August 10, 2017

Speaking of stereotypes...

"When I won a scholarship that paid for part of my education, a selection panelist told me that I got it because I had moving qualities of heart and originality that Asian applicants generally lacked. Asian applicants were all so alike, and I stood out. In truth, I wasn’t much different from other Asians I knew. I was shy and reticent, played a musical instrument, spent summers drilling math, and had strict parents to whom I was dutiful. But I got the message: to be allowed through a narrow door, an Asian should cultivate not just a sense of individuality but also ways to project 'Not like other Asians!'"

From "The Uncomfortable Truth About Affirmative Action and Asian-Americans," by Harvard lawprof Jeannie Suk Gersen in The New Yorker.

39 comments:

Big Mike said...

Someday Asians will realize how badly they've been had, and the Democrats will be a minority party for a quarter century.

J. Farmer said...

What this whole James Damore situation demonstrates yet again is how large swathes of the media and elite classes are totally innumerate on the subject of statistics. There is a fundamental difference between talking about groups and talking about individuals. So, for example, men, as a group, on average, are taller than women, as a group, on average. Yet, it is plainly obvious to anyone with eyes that there are taller than average women and shorter than average men. Their existence does not disprove the observation about the group. The classic example is Norway, which has high levels of gender equality, by all the sorts of measures that SJW types like, and yet in Norway women are disproportionately involved in stereotypically female-centered jobs. The most likely explanation? Free women choosing what they want to do with their lives. The SJW explanation is that it is unseen, nefarious sexism. There is a tremendous amount of data to challenge this notion, but instead of grappling with the data, the SJW side just shouts its same, tired epithet (e.g. sexist, racist, whatever-phobic, etc).

chuck said...

Nasty case of Stockholm syndrome. But she is correct, keeping Blacks, Asians, and Hispanics from going to war with each other until Whites are defeated is important for the survival of the race based Democratic Party. After that, le déluge.

Mike Sylwester said...

I don't feel sorry for any Asian-Americans who suffer this kind of discrimination but vote Democrat.

Achilles said...

Blogger Big Mike said...
"Someday Asians will realize how badly they've been had, and the Democrats will be a minority party for a quarter century."

They are used to corrupt governments that are too big and meddlesome. Democrats are really no different than the chicoms or the other kleptocrat states they lived in. The ones that live here tend to be old school Christian as well so render unto Caesar and all that.

They really don't care. How many Asian politicians do you see? And when you do see them they are often the worst. I live with them. They just care about different things. Completely different things.

CWJ said...

J. Farmer,

The only thing I could add to your excellent comment is that when people are seen primarily as members of a group, then individuals disappear and their humanity reduced, if not in fact eliminated entirely.

Achilles said...

Blogger CWJ said...
J. Farmer,

"The only thing I could add to your excellent comment is that when people are seen primarily as members of a group, then individuals disappear and their humanity reduced, if not in fact eliminated entirely."

If you take this truth and apply it to Asians it will help us to bridge that gap. They are used to being lumped into a group and having their individuality destroyed.

They are the goal of the leftists. If the leftists were smart they would stop treating them like shit and bind them into the spoils game.

Sebastian said...

"But I got the message: to be allowed through a narrow door, an Asian should cultivate not just a sense of individuality but also ways to project 'Not like other Asians!'" Prog condescension to blacks is even worse: to be allowed through the wide door, held open because they couldn't possibly open it themselves, they need cultivate no sense of individuality, or demonstrate individual achievement, just the right way to project blackness, adding diversity by virtue of their ascribed tribal identity.

J. Farmer said...

@CWJ:

The only thing I could add to your excellent comment is that when people are seen primarily as members of a group, then individuals disappear and their humanity reduced, if not in fact eliminated entirely.

That, I think, is a byproduct of our tribal nature. For something like 95% of human history, we lived as hunter-gatherers, mostly in small, kinship based clans. While human beings have a since of individual autonomy, we also have a social or collective self. You only have to attend the typical professional sporting event or rock concert to see this phenomenon firsthand. This allows trust and mutual cooperation between humans. However, it is a nasty byproduct. By seeing other human beings as members of a different social collective, we have a fantastic capacity to dehumanize them and thus treat them with unimaginable cruelty, callousness, and indifferent. I think human history is replete with such examples.

