Ask John McCain to free associate and in response to "illegal aliens" he'll blurt "God's children," and vice versa. This apparently irresistible combination surfaced again in his convention address: "Everyone has something to contribute and deserves the opportunity to reach their God-given potential," McCain bleated. "[F]rom the boy whose descendents[sic] arrived on the Mayflower to the [likely illegal] Latina daughter of migrant workers. We're all God's children and we're all Americans."
God, no doubt, moves in mysterious ways. But McCain needs to be reminded that the boy whose forefathers settled the country he professes to love has not been in the good graces of government for quite some time. The Latina daughter of illegal migrants is another matter entirely. She's benefiting big time—at least at a top government school like the University of California, Los Angeles:
"A growing body of evidence strongly suggests that UCLA is cheating on admissions. Specifically, applicants often reveal their own race on the essay portion of the application. This allows admission staff members to learn the race of the applicants; then, in violation of Proposition 209, readers use such information to evaluate applicants. To the extent that this happens—an extent which can only be assessed with systematic data on admissions—such practices are de facto implementation of racial preferences."
So wrote Professor Tim Groseclose, a political scientist at UCLA, in a cold-eyed Report on Suspected Malfeasance in UCLA Admissions and the Accompanying Follow Up. [August 28, 2008]
California's Prop. 209 was supposed to ensure that race would no longer be a deciding factor in who gets into top government schools. When voters passed the Proposition, the California state government was supposed to ban any race or gender considerations in its hiring, contracting or educational policies.
But the decades-old race racket just went underground. Undaunted, university administrators proceeded to fashion an admissions process that utilized "stealthy surrogates for race." As Heather Mac Donald has documented in rich detail, "Tutors in the university's outreach programs [teach] students to emphasize their social and economic disadvantages in their application essay." [Elites to Anti-Affirmative-Action Voters: Drop Dead, City Journal, Winter 2007] Minority applicants have become adept at belaboring the pigment burden in the essay section of the admissions process. Evidently, administrators are equally good at picking up cues that help them color-pick candidates.
The Orange County Register's Marla Jo Fisher, who broke the story, provided the backdrop to Groseclose's resignation and the blistering report he issued:
"Campus officials have been under intense pressure to increase numbers of black students, particularly since a 2006 public outcry over the fact that only 96 of the nearly 5,000 freshmen who enrolled at the prestigious campus were African American. This year, 235 black freshmen plan to enroll for the fall term, about 5 percent of the freshman class and more than double the 2006 number." [UCLA official resigns over admissions concerns | He suspects cheating in racial admissions, which are banned by state law. By Marla Jo Fisher, Orange County Register, August 28, 2008]
The subterfuge that Tim Groseclose has stumbled upon was unnecessary until 1996, which was when Californians passed Proposition 209. Before Prop. 209, it was standard practice in the University of California's sclerotic system to admit minorities with low scores while denying admission to whites and Asians with top grades and test scores.
"For several decades," Mac Donald chronicled, "the university had divided its applicants into two categories: it admitted one half only by objective tests of academic merit, such as standardized test scores and honors classes; it evaluated the other half subjectively, weighing such factors as race, economic status, or leadership. From this tier, where racial preferences had free rein, the vast majority of blacks and Hispanics were drawn."
This racial spoils system is a testament to the tenacity of diversity devotees. Preachers and practitioners of "benevolent" discrimination have institutionalized this collectivist quota culture in the teeth of popular opposition and legal injunctions against such practices.
Fortunately, affirmative action has offended the sensibilities of one black American: Ward Connerly, president of the American Civil Rights Institute. The libertarian Connerly is the force behind the drive to rid America of the invidious "race preferences, set-asides, and quotas," and the man who has placed the issue on the ballot in states such as Nebraska, Arizona, and Colorado. Connerly's aim is to restore the primacy of individual merit to American institutions.
Or, as he told an unsympathetic correspondent for the PBS program NOW: "to do what's best for the country."
After Prop. 209 passed, the number of "underrepresented minorities" accepted at UCLA dropped by half. As is their wont, energetic ethnic advocates framed this retreat from equal bean-counting as a grave injustice. While the California courts, surprisingly, upheld Prop. 209, California's byzantine college bureaucracy, and the UCLA scheming machine, worked overtime to thwart the popular will.
To increase the Lilliputian number of minorities, admission standards were thus lowered for all students. For example, the importance of LSAT scores was diminished in the admission to UC Berkeley's Boalt Law School. Similarly, students graduating with top marks from failing schools that award As for showing up were deemed as eligible—if not more so—than students graduating with honors from highly competitive secondary schools. In an attempt to net yet more minorities, "all students in the top 4 percent of their high school class, regardless of their standardized test scores," in Mac Donald's words, were accepted.
But UC Berkeley was not quick enough to adopt bush-college standards. The measures taken by California university campuses failed to yield the critical mass of minorities ethnic lobbies were clamoring for.
So, Mac Donald reported, the university began ignoring all together "its applicants' objective academic rankings", and considering a "holistic" method of assessment. Academic scores are currently "contextualized". To wit, an applicant with a lower SAT score who mentions having taken a bullet or quit a gang will be given preference over a high-scoring applicant burdened by a two-parent family.
Surprisingly, Groseclose, a scholar who has produced rigorous research on bias in the media, is said to favor the bias he uncovered at UCLA. Or, as he put it, "the idea of offering preferences to bring in more black students." He just disapproves of the secretive nature of the selection process.
However, if a system that pays tribute to a type, not to the individual, doesn't irk the good professor, one wonders why he went to all the trouble.
The accommodation of elites to racial preferences has been studied by Frederick R. Lynch, the author of Invisible Victims: White Males and the Crisis of Affirmative Action. When polled, corporate, political and academic elites mostly foreswear quotas/affirmative action. But they seldom resist its implementation.
Republicans, the consummate drag queens of politics (no offense to drag queens), are no different.
And in 2003, the Bush administration filed a brief challenging racial preference in student admissions at the University of Michigan. The university was awarding candidates 20 points out of 150 for having the right complexion (non-white) and only 12 points for the right mind (a perfect SAT score).
Bush's was a most unusual brief because, as it transpired, the administration's challenge was a cover for the very system Professor Groseclose has exposed at UCLA. Race, the administration's Solicitor General conceded, could be a factor in admissions under certain conditions. Racial cue cards in the form of "a statement people can make about whether they've overcome hardship" were quite kosher.
Barack Obama's honest support for affirmative action may be more irritating. But is there really a dime's worth of difference between the parties?
Ilana Mercer (email her) is a weekly columnist for WorldNetDaily.com, a fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies,. and the author of Broad Sides: One Woman's Clash With a Corrupt Culture, the Foreword to which was written by Peter Brimelow. Her website is www.ilanamercer.com; her blog www.barelyablog.com