The Nonsensical "Asian American" Classification

It makes no sense to treat people with such a wide range of ancestries as a monolithic group.


Kao Lee Yang, a Hmong American neuroscience PhD student, was recently nominated for a prestigious fellowship for students who are members of "groups historically excluded from and underrepresented in science." The fellowship committee determined that as an Asian American, Yang was not from an "underrepresented" group. The committee therefore refused to even consider her application.

Yang took to Twitter to vent: "While some Asian Americans are academically successful, others like the Hmong are underrepresented in STEM and academia in general… name me just one Hmong American woman you know who is a neuroscientist. I would love to connect with her if she is out there." She added, "I am an example of the consequences resulting from the continued practice of grouping people with East/Southeast/South Asian heritages underneath the 'Asian American' umbrella."

Yang blamed her predicament on the "model minority myth."  Her ire would have been better targeted at the federal Department of Education. For over forty years, its Office of Civil Rights has required educational institutions to collect and report demographic data about "Asian Americans," with no differentiation among the many national-origin groups. The educational establishment, in turn, has grown used to treating Asian Americans as a uniform racial group.

Of course, one can object that no minorities should be given special consideration for fellowship. Or that only African Americans should be given such consideration, but not groups composed mostly of post-1965 immigrants and their descendants. But it's pretty hard to argue that an Argentine American of Italian descent should be eligible for a minority fellowship because she is "Hispanic," but a Hmong American should not because she is "Asian."

You can read more about how our modern racial and ethnic classifications developed in my recently published article, The Modern American Law of Race, or you can wait for my book, Classified: The Untold Story of Racial Classifications in America, forthcoming July 2021.

NEXT: Today in Supreme Court History: October 28, 1787

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  1. Fellowships allocated by race should not exist in the first place.

    1. Or we should restore Freedom of Association, leave the bigots to expose their bigotry to public ridicule, and the government and everybody else would ignore race.

      1. Yeah, the Jim Crow South sure did ridicule their bigots!

        This is such a naiive take. You've been shown over and over throughout world history how humans work in this realm.

        Ignoring the tension between association and civil rights in favor of pure association has resulted in, and will result in a much less free society.

        1. Nonsense. There is hardly ever any tension between private free association and any actual civil rights. Jim Crow wasn't free association. And there is certainly no tension HERE, on THIS issue.

        2. You are aware that Jim Crow laws were just that, right? Government was mandating discrimination. There can certainly be a debate about what the outcome of system of no anti-discrimination laws would like. But referencing Jim Crow South is not particularly helpful in that debate

          1. Yes, I am aware libertarians ignore that de facto discrimination was as much of a big deal in the South as de jure.

            1. What does that have to do with discriminating in favor of Hmong?

            2. Actually, what we are aware of is that while there will always be some sort of problem with regard to race, the greater problem is the government. Whether enforcing racial discrimination or creating the opportunity for it to flourish in a “de facto” manner, it is the government which is the problem.

            3. S_0,
              What does Jim Crow have to do with Kao Lee Yang complaint?
              he has been wronged by having her application tossed without review.
              Only the ignorant conflate East Asia, South Asia, South Asia and West Asia.
              What the fellowship committee meant in fact was that Chines, Japanese, and Koreans are no longer underrepresented.

              1. That Abbot guy who was whining about MIT deplatforming him was all-in on ending lagacy admits (and, strangely, athletic admits) b/c "it advantages whites". I'm OK with ending both, but I was fine with MIT deplatforming him. He deserved it.

                1. Again, you just just duck the comment and come on with false crappola about Abbott. You're not worth reading.

                  1. You are a liar. Nothing I said about Abbot was false. Read the editorial that he wrote with another prof that got him in trouble with the Progs. What I said he said is what he said.

                    And I was of course exactly on point about your idiot complaint about the failure to distinguish between "East Asia, South Asia, South Asia and West Asia." The problem is not that those buckets are not being distinguished between, but that the whole idea of awarding fellowships based on identity sorting is noisome. Your attitude is similar to how Abbot is all-in on the idea that whites are a bucket he is happy to disadvantage. And I spit on that.

                2. He deserved it? So opposition to affirmative action is now beyond the pale, and people taking that position shouldn't be listened to, even on subjects on which they are scientific experts?

                  See it here, folks. The new totalitarians aren't even bothering to hide their plans.

                  1. You do realize that Gandydancer (or "new totalitarian" as you call him) is a right wing Trumper?

                    1. You do realize that even right-wing Trumpers can be totalitarians, don't you?

                    2. Point is, Gandydancer is pretty into opposing affirmative action. And opposing scientific experts for that matter.

                    3. I'm certainly right wing, but not a "Trumper". He's better than Herself, Biden, and maybe even with Cruz, but he's a squish and mostly useless.

                  2. Reading comprehension: FAIL.

                    Since Don Nico accused me of lying about this, and to make absolutely clear to dim bulbs what I'm talking about, here is the offending paragraph fraction from Abbot's edfitorial in Newsweek:

                    We propose an alternative framework called Merit, Fairness, and Equality (MFE) whereby university applicants are treated as individuals and evaluated through a rigorous and unbiased process based on their merit and qualifications alone. Crucially, this would mean an end to legacy and athletic admission advantages, which significantly favor white applicants, in addition to those based on group membership.

                    No, Bill Gates being rich meanse whites, collectively, have more money, but it increases MY wealth not at all. And legacy admits similarly don't benefit any whites except those admitted. Climate alarmist Abbot buys into the stupid contrary idea, so I laugh when the Progs eat him.

              2. Hey, Don.

                The comment I took issue with was trying to generalize about all racial distinctions.

                This stuff is difficult, and the line drawing is hard. But I don't think that means the whole enterprise is worthless.
                The most vivid example of why this is a matter of government concern is the Jim Crow south.

                1. But that does not excuse present day blatant discrimination against an historically oppressed minority

                  1. When in U.S. history were the Hmong oppressed?

                2. I just filled out the American Community addendum to the census. I have to say that I find asking about my race, ethnic origin is offensive. So I just answered American to all those question

                  1. I don't think it is offensive - race is a thing in our society, and pretending we're colorblind won't change that.
                    I'd like to get to being colorblind eventually, but you can't get there from here.

                    I think the committee biffed this one. But I don't think that corrupts the effort generally.
                    And I think it's telling commenters here are going full anecdote to data.
                    That's ridiculous, but a lot of the conservative whites on here*feel* oppressed themselves, so seizing onto a less problematic proxy and making a few factual leaps seem natural.

                    Separately, Asians absolutely provide a challenge to the current racial policy paradigms which were built largely to be black and latino-facing. And addressing this has been far too slow. But attention has shifted in that direction in recent years.

                    1. "But I don't think that corrupts the effort generally."
                      When you have unreasonable and indefensible exclusion criteria, that does corrupt the entire effort.
                      How about having some sympathy for an historically opposed ethnic group?

                      And why does the US Govt need to know where my ancestors came from. You focused on race, but the Census asks questions that I am forbidden to ask an interviewee. How does that make any sense whatsoever?