In the early 20th century, the solution to the phenomena of ethnic conflict was ethno-nationalism. The fundamental principle of today's international order is national sovereignty and self-determination of peoples. And yet, the process by which the old dynastic empires were carved up and replaced with new sovereign nations was an exceptionally bloody one. And unfortunately, since at least the end of the Second World War, the major powers have been moving the international order in the other direction, trying to erase borders and move away from national sovereignty and towards new super-state structures, with the EU model being the most obvious example. A highly active US foreign policy meant to support American global hegemony is part and parcel of this system.

Be said...

Fully Identifying as a White Woman, here!

"Of course you have no idea about how Uniform and Racist Valley Forge, PA is."

"Why would you think that?"

"My daughter lives there, and she is having Difficulties Adjusting. Especially after the last election."

Bob Loblaw said...

What this whole James Damore situation demonstrates yet again is how large swathes of the media and elite classes are totally innumerate on the subject of statistics. There is a fundamental difference between talking about groups and talking about individuals.

You're far less cynical than I. I think the editors and others in positions of power understand statistics quite well. They understand the point Damore was making. But they also understand there's a lot of power and influence in leading the easily led.

Mountain Maven said...

Live in sili Valli for a while and this article makes complete sense

gadfly said...

From our Asian professor in the New Yorker:

When the New York Times reported, last week, that the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division was internally seeking lawyers to investigate or litigate “intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions,” many people immediately assumed that the Trump Administration was hoping to benefit whites by assailing affirmative action.

And from the New York Times article cited:

The document does not explicitly identify whom the Justice Department considers at risk of discrimination because of affirmative action admissions policies. But the phrasing it uses, “intentional race-based discrimination,” cuts to the heart of programs designed to bring more minority students to university campuses.

So if "many people" assumed the new direction of "investigating race-based discrimination" was the Trump administration trying to benefit whites - that would be because the New York Times told them that was so.

Laslo Spatula said...

Moondar Chai-Chai, Human Resources Manager says...

People don't realize the complexities of intersectionality that face a Human Resources manager. A woke business is like Kimchi: it cannot all be Korean radish, other salted and fermented vegetables must be included. Think of "salted and fermented" as Education and Diverse Life Experience and you begin to understand the importance of what I do...

It cannot be all about the Korean radish, nor can it be solely about the ginger: I find the KImchi analogy very useful in explaining to Asian applicants why their services are not needed at this time. After all, the Chinese love kimchi, the Japanese love kimchi: all Asians love the kimchi...

And this does not even begin to delve into the diversity that is kimchi: there is Baechu-kimchi, Baek-kimchi, Dongchimi, Kkakdugi, Nabak-kimchi, Pa-kimchi, Yeolmu-kimchi -- you get the idea...

Yet, while Kimchi is appreciated by the Corporation, it cannot be the only item in the Company Cafeteria: there needs to be the inclusion of foods loved by women, African-Americans, Gays, Lesbians and the Transgender Community, too -- foods that make them feel comfortable and safe...

It is my job to make a flavorful company, and to do it without things like pork products that offend our Muslim Associates: again, you understand the analogy, and the delicate balance that is my job...

I am Laslo.

Henry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Guildofcannonballs said...

Maybe the panelist, and note the singular panelist fallaciously speaking authoritatively for the whole panel either through our narrator's ignorance or intentional deception, thought if he or she told our girl how special she was, like the teacher in Election talking 'bout how special Reese Witherspoon's Hillary! character is, then wallah! pussy.

Maybe the panelist was actually racist and tried to deny the scholarship altoghether to any Asian and upon rebuffment of that effort told a lie to the winner in an attempt to destroy her future with mental poison?

I wonder if the Althouse tag is missing the author's last name for any reason that wouldn't take a bona fied Freud to figure?

JMS said...

Article's conclusion (with lawyerly "what is needed" marker) is stop discriminating against Asians, just discriminate against whites.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Feed fide foed fummed, I smell a Freudian.

Lloyd W. Robertson said...

