades, centuries. Families of many of these Asian-Americans relocated to the US in the 1970s with relaxation of immigration laws, entering freedom here as they escaped from totalitarian regimes in Asia (to which the US contributed with its Vietnam venture).

Maybe Brett hoisted himself by his bootstraps to become the success he is today. But ghettos were not the choice of African-Americans, as history demonstrates. Many non-African-Americans look upon addressing the plight of African-Americans over a couple of centuries as a zero sum game, both economically and socially, especially when it is so to identify them.

Given the opportunity, blacks have had many successes, including sports and entertainment that had long excluded opportunities for them, much of such successes following WW II.

Parents of Asian-Americans came to the US voluntarily. Many of these families have resided in ghettos but have been more accepted by the white community as they advance economically.

Brett's conclusion:

"Honestly, I don't see how you fix that from the outside, in a free country."

may be because in a free country, a significant portion of the citizenry (including - drum roll - whites) may not want a fix.

Brett's innuendo of laziness is not worthy of a response.
 

For those who may not have lived through the Sixties, it was a time of turbulence.
There were fears that there would be a Black uprising (As Goodenough's statement that if expectancy rose more quickly then reality, one result might well be violence).
So AA was put in place to buy off "black rage"
The carefully nurtured notion of the "great melting pot" was shattered and was repaced with the Black Nationalist ideas of power through separation.
I suggest what we are now seeing is a status quo based on the false assumption that equality of opportunity will result in equality of outcome. And the reverse has occurred- inequality of outcome means inequality of opportunity.
That only will hold true for a homogeneous population.
Jensen may have been burned at the stake but let us remember that his thesis about IQ was Blacks<Whites<Yellow.
Which is what we continue to see in SAT scores and success in college
Eppur si muove-Galileo
 

"Perhaps Brett can explain the legacy of the war on poverty impact on blacks."

Sure thing. Are you aware that, before the war on poverty, blacks actually had a lower rate of illegitimate births, and single parent families, than whites did? And this was, take note, closer to slavery and Jim Crow. Perhaps YOU would like to explain why the "legacy of slavery" grows as slavery recedes into the past, rather than diminishing?

Really, what happened is that poverty, which genuinely was a legacy of slavery, was far more common among blacks than whites. So, even though the war on poverty had harmful cultural effects on poor people of every race, blacks were disproportionately harmed by it.

Unfortunately, due to the tendency of blacks to clump together, (Partially a result of segregation, but not entirely.) those nasty cultural effects achieved a kind of critical mass among blacks, and became self-perpetuating.

I don't really know what we do about it, but what we're seeing today are NOT the effects of racism anymore, but that cultural decay, which racism only positioned blacks to be particularly effected by.
 

One of the legacies of slavery was the impact upon slave families, with marriage limitations, with slave children being sold, families separated, etc. The Civil War Amendments were thwarted to a great extent for many, many decades. Yes, the '60s were turbulent. While much of such turbulence related to racial matter, there was also the Vietnam War and Nixon's Southern Strategy. I not only lived through the '60s but also the '30s, '40s, '50s to date. Consider that Brown v. Board of Education did not come along until 1954. Life was not a piece of cake for African-Americans before that. And the deliberate speed was snail pace, including by means of Nixon's Southern Strategy.

As for the war on poverty, Brett, please explain how the lot of African-Americans would have improved if that "war" had not been declared? And who was in command of the war on poverty and how long did it last? Who controlled the purse strings? Was the trickle down theory applied?

The legacies of slavery continued even after the war on poverty was declared. The "clumping together" continued patterns that had been earlier established. Consider "white flight." De facto segregation was the result - and perhaps desire - of the "white flight." And "nasty cultural effects" are merely code words. The concept of the "great melting pot" did not include African-Americans, despite the elimination of miscegenation laws in more recent years. And the war on poverty was not fought to a conclusion for many reasons, including the Republican Southern Strategy that continues to this day. The effects of racism, sadly, continue to this day.
 

"As for the war on poverty, Brett, please explain how the lot of African-Americans would have improved if that "war" had not been declared?"

The way it was improving up until that "war" was declared? By hard work, and the accumulation of social capital, WITHOUT single parent families becoming the norm?
 

