(City Journal) -- "He’s quiet and, of course, wants to be a doctor,” read the reviewer’s note on one application. Another said that an applicant’s “scores and application seem so typical of other Asian applications I’ve read: extraordinarily gifted in math with the opposite extreme in English.” Admissions staff typically ranked Asian-Americans lower than whites in “personal qualities” and repeatedly described them as “being quiet/shy, science/math oriented, and hard workers.”
These comments appear in a federal civil rights complaint charging Harvard University with discrimination against Asian-American applicants. The complaint documents a pattern of bias, at Harvard and other Ivy League colleges, that, in its methods and its impact, closely parallels the imposition of de facto Jewish quotas at these schools in the 1920s. By spotlighting how racial preferences for other minorities have ironically contributed to this reprise of Harvard’s bigoted past, with Asians playing the role of modern-day Jews, the plaintiffs hope to prompt the Supreme Court to overturn Bakke v. Regents of the University of California, its 1978 decision allowing the use of such preferences in college admissions. For, as the complaint starkly illustrates, whatever merit affirmative action may once have had, it is a policy relic of an essentially biracial society of the 1970s that has become ludicrous in the multiracial America of 2016.