Harvard Caught in Victim Vise

 

Haaah-vahd is caught in a virtuous-victims vise, and it couldn’t happen to a more deserving center of intersectional grievance mongers. For the past year, Harvard has been slowly bled by allegations and then ugly revelations about their administration’s racial problem with Asians. Now, Harvard is being sued for profiting today from the racist Harvard past, specifically by exploiting the image of a slave. The plaintiff claims she is a descendant of the exploited African-American and suffers harm herself in seeing the continued exploitation of her ancestor by Harvard.

So, Harvard University is being sued for discrimination against Asians, in the same way as they once discriminated against Jews, and is being separately sued for the present-day continuation of its 19th-century exploitation of an African-American slave. Perhaps the Harvard shield of arms should be updated, replacing “Veritas,” written across three open books, with a plain black bar sinister.

It couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch:

Harvard has bought about every available intersectional indulgence. Support a blacks-only commencement ceremony? Check. Host a “Center for Race and Justice” at your law school? Check. Slant your law school’s prestigious law journal’s student board and selection of accepted articles based on intersectional virtue? Looks like it. Indulge, and so affirm, select students’ posturing against a law professor who dares to provide legal representation to an unpopular defendant? Check. So, you can imagine their bewilderment at being caught in a virtuous-victims vise, between Asians and Blacks.

Are Asians the new Jews?

Harvard and the rest of the Ivies have an ugly history of sophisticated Jew-hatred, expressed in their creation of personality-based admission criteria designed to block hard-working, aspirational Jews from displacing the old boys’ less-qualified scions. Now, seeking to straddle racial justice demands and the desire to keep deep pocket donors writing checks and bequests, Harvard has been caught using the same negative personality stereotypes to suppress Asian admissions, while keeping up black and legacy white admissions.

Now Asian-Americans have revolted against supposed leaders in the old “Rainbow Coalition,” not accepting that their children should take one for the team (meaning designated leaders’ well-compensated racial boundary enforcing positions). Asian-American groups are joining the lawsuit against Harvard, rather than denouncing the groups who have signed onto the lawsuit.

The revelations, over the past year, have been illuminating and negative towards the intersectional project as it has worked out in Harvard admissions.

Harvard’s own internal documents allege that it selects people for admission based largely on three criteria: academics, extracurriculars, and “personality.”

[…]

It is on the “non-observable” measures of personality traits where Asian-Americans appear to fail spectacularly. Professor David Card, reporting on behalf of Harvard’s position, stated in his own report that Asian-Americans have “weaker average unobserved characteristics” than other applicants.

While Harvard tried desperately to first get the case dismissed and then to hide all the evidence under a court gag order, they have failed. President Trump’s Justice Department entered the case to oppose Harvard’s motion for summary judgment. The government’s motion document is very ugly for Harvard. Especially damaging claims:

2. Harvard Admits That It Scores Asian-American Applicants Lower on the Personal Rating on Average and That the Personal Rating Is a Driving Factor in Many Admissions Decisions.

[…]

[O]ut of the “many” factors in its personal rating, id., Harvard has been unable to point to even a single “[]observable factor[]” that explains the personal rating’s penalty against Asian-American applicants, see SFFA SOF ¶¶ 761-762. On this record, a fact finder could conclude that the personal rating—echoing Harvard’s deplorable past discrimination against Jewish applicants…

[…]

3. Harvard Brushed Aside Its Own Internal Evidence That the Personal Rating May Be Infused with Racial Bias

Harvard’s leadership neither took action, nor requested that OIR take further action, to determine whether Harvard’s admissions process unduly harms Asian-American applicants. […] Instead, it left in place a personal rating that harms Asian-American applicants’ chances for admission, weighs heavily in Harvard’s admissions process, and may be infused with a use of race that Harvard has made no effort to justify.

Is Harvard Still Exploiting Slaves?

A descendant of a black slave, whose early photograph is being commercially used by Harvard in the present day, wants control of her slave ancestor’s photograph. There is no legal theory, under intellectual property law, by which this plaintiff could ever win. So, the approach is in tort instead. Given Harvard’s chosen politics, it seems perfectly appropriate to take them at their words.

To Tamara Lanier, the image of the white-haired black man, emaciated, stripped of his clothing, and staring unflinchingly into the camera, is Papa Renty — a South Carolina slave who learned to read and held clandestine Bible classes despite the dangers on the plantation.

