Ron Unz has put together a slate of candidates to run for Harvards’ Board of Overseers, a group which is elected by Harvard alumni. It includes himself, three other people who oppose affirmative action, and Ralph Nader. Their main selling point is promising to abolish tuition. Unz says he isn’t seeking to abolish affirmative action at Harvard but that “our focus is entirely on greater transparency in admissions, namely urging Harvard to provide much more detailed information on how they select the very small slice of applicants receiving offers of admission, in order to curb the huge potential abuse possible under the entirely opaque system.” Why would he want to do that?
NYT writer Stephanie Saul links to Unz’s Myth of American Meritocracy article. In Meritocracy, Unz made three claims about Ivy League colleges:
- Jews are vastly overrepresented relative to their academic merit. Whites are the most underrepresented group.
- Asians are not underrepresented relative to their academic merit when compared to Whites+Jews.
- There is a “quota” on Asians.
Meritocracy was widely linked in the MSM after it was published but the first and second claims were rarely mentioned. In fact, many misinterpreted the third claim, thinking a “quota” imeant that the group was receiving an insufficient share of the seats relative to their academic merit. After all, that is what people meant when they talk about a “Jewish quota” and when they talk about “racial quotas” in education today. Unz clearly stated that in Meritocracy he did not think that was the case. But he never corrected any of those who misinterpreted his article. For example, when Meritocracy was first published Tyler Cowen, an otherwise excellent economist, linked to it on MR, writing:
There is a new and stimulating piece by Ron Unz, in The American Conservative. The article covers plenty of ground, but I took away two main points. The first is that there is massive and quite unjustified bias against Asian and Asian-American students in the U.S. admissions process. Yes, I already thought that but it turns out it is much worse than I had thought. Yet many people support this aspect of our current admissions systems, either directly or indirectly.
Ron Unz later linked back to Cowen’s MR post, never noting either there or on MR itself that Cowen drew the wrong conclusion. Unz later repeated claim #3 in an article in National Review and in the New York Times, linking back to Meritocracy but never mentioning claims 1 and 2. Kevin MacDonald wondered why he ignored claims 1 and 2, perhaps it was because he knew his audience, the NYT and National Review would never want to give direct attention to his claim of discrimination in favor of Jews. I’m sure much of the attention given to Meritocracy was due to the fact that people had no idea about Unz’s claim about Jews, because they didn’t read the whole 30,000 word article or only read other people’s summaries of it.
Recent years have seen much Asian anger at the supposed Ivy League discrimination, part of it no doubt triggered by Meritocracy. A group called “Students for Fair Admissions” is suing Harvard over supposed anti-Asian discrimination; the group cited Meritocracy to support it’s contention that Harvard discriminates against Asians. This has led to much “discussion” within the MSM between those who think the discrimination exists and is intolerable and those who think the discrimination doesn’t exist and defend Harvard.
It should be obvious to anyone who has read Meritocracy Unz’s motive for seeking to change the “entirely opaque system,” he wants to end the supposed discrimination in favor of Jews. But, and this is the hilarious part, the MSM, which misunderstood the article originally, is clueless about his true, heretical goal. He isn’t going to correct them. Saul describes in the NYT only the possibility of anti-Asian discrimination at Harvard and with the media misinformed so too will the alumni. According to the Saul Unz believes that he will benefit from the support of Asian alumni, some no doubt because they falsely believe that he believes they are underrepresented relative to their academic merit when compared to Whites+Jews. It will also help that his slate will have Ralph Nader on it, many Leftists will not recognize the other four names and conclude that they too are Leftists. I wonder if Nader has been fooled as well or if he is in on the deal.(Nader is an ethnic Lebanese Christian who has expressed a Leftist, politically incorrect perspective on Israel and Jews)
Even though I do not think that the claims of Meritocracy are supported be the evidence(see my critique) I hope he succeeds. I think he has the right instincts; certainly he and his compatriots would shake up the place. Harvard alumni can contact Steve Hsu to sign the petition to get the slate on the ballot.