                    2. Well we are certainly never going to get to colorblind until we start treating people in a colorblind manner. Until we do it is just a fantasy can to be kicked down the road time after time.

                    3. Unless continually beating the drum for racial issues is more about current politics than a reaction to terrible conditions.

                      Most measurements are getting better, year after year. I would he surprised if this one wasn't, too. But without good measurement (which is driven by politics and lawsuits, to avoid it) who can prove it?

                      Which also helps politicians beating the drum.

                    4. "I don't think it is offensive"
                      What you mean is that YOU are not offended. I consider it to rise well above the level of a microagression

                  2. Well, yeah. Offense is in the eye of the beholder. I'm not going to tell you whether your being offended is valid or not; that is what it is.

                    I'm explaining why I'm not offended. To be fair, I'm not generally one go see microaggressions, sometimes to a fault.

                3. The comment I took issue with was trying to generalize about all racial distinctions.

                  The comment you made was a complete and intentional misrepresentation of government-mandated segregation. Your faux-outrage that someone might actually know more than you want them to is typical of statists.

                  1. I'm not outraged on this one, fake or no.

                    I've had this discussion a couple of times before, so I know the first few steps is all.

                    Not sure about the rest of your comment; you don't seem to be reading what I'm writing if you think I was talking about government mandated segregation at all.

                  2. The comment you made was a complete and intentional misrepresentation

                    In other words, Sarcastr0 SOP.

            4. You're assuming your conclusion by saying it was as much a problem. You have to say what the problems were that resulted from de facto as opposed to de jure discrimination. And don't include disparate treatment from the government/law enforcement in investigating or enforcing laws as all libertarians would tell you that is wrong and isn't part of freedom of association

              1. What law allowed the beatings of the Freedom Riders? Or how people doing sit-ins in lunch counters were treated? Or lynchings? All of that was extra-legal enforcement of a bigoted society.

                I'm not assuming my conclusion, I'm acknowledging history.

                1. Don't pretend. You're choosing to evade rather than address the issue under discussion.

                  1. Tell me, what is the issue under discussion?

                    1. Freedom of association vs government-mandated slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and affirmative action.

                      Government-mandated racism is government-mandated racism. Your holier-than-thou misrepresentation does not change that fundamental fact.

                    2. Civil rights are slavery.

                      You're too unplugged from the practicalities of the real world for this discussion to be useful or even entertaining.

                    3. The issue under discussion is whether some ethnically Hmong woman has been unfairly disadvantaged by not getting a leg up over whites like some other grifters.

                    4. No, that's the issue *you* want to talk about, framed as you want it to be, as offensively as possible.

                      Enjoy your anti-virtue signaling. Maybe hang out with the civil rights act is slavery guy.

                2. So you put in the beatings and lynchings which 1) have nothing to do with freedom of association and 2) are exactly the type of thing I said not to include since that is law enforcement not enforcing the laws equally.

                  As to how people were treated at sit-ins given that this whole thing is about whether a private business, like a lunch counter, should have the right to refuse service that again is just stating your conclusion.

                  1. Those were the methods used to enforce the freedom to discriminate by whites in the south. Freedom riders were protesting segregation. So were the lunch counter protestors.
                    Lynchings were used to perpetuate the discriminatory system by terror.

                    All extra legal, all in service of 'freedom of association.'

                    1. Why don't you try considering the possibility of freedom of association that isn't accompanied by lynchings, etc., instead of assuming that freedom of association necessarily brings those things with it?

                    2. Allowing segregation is 1) a society that is condoning a moral outrage, and 2) a society where there are neighborhoods that will choose segregation, which leads to 3) violence against anyone trying to end that practice.

                      It's throughout our history, and that of other countries as well.

            5. You ignore the simple fact that people feel free to discriminate when their government tells they can.

              Were there people who would discriminate regardless? Sure, but there were many who would not even when mandated.

              1. Except in a republic, their government *is* the people, and carrying out what they wanted in the first place.

          2. Jim Crow was government mandating discrimination, but it did so because that's what its constituents wanted it to do. Does anyone seriously think that there wouldn't have been racial discrimination without the laws? There sure was up North, where JIm Crow laws mostly didn't exist.

            As a veteran of the early gay rights movement, I can tell you that there weren't many laws in which the government mandated that the private sector discriminate against gays -- there were a few -- but there was still plenty of anti-gay discrimination. It's not like a business that doesn't want to hire or serve gays needs the government to give them permission.

            1. If a business (not a public utility or otherwise government-advantaged) wants to discriminate against homos I can't see that it's any business of mine or yours.

              1. Because it's illegal, and should be. The market benefits when everyone gets to participate, and suffers when arbitrary barriers are put up based on irrational prejudice.

                1. "Because it's illegal" is of course no reason for anything except changing the law. And liberty is a higher value than "the market"

                  1. Not everyone agrees that "liberty" is the highest value. It's important, but so are other values. You're entitled to your contrary opinion.

                    1. There is no "value" to "reverse" discrimination.

                2. People are entitled to their "irrational prejudice."
                  (Of course, "liberals" don't think so. Maybe they should rethink who they are...)

                  1. Yes, but they're not entitled to act on them if those prejudices hurt other people. Believe what you like about gays, but the marketplace shouldn't exclude them.

                3. I'd much prefer a society in which people are open about their various prejudices and act upon them. That way I can easily determine who I am willing to do business with and who I find objectionable. I certainly don't want someone who despises me being forced to be at my service. I'd like to know I'm getting my money's worth when I pay for something and not just grudging complaince.

                  1. On a level playing field I'd agree with you. In a community in which most businesses won't do business with any given group, knowing that would be cold comfort.

                    1. Where you see oppression I see a vast untapped market and a golden business opportunity. Just sayin'.

            2. No one denies there are bigots out there that would discriminate. The question is whether they should have the right to.

              Also don't confuse anti discrimination laws with pro discrimination laws, even if termed affirmative action

              1. Do you think a firefighter who breaks a window to save a child in a burning house should be prosecuted for breaking and entering? Because technically, that's what he did. Just as technically, affirmative action discriminates based on race.

                1. 1. If you are going to argue law there is exceptions for first responders in addressing an emergency AND a defence of necessity even by civilians so that is a horrendous analogy

                  2. There is nothing technical about affirmative action discriminating on the basis of a characterstic (could be race, gender, ethnicity, etc.). That is what it is. Just because it is discrimination you like or for a purpose you deem morally just doens't change that. That is no different than any other discrimination.

                  1. You missed the point. The burglar and the first responder are both committing the same act: Breaking a window and entering the property. But we don't treat them the same because they had different purposes and served different ends. One purpose is noble; the other is criminal. So even though the act is the same, they're not on the same moral plane. The fact that it's a purpose society (not just me) deems morally just is decisive.

                    1. The burglar and the first responder are both committing the same act: Breaking a window and entering the property.

                      That's like saying someone smashing their brake pedal to stop their vehicle to avoid running over a pedestrian is "committing the same act" as stepping on a puppy's head and crushing it's skull because both actors are pressing down hard on something with their feet. There's an essential element of the legal notion of "breaking and entering" that you have to omit in order to claim that what a burglar and first responder are the same act. Let's see if you can figure out what that is.

