"Affirmative action era is over, longtime foe says"
bobsheridan at earthlink.net
Sun Nov 26 17:48:18 PST 2006
Sanford Levinson wrote:
"...I'm curious what the response will be if the consequence of getting
rid of affirmative action will be a giant leap in the admissions rate of
Asian-Americans and the continued difficulty of many whites to get into
the relatively few selective universities that actually practice race-
or ethnic-oriented affirmative action (as opposed to the far more
important legacy and athletics preferences). "
What happens, actually, is that the parents of the white kids get upset
and move to limit officially the number of Asian kids, if San Francisco
is any example. School admissions become racial battlegrounds on the
local level starting with kindergarten. The case in point is Lowell
High School, for years one of the top ten public academic high schools
in the nation, open for over a century, with many distinguished
graduates, including, among others, Carol Channing and Justice Stephen
Breyer, whose father was counsel for the Bd. of Ed. for many years.
The complaint is that all those smart Chinese kids just grind and grind
away, unlike normal people, and get top grades while their immigrant
parents work their tails off all day long at menial jobs and insist that
their kids work real hard and not waste time playing. So the Chinese
kids have an unfair advantage, parents who see education as the ticket
out of the hard life. Getting better grades in elementary school meant
that Lowell for some time was considered top-heavy with (smart,
hard-working) Chinese kids, about whom something needed to be done
because, too many Chinese were taking places that used to go to more
laid-back white kids who knew how to enjoy life. One result: more
white flight to expensive private schools, for those whose parents could
Education-valuing Chinese parents: Chinese affirmative action, one
When you get points for being a minority, incidentally, you'd be amazed
at how valuable that ancestor was from a country you ordinarily don't go
out of your way to mention. In S.F., the policy was, and perhaps still
is, that you can self-define your child as anything you want to get into
a public school that's good, or near your house, etc., and reduce the
problems associated with busing, another spur to white-flight. We have
a judge, incidentally, white, who was born in Spain and professes to be,
as he is, Hispanic. But Hispanic people usually tend to be thought of
locally as Mexican, or as La Migra puts it, OTM (Other Than Mexican,
meaning from further south of the border). In the world of
Latin-America, natives of Spain were the colonizers who tended to lord
it over the Indios, and later the mixed-race criollos. Los
conquistadores hardly needed affirmative action, quite the contrary.
Race politics in the name of affirmative action can get quite hairy,
thus accounting for Ward Connerly, a former U.C. regent who decried the
games the admissions office was playing, post Bakke, see his,
Connerly's, interesting autobiography.
Justice Scalia, the son of Sicilian immigrants, and no stranger to
prejudice and belief in education and hard work, made that statement (I
forget the case) to the effect that in this country we don't identify
ourselves, or shouldn't, by race or ethnicity, because here we're all
Americans, or should be.
> I recommend that people read the following article in today's Boston
> Globe, concerning a lawsuit filed by a Yale first-year student, Jian
> Li, against Princeton (which rejected his application). He claims
> systematic discrimination against Asian-Americans. For almost three
> decades now, white students have been explaining their failure to get
> into, say, the University of Texas Law School on the basis of our
> having preferential programs for African-Americans and
> Mexican-Americans. (It should be immediately obvious that very few of
> the rejected white students would actually have been admitted even if
> there were no African-American or Mexican-American admittees, simply
> because there are so many more of the former than the latter, but that
> is irrelevant to the victimization narrative that white rejects like
> to portray.) I'm curious what the response will be if the consequence
> of getting rid of affirmative action will be a giant leap in the
> admissions rate of Asian-Americans and the continued difficulty of
> many whites to get into the relatively few selective universities that
> actually practice race- or ethnic-oriented affirmative action (as
> opposed to the far more important legacy and athletics preferences).
> Indeed, I wonder what will happen in Michigan if an increasing number
> of Arab-Americans from Dearborn choose to apply and gain admission to
> the University.
