Jonah Goldberg

It's time to admit that "diversity" is code for racism. If it makes you feel better, we can call it "nice" racism or "well-intentioned" racism or "racism that's good for you." Except that's the rub: It's racism that may be good for you if "you" are a diversity guru, a rich white liberal, a college administrator or one of sundry other types. But the question of whether diversity is good for "them" is a different question altogether, and much more difficult to answer.

If by "them" you mean minorities such as Jews, Chinese-Americans, Indian-Americans and other people of Asian descent, then the ongoing national obsession with diversity probably isn't good. Indeed, that's why Jian Li, a freshman at Yale, filed a civil rights complaint against Princeton University for rejecting him. Li had nigh-upon perfect test scores and grades, yet Princeton turned him down. He'll probably get nowhere with his complaint - he did get into Yale after all - but it shines a light on an uncomfortable reality.

"Theoretically, affirmative action is supposed to take spots away from white applicants and redistribute them to underrepresented minorities," Li told the Daily Princetonian. "What's happening is one segment of the minority population is losing places to another segment of minorities, namely Asians to underrepresented minorities."

Li points to a study conducted by two Princeton academics last year which concluded that if you got rid of racial preferences in higher education, the number of whites admitted to schools would remain fairly constant. However, without racial preferences, Asians would take roughly 80 percent of the positions now allotted to Hispanic and black students.

In other words, there is a quota - though none dare call it that - keeping Asians out of elite schools in numbers disproportionate to their merit. This is the same sort of quota once used to keep Jews out of the Ivy League - not because of their lack of qualifications, but because having too many Jews would change the "feel" of, say, Harvard or Yale. Today, it's the same thing, only we've given that feeling a name: diversity.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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