Liberals find a case of racism they don't want the courts to correct

The editorial board at the Washington Examiner has a good analysis of a pending case before the Supreme Court that could turn some of the current debates over racism in America on its head. The subject at hand once again deals with the college admissions system in this country and the ham-handed way that many schools put their thumbs on the scales for all the wrong reasons. A lawsuit against Harvard is currently attempting to deal with that issue, particularly as it applies to one specific group of minorities. Through an arbitrary “rating system” used by the admissions board, Asian-American applicants are routinely downgraded to the benefit of Black and Hispanic students. So will the Supreme Court finally step in to correct this? Clearly, the elites at our houses of higher education would prefer they didn’t.

Harvard, Yale, and others are using gross racist stereotypes in the service of limiting the number of Asian American applicants they accept. Especially today, with the media showcasing a rash of violence against Asian Americans, this practice must be stopped.

Fortunately, the Supreme Court will now have an opportunity. The justices have been petitioned to take a case that would let them revisit this issue and set down the marker clearly that in 2021, college admissions should be color blind. We hope they do just that.

A group called Students for Fair Admissions has sued Harvard for its deliberate exclusion of students of Asian extraction. The admissions officers, the lawsuit says, exclude Asians by lowballing their subjective scores for personality traits such as “likability,” “courage,” and “kindness.” They practice racism in this manner in hopes of being more generous with racial preferences toward other groups, such as black and Hispanic students.

A similar case against Yale was dropped by the Biden administration this year (which should be telling) but the one applying to Harvard looks set to move forward. The arguments against it seem rather weak indeed.

There is no longer any discussion of having college entrance criteria handled in any sort of meritocratic fashion, where high school grades and participation in extracurricular and community activities make up the preponderance of factors taken into consideration during the application process. In order to produce the desired results in terms of racial demographics, a system of subjective scores for personality traits (“likability,” “courage,” and “kindness”) is used, ostensibly based on interviews. At Harvard and Yale, Asian applicants routinely score very low in those categories for some mysterious reason, while Black and Hispanic students excel.

The fact that this results in a suppression of Asian applicants along racial lines apparently doesn’t bother the admissions offices of these schools in the slightest. The original problem they were attempting to resolve was the low number of qualified Black and Hispanic applicants being accepted. This was interpreted as being the result of racism, so the personality trait system was implemented as a corrective measure. It’s simply a case of people who see every problem as a racist nail and then attack it with a racist hammer. Unfortunately, they’ve been attacking the wrong problem.

Enrollment for Black and Hispanic students wasn’t an issue that needed to be battled against racism. What they were really fighting was poverty. Children from low-income neighborhoods with failing schools and insufficient support will always face far greater challenges than others in terms of scholastic success. If you fight poverty and improve the schools, you will produce more students who succeed in getting accepted to more prestigious schools without needing any special “help” from the admissions office.

But as I said, this bias against Asian-Americans isn’t all that uncommon these days. What you’re seeing at Harvard is of a piece with the New York City advance placement testing system that was scrapped to the detriment of Asian students while favoring Black and Latino children. Even when it comes to the commission of hate crimes, we are reminded to be very careful before describing attacks on Asians in that fashion.

The linked editorial mentions a hope that the Supreme Court will choose to entirely throw out the racist baby with the bathwater, going to a truly colorblind system of college admissions. I hold out no such hope given the conditions in the country right now. But if they’re going to allow preferences for minorities, they could at least treat all of them equally.