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Asians Derail Affirmative Action In California

A constitutional amendment to repeal ban on racial preferences fails in state senate.

by
John Rosenberg

Bio

April 12, 2014 - 1:57 pm

The express train hurtling to return racial preference admissions to California — in the form of State Constitutional Amendment 5, which if placed on the ballot and approved by voters would have overturned Prop. 209 —has just been derailed by an outburst of opposition from Asian Americans.

The eruption of opposition caught SCA 5’s Democratic sponsors by surprise and caused a crucial three Asian American senators to withdraw their support, depriving the measure of the two thirds senate majority required to place an initiative on the ballot. “Prior to the vote on SCA 5 in the Senate,” Senators Ted Lieu of Torrance, Carol Liu of La Canada Flintridge, and Leland Yee of San Francisco wrote Assembly Speaker and lead sponsor John A. Pérez, “we heard no opposition to the bill. However, in the past few weeks, we have heard from thousands of people throughout California voicing their concerns about the potential impacts…. As lifelong advocates for the Asian American and other communities,” they added, “we would never support a policy that we believed would negatively impact our children.” (Or at least never again, a skeptic might observe.)

The three changed their minds, the San Francisco Chronicle reports, ”when they started hearing from Asian American constituents who feared that giving preferences to African American and Latino students would make it harder for their children to get into competitive University of California campuses.”

Feared? That’s rather like saying Jewish parents in the early 20th century feared that Jewish quotas would make it harder for their children to be admitted to Ivy League schools. Of course lowering admission standards for some students based on race or ethnicity inevitably raises the barrier for those of unpreferred races and ethnicities. And in fact, not just in logic, the passage of Prop. 209 prohibiting racial and ethnic preferential treatment produced a dramatic surge in the admission of Asians to selective California campuses.

In 1997, the last year preferences were still in effect, Asians were 29.8% of those admitted to the University of California system. In the fall of 2010, their proportion had increased to 37.5%. At Berkeley, according to a university fact sheet, the percentage of Asian admits increased from 41.7% in 1997 to 47.1% in 2007. In the most recent data available, statements of intent to register for next fall’s freshman class, Asians will be 46.6% of the entering freshmen at Berkeley, 51.7% at San Diego, and 49% at Irvine (where whites will be only 13.9%).

These numbers should not be surprising. In a major 2005 study of affirmative action, expanded in a 2009 book, No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal: Race and Class in Elite College Admission and Campus Life, Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade (who supports affirmative action) and his co-authors concluded that if affirmative action were eliminated across the nation “Asian students would fill nearly four out of every five places in the admitted class not taken by African-American and Hispanic students, with an acceptance rate rising from nearly 18 percent to more than 23 percent.” (Quoted here, from the article.) Thus what needs to be explained is not the “fear” of Asian parents that preferences to blacks and Hispanics discriminate against Asians — that fear is entirely rational and based on irrefutable evidence — but why it took so long for them to express it, and why they have continued to support Democrats who support policies that discriminate against their own children.

What also cries out even louder for explanation is why “civil rights” groups such as Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA) and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) support affirmative action programs that so demonstrably discriminate against so many Asian Americans. In its statement on SCA 5, CAA emphasizes its “strong opinion that affirmative action must remain a tool for advancing fairness and equality for Asian Americans and others in the foreseeable future, and ought to be embraced in solidarity with all communities that face systemic discrimination.” It does, however, call for amendments including an “explicit prohibition of quotas,” as though that should make the explicit awarding of preferences to others acceptable.

The AALDEF, “progressive” organization that it is, actually defends the discrimination against Asians and attacks the Asians who protest against it. A blog post discussing SCA 5 on its site a few days ago, for example, complains that normally:

Asian Americans are trotted out by predominantly white anti-affirmative action groups as the poor “aggrieved victims,” as in Texas and Michigan.

In this new California fight to reverse the ending of affirmative action, some Chinese Americans, most of them new immigrants, have learned their political role and have been quick to speak out first.

Presumably those Chinese American “new immigrants” are so new they have not yet learned their proper place on the progressive plantation.

