[Adapted from the latest Radio Derb, now available exclusively on VDARE.com]
Sometime very soon—perhaps as you are hearing or reading this—the U.S. Supreme Court will, in the last month of its judicial term, bring forth a ruling on the constitutionality of Affirmative Action in college admissions.
This ruling will be the final act in the legal drama of the group Students For Fair Admissions (SFFA) suing Harvard and the University of North Carolina for discriminating against Asian applicants in their admissions processes.
The ruling, when it comes, will generate a great deal of noise but have very little practical effect. The evidence that college-admissions Affirmative Action is, in practice, just race favoritism, is made plain by numbers: by the discrepancies between what different races score on standardized tests and the numbers of each race granted admission to desirable colleges.
Those colleges are busily gaming their way out of trouble by the simplest method possible: They have stopped, or are stopping, the gathering of test scores. Without those test scores there are no numbers for comparison, so the admissions officers can proceed with what they like to call ”holistic” admissions.
The word ”holistic” here means, as anyone looking into the issue figured out long ago, ”completely subjective.” Without those pesky test scores as evidence for their chicanery, they’ll be free to practice favoritism without the danger of lawsuits. It’s like dissolving the corpse of your murder victim in acid—a thing I strongly recommend should you ever be tempted to willful homicide. No evidence, no crime.
Notwithstanding the colleges have the situation well and truly gamed, Progressives are mad as hell about the lawsuits that prompted this ruling. This includes even some foreign progressives: the editors of the far-left Guardian newspaper in the U.K., for example.
The June 6th issue of that newspaper ran a headline reading, headline: Harvard affirmative action challenge partly based on Holocaust denier’s work, Ed Pilkington [Tweet him] chief reporter for Guardian US.
If you think antisemitism and racism in the USA aren’t linked and working hand-in-hand, you are mistaken. It’s time to unite all forces against the evil of these ideologies. https://t.co/shuVgTFxGz— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) June 6, 2023
Really? Reading down to the sixth paragraph of the piece I see this, edited quote:
The complaint … draws heavily from a 2012 article by Ron Unz, a Californian multimillionaire and former Silicon Valley entrepreneur with a controversial track record. That 2012 piece has been criticized for being riddled with errors and for espousing views verging on antisemitism.
That needs some extended commentary.
Full disclosure here: I have some personal acquaintance with Ron Unz. I’ve been the recipient of his hospitality and generosity. Regarding my opinions about his work, I refer you to the seventh segment in my August Diary last year.
There is also a professional relationship. My full-length pieces at VDARE.com, including the ones distilled from Radio Derb transcripts, are often cross-posted at Unz.com.
Back to the Guardian piece… although not until I have noted what dreck that newspaper is, and always has been. I can remember fifty years ago in England, me and my peers laughing at it as ”the Grauniad” because of all the typos.
And just look at the diction of that article. ”Screed,” … ”neo-Nazi,” … ”espousing views verging on,” … ”problematic,” … I’d assume it was the product of a chatbot except that a chatbot could write better copy.
A hundred words in I made a bet with myself that before I got to the end, I’d have seen a reference to David Duke. Sure enough, there he is: an ”influential figure on the extreme right.”
I haven’t heard about anything David Duke has done for a decade or two. Does anyone know where he is? Or even if he’s still alive? Yet to dimwitted British wokesters he’s ”an influential figure,” a boogey-man whose very name sends them scurrying for protection to the Guardian.
All right, all right, what’s this 2012 Ron Unz article that has the Guardian clutching its pearls?
Dated November 28th, 2012, it is titled ”The Myth of American Meritocracy.” You can read it for yourself at Unz.com, or in book form in Ron’s 2022 essay collection of the same title. It is in my opinion a small masterpiece of quantitative journalism.
A key part of it is summed up in a graph Ron made, included around twenty percent of the way into the article. The graph shows along the horizontal axis the years from 1990 to 2011.
The vertical axis shows the percentage of Asians enrolled for those years. There are different-colored lines for the nine most prestigious American universities, with an additional dotted line for the percentage of college-age students in the population.