To Harvard University, the image is part of its collection of daguerreotypes, among the oldest known pictures of enslaved people in the United States. They were commissioned in 1850 by one of Harvard’s most renowned and controversial scientists, Louis Agassiz, and used to bolster his belief in white biological superiority. The images, of slaves forced to pose naked, are widely available online, appear on the cover of an anthropology book and conference pamphlets, and have been the subject of art exhibits.

So, naturally, we now have a lawsuit:

Lanier, a retired chief probation officer in Norwich, Conn., who says she is a descendent of Renty and his daughter Delia, who was also photographed, alleges in the lawsuit that Harvard is “shamelessly capitalizing” from these images.

“For years, Papa Renty’s slave owners profited from his suffering,” Lanier said in a statement. “It’s time for Harvard to stop doing the same thing to our family.”

Uncivil vice leads to vise:

The two jaws of this virtuous victims’ vise are squeezing Harvard and its massive endowment. The very theories and politics Harvard promotes are now turned on the institution. It’s as if the vice of playing groups against each other in virtuous victimhood are creating a vise of competing victims. Time will tell if they manage to buy their way out cheaply or face a sufficient crisis to force some return from critical race theory to classic liberalism.

Perhaps, if the university administration loses its fight with Asian student applicants, wiser heads will prevail in university leadership. Imagine Harvard announcing that they will take a new and more proactive approach to the underlying goal of opening elite colleges to more African-Americans, while posturing these students for graduation success. Imagine a serious hand-up program.

Harvard could take a small piece of that massive endowment and fully pay for the top ten African-American high school students in each of the top ten urban areas to be prepared for admission, then given full rides, including spending money and tutors. Start the summer after their high school junior years with academic boot camps. Have Saturday morning programs through the senior year, then another academic boot camp between high school and college matriculation. Really posture African-American students for success, for graduation. Harvard, sitting on an endowment of over $37 billion, can easily afford to be generous or to engage in meaningful reparations for the sins of its racist history.

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  1. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Sorry, but can I just ask whether any of it might just be discrimination against introverts?  They are probably less likely to join the fancy clubs and talk themselves up a lot in their applications. A good introverted student more often just wants to do his own work and let his grades speak for themselves.

    Based on my experience with students in Hong Kong, Pakistan, TX, and GA, it looks to me like Chinese students are going to be much, much more introverted than your average white, black, or Indian subcontinent population. My brother-in-law mentioned that he had read something about this in a book.

    It would be the easiest thing in the world for universities to discriminate against introverts while appearing to discriminate against East Asian students.

    • #1
  2. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    This seems to me an especially plausible explanation for at least some degree of the disservice to Asian students–only more likely when there is an explicit attention to personality.

    Think about the college admission committees. You know they aren’t looking for the personality of Clarence Thomas so much as Miss America. When an introverted/extrovert split is also an ethnic split, it looks like color-based racism but is really just a bias against introversion.

    Just a suspicion, or a working theory. Not a theory I’m married to–Mrs. Augustine wouldn’t approve.

    • #2
  3. Shauna Hunt Inactive
    Shauna Hunt
    @ShaunaHunt

    In that case, the whole world discriminates against introverts! (All in good humor, you know.) I’m an introvert, too.

    • #3
  4. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Shauna Hunt (View Comment):

    In that case, the whole world discriminates against introverts! (All in good humor, you know.) I’m an introvert, too.

    Yes. Me too. And Confucius’ best student, Yan Hui. Yet here I am in Hong Kong wondering why the unofficial policy of educators here as well ad everywhere is to make students talk, debate, and present in class. Not just the debate class either. Nearly every class.

    • #4
  5. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    The accusations against Louis Agassiz are questionable to me. First off, most of them came from Stephen Jay Gould (1941 to 2002), an evolutionary biologist who was extreme in his beliefs. Agassiz was a creationist. His influential thinking no doubt rubbed Gould the wrong way.

    Agassiz had some strange ideas, for sure, but

    others have asserted that, despite favoring polygenism, Agassiz rejected racism and believed in a spiritualized human unity. Agassiz believed God made all men equal, and that intellectualism and morality, as developed in civilization, make men equal before God. Agassiz never supported slavery, and claimed his views on polygenism had nothing to do with politics.

    I did not know until I read this post and read the Wikipedia entry on him that the intellectual world has been treating him with disdain the last twenty years. That is a shame. The damning is way out of proportion to any harm he has ever done.

