It’s Hard to Admit When You’re Inferior, Especially When You Are

I am amused at the persistence of the New York Times editorial Asians–Too Smart for Their Own Good?

AT the end of this month, high school seniors will submit their college applications and begin waiting to hear where they will spend the next four years of their lives. More than they might realize, the outcome will depend on race. If you are Asian, your chances of getting into the most selective colleges and universities will almost certainly be lower than if you are white.

Asian-Americans constitute 5.6 percent of the nation’s population but 12 to 18 percent of the student body at Ivy League schools. But if judged on their merits — grades, test scores, academic honors and extracurricular activities — Asian-Americans are underrepresented at these schools. Consider that Asians make up anywhere from 40 to 70 percent of the student population at top public high schools like Stuyvesant and Bronx Science in New York City, Lowell in San Francisco and Thomas Jefferson in Alexandria, Va., where admissions are largely based on exams and grades.

If you stop and think about this, it’s a real eye-opener.

Our elites justify their dominance of the society based on their claim that we now have a “meritocracy” populated by people of superior intelligence.  The cornerstone of this is academic achievement.  Thus, a group of people who have high academic achievement should have pride of place in this system.  The under-representation of Asians in the “gateway” schools puts the lie to the paradigm.

So what do your élite institutions do to counteract this truth?  The same thing their Jim Crow predecessors did when faced with the same problem: they discriminate!  Most people look at racism in purely moral terms, but the driving force behind the whole unequal system in the South–first slavery, and then our own apartheid–was the realisation by the Scots-Irish that they faced in black people a group who had a greater capacity for work then they had.

But we must sugar-coat the process.  Part of it is the habit of Ivy League schools to favour those whose ancestors haunted the halls of ivy in their day.  But another is their obsessive fixation on “socialisation” types of issues.  They look for people who are “well-rounded” and capable of composing mellifluous prose on entrance applications which show their “noble aspirations” beyond the next drinking binge.  Since the Asians, by and large, concentrate on the academic achievement task in front of them, they’re at a disadvantage in a system like ours.

I am as alive as anyone of the limitations of the meaning of academic perfection.  But, after flaying the rest of the population with their ignorance and lack of formal education, to rig a system to keep out people who can eat their lunch academically–and probably after they graduate–can only be described as duplicitous.

In times past people started civil rights campaigns over stuff like this.  But we are a society harder to shame now than in the past, and the Asians for the most part aren’t inclined to such a course of action.  They, however, have their ascendant home countries (well, most of them) to offer them either a career after they graduate or connections to help the one they have here.

In either case, when Asia finally overtakes us, there will be tears shed.  But they won’t be mine.

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