                      Given your repeated failures wrt intent being essential to torts of intent, I'm not optimistic.

                    2. Given your repeated failure to understand that not all torts are torts of intent, I'm not going to contribute to another thread hijack by someone with little to contribute.

                    3. Given your repeated failure to understand that not all torts are torts of intent

                      There was no such failure on my part and you know it, you lying sack of shit. There was only one tort under discussion: Trespass against the person, the one you claimed that a fetus commits while in it's mother's womb, which is a tort of intent...which you also know, you lying sack of shit.

                    4. Wuz, were your parents aware that you had been stillborn?

                      I shall rephrase: Trespass against the person isn't always an intentional tort. Did you notice that the lawyers who disagreed with me mostly did so on the ground that the fetus was entitled to safe harbor, and not on the ground that it wasn't technically a trespass? Pretty much the only person arguing that it wasn't even a trespass was you.

                    5. Jim Crows were for a purpose society deemed morally just. Does that mean it was ok?

                      A firefighter breaking a window to save someone does not harm anyone else. Affirmative action necessarilly involves harm to members of the non preferred class who lose out on a spot/job because of it. They are not the same

                    6. K_2,
                      Please tell me how discriminating against a member of an historically oppressed group (in this case Kao Lee Yang) is morally justifiable?
                      Is it just because her name sounds Chinese? How is that reason morally justifiable?

                    7. Don, I didn't say I liked the facts of this specific case. I think in this case the line was drawn in the wrong place. But that doesn't mean such lines can't be used at all.

                2. Do you think a firefighter who breaks a window to save a child in a burning house should be prosecuted for breaking and entering? Because technically, that's what he did.

                  That's not quite as mind-numbingly stupid as your "fetus = trespasser, by law" claim...but it's fairly close.

                  Just as technically, affirmative action discriminates based on race.

                  No, not "just as". The offense of "Breaking and entering" is a creation of law. Affirmative Action's discrimination is not, nor is it a technicality. Discrimination is the very nature of AA.

                  1. ETA: Simpler version: No, the first responder in your scenario should not be prosecuted for the crime of Breaking and Entering because they're not committing that crime as it is defined in most (possibly all) U.S. jurisdictions.

                    1. ...nor any crime(s) of which B&E is an element.

                  2. Ah, you're a legal positivist. That's your basic problem.

                    1. You're problem is that you're a moron with an addiction to making idiotic comments.

                    2. "Your"...and "you're".

            3. "Jim Crow was government mandating discrimination, but it did so because that's what its constituents wanted it to do"

              And how exactly is that different from today, with so called "affirmative action"?

              1. In the same way that a firefighter breaking a window to save a child from a burning house is different from a burglar breaking a window to steal what's inside. Both of them technically are guilty of breaking and entering. But one is not like the other.

                1. This should be good...

                  How is "a firefighter breaking a window to save a child" like "Providing a preference for a black kid, but not a white kid to attend a college"?

                  If the firefighter sees a white kid in the crib, does he turn around and go back without saving the child?

                  1. Because it's trying to fix an already existing problem, rather than creating one. The Jim Crow racists were creating a problem. The affirmative action advocates are trying to fix it (or at least the continuing consequences of it). You may disagree with their methods -- I'm not sold on affirmative action myself -- but trying to fix something is different from creating the problem in the first place.

                    So, to go back to my original comment, the claim that affirmative action is racist is really the same argument as claiming that the firefighter is guilty of breaking and entering. Technically that's true, but that type of formalism convinces no one but the already converted.

                    1. I see..... They're trying to "fix" a problem by deliberately favoring one "race" over another "race".

                      So, in regards to your original comment, the firefighter should ignore the white kid in the burning building, in order to fix racism.... Right?

                    2. One way you can tell which race is actually favored is with which race all the wealth and power lie, even controlling for population.

                    3. I can't wait to hear the answer to this: How would ignoring the white kid in the burning building fix racism?

                    4. One way you can tell which race is actually favored is with which race all the wealth and power lie, even controlling for population.

                      Only if one assumes that the only possible reason for such disparities is one group being somehow "favored" over another.

                    5. "I can't wait to hear the answer to this: How would ignoring the white kid in the burning building fix racism?"

                      According to your philosophy? Well, the past injustice requires that the current generation make sacrifices to makes up for it.

                    6. That's not my philosophy. Try again.

                      And even if it were, leaving a kid in a burning building isn't an honest application of it.

                2. Your analogy is flawed. Affirmative action is more like deliberately lighting one person's house on fire because someone else in the past couldn't get out of the burning building. It is retribution, not rescue.

                  1. No, it's not retribution. It's the recognition that at one time, minorities were excluded almost completely from the most lucrative parts of the economy, and their descendants are entitled to catch up. Sorry you see everything as being about you. Whether or not affirmative action is the appropriate remedy -- and as I've said, I'm not entirely sold on it myself -- these claims that it's racist, it's punitive, are bullshit.

                    1. "claims that it's racist, it's punitive, are bullshit."

                      A poor white kid does not benefit but a rich black kid can.

                      That makes it racism.

                    2. If the claim is "in the past a person's race (white) was a consideration for extra benefit or privilege" then the obvious recourse today needs to be "race is not longer a factor in those considerations", not "How do you like it when we do it to you now??!!"

                    3. currentsitguy, because you're not doing it to punish white people. You're doing it to compensate non-white people for their losses. It's more like disgorging stolen property, only at the collective level.

                      Think of it like this: Someone steals a million dollars. The theft isn't discovered until four generations later. (Or, it was discovered right away, but the legal system didn't provide a remedy for four generations.) Are the heirs of the rightful owner of the money entitled to it, even though taking it back from the heirs of the guy that stole it will work a hardship on them, and they themselves didn't do anything wrong? Because that's really the issue.

                    4. It's more like disgorging stolen property

                      Actually, it's nothing like that.

                      I left home at 18 with a suitcase containing my clothes, and a checkbook for the small bank account that contained what money I had been able to save from my job cleaning and maintaining swimming pools. Which of those are you asserting were property stolen from "non-white people" that need to be given back to them? Which portion(s) of the wealth that I've worked for and accumulated in the decades since then, which didn't even exist prior to my own birth, property stolen from past generations that should be returned to their descendants?

                    5. Wuz, it's not about you personally. I'm talking about a macroscopic solution to a macroscopic problem, and you want to know how it applies on the microscopic level. Well, it doesn't, because everything isn't about you. When the legislature sits down to figure out how to fix a problem, they don't go individual by individual; they find a solution that solves things at the community level. Even if some individuals end up with it not being a good fit.

                      We don't make individualized determinations about who is mature enough to vote or drink alcohol or get married. We don't say this 12 year old is mature beyond his years so he gets to do those things, whereas this 50 year old isn't mature enough to do any of those things. No, we draw lines, recognizing there will be some people on each side of wherever the line is drawn who shouldn't be there.

                    6. K_2, you are just explaining that racism is fine when government decides it should be society's policy. You're not engaging with the question at all. You are just saying that we should ignore individual circumstances because they're not all the same, they are complicated and difficult to compare or evaluate, and it's simpler to just follow government direction to prefer race X over race Y.

