Monday, March 19, 2012

Becoming “the New Jews”? A Historical Perspective on “Diversity”

Dear Fellow Asian Americans:

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Asian Americans, "the New Jews"? A Historical Perspective on "Diversity"

After repeated failures at the Court, "racial balancing" proponents rephrased it into an ostensibly
well-intentioned "diversity" program, to be forcefully implemented through "racial preferences".
After all, how can anyone be against "diversity"?

However, even an ardent supporter of "racial preferences" such as Kevin Carey found the current
practice troubling: "Elite colleges too often meet their diversity goals by enrolling minority
students from privileged backgrounds while offering few spots to poor students of any kind.
Meanwhile, some appear to have dusted off their "don't admit too many Jews" playbooks
from the 1920s in order to limit Asian enrollment, AGAIN on the grounds of "diversity,"
since, to the white people who run things in this country, people of Chinese, Japanese, Korean,
Cambodian, Thai, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Filipino, and various other origins apparently all kind
of seem the same."

"Academically outstanding", "economically successful", "politically inactive", "socially
awkward", "meek" "invisible" "not well rounded". Are we talking about Asian stereotype? No,
these are the same descriptions heaped on the Jews 90 years ago to limit Jewish college
enrollment. Indeed Asian Americans has become "the New Jews" [1].

A comparison between Jewish and Asian Americans in higher education offers some historical
perspectives that the high ideal of "diversity" was often used as a pretense to further not-so-lofty
institutional objectives. From 1900-1950, academically proficient Jewish students were
considered a "problem" by the elite schools, and their population had to be kept at ~10% through
the application of "geographic diversification" policy [2]. Today, through their political
activism, Jewish students are no longer classified as a minority, and are allowed to compete on a
merit basis. Currently, ~25% of the students in some elite schools are Jewish [3] out of a total
Jewish American population of 6 million. In a26 contrast, ~17% of the students in the elite schools
are Asian [4], out of a total Asian American population of 15 million. Asian Americans are a
minority, whose percentage has been rather consistently managed to be below ~20% through the
application of a "racial diversification" policy. The irony is that the higher presence of Jewish
students does not appear to diminish campus diversity.

The Jewish example is a good template for two reasons: (1) All people should be allowed to
compete based on broadly-defined individual merits, without harmful effect to "diversity". (2)
Group status could only be improved through political activism. By taking the 80-20 EF survey
and bringing the issue to the Supreme Court, we are writing history together!

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[1] "The Price of Admission", by D. Golden (Three River Press, 2006), "the New Jews" are covered in Chapter 7.
[2] "The Chosen, the Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale and Princeton" by J. Karabel
(Mariner Books, 2006), "the Jewish Problem" are covered in Chapters 3 & 4.
[3], % of Jewish students in some Ivy League school are: Columbia 30%, Yale 27%, Harvard
25%, U Penn 25% Cornell 23%, and Brown 22%.
[4] "Do colleges Redline Asian-Americans" by Kara Miller, Boston Globe, Feb 8, 2010.