It is an article of faith on the campus left that institutional discrimination isn’t just real, it’s a powerful force in American life on every level. So it is greatly ironic that the most obvious source of institutional racism in America resides at Harvard University. According to analysis contained in a new lawsuit against the college, Harvard systematically rated Asian-American candidates – who, on average, have the highest test scores and grade point averages and the best extracurricular activities – lower on personality traits including “likability, courage, kindness and being ‘widely respected.'” There is only one reason for such labeling: to minimize the overrepresentation of Asian-Americans in the student population.
The New York Times reports:
Harvard’s own researchers cited a bias against Asian-American applicants in a series of internal reports in 2013. But Harvard ignored the findings, the court papers said, and never publicly released them. … The suit brought by Students for Fair Admissions says that Harvard imposes what is in effect a soft quota of “racial balancing.” This keeps the numbers of Asian-Americans artificially low, while advancing less qualified white, black and Hispanic applicants, the plaintiffs contend.
Harvard claims that it is not discriminating against Asian-Americans. Instead, it’s just that Harvard was seeking “intangibles” – precisely the sort of language the left accuses racists of using while discriminating against particular groups. Just as in the 1920s and 1930s, Harvard deliberately sought to prevent the admission of Jews from the university in large numbers, now Harvard discriminates against Asians. The goal, according to the plaintiffs in the lawsuit: to prevent Asian-Americans from rising above approximately 20 percent of admissions at the school.
This wouldn’t be a shock. Affirmative action programs all over the country systematically discriminate against Asian-Americans, and have been doing so for decades. According to a 2004 paper from Thomas Espenshade, Chang Chung, and Joan Walling of Princeton University:
The bonus for African-American applicants is roughly equivalent to an extra 230 SAT points (on a 1600-point scale), to 185 points for Hispanics, 200 points for athletes, and 160 points for children of alumni. The Asian disadvantage is comparable to a loss of 50 SAT points. … At the top tier of four-year undergraduate institutions, African-American and Hispanic candidates in the early 1980s were between 8 and 10 percentage points more likely than whites to be admitted (Kane, 1998). This effect was equivalent to two-thirds of a letter grade on the GPA or to 400 SAT points.
Institutional racism is alive and well at precisely the institutions that proclaim to hate such racism. But so long as the racism cuts against groups that rank lower on the scale of intersectionality, there’s apparently nothing wrong.