With Honors

Just one more reason why I don’t get 1990s nostalgia: a number of really awful things happened during that decade, including entitled wingnuts filing politically and racially charged lawsuits attempting to smash away every last vestige of affirmative action in education. Looks like everything old is new again:

A prominent opponent of racial preferences in college admissions announced Monday two lawsuits alleging unlawful bias in admission policies at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Edward Blum, director of the Project on Fair Representation, which backed the plaintiff in a recent affirmative action case in Texas that reached the U.S. Supreme Court, said the new suits were filed in federal courts in Boston and Greensboro, N.C.

Blum said the plaintiff in both new cases is a group he leads called Students for Fair Admissions. Among the group’s members, he said, are two 18-year-old men: an Asian American student denied admission to Harvard, and a white student turned down by UNC-Chapel Hill.

Blum alleged that Harvard’s admission process discriminates against Asian Americans, and that UNC-Chapel Hill failed to give adequate consideration to race-neutral admissions.

Blum is obviously trying to pit Asian-Americans against other communities of color, but some Asian-Americans aren’t having it:

Jasmin Huang, the president of the UNC student group told NPR that the case draws on stereotypes of Asian-Americans. “It kind of perpetuates this model minority myth that all students of Asian descent are high-achieving and come from affluent families when that really isn’t true.”

Jennifer Lee, a sociologist at the University of California, Irvine says affirmative action policies can in fact help some Asian-Americans, which are a very diverse group. “You have Cambodians, Laotians, and Hmong Americans who have higher high school dropout rates than African-Americans and Latino Americans,” Lee says. “So, when we think about race-conscious admissions and whether they would help Asian-Americans, we have to really think about who Asian-Americans are as a community.”

Blum may want to be a bum to those who don’t live where he comes from, but will he lose? I say, in sum, that courts will find his lawsuits dumb.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.