As I discussed here, two of the most noteworthy amicus briefs supporting Abigail Fisher’s discrimination complaint against the University of Texas were filed by Asian-American organizations.
Both of those briefs (this one and this one) cite Daniel Golden, who argued in The Price of Admission (2007) that “Asian-Americans are the new Jews, inheriting the mantle of the most disenfranchised group in college admissions.” As Peter Schmidt pointed out, the briefs filed by Asian-American organizations opposing affirmative action represent “a marked departure from the position most other Asian-American groups have taken on the issue.”
S.B. Woo, a founder and moving force in one of those organizations, 80-20 National Asian American PAC, explained to an interviewer that the organization’s decision was influenced by a survey completed by over 45,000 Asian Americans who were asked whether they were for or against Fisher. “The ultimate result,” he said, “was about 98 percent of all Asian Americans were for a race neutral merit based admissions system.” The excellent brief filed by Woo’s organization (along with several others) in Fisher eloquently states its principled opposition to admissions policies “in which disfavored minority groups, such as Asian Americans, face more stringent admissions standards than either whites or African Americans.”
To the surprise of some and dismay of others, however, this weekend 80-20 endorsed Obama for re-election, citing his appointment of Asian-Americans to various positions and calling on Asian-Americans to “deliver a bloc vote to prove Asian American votes can make a winning difference in this election.” Replying to the emailed notice of this decision, I requested that my name be taken off 80-20’s mailing list:
Why any organization would support an administration that calls for government discrimination against its members — in the form of racial preferences to other groups, making Asian-Americans have to achieve at far higher levels than members of those other groups — is beyond me. Doing so is your privilege, but it is my privilege not to have to read anything else you write.
There is nothing surprising or even troubling about Prof. S.B. Woo’s performance here. A University of Delaware physicist (now retired), he was a one-term Democratic Lt. Governor of Delaware and an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for both the U.S. Senate and House who supported Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich, and Hillary Clinton for president before endorsing Obama in 2008. Nor do I mean to suggest that Asian Americans, or any other group, should be single-issue voters, supporting or opposing candidates only on the basis of “what’s good for [insert group name here].” Still, I do find it odd that an organization whose sole purpose is fighting discrimination against Asians should support a president whose administration is an unrelenting advocate of policies that systematically discriminate against Asian applicants to selective universities, a pervasive policy of discrimination that is not negated or even attenuated by a few token appointments.
The Jews (perhaps we should now say the Old, Original Jews) at least kept their attention sharply focused on their own self-interest long enough so that they didn’t support racial and ethnic favoritism in admissions until they were no longer its victims.