    And we owe him a lot for his contributions to our knowledge of glaciers. I’ve always been an admirer. His work is well known on Cape Cod, particularly in Woods Hole and Penikese Island:

    In early 1873, Louis Agassiz, the famous Swiss-American naturalist, persuaded Anderson to give him the island and $50,000 to endow a school for natural history where students would study nature instead of books. The school opened in July 1873, initially headed by Louis Agassiz. Following his death in December, his son Alexander Agassiz ran the school. The school was closed following a fire in 1875, but some of the former students opened in 1888 the Marine Biological Laboratory, in nearby Woods Hole.

    And I like the fact that he questioned the idea of evolution.

    I’m sure they’ll be burying his legacy because that’s what we do these days. That’s a shame, I think.

    That said, those pictures should be put away as violating the privacy of the people in them. I agree with Papa Renty’s descendants on that.

    • #5
  6. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Sorry, but can I just ask whether any of it might just be discrimination against introverts? They are probably less likely to join the fancy clubs and talk themselves up a lot in their applications. A good introverted student more often just wants to do his own work and let his grades speak for themselves.

    Based on my experience with students in Hong Kong, Pakistan, TX, and GA, it looks to me like Chinese students are going to be much, much more introverted than your average white, black, or Indian subcontinent population. My brother-in-law mentioned that he had read something about this in a book.

    It would be the easiest thing in the world for universities to discriminate against introverts while appearing to discriminate against East Asian students.

    Given that Asians make up a much larger portion of the admitted classes without the addition of this particular subjective criteria, and given that alumni rated the same prospective students higher on personality, I’d say nice try, but no.

    • #6
  7. Podkayne of Israel Member
    Podkayne of Israel
    @PodkayneofIsrael

    All I can say is that if I were East Asian, I would be mad as hell about this. Besides the Asians’ “failure to fail”, there is also a stench in the air  redolent of the elites’ old prejudice against the “ambitious”, “noisy” Jews. Except those Asians, you know, they work unfairly hard and have no personality whatsoever.

    Harvard and the Ivies, now those who would stiff brilliant and hardworking kids at NYC’s selective elite public high schools stink of true racism.

    • #7
  8. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Take your choice – This:

    or this:

    I personally like the second (fabricate). Mentior fits the old logo better, but it means lie. It seems to me that what is really happening is Harvard is substituting fabrications for truth, rather than simply lying.

    • #8
  9. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Clifford A. Brown: Harvard, sitting on an endowment of over $37 billion,

    . . . doesn’t need one dime of Federal money.  OTOH, scores of Historically Black Colleges and Universites across the country are in financial distress.  I’d like to see a new policy that only gives Federal dollars to financially flush schools if they have a specific program that benefits all, such as a cancer-fighting research unit.  Otherwise, HCBUs and small schools in rural areas would use the money for a greater good than the rich and powerful.  You would think this would be a great liberal cause, but it isn’t . . .

    • #9
  10. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    This seems to me an especially plausible explanation for at least some degree of the disservice to Asian students–only more likely when there is an explicit attention to personality.

    I always saw it as discrimination against the mundane.

    I’m also an introvert and it just so happens that my introversion makes me far more inclined to the conventional and mundane. I’m boring.

    So you mastered the violin at 8. That other kid sparked a political debate and brought about straw ban legislation when she was 8. We want the less conventional one.

    Introverts will master instruments, extroverts will be activists.

    These schools are like Professor Slughorn in Harry Potter, collecting the exotically exceptional to be a part of their collection. They want people that will stand out in a crowd and make waves. Not disappear in the back of a lab or in the orchestra pit.

    • #10
  11. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    Apparently, one of the things that admissions officers have marked Asian-Americans down on is “courage”; ie, they assert that the AAs are deficient in this area.

    The idea that *academic bureaucrats* have any standing to evaluate *courage* is ludicrous.

    • #11
  12. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Stad (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: Harvard, sitting on an endowment of over $37 billion,

    . . . doesn’t need one dime of Federal money. OTOH, scores of Historically Black Colleges and Universites across the country are in financial distress. I’d like to see a new policy that only gives Federal dollars to financially flush schools if they have a specific program that benefits all, such as a cancer-fighting research unit. Otherwise, HCBUs and small schools in rural areas would use the money for a greater good than the rich and powerful. You would think this would be a great liberal cause, but it isn’t . . .

