Asian-Americans have nothing to celebrate

Michelle Malkin

6/25/2003 12:00:00 AM - Michelle Malkin

There was only one thing that disturbed me more than President Bush's mushy comments praising socially engineered campus "diversity" this week.

It was the newspaper photos and television broadcasts of militant Asian activists joining other liberal minority students across the country in a Sumatran gibbon-like celebration ritual of chest-beating, fist-pumping and pro-affirmative action whooping calls.

Both Bush and the college zoo denizens were responding to the Supreme Court's racial preference rulings, which can be summed up thusly: It's dandy to discriminate in public university admissions. Just cloak your bigotry under the disingenuous guise of promoting "cross-racial understanding." Go ahead and trample the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause. Just don't make it so damn obvious.

Nearly 30 Asian-American political and legal organizations inexplicably filed amicus briefs in support of the University of Michigan's race-based admissions policies -- one of which awarded bonus points to blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans, but not to Asian-Americans or whites, on the mere basis of their skin color or ethnicity. The noxious point scheme was struck down, but the high court upheld the university law school's stealthier scheme of ensuring a "critical mass" of racial and ethnic minorities.

Except, that is, for Asians.

Out of political expedience, you see, "minority" has been redefined by racial-preference promoters. It is no longer an objective statistical category, but an ideological status. Members of minority groups who have overcome barriers to success -- and who oppose being tallied by race -- are no longer viewed as people with valuable heritages, diverse life experiences, or raw memories of discrimination and prejudice. They are effectively "white" and simply don't count.

Clueless Asian-American students and leaders are proclaiming "victory" with other minority groups in the wake of the Michigan decisions. But as Peter Kirsanow, one of the rare voices of sanity on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, notes, "were Asian-American students not discriminated against in the college-admissions process, they would constitute the largest minority group, if not an outright majority, at many schools." A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the percentage of Asian-American applicants granted admission at the University of Texas-Austin rose from 68 percent to 81 percent immediately after the Hopwood decision struck down race-based admissions policies in the Fifth Circuit. After California's Proposition 209 ended race-based admissions, the percentage of Asian-American freshmen at Berkeley rose 6 percent.

Kirsanow continues: "Asian Americans, though only 4 percent of the nation's population, account for nearly 20 percent of all medical students. Forty-five percent of Berkeley's freshman class, but only 12 percent of California's populace, consists of Asian Americans. And at UT-Austin, 18 percent of the freshman class is Asian American, compared to 3 percent for the state."

For liberal race-fixers, having "too many" Asian-American students winning admissions on their own merits is a bad, bad thing. Overcoming the encumbrance of colored skin is viewed not as an accomplishment, but as a liability. A sad irony of the battle over racial preferences on campus is that many of the leaders who want to re-jigger the numbers to fit a politically correct, proportional ideal are traitorous Asian Americans themselves.

With a great deal of moral smugness and zeal, these "Me, Too" members of the cult of victimization are echoing calls to defend campuses against the supposed "threat" of race neutrality -- despite all the bald evidence that racial preferences are harming their very own constituents. In the name of diversity, they share President Clinton's demeaning concern that merit-only-based admissions could lead to universities filling "their entire freshmen classes with nothing but Asian Americans."

In the more than a decade that I've been writing and reporting on the harm that government racial preferences causes Americans of all races and ethnicities, liberal Asian Americans have gleefully labeled me an "Aunt Tomasina," a "coconut" (brown on the outside, white on the inside) and a "sellout." But when you look at the numbers, when you look at the clear intent of the law, and when you cut through the smokescreen of politically determined "diversity," it's quite clear who is selling out whom.