Brett:

So 1964 is a key date for your analysis since that is when LBJ declared the war on poverty. From the Civil War up to that point, how had the lot of the African-American improved, and at what speed? Perhaps there was a counterinsurgency to the war on poverty in the form of what turned into the Republicans' Southern Strategy, considering the form of resistance to Brown v. Board of Education up to and following 1964. Consider the assassinations during the 1960s. Consider the funding of the Vietnam War up to Nixon's election and thereafter. Consider resegregation. The war on poverty was underfunded with the efforts of the resulting counterinsurgency.

Brett, you seem to think that "hard work" would have solved the problems of African-Americans. Perhaps you are suggesting that Dr. Martin Luther King was a Pied Piper, leading African-Americans (by non-violent means, by the way) over the cliff. Are you suggesting that with continued "hard work" white America would have welcomed African-Americans into their hearts and neighborhoods and families in relatively short order? Up to that point just how much "social capital" had African-Americans been permitted to accumulate for about 100 years? We had the code words of "law and order" in the '50s as a prelude to the counterinsurgency of the Republicans' Southern Strategy that resulted shortly after the war on poverty was declared. Apparently some in America did not want (and still don't) a resolution, preferring political advantage to justice and fairness.
 

What I'm suggesting is that there isn't any other way to advance, unless you want your people to remain wards of the state in perpetuity.

Of course, some people LIKE the state having plenty of wards. Makes buying votes simpler, if you've got a guaranteed market.
 

Brett,

Consider the plight of Irish immigrants to the US, who came here voluntarily to avoid poverty, etc, under British rule. Their "hard work" consisted of locally outnumbering their landed opposition here and with the vote being able to asset political controls locally. African-Americans came here in chains, in slavery, considered not as persons but as property, without the ability to vote (even at the three-fifths level that provided for more representation for whites in slave states), until after the Civil War Amendments; and even then, de facto limitations were placed on the rights of African-Americans to vote in the former slave states. When after WW II more activism resulted, efforts were made by African-Americans to get some power (as the Irish-Americans did) with their votes, but with no where near the same success proportional to their numbers. The Southern Strategy counterinsurgency continued in its efforts to thwart political successes of African-Americans.

A side note: Here in the Boston area, we have long heard stories of "Irish need not apply" for jobs, etc; that through the vote, at least in Boston, the Irish-Americans gained political power. Subsequent immigrants waves from Italy to the Boston area presented economical challenges to Irish-Americans, with the latter taking steps politically to control these challenges. Eventually peace was made, as the Italian-Americans gained political power with the vote, and, by the way, religious commonalities and intermarriage. The African-American population was too small until more recent years to gain such political power via the vote in Boston.

So in comparison to other ethnic/racial groups that did not come to the US in chains, how much harder must African-Americans work for their place in the political sun? Yes, there are successes here and there, such as MA Governor Deval Patrick elected in 2006 and Pres. Obama elected in 2008. Patrick faces many challenges for reelection this fall. Obama faces problems with the 2010 congressional elections. While Patrick and Obama may have benefitted by being African-American in getting elected, surely the political long knives of the Southern Strategy (that the Tea Baggers may bring North) are out to get them with, shall I dare say, a low-tech political lynching?

My God, Brett, picking cotton was hard work, for decades. How much more "hard work" do African-Americas have to produce for political recognition, as well as fairness and justice? After decades, centuries, of slavery, a legacy of slavery is that African-Americans must work even harder than ethnic immigrants who came to the US not in chains but voluntarily for better lives, working harder not for the sins of their fathers but for the sins of the white slaveowners of their fathers.

Is there a solution? I don't have it. But there are issues of fairness and justice to be addressed. Hard work alone will not bring about a solution. I've seen progress here in the Boston area since the '30s. But racial issues remain. So more progress must be made. But too many deep down will look at the rainbow as a zero sum game.

As to some politicians liking wards for the votes, this is not limited to African-Americans. Poor whites have served as wards for the Southern Strategy.