     Leftnik.

    • #12
  13. Franco Member
    Franco
    @Franco

    It’s clearly a cultural bias, and I don’t think that’s such a bad thing. Where is the Harvard of China? Of Japan? Korea? They all have a long tradition and a high culture. 

    Don’t get me wrong, there’s a certain shadenfreude in watching this, but Asian culture is and has been authoritarian and conformist ( even in America) and as a result less creative.

    Our American culture thrives because of individuality and a certain amount of rebellion to authority. We have won wars due to initiatives taken by lower ranks ( even with a strong hierarchical system) in battle situations.

    Apparently their cultures have not been able to create vibrant learning environments that can compete with American Universities. This goes to some extent to Europe, as well, so it’s cultural, not racial.

    Is there too much emphasis on diversity at this point? Yes. But that’s partly due to the rote nature of the box-checking ( which is the problem here).

     

    • #13
  14. Mr Nick Member
    Mr Nick
    @MrNick

    Franco (View Comment):

    It’s clearly a cultural bias, and I don’t think that’s such a bad thing. Where is the Harvard of China? Of Japan? Korea? They all have a long tradition and a high culture.

    Don’t get me wrong, there’s a certain shadenfreude in watching this, but Asian culture is and has been authoritarian and conformist ( even in America) and as a result less creative.

    Our American culture thrives because of individuality and a certain amount of rebellion to authority. We have won wars due to initiatives taken by lower ranks ( even with a strong hierarchical system) in battle situations.

    Apparently their cultures have not been able to create vibrant learning environments that can compete with American Universities. This goes to some extent to Europe, as well, so it’s cultural, not racial.

    Is there too much emphasis on diversity at this point? Yes. But that’s partly due to the rote nature of the box-checking ( which is the problem here).

    A genuine area of academic study:

    The “Needham Question” or “Needham Problem,” also misleadingly called “the Needham Paradox,” refers to the guiding question behind Joseph Needham’s (b. 1900–d. 1995) massive Science and Civilisation in China, as well as his many other publications. As he phrased it, “the essential problem [is] why modern science had not developed in Chinese civilization (or Indian) but only in Europe.” He went on to consider another quite different question, equally important, and centered his historical research on it: “why, between the first century BC and the fifteenth century AD, Chinese civilization was much more efficient than occidental in applying human natural knowledge to practical human needs”

    Niall Ferguson covers this too in his Civilization.

    • #14
  15. Richard Easton Coolidge
    Richard Easton
    @RichardEaston

    Harvard has waged a war on male only/female only clubs.  They can fry.

    • #15
  16. Russ Schnitzer Member
    Russ Schnitzer
    @RussSchnitzer

    My personal experience is that foreign students, Asians in particular, may appear to be introverted but the key word is appear.  Let me explain by relating my observations, which began way back to the 1960’s.  I attended several Universities for undergraduate study and later for graduate study. 

    My observation is that  Asian students took their education seriously and Anglos, not so much.  When I studied in the library (frequently), I observed mostly Asians and foreign students studying.  I wondered, where were the Anglos?  When I took study breaks by going for a cup of coffee at the student union, I discovered that is where the Anglos were.  They were socializing, playing pool, watching TV, etc. 

    The fact that Asians studied and Anglos partied should not, IMO, be attributed primarily to introversion and extroversion.  That phony characterization devalues the  personality trait, “conscientiousness”, which is a healthy trait, perhaps a necessary trait, for success in college and life.  

    • #16
  17. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    If gender is an individual choice, why isn’t race?

    • #17
  18. barbara lydick Inactive
    barbara lydick
    @barbaralydick

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):
    If gender is an individual choice, why isn’t race?

    E. Warren would heartily agree…

    • #18
  19. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    As a lawyer, legally I want Harvard to win both cases. But, I would like to see an extended battle to demonstrate that the whole “intersectionality” and hierarchy of victimhood systems are unsustainable and inevitably lead to greater conflict.

    • #19
  20. Bishop Wash Member
    Bishop Wash
    @BishopWash

    barbara lydick (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):
    If gender is an individual choice, why isn’t race?

    E. Warren would heartily agree…

    Rachel Dolezal and Shaun ‘Talcum X’ King chime in too.

    Edited to get Talcum X’s last name correct.

