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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.