The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Saturday, June 26, 2004

Affirmative action at Harvard: the wrong kind of black

With the hanging curve of Grutter and Gratz, a supposedly conservative administration had the chance to hit affirmative action out of the park.

Now, satisfaction for those who might (foolishly) have relied on such an eventuality comes rarely and obliquely. As with a New York Times article (June 24) on the Peculiar Institution as practiced in Cambridge, Mass:
While about 8 percent, or about 530, of Harvard's undergraduates were black, Lani Guinier, a Harvard law professor, and Henry Louis Gates Jr., the chairman of Harvard's African and African-American studies department, pointed out that the majority of them — perhaps as many as two-thirds — were West Indian and African immigrants or their children, or to a lesser extent, children of biracial couples.

British readers will recall the railway authorities explaining their failures as being due to
the wrong kind of snow
on the line. These wolves in dusky clothing are evidently the wrong kind of black.

Evidently, a whole bunch of folks with an adequate (one suspects, foreign) education see the market distortion imposed by the infamous system and exploit it for all it's worth. Embracing Phineas T Barnum's aperçu to the limit. And HNIC Gates acts all Stepin Fetchit.

And note particularly the reference to
children of biracial couples.

In the ideology of grievance, these are the equivalent of our old friends, the self-hating Jews. Any individual of partially European descent who finds value in this element of his racial inheritance is evidently to be pitied.

But also the peculiar success of West Indian immigrants. Colin Powell, of course, was born of Jamaican parents. Roi Ottley's New World A-Coming - of which I have a copy somewhere - waxes lyrical on the upward mobility of Caribbean families.

And - I confess this had escaped me till now - it seems that Guinier is also an incomer - her
mother is white and [her] father immigrated from Jamaica.

She complains that colleges
are excluding poor and working-class whites, not just descendants of slaves.

Is this an epiphany?

It seems that the Harvard authorities are anxious to avoid publicity about the matter. One student said that
Harvard officials had discouraged them from collecting the data on who the black students were.

We are, I fear, decades away from seeing the whole ghastly business of affirmative action swept away. But, meanwhile, some very modest satisfaction may be found in the contortions that its supporters are required to go through.

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