    • #20
  21. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    As a lawyer, legally I want Harvard to win both cases. But, I would like to see an extended battle to demonstrate that the whole “intersectionality” and hierarchy of victimhood systems are unsustainable and inevitably lead to greater conflict.

    Why would you want Harvard to win the admissions discrimination case?

    • #21
  22. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    As a lawyer, legally I want Harvard to win both cases. But, I would like to see an extended battle to demonstrate that the whole “intersectionality” and hierarchy of victimhood systems are unsustainable and inevitably lead to greater conflict.

    Why would you want Harvard to win the admissions discrimination case?

    I have a pipe dream that we return to the people liberty, including liberty to associate or to not associate as they choose. As the law currently stands, Harvard should lose. But I don’t think that is good for society or for the law.

    The original civil rights law enacted in the mid-1960’s was purportedly to deal with the residue of a particular situation (American slavery and subsequent laws that prevented Black Americans from fully participating in American economic life). It has since been expanded and tortured into a massive blob of government coercion to favor some groups and disfavor other groups by taking away core liberties. A Harvard loss in the admissions discrimination case will extend the long tentacles of government coercion farther into the lives of everyone, further eroding our liberty to associate or to not associate with others as we choose. 

    • #22
  23. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    As a lawyer, legally I want Harvard to win both cases. But, I would like to see an extended battle to demonstrate that the whole “intersectionality” and hierarchy of victimhood systems are unsustainable and inevitably lead to greater conflict.

    Why would you want Harvard to win the admissions discrimination case?

    I have a pipe dream that we return to the people liberty, including liberty to associate or to not associate as they choose. As the law currently stands, Harvard should lose. But I don’t think that is good for society or for the law.

    The original civil rights law enacted in the mid-1960’s was purportedly to deal with the residue of a particular situation (American slavery and subsequent laws that prevented Black Americans from fully participating in American economic life). It has since been expanded and tortured into a massive blob of government coercion to favor some groups and disfavor other groups by taking away core liberties. A Harvard loss in the admissions discrimination case will extend the long tentacles of government coercion farther into the lives of everyone, further eroding our liberty to associate or to not associate with others as we choose.

    I understand your concern in the abstract, but do not see how the facts of this case align with your concern. To the contrary, it appears that Harvard is keeping better qualified applicants out on the basis of their race, while seeking to camouflage their motivation. Harvard is happily entangled with the federal purse strings, while sitting on a massive and ever growing endowment, so would have very little standing to assert some fundamental right, as an institution, to treat people of particular skin color and ancestry as undesirable — which is what is practically meant by “liberty to associate” in this context.

    • #23
  24. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    Harvard is happily entangled with the federal purse strings, while sitting on a massive and ever growing endowment, so would have very little standing to assert some fundamental right, as an institution, to treat people of particular skin color and ancestry as undesirable — which is what is practically meant by “liberty to associate” in this context.

    Absent the federal entanglement, should Harvard be free to restrict enrollment to whites (or blacks)?

    • #24
  25. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    Harvard is happily entangled with the federal purse strings, while sitting on a massive and ever growing endowment, so would have very little standing to assert some fundamental right, as an institution, to treat people of particular skin color and ancestry as undesirable — which is what is practically meant by “liberty to associate” in this context.

    Absent the federal entanglement, should Harvard be free to restrict enrollment to whites (or blacks)?

    Not playing the game. I am focused on making the left own its inherent contradictions and bad history.

    • #25
  26. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    Harvard is happily entangled with the federal purse strings, while sitting on a massive and ever growing endowment, so would have very little standing to assert some fundamental right, as an institution, to treat people of particular skin color and ancestry as undesirable — which is what is practically meant by “liberty to associate” in this context.

    Absent the federal entanglement, should Harvard be free to restrict enrollment to whites (or blacks)?

    Not playing the game. I am focused on making the left own its inherent contradictions and bad history.

    That is the way to do it. The only way to get the system reformed is to force them to play by the rules they have made.

    • #26
  27. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    Harvard is happily entangled with the federal purse strings, while sitting on a massive and ever growing endowment, so would have very little standing to assert some fundamental right, as an institution, to treat people of particular skin color and ancestry as undesirable — which is what is practically meant by “liberty to associate” in this context.

    Absent the federal entanglement, should Harvard be free to restrict enrollment to whites (or blacks)?

    Not playing the game. I am focused on making the left own its inherent contradictions and bad history.

    Not a game; just a question. You raised the issue of federal entanglement.

    • #27

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