Redefining bigotry / Don’t mention badminton!

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]

People with Asian ancestry have to be careful when they fill out their college applications. As noted by the Boston Globe, they are advised by experts to downplay their Asianness: no badminton, because too many Asian-American students play racquet sports; no Asian Club; no essay “about your family coming from Vietnam with $2 in a rickety boat and swimming away from sharks,” as one admissions consultant put it. Don’t mention your interest in medicine or biology.

Colleges discriminate in all sorts of ways, of course. Kids get into an elite school because, like President Obama and the Bushes and the Kennedys, they’re “legacies,” i.e., a parent or both parents went to that school. “Development admits” get in because daddy gave lots of money to the school. Kids from top prep schools—“feeder schools”—get in because they’re presumed to be inherently superior, I suppose. You can also get an advantage if your folks can afford to send you to some poor country to do charity work, or if you’re an activist for a fashionable left-wing cause such as promoting ignorance about Global Warming. (Meanwhile, if you mention in your application that you’re a leader in the 4-H program or Future Farmers of America or ROTC, it reduces your chance of gaining admission to some elite schools by two-thirds.)

Asian-Americans are among the biggest victims. It’s reported that 20 or 21 percent of Harvard students are of Asian descent. That’s less than half as many as would be admitted without racial discrimination. A 2009 Princeton study of seven top colleges indicated that an applicant with an Asian background needed 140 more SAT points than “whites,” 270 points more than Hispanics, and 450 points more than African-Americans to get the same chance of admission.

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One of the most effective techniques in political deception is redefinition—changing the meaning of terms and concepts. Redefinition allows you to achieve policy goals without the necessity of going through the democratic process or abiding by the Constitution that is supposed to limit the power of politicians, bureaucrats, and judges.

Want to funnel money to alcoholics and drug addicts? Redefine addiction to alcohol and other drugs to be a disease or disability, and alcoholics and drug addicts can get taxpayers’ money intended for people who are sick or disabled.

Want to restrict smoking or control what people choose to eat? Redefine “public health” to include things that have nothing to do with actual public health, which is the control of diseases caused by environmental factors such as bacteria and viruses and airborne/waterborne poisons. Turn the consequences of one’s lifestyle choices into “public health,” and you get to tell people how they live their lives.

Want to shut down the coal industry? Redefine “pollution” so that it includes carbon dioxide, an invisible gas, some 1/2500th of the atmosphere, that people and all animals exhale, that is not just harmless but absolutely necessary for the existence of life as we know it.

Want to change the Constitution so that a local business, one that doesn’t cross state lines in any way, can be regulated by the federal government as if it were interstate commerce? Change the definition of “interstate commerce” so that it includes, for example, the food that a farmer grows on his own farm and feeds to his own family. (It’s “interstate” because, well, if the farmer and his family didn’t grow their own food, they would theoretically obtain it from the stream of commerce across state lines… theoretically… which means that interstate commerce and intrastate commerce are the same thing, despite the claims of lexicographers and sane people. I’m not kidding. See the case of Wickard v. Filburn.)

Want to take stuff from one group of people and give it to another group? Redefine “right” that it no longer means an aspect of life in which government may not interfere (the President calls that old definition “negative rights”) and make it refer to something to which you think you ought to be entitled at others’ expense.  For centuries, Americans had a right to healthcare—that is, the right to obtain healthcare—except when government improperly interfered, such as when the FDA denied people access to medicines and when regulators and legislators imposed mandates on insurance policies. Now, the “right” to healthcare means forcing a 63-year-old woman who works behind the counter at McDonald’s to pay for the birth control of a soon-to-be-a-millionaire student at Georgetown Law School. Ah, progress!

Then there’s “diversity.” Once, diversity at a college or in a workplace meant having people of different sorts of backgrounds and points of view. Now, it’s a euphemism for the products of racism and sexism and other forms of discrimination.

To facilitate racism, colleges have abolished or strictly limited the use of standardized tests in connection with admissions decisions, and ramped up the use of admissions essays (on which cheating is near-universal) and of applications using videos (as an effort to prevent people from pulling the Elizabeth Warren Deception, falsely claiming eligibility for racial preferences).

Thank Sandra Day O’Connor, who joined with extremists on the Supreme Court (Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer) to form a five-to-four majority in the case of Grutter v. Bollinger, a case involving the University of Michigan.  At the time, the Court accepted “affirmative” discrimination as long as it was for the stated purpose of promoting “diversity.” College admissions officers took the hint: They started justifying every racist decision they made on the ground of diversity. Government agencies and big corporations did the same thing. Today, thanks to O’Connor and company, discrimination is effectively legal as long as the magic word “diversity” is invoked, and the term “diversity” applies only to such irrelevancies as skin color, hair texture, and the presumed nationality of one’s father’s father’s father (but not, it should be noted, one’s mother’s mother’s mother).

Bollinger was decided 25 years after the Court first authorized the practice, in the Bakke case, of “affirmative action”-type discrimination in law school admissions. With that timeframe in mind, Justice O’Connor suggested that such discrimination would be necessary for a limited time of, say, 25 years.  Here’s a section of an old Wikipedia entry on Bollinger:

The Court’s majority ruling, authored by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, held that the United States Constitution “does not prohibit the law school’s narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.” The Court held that the law school’s interest in obtaining a “critical mass” of minority students was indeed a “tailored use.”

O’Connor noted that sometime in the future, perhaps twenty-five years hence, racial affirmative action would no longer be necessary in order to promote diversity. It implied that affirmative action should not be allowed permanent status and that eventually a “colorblind” policy should be implemented. The opinion read, “race-conscious admissions policies must be limited in time.”

“The Court takes the Law School at its word that it would like nothing better than to find a race-neutral admissions formula and will terminate its use of racial preferences as soon as practicable. The Court expects that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today.” The phrase “25 years from now” was echoed by Justice Thomas in his dissent. Justice Thomas, writing that the system was “illegal now,” concurred with the majority only on the point that he agreed the system would still be illegal 25 years hence.

Of that 25-year period discussed by O’Connor, almost 48 percent has already passed.  December 22, 2015 will mark the midway point between June 23, 2003, the day that Bollinger was decided, and June 23, 2028, the day by which “the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary.” By that midpoint, will we be halfway to a society in which people are judged without regard to the racial category into which they have been placed? Or will we be farther away, thanks to the actions of people who call themselves Progressives?

Our society as a whole has made great progress toward (for want of a better term) colorblindness. Some 15% of new marriages were classified as “interracial” in 2008, a doubling since 1980, and popular culture increasingly treats so-called “race” as something that is, or should be, irrelevant to how we relate to one another. (See, for example, TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal.)  Yet our government, and elite institutions such as the Fortune 500 and the academic world, remain obsessed with distributing jobs, government contracts, college admissions and scholarships, and political power based on so-called race.

Richard Iuliano, Harvard’s general counsel, defended the school’s neo-Jim Crow policy on the ground that, “As the Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized, a class that is diverse on multiple dimensions, including on race, transforms the educational experience of students from every background and prepares our graduates for an increasingly pluralistic world.” (Anybody care to guess how many redneck kids from Appalachia fit into Harvard’s vision of diversity?)

Segregationists used to argue that, if the schools were integrated, “Negroes,” as they called African-Americans, would fall behind “white” students and eventually fail, depriving society of countless “Negro” doctors, lawyers, and ministers. In order to develop African-American leaders, segregation was a necessity, they argued. Yes, segregationists cited diversity as a reason for maintaining Jim Crow. And, as in the case of Richard Iuliano and the Harvard crowd, the segregationists never appreciated just how evil they were.

 

 

 

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