The “new Chinese immigrants” who have not learned that their desire for colorblind equal opportunity must defer to the demands of other groups for preferential treatment are not the only Asian targets of progressive defenders of affirmative action. The rising call for “disaggregation” — in effect eliminating “Asian American” as a classification so that different sub-groups can be treated differently — would introduce a whole new layer of discrimination against long-resident communities of Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans.

A report issued by The National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education (CARE) calls for “data disaggregation to better understand the variation of the educational experiences and outcomes within the highly diverse Asian American and Pacific Islander student population” so that some Asian American groups, but not others, can become beneficiaries rather than victims of “diversity.” The failure to disaggregate Asian and Asian-American data to reveal its sub-groups, the report claims, “has been a key barrier to policy and program development that advances the equitable treatment for the AAPI community.”

By “equitable treatment,” I noted in “Disaggregation: Not Enough Hmong Among Us?,” what the disaggregators really call for “is unequal treatment — preferential treatment of the ‘underrepresented’ sub-groups.” That is clearly what AALDEF has in mind when it justifies its support of SCA 5 by pointing out that “segments of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, most notably the Filipino, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander groups, remain woefully underrepresented.”

The disaggregators may think (or at least hope) that increasing the preferential treatment of “underrepresented” Asian groups would silence the growing Asian opposition to affirmative action, but it might do the opposite. Ron Unz has demonstrated that the proportion of Asians accepted to selective, especially Ivy League, colleges has remained unchanged despite the increasing numbers of highly qualified Asian applicants. Whether of not this “surprising” consistency results from overt or covert quotas or the miracle of massaged “holistic” criteria, admitting more members of Asian sub-groups would result in the admission of even fewer Chinese, Japanese, Korean and other traditionally high-performing Asian applicants, the very applicants who under the current system suffer the most from the preferences given to blacks and Hispanics.

Another odd aspect of the progressive Asian defense of discrimination against Asians is its anti-white bias, as when AALDEF accuses Asians of “starting to sound like whites.”

Asian Americans are the most overrepresented among all students in the UC system. When you look at the overall numbers at all the UCs, ideally, you’d want a public system to mirror the state’s population, wouldn’t you?

Well, no, I’d want a public system whole flagship campuses attracted the best students, but maybe that’s just me. Not AALDEF; it sees too many Asians. When it  looks at the numbers it sees “Asian Americans, 40 percent at UC, 14 percent in the state,” and concludes “That’s why Prop. 209 needs to be reversed.”

And why, some of AALDEF’s ostensible constituents might ask, is “sounding like whites so bad?” if what that means is arguing that the state should not distribute benefits or burdens based on race. In any event the complaint that Asian critics of affirmative action sound white is odd, inasmuch as AALDEF’s own list of numbers that it invites readers to look at includes “Whites, 24 percent at UC, 39 percent in the state.”

Similarly odd, from the same blog post, is the charge that “Prop. 209 was written by two white academics who were trying to stem the tide of new competition from diverse groups in public education and employment. All 209 did was preserve the overrepresentation of certain groups, while making it impossible to do anything to remedy the underrepresentation of others.”

How confusing! Does AALDEF believe that whites passed Prop. 209 to preserve their “overrepresentation” or that the “underrepresentation” of whites in the UC system is something it would like to correct by abolishing Prop. 209?

Many people continue to believe, mistakenly, that ending racial preferences benefits whites — and “progressives” like AALDEF even argue that opposition to  preferences is rooted in racism. In fact, whites have become a seriously underrepresented minority in the University of California system. In 1996 whites were 44% of the freshman admits; by 2010 their percentage of freshman admits had dropped to 34%.

Perhaps the derailment of SCA 5 will prove to be only temporary. Perhaps some window-dressing amendments favored by CAA such as “the explicit prohibition of quotas” and increasing the “absolute numbers” admitted to the selective campuses, which would allow the reintroduction of lower standards for blacks and Hispanics without reducing the current number of Asians, will put it on track again.

But there is a possibility that the sudden expression of fierce opposition to the discrimination against them by so many Asian Americans in California means that the Humpty Dumpty of affirmative action has taken another great fall — as damaging to it as the rejection by substantial majorities of voters in California and Michigan — and can’t be put together again.

