The fate of the lawsuit against Harvard for the university’s alleged discrimination against Asian-Americans is still up in the air. But a recent op-ed from The Federalist argues that one definite consequence of the lawsuit will be uncovering the layers of deception at play in Harvard’s admissions, and the rot at the core of social justice causes.
Warren Henry, a pen name for an attorney practicing in Illinois, writes that the “first layer of dishonesty is inherent in Harvard’s choice to use race as a factor in deciding which students to admit.”
“Harvard, in the vanguard of progressive meritocracy, has a mission to staff the ruling class with ‘the best and brightest,'” he writes, explaining that racial preferences are “at best in tension with this philosophy,” leading to a decline in support for meritocracy. “The erosion of a meritocratic ideal would be a victory for the populist left.”
He points out that the public “generally does not believe college admissions should be solely based on test scores,” which allows Harvard to avoid being a clear meritocracy. But the “second layer of dishonesty arises from the way colleges implement racial admissions preferences,” which avoid unconstitutional quotas by relying on “individual assessments” that, for Henry, are thinly disguised point systems that function as quotas.
The third layer of dishonesty arises from the specific manner in which Harvard is alleged to be skirting the law. The plaintiff in the current trial claims Asian-American applicants had higher ratings on academics and extra curricular activities, but Harvard’s admissions officers consistently scored Asian-American applicants lower than others on personality traits like “positive personality,” “likability,” “kindness,” and “humor.”
According to Harvard’s own 2013 study, Asian-Americans were the only racial or ethnic group to see a projected decrease in representation with the inclusion of extracurriculars and personal ratings. Given that Asian-Americans have become an increasing share of America’s top students, Harvard’s apparent ceiling would suggest, as Avik Roy acidly jokes, that Harvard believes Asian-Americans are becoming worse people over time.
Henry continues that the lawsuit effectively accuses Harvard of engaging in “the most obvious racial stereotyping of Asian-American kids as dull, nerdy grinds.”
The Asian-American immigrant story “is the classic narrative of immigrants working hard and maximizing their talents to succeed in America and to boost their offspring to even higher heights,” Henry writes. And yet, “Harvard seems to hold Asian-Americans’ hard work against them.” Henry compares this discrimination to discrimination faced by Jews at Harvard until the 1960s.
For Henry, “the lawsuit against Harvard, however it ends, has exposed to the general public the layers of dishonesty in which Harvard and other elite institutions engage in the cause of social justice.” The lesson the university sends “is that working hard and playing by the rules are for the little people, not the future Masters of the Universe. The lesson will contribute to continued distrust in institutions and more populism.”