September 24, 2022

"Racial preferences should now be thought of like chemotherapy, a cure that can cause side effects that should be applied judiciously."

"We’ve applied the cure long past that point, and have drifted toward an almost liturgical conception of diversity that makes less sense by the year. In a 2003 Supreme Court ruling, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, writing for the majority, said, 'we expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences' in the university admissions context 'will no longer be necessary.' That was considered resonantly wise at the time. But now we have only about six years to go. Folks, it’s time."

Writes John McWhorter in "Stop Making Asian Americans Pay the Price for Campus Diversity" (NYT). 

McWhorter is anticipating the Supreme Court cases Students for Fair Admissions v. President & Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina. Oral argument in those cases is scheduled for October 31st — Halloween.


Crimso said...

A more apt analogy would be to note that some forms of chemotherapy can actually cause cancers.

AlbertAnonymous said...

The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race, is to stop discriminating on the basis of race…. Amirite?

Sebastian said...

"drifted toward an almost liturgical conception of diversity that makes less sense by the year"

It wasn't drift but relentless policy.

It's not almost liturgical but koranic dogma.

It makes more sense by the year as it has become completely institutionalized. I mean, has any academic institution joined the case against Harvard? They are all on the right, i.e., left, side. It makes complete sense to all of academia. Nothing else makes sense.

They will view any SCOTUS opinion squashing their oppressive discrimination as worse than senseless.

Of course, as a conservative, I believe that at least private institutions should be able to discriminate as they prefer, even if the federal government provides some funding for research or student loans.

As bad as the rank racism applied by universities today is the sheer dishonesty current precedent requires. Let progs be up front about the races they dislike and the racial engineering they favor.

rhhardin said...

If you let in low-qualified people then they're surrounded by people who are a lot smarter than they are. Everybody notices.

That's even without a smartness difference in groups. McWhorter and Loury want to deny any difference but still notice the baleful effects of blacks always winding up on the stupid end even without a difference, owing to admission preferences. It solidifies the impression of everybody.

I think there is in fact a large (average) difference and it's been found over and over against every inclination to find otherwise; and it would be really helpful to everybody to allow it to be spoken of. First of all, and mostly because, it would end blaming whites for the situation of blacks, the single thing that keeps blacks from showing good character, losing the chip on their shoulder, and fitting in wherever they fit in.

Sebastian said...

"the use of racial preferences' in the university admissions context 'will no longer be necessary.'"

But doesn't this admit implicitly that the rationale for preferences is remedial rather than educational--that they were needed to make up for some sort of discrimination, which will fade and therefore make them unnecessary, rather than as a way to promote "diversity" that benefits the learning of the non-minority? If diversity is an inherently good thing, allowed by law, and not aimed at remedying express discrimination, why should promoting it via racial preferences ever "no longer be necessary"?

Achilles said...

The Democrat party was founded to protect slavery and racial discrimination.

Now the Democrat party is fighting to protect racial discrimination.

Nothing has changed.

The aristocracy that benefits from continued racial animosity and dividing society along racial lines needs to keep us racially divided.

It is time for the evil that is "Affirmative Action" to fall.

Tom T. said...

O'Connor's comment was ludicrous at the time. Moreover, it was emblematic of improper judicial policymaking.

n.n said...

Affirmative discrimination under Diversity (i.e. color judgment, class-based bigotry), Inequity, and Exclusion (DIE) from the special, peculiar, and divergent interests that gave us racism, feminism/masculinism, political congruence ("="), progressive prices, nationwide recurring insurrections, neighborhood incursions, and human rites performed for social, redistributive, clinical, political, and fair weather causes. Lose your Pro-Choice ethical religion.

Yancey Ward said...

O'Connor disgraced her legacy with that opinion. It makes literally zero intellectual sense to say racial preferences are constitutionally ok now but not 25 years from now. It is exactly the kind of SCOTUS decision that shows judges acting as legislators rather than judges. She had two intellectually consistent choices- either racial preferences are always legitimate or they are never legitimate.

n.n said...

Play with the double-edged scalpel, get aborted by the double-edged scalpel. Here's to mitigating [unqualified] monotonic change ("progress") with liberal (i.e. divergent) enhancements... one step forward, two steps backward.