I remember a story I heard a few years back about the economic needs of the slave states going back to colonial days. At the time, there was recognition of indentured servants. In addition, there were the Native Americans. Why couldn't they serve as slaves? Well, the Native American knew the country side and would readily be able to escape - and survive with their skills. The white indentured servants (perhaps from Ireland) might blend in with the colonists. So what was the solution? Brett, I think you can finish this story.
 

Ahh... The Celtics in the Eighties had a proclivity for gettting EXCELLENT BASKETBALL PLAYERS on their teams, who happened to be white. Not sure if you remember this, but Boston had the first all-black starting rotation in the league 20 years before Bird, McHale and Ainge (anyone left out??) kicked ass. Although I will definitely grant that they were more popular in New England as white superstars than black ones.
 

You tell me stories from a century or two ago, and they're supposed to justify screwing over Asian Americans today? It's a joke.
 

I have enjoyed Prof. Brian Tamahana's posts at this Blog as well as reading some of his articles on SSRN. I recall that at times Brian would interject comments on some of his posts that would make the thread more interesting. However, Brian has not contributed comments on this post. I wonder why?

The title of this post is "The Invisibility of Whiteness." The first two paragraphs, in my view, lay out his motivation for his post. So I wonder if Brian is amazed that the thread focuses upon AA. Now, I have no reason to believe that Brian is against AA. I don't think this was the intent of his post. Perhaps Brian will elucidate, as I am confident that he has been following the comments - and perhaps smiling that the bait has been taken.

Brian could provide us with background on the treatment of Chinese immigrants to the US and their role in building the railroads to the West Coast and how these immigrants were railroaded after their coolie construction labor was no longer required; that these immigrants were limited by state laws from engaging in certain businesses; that there was concern with the "yellow peril" that led to discriminatory laws to thwart the "yellow peril." [SCOTUS handled a few cases on these laws.]

And then segue to post Pearl Harbor and the internment of Japanese-Americans. Let me pick up on my story that If said Brett could finish, that he said was a joke. America's battle was against the Axis powers. There were concerns that some German-Americans and some Italian-Americans just might consider serving the interests of Germany and Italy (that with Japan constituted the Axis enemies of America), requiring a watchful eye on the part of the FBI and other authorities as potential collaborators. But internment of German-Americans and Italian-Americans could not be as readily accomplished as with the Japanese-Americans for a number of reasons, including that they looked a lot like the rest of us.

Maybe Brian will respond. Or maybe this post may lead to an article or book. In any event, Brian has been inscrutable.

By the way, I don't want to screw over either Asian-Americans or Jewish-Americans, two groups that have had limitations imposed in their efforts at higher education going back a long time. I would note, that such limitations, especially with Jewish-Americans, were imposed by WASPS, not African-Americans. And I do believe in AA for reasons of justice and fairness.

So perhaps Brett would undo the caps on Asian-Americans, but only by eliminating AA that provides limited benefits to African-Americans. But consider Brian's second paragraph:

"It would never occur to anyone to suggest that we need to cap the number of white students on college campuses. The very idea is an outrage, absurd, unthinkable."

What happens if there are too many Asian-Americans with high test scores? Without AA, whom might they displace?

I nominate Brett for the Pat Buchanan award.
 

Prof. Levinson is now on to other things, like our broken Constitution, but again, I do wish he would respond too given his past writings on this specific subject.

BTW, Levinson was cited as among those who want to take the Constitution away from the courts last night on American and the Courts, the episode (on C-SPAN) about a new book about how the courts are influenced by popular opinion, which is a theme of Mssrs. Levinson and Balkin.
 

"What happens if there are too many Asian-Americans with high test scores? Without AA, whom might they displace?"

Without preconceived notions of how many members of a given ethnic group should be admitted, a prior discriminatory viewpoint, the concept of "too many Asian Americans with high test scores" lacks any meaning. There are as many Asian Americans with high test scores as there are, the number is neither "too many" or "too few", regardless of what it might be.

So, how am I supposed to answer that question? It's very premise is one I reject.
 

Brian sort of answered in his Addendum what Brett does not:

"So, how am I supposed to answer that question? It's very premise is one I reject."

I guess to Brett its all black and white - and perhaps yellow.
 

To me they're all... people.
 

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