I have a tendency to sympathize with the anti-affirmative action comments here. There is such a thing as merit, admit people to schools and then hire accordingly, let the chips fall where they may. On the other hand, there is surely an expectation that elite schools look a bit more deeply, and the same is probably true of many job competitions, even if they are not immediately for a management position. Personal qualities that may be hard to quantify--yes, leadership and originality may both be worth discussing. And then: why be totally "indifferent" to group characteristics? Is it not a worthy goal to reflect your surrounding community in order to gain its support, gain credibility, provide opportunities to worthy candidates who may start out inauspiciously, etc.? Admissions officers and HR departments do not make this stuff up. Sometimes it seems a very bad idea to give a college placement to someone who has had terrible schooling before; if they are a fish out of water academically, how can they succeed or belong? What about Division I athletes, who often struggle academically? What about legacies, whose presence can be justified not only on the basis of recent donations, but because they have grown up in an environment where people will pay handsomely for education among other things, and they are likely to do the same. There are relevant group characteristics.
Once when I was teaching Intro to Am Gov I brought up affirmative action, and raised some questions about "how it is done," and Supreme Court decisions. A young woman wrote an excellent paper strongly in favour of the Kennedy position, and I gave her an A+. She came to see me and said: if I knew this was going to happen, I wouldn't have changed this course from "graded" to "pass/fail."

Bruce Hayden said...

Blogger Big Mike said...
"Someday Asians will realize how badly they've been had, and the Democrats will be a minority party for a quarter century."

They are used to corrupt governments that are too big and meddlesome. Democrats are really no different than the chicoms or the other kleptocrat states they lived in. The ones that live here tend to be old school Christian as well so render unto Caesar and all that.


You may be right - but this is the demographic most harmed by affirmative action, etc. and the one that works hardest to rise through merit. Thank goodness I wasn't an Asian-American growing up in this environment, where I had to have hundreds of points higher SATs than some other demographics to get into the same colleges, and could actually have a normal childhood, actually having some fun. And thank goodness that my kid wasn't Asian-American, and we could spend weekends, on occasion, skiing or biking, instead of in SAT prep.

The problem I see is that the Dem party is, and has long been, a coalition of interest groups, with each member group in the coalition getting something in return for their support. Blacks and Hispanics get affirmative action. Progressives get power and virtue signaling. But what do the Asians get, except for significantly higher college admission requirements? Maybe political power in one party states like CA. That is all that I really see. And group solidarity, which is what, I think, keeps Jews (who face similar problems) in the fold. But, in the long run, other demographics have seen her the advantages of assimilation.

Ann Althouse said...

"I wonder if the Althouse tag is missing the author's last name for any reason..."

The tag is Jeannie Suk because it's a pre-existing tag, based on this earlier post, about a New Yorker article she wrote. If you go to that article on the New Yorker website now, you'll see the additional name, but if you use the Wayback Machine to how it looked back when I blogged it, you'll see that the name matches my tag. I don't like changing tags.

Presumably, the author got married. My not changing the tag is just consistent with a longstanding policy of tag consistency.

And it's really stupid to make fun of her name.

Henry said...

I believe Professor Gerson is writing in good faith, but to apply one's good faith to social conflict, especially racial discrimination, quickly leads to contradictions. Professor Gerson deals with some of those contradictions in her essay; other's snake through the roots of her ideas, unintended and disquieting.

Ideals and loyalties subvert each other. Professor Gerson touches on the following:

Belief in individualism -- at least in terms of her own experience
Belief in a multicultural society
The ideal of social cohesion
The ideal of remedying structural disadvantages for black and latino minorities
Belief in the idea of elite universities
Loyalty to Harvard University

I shared the first four of these ideals, have mixed feelings about the fifth, and no loyalty to Harvard whatsoever. But just the first four ideals create contradictions, no matter how well balanced. Professor Gerson is in the even more difficult position of having to align her ideals with her loyalty to a colossus.

The contradictions are unavoidable:

Because our legal doctrine prohibits racial quotas, it is currently impossible to have an honest discussion of these questions.

Therefore:

Harvard’s litigation position must attribute the resulting race composition and the percentage of Asians in its class solely to the holistic method, admitting to no racial balancing. This account is plausible if, in fact, despite disproportionately strong academic credentials, Asian applicants are severely less likely than white ones to have the special personal qualities that colleges seek. That is the inevitable implication of Harvard’s position, which would be in line with long-standing perceptions of Asians as indistinguishable from one another.