Richard Aubrey said...

Yeah, but, see, Asians act kind of white-supremacisty in order to get ahead. So they're white -adjacent and thus they don't count.

n.n said...

There is a not so fine line distinguishing affirmative action and affirmative discrimination, which progressive liberals have crossed on diverse occasions. Here's to People of Yellow (color bloc)... Asian-Americans (1/2 compromise)... Americans having a good laugh at their expense. We live in dysfunctional times. #HateLovesAbortion

n.n said...

Asians act kind of white-supremacisty in order to get ahead

Jew... White privilege, there is precedent. Asian-Americans (i.e. 1/2 compromise) include People of Black (PoB), People of Brown (PoB), People of Yellow (PoY), probably People of Orange (PoO), too, and maybe even People of Albino (PoA) (i.e. White-white h/t Whoopi et al). Think of the fetal-Americans!

Joe Smith said...

As a garden-variety white guy, I am for ending all preferences programs (that's what they are). In academic pursuits, Asians will outperform me in general. I'm OK with that.

What I cannot abide is things like testing, where minorities get extra points to 'make things even.'

I don't want a pilot who got into flight school based upon anything but performance.

The same for a doctor or a lawyer.

What I cannot understand is minorities going along with it.

Can't they see that the sane world looks at their 'achievements' with suspicion?

There is no affirmative action in modern-day sports.

It is a can either score 30 points per game or you can't.

Otherwise, lets have quotas for whites and Asians for every NBA and NFL team.

retail lawyer said...

I always thought what Yancy said at 11:08. So expiring precedent, then? And its not "Asians" paying the price. It is always an individual, a person with a name and with hopes and plans, sacrificed for affirmative action.

mccullough said...

O’Connor may have been concerned that without “diversity” whites would not be represented at elite institutions in proportion to their percentage of the population.

20 years later and whites still can’t catch up.

Michael K said...

I think there is in fact a large (average) difference and it's been found over and over against every inclination to find otherwise; and it would be really helpful to everybody to allow it to be spoken of.

Nobody is allowed to tell the truth but everybody knows it. Glenn Loury is evidence that black failures are not due to poor culture or poverty.

Loury was born in the South Side of Chicago, Illinois, growing up in a redlined neighborhood. Before going to college he fathered two children, and supported them with a job in a printing plant. When he wasn't working he took classes at Southeast Junior College where he won a scholarship to study at Northwestern University.[9][10] In 1972, he received his Bachelor of Arts in mathematics from Northwestern University. He received his Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976, writing his dissertation, "Essays in the Theory of the Distribution of Income", under the supervision of Robert M. Solow.

So many black recipients of Affirmative Action are from upper middle class families or are immigrants. Henry Rogers is a typical example. AKA Ibram X Kendi

Kendi was born in the Jamaica neighborhood of the New York City borough of Queens,[3][1][5] to middle-class parents, Carol Rogers, a former business analyst for a health-care organization,[3] and Larry Rogers, a tax accountant and then hospital chaplain. Both of his parents are now retired and work as Methodist ministers.[3][6] He has an older brother, Akil.[3]

From third to eighth grade, Kendi attended private Christian schools in Queens.[7] After attending John Bowne High School as a freshman, at age 15, Kendi moved with his family to Manassas, Virginia in 1997 and attended Stonewall Jackson High School for his final three years of high school,[8] from which he graduated in 2000.[6][7]

In 2005, Kendi received dual B.S. degrees in African American Studies and magazine production from Florida A&M University.

None of that difficult math there. Loury and Rogers have nothing in common except melanin. Especially their youth experience, so that has nothing to do with their accomplishments.

Tank said...

Let’s be clear. When reverse discrimination was hurting white people, it was OK. But now that it is hurting Asian people, it is no longer OK. Who whom. All the way down.

Jeff Vader said...

I see the Times doesn’t allow comments on the very reasonable article, likely to keep the usual Time’s commenter from calling him the N word

Wilbur said...

McWhorter and our blog host share this in common: they are Liberals who possess the intelligence and the incisiveness to see through the shibboleths of the Left and the courage to publicly bring them to light.

That deserves some considerable respect.

Eric Rathmann said...