> None of this is meant as an argument against getting rid of
> affirmative action, though I continue to be an ambivalent supporter.
> My own view is that its life is limited far less because of Ward
> Connerly than because of the increasing presence of "mixed race"
> persons who bring out the problematic features of how we decide who is
> eligible for such preferences in the first place. (The most powerful
> critique of affirmative action, in my opinion, can be found in Justice
> Stevens's Bakke opinion evoking the Nuremberg and South African laws
> regarding racial definition.)
> In the late 1980s, in response to complaints, the Office of Civil
> Rights investigated whether Harvard had been discriminating against
> Asian-Americans. It found that while Asian-Americans faced longer odds
> than whites at admissions time (a 13.2 percent acceptance rate,
> compared with 17.4 percent for white students, from 1979 to 1988), the
> difference could largely be explained by the fact that few were legacy
> kids or recruited cornerbacks. The investigation did, however, turn up
> some embarrassingly stereotypical descriptions of rejected Asian
> students in Harvard records ("he's quiet and, of course, wants to be a
> To bolster his case, Li has cited work by two Princeton researchers,
> Thomas Espenshade and Chang Chung, that was originally framed as
> strengthening the case for affirmative action. In articles published
> in 2004 and 2005 in Social Science Quarterly, Espenshade and Chung
> analyzed the admissions fates and qualifications of 45,500 students
> who applied to three very elite, unnamed universities in 1997.
> The chief finding, according to the authors, was that ending all
> admissions preferences -- for athletes, legacy kids, and minorities --
> would cut the number of black students at elite colleges by
> two-thirds, and Hispanic enrollment by one-half. Ending just legacy
> and athletic preferences, meanwhile -- something often proposed by
> egalitarians -- would, on its own, not help black and Hispanic
> students much.
> But Li's complaint draws attention to other aspects of the study:
> Asian-American students faced by far the lowest admissions rates of
> any ethnic group (17.6 percent, compared with 23.8 percent for whites,
> 33.7 percent for blacks, and 26.8 percent for Hispanics). What's more,
> contrary to the Office of Civil Rights report from 1990, legacy and
> athletic preferences trimmed Asian-American enrollment by only a few
> percentage points. But if preferences based on race, legacy status,
> and athletic talent were all done away with, Asian-American enrollment
> would jump 40 percent (while white enrollment would drop by 1
> percent). To Li, it seems Asian-Americans alone bear the burden of
> affirmative action.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu on behalf of Rick Duncan
> Sent: Sun 11/26/2006 3:33 PM
> To: conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu
> Subject: "Affirmative action era is over, longtime foe says"
> >From today's LA Times
> . Here is an excerpt:
> As Ward Connerly sees it, the demise of affirmative action in America
> is fast approaching.
> Buoyed by the victory this month of the Michigan ballot measure
> banning racial preferences in public education and hiring, the former
> University of California regent is ready to take his crusade to the
> rest of the nation.
> Connerly talks enthusiastically of an "anti-affirmative action wave
> washing over America" that will wipe out the race-based preferences
> used for decades to help African Americans, Latinos and other
> disadvantaged ethnic groups.
> "I think the end is at hand for affirmative action as we know it," he
> For his next target, the conservative activist is considering
> sponsoring a ballot measure in one or more states, including Oregon,
> Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Missouri or South Dakota. "We don't have to go
> to every state if we can get a critical mass of seven or eight
> states," he says.
> I hope he adds Nebraska to the list.
> Cheers, Rick Duncan
> Rick Duncan
> Welpton Professor of Law
> University of Nebraska College of Law
> Lincoln, NE 68583-0902
> "It's a funny thing about us human beings: not many of us doubt God's
> existence and then start sinning. Most of us sin and then start
> doubting His existence." --J. Budziszewski (The Revenge of Conscience)
> "Once again the ancient maxim is vindicated, that the perversion of
> the best is the worst." -- Id.
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