That dotted line of course rises steadily across the years as the number of young Asians increases. Strangely, though, the percentages enrolled at eight of the nine elite universities flatlines between fourteen and eighteen percent.
The exception: Caltech, which maintained a strictly meritocratic admissions process through those years. The Caltech line on the graph tracks the dotted line of available Asian youngsters. Hmmm.
The facts Ron laid out, as for instance summarized in that graph, are hard to dispute. So how does the Guardian hack dispute them?
He—and yes, it’s a he, although I’d have guessed a she from the style and content—doesn’t dispute Ron’s facts. What he takes issue with is the passages later in the article where Ron takes a closer look at numbers of white students admitted, breaking them out by Jewish and Gentile. Ron finds what he calls a “quite extraordinary” overrepresentation of Jews:
Thus, although Asian-American high school graduates each year outnumber their Jewish classmates nearly three-to-one, American Jews are far more numerous at Harvard and throughout the Ivy League. Both groups are highly urbanized, generally affluent, and geographically concentrated within a few states, so the ”diversity” factors considered above would hardly seem to apply; yet Jews seem to fare much better at the admissions office.
And this is probably where I should note that Ron is himself Jewish.
He is also by nature a relentless questioner, taking nothing at face value. And yes, that includes the most-publicized numbers for Holocaust fatalities, which Ron thinks is in the low hundreds of thousands. That, if true, is a dreadful enough statistic; but to the Guardian Ron’s estimate is ”Holocaust Denial.”
And to be perfectly fair here, there are nits you can pick with Ron’s estimates for the Jewish numbers. Published college statistics don’t break out Jews and Gentiles, so you have to do estimates based on surname. That is both tiresome—scanning lists of hundreds of names trying to pick out the Jewish ones—and seriously inaccurate.
Here’s a student named Robinson. Were his forebears rubicund ale-swilling yeoman farmers in the fields of England, or were they Rubinsteins or Rabinowitzes in the shtetls of eastern Europe?
Ron mentions that problem himself in the article, but the Guardian gives him no credit for that. Nor does it give any credit at all to Ron’s constructive suggestion for squaring the circle of college admissions.
To square that circle, Ron uses rings. So I guess you could argue that he’s circling the circle… whatever.
The fundamental problem here is to find some middle way between meritocratic college admissions, which are unacceptable, and naked favoritism—otherwise known as ”holistic” admissions—which ought to be unacceptable in a fair society.
The meritocratic option is unacceptable because of race differences in intelligence. On a strictly meritocratic admissions process, one that totally depended on results from tests of cognitive ability, the Ivy League would be forty percent East Asian, forty percent white, two percent black, and eighteen percent other—other Asian plus nonwhite Hispanics.
Americans at large wouldn’t accept that. Too much reality!
So here’s Ron’s solution. An elite college, he says, could select, say, fifteen or twenty percent of their students entirely on merit. These are the best of the best, the cream of the crop. Ron calls them the ”inner ring.”
The other eighty to eighty-five percent of admitted students—the ”outer ring” would be drawn by random lottery from the large pool of applicants judged capable of college-level work.
Quotes from Ron:
Requiring an excellent but hardly spectacular student to take his chances on winning a spot at Harvard or Yale hardly seems unreasonable …
And the result would be true diversity, rather than the dishonest and ridiculous pseudo-diversity of our existing system.
Well, I’ll leave you to read Ron’s 2012 article for yourself. It’s well worth your time for its own sake, and essential background if you’re going to be in conversations about the forthcoming Supreme Court decision.
(Footnote here: I said very unkind things about the Guardian there. Fair’s fair, though. I don’t know if this is still the case, but when I last had any reading acquaintance with the paper thirty-some years ago, it had a really good crossword puzzle.)
John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him.) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He has had two books published by VDARE.com com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013.
Readers who wish to donate (tax deductible) funds specifically earmarked for John Derbyshire’s writings at VDARE.com can do so here.