Yet:

Continued use of affirmative action of the kind upheld by the Supreme Court is perfectly compatible with tackling the discrimination at issue....

Contradiction.

...The problem is not race-conscious holistic review; rather, it is the added, sub-rosa deployment of racial balancing in a manner that keeps the number of Asians so artificially low relative to whites who are less strong on academic measures.

It is holistic review that creates a sub-rosa deployment of racial balancing. That is the whole point of holistic review. The professor already established this with her analysis of the law, her strong statement in favor of racial quotas and in her personal narrative.

Professor Gersen now transitions from an implicit contradiction to a direct one:

We should not want the composition of our élite universities to be wildly out of proportion to the racial composition of our country. Such lopsided access to gateways of opportunity and power—say, with whites being severely underrepresented at schools like Harvard—has the potential to fuel dangerous resentment and disturb social peace...

An entirely different ideal enters the picture -- the ideal of social cohesion in a polyglot society. Professor Gerson's solution is the weakest part of the essay, a can in which worms can't be put back. Worms: Proportional racial balancing is impossible without racial quotas, which fuel resentment and disturb social peace. Racial balancing will be at odds with class balancing, which fuels resentment and disturbs social peace. Racial balancing says nothing about gender balancing; add gender balancing to racial balancing and your quotas begin turning in on themselves like Copernican epicycles. As we are daily reminded, the resentments and social disruption around gender balancing are profound, on all sides. Racial balancing says nothing about ideological diversity. Racial balancing is a proxy for culture, but a crude one. It is instructive that both in the lawsuit and in Professor Gerson's telling, all Asian Americans are lumped together. Chinese-, Korean-, Japanese-, Vietnamese-, all the same in this narrative. (And God knows what Harvard makes of Phillippinos of Chinese descent, or Peruvians of Japanese.)

Henry said...

The solution, then, is two-fold. First collapse the middle:

What is needed instead, then, is race-conscious affirmative action, to address the historic discrimination and underrepresentation of blacks and Latinos, in combination with far less severity in the favoring of whites relative to Asians.

Quotas (holistic sub-rosa deployments) will draw from the bottom tier of the middle. Academic achievement will push down the top. It is fairly obvious what will happen to Asian applicants who fall in the bottom tier of the middle.

Second, wait for the money:

It is unrealistic to think that universities like Harvard can immediately stop privileging white applicants, given the current whiteness of their donors, but that picture will change over time. It was as Jews gained more political power and became more likely to be donors that élite schools’ discrimination against them waned.

I don't know what to make of this statement. Is the professor aware of how incredibly cynical it is? Here, loyalty to Harvard flicks out its forked tongue.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that it was just the opposite - that Jews started to contribute when they were not as discriminated against. Sure - there may have been some priming of the pump, but a better explanation, I think, is that. Reduced Jewish discrimination was primarily a result of the melting pot of almost universal service during WW II. When you share a fox hole with a guy, it is very hard to treat him as a second class citizen later.

Douglas said...

Suk says the problem is that if AA were abolished and admissions were solely by merit, elite schools would be mostly Asian-American. Honestly, I don't see why this would be a problem.

Bruce Hayden said...

@Douglas - the basic problem is that elite university degrees provide entry into certain jobs and graduate programs. Part of this is the name, and part the connections you make there. The left, in particular is tied to equality of results, and your suggestion would wipe out most Black and Hispanic students at these schools, and out of the benefits thereof. The logical solution then is to treat Asians as white, which is what happened with Jews (who faced numerical quotas at most of the Ivy League as late as maybe 1970). Then, the Blacks, etc, can have their (de facto, but not de jure) quotas, while only whites would have to suffer as a result.

Angel-Dyne said...

"When I won a scholarship that paid for part of my education, a selection panelist told me that I got it because I had moving qualities of heart and originality that Asian applicants generally lacked. Asian applicants were all so alike, and I stood out."

Am I the only one raising a skeptical eyebrow here? Did a "selection panelist" really make so egregious a comment to the author? I know Asian students are advised to try to avoid the "grind" label, but this sounds pretty tarted up and exaggerated, just what The New Yorker reader wants to hear. "Why, I had no idea any of you Asians had souls!", said the panelist, Margaret Dumont.