Weird times. We have a continuum, apparently, on gender and can no longer define what a woman is but when it comes to race, with wholly unscientific boundaries and lack of any commonly accepted definitions we somehow divide and legislate. What is Black? What in the world is Asian? Who made is this stuff up? Clearly some white racists.
At some point we need to realize that we discriminate against Bengalis, Uzbek, and Uighur when we lump them in with Han Chinese and we will need to make amends. And perhaps "African Americans" are hurt if Hausa and Kikuyu fill up slots. "Middle Eastern and North Africans", who seemed to be in the "Caucasian" group earlier now want recognition as a separate group.
I wish that Ketanji Brown Jackson was asked what "Black" is. Is Kamala Harris Black and is Sen Warren Native American? Am I Hispanic on the basis of being born in Durango, La Plata County, Colorado in what was Mexico?
Let's clarify definitions before we discriminate on the basis of race. Or, better yet, not discriminate.

linsee said...

Glenn Loury does recognize the difference in qualifications. He was a guest on Jordan Peterson's YouTube channel, and they were both very explicit about the sources of economic equality (though the argument applies equally well to other kinds of equality, since they are highly correlated). They were also clear about the poisonous effects of refusing to recognize this regrettable reality.

charis said...

I am generally skeptical of analogies. Chemotherapy and racial preferences are two separate things, despite whatever similarity may be attached to them by a human mind. The connection is in the mind, not in the things themselves.

Richard Dolan said...

Chemotherapy is a poison that sometimes cures what ails you. Racial preferences are just a poison.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

It all goes back to Bakke, doesn't it? That decision explicitly denied any "reparative" intent, and said instead that "diversity" is a good thing in itself, because everyone should have an opportunity to understand everyone else.

IOW (as John Rosenberg, for one, tirelessly points out), the purpose of AA is to expose white kids to BIPOC kids. It's for the white kids' benefit that the "others" are there at all. The "others" are just different, and any racial injustice against them, past or present, has no role at all in college-level affirmative action.

I'm not inventing this; it's been the sole official justification for AA for almost as long as I've been alive. Everyone knows it's a crock, of course. But they play along anyway, and so long as the majority of the kids actually discriminated under AA policy were white, it sorta worked. But now the Asian-American contingent is so obviously highly skilled, so obviously outperforming even the white kids, that Ivies like Haaahvard and "public Ivies" like UNC/Chapel Hill are beginning to look more than a little foolish.

Josephbleau said...

As I recall, the main reason that there is affirmative action is because a certain number minorities are needed on campus to improve the education of the non minorities. This always disturbed me. It’s like setting up little museum displays of minorities sitting around on campus doing minority things so the regular kids can observe them.

In class the designated minority can propose reparations so the other kids can listen to how it is done.

Marc in Eugene said...

... and have drifted toward an almost liturgical conception of diversity that makes less sense by the year.

I guess the meaning of 'an almost liturgical conception of diversity' was evident to everyone else.

Education Realist said...

Here's something you can bank on: Harvard and other elite universities will not allow its population to become 70% Asian, because they know full well if they do, then the "best" American universities will migrate elsewhere.

Americans don't like the Asian cultural attitude towards education. Regardless of race, they won't say "wow, how great it is that my white/black/Hispanic/multi-gen Asian kid got into HYPS among the majority recent Asian arrival". They'll say "Yeah, going somewhere else, thanks."

HYPS know this. That's why they discriminate. They know the metrics they use for "smart" can' be gamed, and Asians are strongly interested in gaming them, while Americans of more than one generation are not. Currently, HYPS only pretends to use the metrics when in fact they mix and match and only pull in enough Asians to keep their stats impressive, but they want graduates who actually achieve something and they know full well that Asian stats aren't completely reliable (lots of false positives).

So here's what you can count on: Asians will not like the results of the likely positive outcome. Because either they'll get into the elite schools in huge numbers and learn that employers no longer consider them elite, or--more likely--the schools will figure out some other way to achieve the demographics they want. What schools know is that "too Asian" sends the other races running, particularly whites.

False positives:

White flight from Stuyvesant and other specialized high schools:

I have the data for other admissions high schools showing the same pattern. Just haven't written it up.