                    7. No, I'm not saying racism is fine when the government does it. I'm saying affirmative action is not defined as racism. In the same way that an admission against interest is not defined as hearsay, even though it otherwise would fit the definition.

                    8. Krycheck...

                      There's a government policy in place that deliberately favors one race over another. What else do you call that, besides racism?

                      You can always make up a past "injustice" or "reason" that it's OK this time....

                    9. AL, that's not any definition of racism you'll find.

                      It always comes back to semantics.

                      And it's not about past injustice, it's about it's effects on the current playing field.

                    10. Your comment at 5:01 pm illustrates the problem quite clearly.

                      If you go back far enough, all of us were descendants of slaves. We are all also the descendants of slavers, war criminals, murderers, rapists and every other category of "bad person" that history has managed to invent. The experience of American blacks is unique only in that they are (hopefully) the last group to be victimized by slavery.

                      The problem with your logic is that it has no limiting boundaries. Why are blacks entitled to reparations (whether in the form of affirmative action or other) but the descendants of other subjugated populations are not? How does this backward-looking victimhood end in anything but a perpetuation of the same cycles of identity politics and retribution?

                      "Making it right" makes sense for the people who were directly victimized. That maybe includes the immediate family (children) who they were responsible to raise. It does not extend indefinitely to "heirs". That's an impossible model.

                      So no. If a theft isn't discovered for four generations - or even if it was discovered but went unredressed for that long - there is no moral right to reparations. At some point, there needs to be the equivalent of a statute of limitations. Death of the actual victim and victimizer is pretty universally established as an upper boundary. The biblical principle of 'guilt unto the seventh generation' was never a workable standard.

                    11. Armchair Lawyer, for the same reason a firefighter breaking into a house to save child *is not defined as* breaking and entering, even though it otherwise sure looks like it. Try again.

                      Rossami, I might be inclined to agree with you if the bad stuff finished up in 1865. But it didn't. Economic discrimination continued until not that long ago. Banks redlined. Companies continued to discriminate. Access to education and healthcare continued to be attenuated. Black entrepreneurs couldn't get loans. The legal system was used for outright theft of black property. This is not ancient Rome we're talking about; this is relatively recent.

          3. You are aware that Jim Crow laws were just that, right? Government was mandating discrimination.

            What you are implying is utter BS. Government - which is to say state governments - mandated discrimination because the electorate, which was white, wanted it to. The state laws were not imposed by some alien force.

            And there was ample discrimination that was not mandated by law. The best example is in employment, where there were few laws, and lots of discrimination.

            So drop your oh-so-comforting theory.

        3. Historical revisionism. Racism and discrimination were being ridiculed and gradually ignored. That's why the Jim Crow laws became necessary - to compel discriminatory behavior that some people no longer considered acceptable.

          There is no tension between free association and civil rights except that manufactured by the people who opposed the civil rights.

          1. What? No. Those laws were a thing in the South by like 1868.

            1. Yes, that's the point. They weren't the law before that. They didn't become the law until after the time of public opinion had already started to turn.

              1. No, before that there was slavery, which was also a law.

        4. The Jim Crow south did not respect Freedom of Association. Have you forgotten that Plessy mandated segregation against the will of both the railroad and its customer?

          Of course you have. You have no principles.

        5. Ignoring the tension between association and civil rights in favor of pure association has resulted in, and will result in a much less free society.

          In a truly free society you are free to associate with (or not), and vice versa. What you are not free to do is to force me to associate with you. That is what you are complaining about.

        6. This is such a naiive take.

          Well, Sarcastr0, you did manage to at least get one thing right. That was a terribly naive take.

    2. This one is from a private entity. I'd be more incensed if this was taxpayer-funded racial discrimination.

    3. The sentence about “there should be no fellowships for minorities.” As if that were reasonable. But that’s madness. Does he really believe all those New Jersey Italian American association fellowships should be banned? Or is his ire really more directed at the black and brown fellowships. And what’s up with that?

  2. Really makes you think. Why do we need to treat and group people differently according to race, anyway? Hm, libs?

    1. A certain Baptist minister, winner of a Nobel Peace Prize when that actually meant something, eloquently explained in detail in August 1963 that the democrats insistence on skin color for grouping individuals for political gain is an insult to man and God.

      1. Way to take a single line completely out of context. And to ignore pretty much everything else he said on the subject.

  3. "It makes no sense to treat people as a monolithic group."


    1. Sorry, isn’t that the goal of a colorblind society?

      1. Especially at a White, male, colorblind blog!

        The Volokh Conspiracy doesn't see color. When people at this blog look around, they see no color -- just White people.

        Perhaps someone could calculate the odds on the content at this blog being so strikingly White and unrelentingly male. Especially in the context of modern legal academia.

        My experience in this regard enables me to predict how the Conspirators would respond to a question about this: 'We do not discriminate against non-Whites. We just can't find any non-White blogger who is qualified!'

        Is this the issue that has caused Prof. Kerr to distance himself from the Volokh Conspiracy?

  4. Look, lady, we gotta put people in buckets. It’s the only way for us to track what bucket people are in. And the buckets have to be pretty broad, because too many buckets is way to confusing. Not to mention the more buckets there are, the more complicated it is to sort out all the victim hierarchies.

    Besides, your bucket is white adjacent anyway, so check your privilege.

    1. Sure, if you wake up today and are deciding on a good policy, this whole thing seems silly.

      But we didn't wake up today. We as a society put people in racial buckets for *centuries.*

      You don't get out of being a society built with that paradigm by suddenly deciding to ignore it.

      1. Still seems silly.

      2. Actually, the way to stiop racially discriminating is to stop doing it.

        1. Great. Whites first.

          1. " Whites first."

            Already happened. A few fringe remnants remain.

            1. Send us a postcard from whichever planet you're on.

              1. It's called Earth, the US specifically. If you think you are seeing something different, I'd suggest you are seeing monsters under the bed that for the most part just ain't there.

          2. That's what we're advocating: The whites behind these discriminatory fellowships should stop.

            1. You mean like Harvard legacy admissions, that set aside about a quarter of the seats for whites?

              1. I've already said on this page that I have no stake in those.

                OTOH, if we tax Harvard appropriately (which we don't) I see no reason it shouldn't be allowed to auction off admissions as it pleases.

              2. "You mean like Harvard legacy admissions, that set aside about a quarter of the seats for whites?"

                Let's just tax Harvard's endowment.

                1. I would be fine with that, but in the meantime, let's not pretend that affirmative action and set asides are all one sided. There's plenty of institutional and systematic processes in place that benefit whites, Harvard legacies being one of the most blatant examples. If we're going to do away with affirmative action, let's start with Harvard legacies.

                  1. "let's start with Harvard legacies"

                    Fine, I don't care. Their endowment office might but whatever.

                    Funny how you think liberal Harvard is a racist institution though.

                    1. Bob - it's systemic

                    2. Sarcastr0 - it's leftist.

                  2. "There's plenty of institutional and systematic processes in place that benefit whites, Harvard legacies being one of the most blatant examples."