John Rosenberg blogs at Discriminations.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
If I needed surgery, I want the most qualified medical team, not the most diverse. If that means they're all Korean-Americans, then so be it.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Asians, when they find out what liberals really think of them will be furious and I'll tell you why. I was a student at UC San Diego from 96-98, when affirmative action was still legal. I was excluded from the prestigious SDSU-UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology as a white man. However, the prospectus for the program, proudly proclaiming its affirmative action grounding, read "giving preference to women and underrepresented minorities."

"Underrepresented minorities"?? The meaning was clear: No Asians. Why the racist inclusion? Simple, the student body at UCSD was about 50% Asian-American. Most of that cohort were either 1st or 2nd generation Americans. Furthermore, the Asian population of California at that time was about 5%. So, 5% of the population was contributing 50% of the students.

This astonishing performance put the entire affirmative action rationale to lie. Did white males, the target of affirmative action punishment, somehow decide to not inflict the Asians, and Asian women in particular with the oppression they inflicted the non-Asian women and minorities with?

No one would buy that. So, the success of the Asians pulled the supports from beneath the scaffolding of victimization upon which the entire affirmative action edifice was constructed. The bitter irony was that those who claimed special privilege based on discrimination were quick, themselves, to discriminate against those who exposed their lie. No thinking Asian-American should vote for those who expressly discriminate against them for the crime of being successful.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
To be quite honest, I have almost awe for the Asian community, and I believe many WASPs like me agree. 30 years ago, Louisiana had to endure the spectacle of seeing a Klansman, David Duke, run against a known criminal, Edwin Edwards. We elected the criminal, who is now serving in prison. We had Dollar Bill Jefferson, and almost every New Orleans mayor has served time for corruption. Most Asian Americans, to my knowledge, are Democrats. Those who run, however, are Republicans and are quite capable, such as our governor, Bobby Jindal. For a brief time, a Republican named Joseph Cao represented New Orleans during the beginning of Obama's term.

Furthermore, post-Katrina, the people most affected by the storm were the Vietnamese community in New Orleans. However, they were also the first to rebound from the storm, and with very little government support (y'all remember the fiasco with the local government, the state government, and the federal government couldn't coordinate. That's why we had martial law).

Add to that that South Carolina, the first state to secede from the Union and notorious for its Jim Crow laws, now has a female Asian-American Republican as governor.

Again, I have something akin to awe for them.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (28)
All Comments   (28)
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Asian Americans in California generally vote for Democrats. That being the case how smart could they really be?
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think that disaggregating Asians actually makes sense. After all, Asia is a big place and very ethnically (and culturally) diverse. Although I strongly suspect that there aren't enough of them in the USA to matter, I would think that ethnic Bangladeshis and Pakistanis (just about all of whom are Muslims, incidentally) wouldn't stack up too well against Japanese or Koreans. Why? Good question; I don't know the answer, although I have some ideas.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Nearly all of the growth in Democratic margin over Republican party-identification among Asians has been from large growth in the "Tan"/South Asian demo (yes, there is Jindal and Haley, but they are not coming from tech so to speak). And much of that support for Democrats (including the affinity from Chinese, Japanese and Korean) is based on emotional reactions to the huff from middle age and elderly white males about H1-B and mid-20th century war experience.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hmm. Seems as if, and apparently ONLY when self interest comes into play, that "Asian - Americans"(??) alone "put their money where their mouths are". Trying the Law, legal action, in the HOPE to CHANGE "Affirmative Action" .

"Affirmative Action" A PRIORI unlawful, yet enforced by legal "authority", in the USA. IF the Constitution is still the Supreme Law of the Land

THAT in itself increasingly questionable. Any interested cabal AND Friends since the announced "revolution" of the 1960s, interpret THAT "Fundamental" AND Supreme Law as expedient to their intentions.

INTENTIONS "outed" forthrightly in 2008 by BH Obama as safe bet Saviour (Messiah?) for the political agenda of the "compassionate liberals/democrats" as THE FUNDAMENTAL TRANSFORMATION OF the NATION.

In Changng The Law NON-procedurally, among which we know "Affirmative Action" AND "Political Correctness" they have acted with collaboration of others - go along to get along fellows - on "The Harvard Law of Animal Behaviour".