Here's one thing that conservatives should always bank on: in education they can win every fucking court case and still lose.

Joe Smith said...

'...or--more likely--the schools will figure out some other way to achieve the demographics they want.'

The left are masters at manipulating language, and they have the MSM to back them up.

They will simply declare that blacks are Asian.

Problem solved.

Michael K said...

Here's one thing that conservatives should always bank on: in education they can win every fucking court case and still lose.

Oh, yes. We know that. My daughter who used to be a lefty, is going to home school her three year old. Also, on my advice, no vaccinations for her.

Public schools are poison, which is why the left is trying to reverse the voucher program in AZ.

Lurker21 said...

Somebody -- I'm pretty sure it wasn't the guy who said all women are either bisexual or bipolar -- said all the Blacks at Harvard were also bi: Biracial or Biafran (that is, from Nigeria). That's not true, but it does get at the gist of what's going on.

The way the universities and the meritocracy are imploding, in another ten years the only degrees worth a damn will be stem degrees from institutions that don't discriminate against Asians. I really don't care, though. I am too effing traumatized by Jeet Heer's "Yes, we are replacing you" tweets to get involved on either side.

Another old lawyer said...

O'Connor always reminded me of Burger. Incoherent jurisprudence, as tends with a swing vote justice who acts as a legislator in a robe with a lifetime appointment. Roberts holds that position now, with Kavanaugh a dark horse coming up on the outside.

Jupiter said...

"Here's something you can bank on: Harvard and other elite universities will not allow its population to become 70% Asian, because they know full well if they do, then the "best" American universities will migrate elsewhere."

That's one view. But given that the "white" fraction of the intake to HYP is already nearly half Jewish, you realize that the people running those institutions are discriminating against the Asians to protect their own. Non-Jewish whites are already the most disfavored group. Any further reduction will have to come at the expense of blacks or Jews. And they don't intend to allow that.

Jupiter said...

"As I recall, the main reason that there is affirmative action is because a certain number minorities are needed on campus to improve the education of the non minorities."

Yes. The "petting-zoo" theory of affirmative action. But if they won't let you touch their hair ...

Doug said...

Just honestly curious - are there any metrics ANYWHERE that demonstrate the truth of 'diversity is strength'? In any type of organization? Help me out.

Lurker21 said...

A big population with a variety of skills and specializations can be a source of strength, if they are able to cooperate in a common cultural and political framework. If they aren't, there will be trouble.

Elite colleges opened up their admissions after the Second World War perhaps because they wanted to be more in touch with the rest of the country. Now it seems they don't care about that, but want to be in touch with the rest of the world and provide transnational elites. In their eyes, affirmative action doesn't work counter to that goal, but often overlooked is the way that such colleges are encouraging wealthy foreign applicants and preferring them to Americans.

I would like to see Mexicans of different classes asked about whether the Aztecs or the Spanish were worse. Yuval Harari says that of course the Spanish were worse, but is that just a foreign buttinsky commenting with little real knowledge? Ditto for people who say that of course the Aztecs were worse.

Aggie said...

The truth is the lawsuits are starting to cascade against the kind of organized, institutional, rules-based discrimination such that we are seeing now in with Affirmative Action in the universities and corporations. It's the least likely to withstand legal attack because it is organized and institutionalized, and also unconstitutional. And social support for such schemes has waned considerably - the balance has shifted back to principles of overall fairness taking precedence, as they ought to.

Without support, the cause is actually quite a small one, and I would expect it to topple pretty quickly. It's going to take a while for the sludge to clear out of the system though. I think the best legal strategy would be to sue, targeting the endowments and being ready with imaginative, corrective ways to spend all that dirty, dirty money to eradicate 'prejudice'.

mikee said...

The government can treat the intersectional differences of its citizenry best by treating them as individuals with individual rights, rather than as members of ever-more-divided groups with group privileges mandated from above. I thought that was the whole point of the Bill of Rights.

Tina Trent said...

I wish McWhorter would be intellectually honest and courageous enough to admit that by far the largest number of victims of Affirmative Action in all areas of life are white.

Instead, he choose the lazy, dishonest path of claiming Asians and blacks are victims of whitey.

He used to be better than this. It's just another form of identity politics.