                    Harvard legacies don't benefit whites. Harvard legacies benefit the spawn of Harvard graduates.

                    1. He didn't say all whites, he said whites. Legacies tend to be an extremely white cohort.

          3. Whites first my ass. The worst racists in America today are the progressive CRT intersectionality types.

            1. Worse than these guys?

              Disaffected, obsolete, right-wing racists are among my favorite culture war casualties.

              1. Your act is really tiresome, asshole.

      3. You also can't get out of a society built on that paradigm if you continue to advance that paradigm

        There is a difference between recognizing, i.e. not ignoring, it and trying to stop it vs recognizing it and then using it to further your own goals

        1. I don't think that's right - we know what won't work - suddenly pretending bigotry, both institutional and individual, is no longer worthy of government intervention.

          Insisting that the panoply of policies that aren't that also won't work is assuming facts not in evidence.

          1. I'm not pretending anything. Bigoted government should stop.

            1. " Bigoted government should stop. "

              Better Americans have stopped plenty of government gay-bashing -- over the objections of most conservatives, of course.

          2. Someone intervened to screw this woman out of an opportunity because although she's a minority, she's not the right minority.

            You're not advocating that racism stop, you're just wanting it to be practiced differently. Your solution is no better than Bull Connor's.

            1. You start with the anecdotal, and then move onto the massively general.

              I agree the anecdote is bad, but I don't think your second thesis follows from the first.

              I'll walk along with you that not all our racial policies are good helpful.
              But it's facile semantics to call civil rights laws bigotry practiced differently.

              1. How does it not fit the definition of bigotry?

                This is happening all over. Famously, Asians that would otherwise have earned admission to Harvard are being turned away simply because of race. There's an ongoing lawsuit over it.

                There's got to be another way. I'm 64 and American society is several orders of magnitude les racist than it was when I was a kid. Minorities have been given advantages in various things for going on 50 years. When do we say it's done? Don't say "when racism no longer exists" because that will never happen, people being imperfect people. So, when? Or do we just blast back and forth in a racist manner until the end of time?

                1. What is 'it?' This policy? Policies about Asians? Policies about race generally?

                  This policy seems bad, though bigotry, as normally used, has a less purely functional and more mentally based definition.

                  1. "What is 'it?'"
                    C'mpn S-0. "It" is the amount of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, and religious background. You actually know that.

                    1. I don't think that's clear at all.

                      Seems like he's talking about civil rights laws, but I don't think that's what he means:

                      But it's facile semantics to call civil rights laws bigotry practiced differently.
                      How does it not fit the definition of bigotry?

                    2. S-0.
                      I did not read his statement to have anything to do with civil rights laws but rather about existential conditions on the ground

                    3. Maybe - but then I'm not sure about the scope - is it about this implementations? Policies with respect to Asians generally? Or racial categories generally?

                      I think people (including me perhaps) have not been clear on which scope they're opining about.

              2. "Semantics" doesn't mean what you imagine it to mean.

                And the word bevis used was "racism", as in so-called "reverse racism", which is just racism, as the Nassim person at Yale showed when he said Coulter's situation was "complicated" b/c he was Cherokee, and the racist "diversity" grifter was uncomfortable being as racist to him as he would otherwise be comfortable being to a white.

                1. I'm not one who buys the 'racism only counts if you're not a minority' paradigm, but you're reading a *lot* into the word 'complicated.'

                  Which isn't semantics, it's just ideology writing your facts.

      4. "suddenly deciding to ignore it"

        Yup, those are the choices - racial preferences or ignoring the problems of nonwhites altogether. There is no nuance at all, no need to think about policies which empower everyone (school choice, for instance).

        1. Instead of bromides about engaging in racism in one direction to make up for racism in the other direction, why not look at the practice problems raised by Bernstein's scholarship - who gets the benefit of racial preferences, and to what extent?

          Daughter of a recent nonwhite immigrant versus mixed-race (black/white) middle class person - who wins?

          Conservative with significant Cherokee heritage versus liberal with about 1/1000th of some kind of indigenous heritage - who wins?

          Grapple with these problems rather than voicing easy rhetoric about this hair-of-the-dog racism.

          1. How do you deal with the problems of nonwhites without laws that acknowledge they exist?

            The fact that you think this is a hard and fast quantitative inquiry is part of the problem.

            1. "How do you deal with the problems of nonwhites without laws that acknowledge they exist?"

              Depends on what the problems are. Nonwhites, like whites, have all sorts of problems.

              1. Cal seems like he agrees that one bad idea is 'ignoring the problems of nonwhites altogether' which seems to require legally recognizing that there are nonwhite-specific problems.

                1. No, like I said below (quoting Jesse Jackson), we're all in the same boat now.

                  You spoke in terms of *ignoring* nonwhites, as if that's the alternative to racial preferences.

                  1. Taking Jesse Jackson's rhetoric as proof is...quite a choice.

                    1. Now who's ignoring nonwhites?

                    2. Haha, you're bad at this.

                    3. Bad at what? Race-baiting? I concede I'm not as good as you are at it.

                      You are...

                      ...a master baiter.

                2. Cal seems like he agrees that one bad idea is 'ignoring the problems of nonwhites altogether' which seems to require legally recognizing that there are nonwhite-specific problems.

                  The problem is that people like you are choosing to ignore the most destructive problems...even going so far as to declare that even acknowledging those problems is inherently favor of things that are in truth relatively trivial in comparison, because the latter is more useful to you as a virtue signaling vehicle, which you need to constantly engage in as a means to avoid coming to grips with what an unprincipled and loathsome human being you really are.

            2. "The fact that you think this is a hard and fast quantitative inquiry is part of the problem."

              See, that's the sort of cloud-castle attitude by which you can advocate for racial preferences without giving details (the despised "quantitative inquiry") into how it will actually work.

              This sort of attitude lets you float happily above the real world, ignoring actual evidence of the system's incoherence and confusion, such as the evidence Bernstein brings us.

              1. It's not crazy or pollyanaish to recognize that not all policies have bright line metrics. Plenty of examples of workable policies today like that.

                1. Official racial classification partakes of the same arbitrariness as the racism of which it is a part.

      5. "You don't get out of being a society built with that paradigm by suddenly deciding to ignore it."

        We aren't ignoring it, we are focusing on race more than any time in the last 50 years. Race relations are not getting better from all this focus, now minority activists push anti-white discrimination. Yeah!

        We also were largely out of it, now we think about nothing else.

        1. Nonwhites may disagree with you about how much we're focusing on race these days.

          1. The Black Law Students Assn race-milker at Yale was backed up by the admins right up to the Dean and President of the university, so when she "disagrees" about what my lying eyes see I dismiss her as an advantage-grasping liar.

      6. "You don't get out of being a society built with that paradigm by suddenly deciding to ignore it."

        Well, this woman just got screwed out of an opportunity because she wasn't the right race, even though she's a minority. Was it us that did that as a society? Evil white people?

        Nope. It was the intersectionalists. You're advocating that the only way to fight racism is to practice racism. Hope you like what you get.