THE LEGAL PROCEDURE to change, alter, amend or transform the legally PROTECTED rights of American citizens is specific. Time consuming and gradual. Requiring the DIRECT application to AND Consent from ALL citizens in ALL the States in the Federation of the United States of America aka The Constitutional Republic of the United States..

Procedure as bedrock, the FUNDAMENTAL, of The LAW in the USA.

With few GUARDIANS of THE LAW, "representatives of the People" in Legislature OR Judiciary (Oath of Office), noticing or caring to stop the illegal restructurjing of the nations laws. Incresing powers NOT to the People, BUT the "People of the Givernment".

That Constitution interpreted for the "fundamental transformation" by ABROGATING - Unlawfully repealing or nullifying - rights. FUNDAMENTAL rights of ALL citizens. EACH EQUAL before that Law. No matter, race, sex, religion, thought (hate crimes?) personal behaviours non- injurious to others, OR Politicial affiliation. AND CENSORSIP of word, thought and opinion. .

ALL the abroogations of citizens' rights by the "compassionatle liberals / democrats" AND friends of course ONLY "For The Good of the People". What you see is what you get.

24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Leave it to liberals to be the worst examples of the very behavior they accuse others of. The whole idea of a student in a university being considered a "representative" of some grouping of people is nothing but stereotyping all gussied up to sound like some statistical standard that must be adhered to.

In particular, to attribute pigment as a determinant of a person's 'representativeness' is blatant racism in its most base and demeaning form.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
I say we discriminate against these race mongers who keep trying to slice the population into thinner and thinner slices. Drop all of this nonsense because its blatantly unconstitutional.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Remember when South Africa keep diligent track of each citizen's racial composition? That sure was bad.
Now that the old Republic of SA is gone, what nation puts obsessive attention on each citizen's racial composition?
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
If they're going to "disaggregate" the Asian-Americans, I think they should have to do it for all races. They should disaggregate white American's also. I'm willing to be that German-Americans, like myself, aren't being admitted to colleges as often as those English, Irish or Scottish Americans. And I'm positive that more recent African immigrants are being discriminated against more than second, third, or fourth generation African-Americans.

If we're going to discriminate here, ladies and gentlemen, I think we should make those who want to discriminate, those who support Affirmative Action take it all the way. Everyone should have that - in their name. There are no American's now... everyone is a hyphenated American.

It's only fair.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wayciss!
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
"As lifelong advocates for the Asian American and other communities,” they added, “we would never support a policy that we believed would negatively impact our children" Ah now that it impacts your children, you will not support this policy. When it was shafting other people's children and helping yours, you were ok with it.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
And for that Leland Yee MUST pay. Come on Asians your relationship with the Democrats is abusive. You need to break the cycle of violins.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
There's a part you're missing here, and this applies to all minority special interest groups. When they were formed, back when racism was more prevalent, they were protesting actual racism, and government and society participated in it. In the '70s and '80s that racism, sexism, whatever was banished from government, and slowly pushed out of polite conversation in society. As this happened, what would be the response of the NAACP or MALDEF or AALDEF or whoever? Would they say: "Our work here is done, let's go back to the rest of our lives"? Of course not, they've made their living protesting racism and injustice. It's very rewarding, you get to be self-righteous all day, lecture people on how evil they are, have many admiring fans, etc. No one wants to stop that. The Democratic party figured out how to exploit these groups and get their constituents to vote in particular directions, usually for Dem politicians or in a particular direction on a referendum the Dems felt strongly about. You think the Dems want the organizations to go away now that Jim Crow is dead? That will NEVER happen, they'll never leave. They'll always be able to find SOMETHING they can call racist, to try and energize voters, and the people running the organization, be it Blacks, Hispanics, or Asians, will always have enormous incentives to keep stirring the pot and trying to get their voters to vote the way they wish. The fact that the groups were essentially ignored by rank-and-file Asian Americans shows that this minority group is much further along than the other ones, but we already knew that. There's still no incentive for the leadership of the groups to quit. The Dems will make sure they get invited to all the conferences and symposia and so forth, regardless of whether they have much influence, in the hope they can regain some, and accuse some Republican of racism...
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
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