Hey, there are people out there who talk that way, unironically - say, in the dumbest reaches of the alt-right, where you find idiots insisting, e.g., that Chinese classical musical virtuosi only play "robotically", never with real passion and understanding, lol. But I doubt very seriously one of those was sitting on that scholarship panel.

I also have to roll my eyes at the way certain white "conservatives" are now willing to get themselves all wound up about Asians getting screwed by the diversity-crats, after having spent the last several decades pushing back tepidly, at best, against the vilification of their own children and the ongoing destruction of their own culture. "C'mon boys, we can raise the battle standard now, since we won't be defending whites! This time we're really going to make everybody see that Dems r the real racists!(tm)!"

Hey, I'm white. My kids are hard-working high-achievers, too. But they're "flyover" whites, who are, according to some studies, a group even more discriminated against by "prestige" institutions than middle- and upper-class Asians. So sorry if I take a pass on getting worked up about Asians when my own kind is being shat upon at every turn by the same people who are screwing the Asian kids.

Good on the Asians for fighting back and sticking up for themselves. I respect that, but I don't care. Asians are as "groupish", nepotistic, and discriminatory in pursuit of their own interests as anybody else, so I'm not really interested in getting all cat-lady over another "victim group" when my own have a fight on their hands.

Balfegor said...

Re: Henry:

An entirely different ideal enters the picture -- the ideal of social cohesion in a polyglot society. Professor Gerson's solution is the weakest part of the essay, a can in which worms can't be put back. Worms: Proportional racial balancing is impossible without racial quotas, which fuel resentment and disturb social peace.

I don't know that quotas will "fuel resentment" any more than the current situation where everyone knows the elite universities are trying to suppress the number of Asian students to maintain racial balance, but the simpering hypocrites in charge adhere to the fiction that it's just the natural result of their holistic admissions process. At least if you have quotas, everyone will know where we stand. There will have been a rectifications of names.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Treat Asians as white (which btw makes no sense to me -- we're talking about a large number of regions occupied by well over a billion people, even if you leave out the Indian subcontinent), and you are saying (1) your group's history of discrimination is irrelevant, because you're already doing so well (even if you're, say, Hmong -- "they all look alike"); and (2) you're inevitably displacing more white students, because the black and Hispanic numbers -- which are just as much "quotas" as anything else here -- are not going to budge at all. But that's OK, because the only group inevitably disfavored by such a policy isn't really in a position to complain. Because, legacies!

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Angel-Dyne,

If you can find people in the "alt-Right" discussing classical music at all, you're better at online searching than I am. What they are saying is of course a load of hooey, easily addressed by making the perpetrators listen to a dozen violinists behind a screen, and pick out the Asian ones. (And the women, while they're at it.) Kyung-Wha Chung (Korean-American, of course, not Chinese) and Jennifer Koh alone leave this argument in the dust. Asian players are -- not just like players of other races, but as different from one another as those of any other group. I spent eight years at The Juilliard School (pre-college); I think I'm allowed to say this.

I'm white, too, and it pains me to see that only one demographic is actually getting squeezed by "diversity," and it's ours. And that so great is the pressure that even typing the previous sentence made me queasy.

I disagree with your "each to his[her] own" stance.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Waaaah! Sorry about that; published before the comment was finished. What I meant to add is that I think sticking up for Asian-Americans deliberately discriminated against by elite universities is something everyone ought to do. I don't know whether this is what the Trump Ad. wants to do (the NYT article referenced certainly obfuscates the issue, leaping from "intentional racial discrimination" to "discrimination against white, and only white, students" with barely a gap between), but they certainly should.

Molly said...

There is a related issue I (white college professor) have noticed in my classrooms. Asian students, especially those who did not grow up in the US, appear to be less sympathetic towards African Americans. The Asian students (as a rule) never miss a class; and they observe that many students who grew up in the US (black white and Asian backgrounds) often miss class. The Asian students (as a rule) never neglect to turn in an assignment; and they observe that American students are not all so fastidious. So when these Asian students observe performance differences, they (Asian students) are more inclined to blame lack of effort than they to blame past racial injustices.

Angel-Dyne said...