        1. I know this is Prof. Bernstein's project, but I don't think you can jump from the specific to the general like this.

          I don't agree with the intersectionalists completely either - they're policy advocates, and incentivized to push as hard as they can.

          But I also think saying all racial categorizations are bad is an extreme and wrong view. I'll argue with the intersectionalists on their web forums.

          1. So only racial categorizations that screw the wrong people are bad. What happened here is fine.

            Like I said above. I'm not skipping from anecdotal to general. This is happening everywhere. And you can couch it anyway you want, but at its core it's racism.

            1. Then don't appeal to this anecdote, if you're making a general argument.

              And any general argument that civil rights laws are bad needs to grapple with a Jim Crow situation, because that would be legal again.

              And another issue is how to deal with existing institutional racial disparities.

              And then finally, this blog is a great example if actual individual racists still being a thing. Beyond the occasional white supremacism, or advocate for neighborhood segregation, it's full of folks who still think The Bell Curve is still good science. It's not, and the only reason to hold onto that debunked thesis is not a very savory one.

              1. Generally, Asians have been kicked out of the Minority Club. Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese, no distinction. All the same. Well, except for the communist Chinese in China who are committing genocide and let Covid loose. They still get the protective treatment because Trump said something bad about them or something.

                Asians are over on the oppressor side of the ledger now. Frequently but not always people of Latin descent are as well.

                Are you cool with that? It’s happening with the blessing of our government. And the encouragement of our awful media. Don’t bitch to me about Jim Crow. I grew up in it. It’s been gone for going on sixty years. I’m angry about people who are suffering discrimination today.

                1. 1) I don't know if I agree with kicked out, but they are not enough in the room when such policies are being made.
                  2) The lack of distinction is a social problem that has become a policy problem. Government reflecting society. Like Jim Crow :-P. But yeah, that needs fixing.
                  3) I don't believe you'll find many saying Asians are no on the 'oppressor' side. Maybe among some extreme zero-sum thinkers, but that's not how most folks on the left, even the far left, think.
                  4) Your needing to make an exception for the Chinese is a telling confusion in favor of partisanship. Yeah, there are tankie idiots, but they're not the same people are are making racial policy - they're too busy yelling on twitter.

                  I'm not cool with what you laid out. But I also don't think what you laid out is going on. But, also also, I'm not cool with the current state of affairs as I understand it either. But also also also, that doesn't come near to showing that civil rights and affirmative action in general are bad.

                  1. I’m not partisan about the Chinese thing. People over here who blame Chinese people in America for Covid are stupid beyond description. Likewise, people defending China the country by labeling its critics as racist are too stupid to recognize what it says about their actual attitude toward human rights.

                    On affirmative action we’ve reached the point where we’re screwing minorities for the benefit of other minorities. And screwing some whites too who, you know, haven’t done anything to anybody. You have no solution other than . Jim Crow makes it ok to fuck over Asians somehow. And other minorities. Mark my word - the Hispanics are next. Because like a lot of the Asians they don’t think the right way.

                    1. It seems like your thesis is if you allow even one racial categorization in government policy, you're in favor of screwing Asians. I don't think that follows.

                      You can't point to an implementation problem and say that means the entire enterprise is bad. One does not imply the other. Again, it's anecdote to generality.

                      And we're not screwing whites as long as legacy admissions are a thing. Or, as it turns out, sports scholarships, which mostly go to whites

                    2. "we're not screwing whites as long as legacy admissions are a thing"

                      Legacy admissions affect a small sliver of expensive private colleges. A few thousand benefit.

                      Plenty of whites still are first generation college students. Affirmative action hurts them, right now, if a place goes to a less qualified black.

                    3. Sports scholarships mostly go to whites? LOL.

                      I think legacy admissions should go. Like Bob says, that's a tiny tiny piece of college admissions anyway - the volume of those admissions is swamped by the number of "we want diversity" admissions.

                      I don't know if you're "in favor" of screwing Asians, but you defend the hell out of it. Ultimately the difference escapes me.

                    4. So legacy is a little problem, so who cares about it? Well AA is only the margins as well, and yet...

                      bevis -

                      It's sports like crew and lacrosse, but it's just another old boy's club where you get in by who you know.

                      I am *not* defending the implementation here, I am defending the general policy of policy paying attention to race. You keep conflating the two.

                    5. "Athletes are often held to a lower standard by admissions officers, and in the Ivy League, 65 percent of players are white."

                      According to the 2020 U.S. Census 76.3% of the country's population is "White"...which would suggest that as a racial group they're underrepresented in the Ivy League when it comes to athletics. Is the Atlantic saying that Whitey is being oppressed?

                    6. Actually, that was a Census Bureau estimate for mid-2019. IIRC the actual 2020 Census number was slightly lower...but still well above 65%.

                    7. @WYOT-

                      One problem with those Census statistics is that the Census does not consider "Hispanic" as a separate race. Rather, Hispanics generally are lumped into White or Black (mostly White).

                      Whites ex Hispanics in 7/2019 were 60.1% of the total population.

                      I have not read the Atlantic article, so I do not know what definition of "White" they are using.

      7. re: "We as a society put people in racial buckets for *centuries.*"

        True but only if you define "centuries" as two. We had discriminated against out-groups from time immemorial. We have used racial buckets to define the out-group for only a historically brief fraction of that time. This should be obvious from the fact that for most of history, people never traveled far enough from their birth village to even see a person of a different race.

        Your premises are wrong. Society was not built with a racial paradigm. The 'race is everything' view is recent and was well on the way to being abandoned until some folks figured out that there was money to be made through perpetual victimhood.

        1. I don't think you get me - society was not build on *only* a racial paradigm, but our Constitution was written with race very much in the room. And it came up a couple of times as our country developed.

      8. That we have done indefensible things for centuries does not excuse it being done today. I'm curious why you cannot just admit that.
        To go back to the post, a young woman from an historically oppressed minority was deliberately discriminated against in America. Why can't you say simple, "That was wrong"?
        Why make excuses for why this injustice was committed?

        1. It doesn't excuse it, it neccessitates it.

          Colorblind is the goal, but you can't get there from here. The playing field is still not level.

          I've been saying what happened in the OP was wrong quite a bit, actually. No one seems to be able to read that, though.

          In general we need to find ways to suss out potential in students independent of their circumstances, and elevate those who will do well. We leave a lot of talent on the table these days.
          Right now the metrics we use to predict success are really tied up in race and class and even locality (been into some EPSCoR capacity building stuff these days).

          Much work remains. In the short term, addressing some of this imbalance looks like affirmative action. But structural changes should also be on the horizon; we've been real slow in figuring out how to do that.

          1. In general we need to find ways to suss out potential in students independent of their circumstances, and elevate those who will do well.

            And of course the best way to do that is to evaluate them not as individuals, on their own merits, but as generic members of some large group.

          2. "It doesn't excuse it, it neccessitates it. "

            Really, black slavery necessitates screwing Ms Yang? How does that work? In the end your comments amount to "I deplore Ms. Yang being screwed, but it was necessary for a good cause."
            I find that a very corrosive and divisive moral code.

            1. Jesus, Don. I keep saying I'm talking about the broad concept of race-based policies, not this particular implementation. And you keep going back to this particular implementation.

