October 12, 2019

ANALYSIS: TRUE. Harvard’s Asian Quotas Repeat an Ugly History: Jews, long disfavored by elite universities, might find Judge Burroughs’s reasoning familiar.

It’s bad enough that Judge Allison Burroughs’s decision last week ignored this evidence and blessed Harvard’s admissions policies. What’s equally disturbing is that she also ignored the history. Harvard boasts that it vets applicants using a “holistic” approach that weighs social characteristics as well as test scores. What often goes unmentioned is that Harvard and other schools developed this approach a century ago for the express purpose of excluding Jews.

Back then, Harvard argued that Jews were excellent students with deficient personalities. Their social characteristics were described as “different” and “peculiar.” They were accused of being clannish and focusing on their studies to a fault. Harvard maintained that it was trying to create a certain type of environment on campus, and Jews were a poor fit. “No one suggested the Jewish students threatened academic standards,” wrote Stephen Steinberg in a 1971 Commentary magazine article about Jewish quotas in the Ivy League. “Rather it was argued that the college stood for other things, and that social standards were as important and valid as intellectual ones.” Harvard is still making that argument, and the courts are still indulging it.

In her ruling, Judge Burroughs writes that a “partial cause” of racial disparities in admissions rates is that “Asian American applicants’ disproportionate strength in academics comes at the expense of other skills and traits that Harvard values.” She says it’s “possible” that the Asian applicants “did not possess the personal qualities that Harvard is looking for at the same rate as white applicants.” Moreover, “it would be unsurprising to find that applicants that excel in one area, tend to be somewhat weaker in other areas.” To Jews, such language and reasoning might sound painfully familiar. And if a judge today wrote that blacks or Hispanics excel at sports and have outgoing personalities, so it would be really surprising if they flourished academically as well, liberals would be calling for his head.

Flashback: Asians Get The Ivy League’s Jewish Treatment.

Related: Why is Harvard discriminating against Asian Americans? ‘Diversity’ is no excuse for racial bias.

Plus: It’s weird how elites want elites to be able to discriminate on race and non-elites don’t.

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