One interesting aspect of the essay is that it assumes that the parlous status quo - an increasingly culturally and racially splintered nation, governed by the products of "elite" schools, will continue into the indefinite future. The problem, then, is to manage the intake into the "elite" in a way that contributes to keeping the divisions inherent in such a society from getting out of hand:

We should not want the composition of our élite universities to be wildly out of proportion to the racial composition of our country. Such lopsided access to gateways of opportunity and power—say, with whites being severely underrepresented at schools like Harvard—has the potential to fuel dangerous resentment and disturb social peace...

She is correct in this assessment, if we accept the assumption that the United States will maintain its present political form, and that "élite universities" will continue to hold the commanding heights of culture and political power in that set-up. (I don't mean the phrase "present political form" to suggest that the U.S. will have to actually break up into separate nations to have a reset of political power centers/elites.)

I don't see that happening, in the long run. It's already apparent that too many Americans are already fed up with being "ruled by Harvard". It's possible we'll all just settle down grumpily but more or less peacefully into the long decline of being a multicultural entrepôt managed by "enarchs" with no real attachment to the U.S. as a continuous cultural and historical entity, but it doesn't seem likely to me.

Angel-Dyne said...

Michelle Dulak Thompson: If you can find people in the "alt-Right" discussing classical music at all, you're better at online searching than I am. What they are saying is of course a load of hooey, easily addressed by making the perpetrators listen to a dozen violinists behind a screen, and pick out the Asian ones.

What was so gobsmacking about the example I mentioned, was that this guy did link to several superb and moving performances by Asian virtuosi as examples of "robotic" interpretation. I'm sure if I had dragged him to any of the many performances of truly kick-ass Asian classical musicians I've enjoyed over the years he would have said the same stupid thing. Whatever, dude.

The "cultural appropriation" of the Western classical tradition by East Asians is a wonderful thing.

(But I dispute your implication that nobody on the "alt-right" cares about classical music. I suppose it depends on how broadly you want to define "alt-right", but, as with most political affiliations, you will find everything there from the dullest philistines to the most cultured.)

Henry said...

@Balfegor -- I think you are wholly correct. My point is that all proposed solutions to maintaining some kind of proportional racial representation at some targeted institution such as Harvard will likely be just as divisive as the status quo. In particular, I don't see how explicit racial quotas for Harvard (or anywhere else) could ever be workable, let alone improve social cohesion.

One thing that Professor Gerson doesn't explicitly propose, but is implicit all through her essay is the idea that targeted groups for discrimination (once Jews, now Asians) should quietly accept their fate. Her willingness to extend the burden of uncomplaining acceptance to white applicants is of piece with her gradualist mantra for Asians.

Char Char Binks said...

I doubt Gerson was accepted because of her " moving qualities of heart and originality that Asian applicants generally lacked." That was just the gag. They had a limited number of Asian seats available, and she made the cut.

It's a mistake to think that Harvard, or any other university, that judges applicants based on "heart and originality" will continue to maintain elite status if other colleges get the big brains they reject for political reasons.

Balfegor said...

Re: Angel-Dyne and Michelle Dulak Thompson --

Hey, there are people out there who talk that way, unironically - say, in the dumbest reaches of the alt-right, where you find idiots insisting, e.g., that Chinese classical musical virtuosi only play "robotically", never with real passion and understanding, lol. But I doubt very seriously one of those was sitting on that scholarship panel.

That's a famous comment -- certainly one I heard growing up -- attributed to some famous classical musician, although I forget who . . . Vladimir Horowitz, I think.

Char Char Binks said...

"... idiots insisting, e.g., that Chinese classical musical virtuosi only play "robotically", never with real passion and understanding, lol."

Maybe some people say that, but that's a criticism of many classical players. One fan will favor the technical precision of Hopkinson Smith, another will say he's TOO technically good, too polished, and favor Ana Vidovic, and someone else will say they both lack the soul of Julian Bream.

Many people automatically assume that white jazz or rock players lack the funk or natural rhythm, or the whatever, of black musicians, and can only approximate them through technical skill.

Fred Drinkwater said...

I was recently asked to review a company involved in connecting college admissions staff with high school students. Part of the proposition is that the admissions staffs will be able to filter the HS student populations based on factors including specifically race and ethnicity.
I held my tongue, but kept wondering about the legality of colleges doing that so overtly.