              I'm clear what I'm talking about, so argue with what I'm saying, not with some strawman.

              1. S_0,
                This particular implementation is not so much a singlar case but an example of what is at best a crudely crafted social policy that is bound to discriminate against many underrepresented minorities.
                I can understand why some groups may need a boost, but not at the price of what looks to be either bureaucratic laziness or indifference to actual historical wrongs.

                I have been willing to put my thumb on the scale in the past, but only when the specifics of individuals warrant it.

  5. So the bureaucrats are like, "Huh. Looks Chinese to me, no fellowship."

    Bureaucrats are the real racists.

  6. I'm getting out my copy of THe World's Smallest Violin for this woman. Why on earth would we discriminate against white males in favor of Hmong?

  7. "forthcoming July 2021"

    Wait, what?

    1. Time travel is science.

  8. And Asian- American is as silly a categorization as 'Hispanic' is.

    1. And Asian- American is as silly a categorization as 'Hispanic' is.

      Unless you're talking about a "White Hispanic", because that one is useful.

    2. At least hispanic provides some context as to privilege.
      Hispanics are the descendants of the conquistadors. And while often of mixed heritage having some central american and some european, they are the 'white people' of their society. They are the privileged and dominant white culture relative to the still present indigenous peoples throughout the Americas.
      Hispanics should be treated then as any other white person in america.

      1. ? Hispanic does not mean 'Spanish.' Hispanic includes the indigenous peoples of Latin America.

        1. Really, a woman from Spain is not Hispanic? a fellow from Brazil is not Hispanic?
          How does that make any sense.
          When policies are written based on nonsense categories they deserves to be ridiculed and opposed.

        2. So Yamamoto, who was born in Argentina of parents who were born in Argentina does not count? Why? Because his last name is Yamamoto.
          Why is the granddaughter of a wealthy Italian banker who immigrated to Peru and has an Italian last name (actual person) allowed to be Hispanic but not Yamamoto?

  9. As long as our Model Minority goes along, to get along, and continues to vote mostly lockstep for Democrats, they will be taken for granted. They are the new (sorry David) Jews in terms of academic admissions, using the same arguments used against Jews up to a half century ago, when the only Ivy League school not actively discriminating against them was Brown (according to my Jewish Brown grad GF in Business School).

    The absurdity is that maybe half the world’s population can be classified as Asian. But racially, they may constitute a half dozen different races, White (Caucasian and Semitic), S Asian (Indian subcontinent), SE Asian (as here), NE Asian (mostly Chinese, Japanese, and Korean), Pacific Islanders, etc. what ties them together? They are not European, African (multiple races), or Hispanic (not actually a race, but including White, African, and American Indians). Everyone then in the world except for those whose ancestors came from Europe, Africa, and Spanish and Portuguese settled parts of N and S America.

    1. 1) Model minority is a concept from the left, you know?

      2) One of the issues here is the race-as-monoloth is especially untrue for Asians. This is also true for their voting habits. Which you seem to ignore ('lockstep') as you are too into telling this racial spoils story.

  10. Technically most Hmong ARE Chinese, they just aren't a Chinese ethnic group.

    1. The Hmongs we got came from Laos and Vietnam, mostly.

    2. What does "technically mean?
      For example do you mean, "300 years ago some ancestors moved south from what is now China; so f*ck them."

  11. I have a family friend who designs various governmental buildings (he is a former engineer and MD, so focuses primarily on medical facilities).

    Many of the cities he works on has a requirement that the companies they contract with are American owned and Minority owned.

    He is originally from India, and runs the company with 5 employees based in the US, with the actual designers in India. So is basically able to easily undercut everyone by technically following the American owned rule whilst outsourcing all of the actual labor, and the minority owned rule, where it just so happens that Indian Americans are the richest minority in the United States (excluding Nigerians).

    The city I suppose could exclude Asians, but that would lead to a very large uproar, might be illegal, and I think cities are comfortable with this? They adopt minority contracting rules to appease the endless need for people to "do something" about racism, but at the end of the day, you hire East Asians or Indians, who overall have been extremely successful, or, if you need a black guy, you hire a Nigerian.

    The city doesn't actually care,, they want a qualified person. The job gets done in an efficient manner, and we cover up the actual problem, which is that not enough black people are qualified to do this.

    Thats a fault of the culture and the education system (and history). That doesn't tell a very neat story about the city, so its ignored. And apparently it is racist to bring it up.

    Frankly, I find this whole inquiry stupid and disgusting, and in my view racial preferences should not be a thing. "The way you stop discriminating on the basis is to stop discriminating on the basis of race." Its my family friends view too, but he doesn't mind profiting from idiotic policy decisions.

    1. Didn't you listen to what Tinkerbell said? You just need to clap harder to make the racial problems go away! Don't be bothering us with minor details of implementation. (/sarc)

    2. That's essentially the problem.

      The other way it's handled is via subcontracting. Sure, it's a minority owned company that got the contract. But they just turn around and subcontract it to a non-minority owned, non-American company, taking 10% as overhead, and letting the subcontractor do all the work.

      Then the contract is technically done. And you've made a minority owned business a little richer...but at what cost?

  12. It’s sad that we mostly see these sorts of shallow, repetitive posts about largely superficial topics instead of hearing policy discussions from writers who are interested in policy instead of dividing Americans up into groups some way.

    Here’s a study showing that black and latino students in schools with diversity staff underperformed those in schools without diversity staff:

    (Read it to find out if they accounted for whichever factor you were going to suggest is the real reason for this outcome. Spoiler alert: they did account for that.)

    But hey, never mind the endless failure of American educrats and their diversity scams. That’s no fun. Back to the who qualifies as an Asian question.

    (No need to educate American children anyway. Just import people from other countries with education systems operated for students instead of union grifters and their political patrons.)

    1. It's useful to poke and prod at the system of racial preferences to see how arbitrary the classifications are. So I think these posts are quite useful.

    2. While it wouldn't be surprising if it were the case (at least in many districts) the effect sizes from the study you've linked are either tiny or they don't match. A 0.03 increase per year doesn't come out to a 0.5 increase overall increase unless kids are in school for 16 years. And that's a generous reading of "from 2009 to 2018, the white–black achievement gap grew by 0.03 grade levels each year." A more natural reading would be that the increase was 0.03 each year for nine years, or a 0.27 increase overall. That is fairly small compared to the 1.9 gap in districts without CDOs and 2.4 with. Maybe they intend that the 0.23 increase unaccounted for is from other factors but the paper isn't clear on it.

      1. The amount that the students underperformed matters? Why?

        If the performance was identical, the conclusion would be that spending money on these staffers doesn’t accomplish the (advertised) goal of employing them. But the performance is actually somewhat worse than that. So they're less than useless. How much less than useless isn’t a factor that seemingly leads anyone toward any different decision.

        1. Because statistical significance matters. If your effect size is small then it might just be due to random chance. The study barely mentions statistical significance and doesn't even report it. A good statistical study always reports it. It's especially troubling that their numbers don't match and don't account for the total difference. That indicates that something wasn't controlled, or at least wasn't controlled well. But how would anyone know when the study has nothing on how the control was done besides comparing schools of similar means/ethnic makeup? Those are not the only possible confounding variables and clearly the rest of the difference must be due to something else.

          Did you know that the number of letters in the winning word of the National Spelling Bee correlates pretty closely with kills by venomous spiders in the US?

          1. Ok, sure. Actually saying what your point is tends to help in communicating your point. Thanks.

            I hope there's some follow up to address this concern.

            I expect that writers here will continue to focus on superficialities, so whatever follow up there may be, it won't be noted here. There will always be enough foreign students so University professors can ignore American K-12 education's victims.

            1. They also didn't control for other confounding variables like location or class. It's a push-study, not a scientific one.

              1. They controlled for many things. I don't know what you think "location" means in this context, nor is it possible to guess the precise meaning you intend for "class". Did they control for entirely vague concepts? Anyone can say anything and claim to be right depending on where the goalposts eventually get moved to.

                Care to cite a better study to shows some other conclusion?

  13. Jesse Jackson (I'm pretty sure) is a supporter of racial preferences, but he undercut his own case when he famously said (in paraphrase) that some of our ancestors came across in slave ships and some came across in immigrant ships, *but we're all in the same boat now.*

    It might be useful to take a hand in steering the boat away from the shoals rather than tear and rend each other about who should get racial preferences.

  14. Will just point out that virtually every classification system has difficult and indeterminate cases. As Justice Holmes famously said, there is no distinct boundary between day and night, only shades of gray. Same with wverything else. Look what’s been happening with male and female lately.

    While the left’s critique of accepted gender classifications and Professor Bernstein’s critique of accepted racial classifications cone from opposite sides of the political spectrum, there are some remarkable similarities between the two that might perhaps escape people too entrenched to notice the other side’s arguments.

    Both groups fundamentally disagree with the purpose of the classifications. They think the purpose illegitimate. And stemming from that view, they hone in sharply on the boundary cases and point oug that there is a set of people the categories don’t really work for. Elevating the boundary folks to special prominence, they then proclaim this as proof the entire classification system doesn’t work at all and should be overthrown.

    Both arguments are equally disingenuous, and for the same reasons. Classification systems are always imperfect. There will always be boundary cases. When we have an important purpose for the classification, we put up with the difficulty and the inevitable error rate of adjudicating the hard cases. For example, there are people whose citizenship is hard to determine. But so far no movement focusing on these people has argued that this dispositively proves that the whole concept of national citizenship makes no sense and should be completely abolished. Two much of our modern world depends on nation-states and the need to classify among them for this argument to gain serious traction.

    If classification serves an important purpose and generally serves that purpose well, we accept and put up with the inevitable boundary cases and errors. For example, medicine routinely misdiagnoses. If we abolished medicine, we would abolish medical classification errors. Yet no-one seriously proposes this.

    Both Professor Bernstein and harder-edged trans folks come from a premise that the purpose behind the respective classification systems is not just unimportant, but downright harmful. They don’t want a classification system in the first place. It is this implicit belief that leads them to feel shocked by the presence of boundary cases that everybody accepts and puts up with when the purpose of the classification system is inportant and the results generally (although not always) useful and helpful.

    A straightforward argument would start with an argument that the entire purpose behind thr classification system is a bad idea in general and work from there. It wouldn’t start by trying to create a false (and rationally absurd) expectation of perfection and then claim that lack of perfection somehow proves, as a conclusion, the position they are actually starting with, that the whole thing serves no purpose and should be scrapped.

    As medical misdiagnosis, weather mispredictions, and countless other examples of routine misclassifications we put up with to get the benefits the classification system usually gives us, the logic behind the imperfect implies worthless argument is badly flawed.

    Nothing is perfect. Many imperfect things are worthwhile.

    1. This goes beyond just a few borderline cases. There's the Hmong, there's the whole variety of mixed-race people, there's the black daughters of an influential politician, there's the Appalachian guy who may or may not have Indian "blood," there's the entire issue of whether post-1965 immigrants should benefit, or simply the descendants of African slaves. What about white women? What about white men who are gay, "trans," disabled, etc.?

      If you had a basic rule which was a tad fuzzy around the edges, that would be one thing.

      But if you keep finding yourselves exploring the disputed borderlands, assuring yourself that this is simply a minor matter of transition between full day and full night, you're deluding yourself.

      And if it's difficult to differentiate between citizens and non-citizens, imagine the difficulty of differentiating among different *classes* of citizens based on which favored group they belong to?

      Apartheid South Africa set up a whole bureaucracy to decide cases on the porous (and arbitrary) racial boundary line.

      To compare this from the supposed difficulties of distinguishing men from women...well, to borrow a metaphor, that's as different as night and day.

  15. This was an HHMI scholarship. HHMI is a private charity, isn't it?

    Why should she be angry at the Department of Education?

    If Bernstein doesn't like their criteria, fine, but this does not seem like a crisis of government discrimination.

  16. I recently filled out a Mount Sinai medical information form. Here's what it offered as choices for race (and notice how WHITE is unitary):

    Black or African American
    Decline to Answer
    Other Asian

    1. Where's the entry for *South* Sudanese?

    2. "TOKELAUAN"

      1500 people in Tokelau, how many patients come from there?

      15000 in Yap so same question. Yap is part of Micronesia so how is one a YAPESE and not a MICRONESIAN?

    3. That is incredibly stupid.
      The answer is "Decline to state."

    4. How many options were there for sex/gender?

  17. Doesn't this argument cut against basically the entire thrust of this blog?

    1. The 'no affirmative action -- except for right-wingers, especially in legal academia' part, or the 'no special treatment -- except limitless special privilege for religion-based claims' part?

  18. Conservatives' multifaceted bigotry has been a large cause of their continuing failure in the American culture war. The political failures fueled by racism, gay-bashing, xenophobia, Muslim-bashing, anti-Semitism, and misogyny will eventually drag other elements of the right-wing political-electoral coalition -- gun absolutism, anti-abortion absolutism, endless special privilege for religion -- into political and cultural irrelevance, too.

    I am content.

  19. When did all this bs start? Oh the 1960's..that explains it all.

    I often found myself the only Italian American in my university and university major...later the only one in many corporate jobs...didn't get any special treatment...

    I used to go out of my way to say I was an American when asked...when my kids hit high school I told them to define themselves as Italian or Latino (as Italians are the only people who can be called "latino" anyway). I rejected tribalism as a kid, now as an old man...I embrace it and want my tribe to have equal representation in the media, academia, hollywood, wall street, and Big Tech. Where are the Italian diversity efforts Google or FB or Twitter...we demand them now!

    1. There is a chapter in my forthcoming book about Italian American efforts to get classified as a minority in the 1960s and 70s. It worked in only one place, CUNY.

      1. Ya got a problem with that? I woulda gone there myself if they'd had a decent graduate program in harbor management.

  20. Thinking this a little more..not many Catholics writing on the Volokh world..why is that? Do you have issues with Catholics? Many very smart Catholic lawyers you know...overrepresented groups in this space should be replaced by Catholics...we good there?

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