Harvard, Racial Discrimination, and Holocaust Denial

Later this week the U.S. Supreme Court will release its verdict on the landmark case Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard Collegewidely expected to severely curtail or possibly even ban the use of race in college admissions, perhaps one of the most momentous court rulings of recent decades. After a half-century of continual growth and expansion, America’s system of racial Affirmative Action may be facing a major legal threat to its survival.

Given the huge potential importance of that ruling, the media coverage over the last decade—and especially the last year—has been intense, ranging from numerous front-page stories in the New York Times to endless heated exchanges on Twitter and other social media venues.

Yet until earlier this month, an extremely important aspect of the story had been utterly ignored by virtually all our media outlets despite the potential impact it might have had on the court decision. I think this silence of “the dog that didn’t bark” demonstrates the true forces that govern our American media, determining what is revealed and what is concealed about important events.

Consider the notorious right-wing political activist David Duke. His last substantive political achievement was holding a seat in the Louisiana State Legislature during the 1989-1991 sessions and by his unsuccessful runs for U.S. Senate in 1990 and governor in 1991; he’s been almost entirely out of politics for most of the 31 years since then, reportedly living abroad during much of that time. Yet the media has maintained his public profile to such an extent that his name is still widely recognized, probably more so than other individuals who have enjoyed a hundred times his political success in recent decades. Our media creates our reality, and Duke is almost entirely a media creation.

Duke has always been a strong opponent of Affirmative Action, and let us suppose that his original research had been a crucial factor behind the current Harvard lawsuit now poised to strike it down. Our mainstream media and its huge corps of liberal, left-liberal, and leftist journalists fervently support the continued use of race in admissions decisions, and they surely would have highlighted Duke’s role from the very beginning, using his involvement as a brutally effective means of smearing and tainting the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

Under such a media barrage, the case would quickly have become known as the “David Duke lawsuit” against Harvard, while giving massive attention to all his other controversial and outrageous ideological positions, ranging from racism to antisemitism to Holocaust Denial, thereby dramatically reshaping the atmospherics surrounding the lawsuit. Over the last five years, lower federal courts have repeatedly ruled in Harvard’s favor, upholding the long-standing legality of race-based Affirmative Action. Would the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court have been willing to even take up a case that had become so heavily identified with Duke, a case that might have required them to overturn five decades of their own past decisions? I strongly suspect that such a David Duke case would have followed a legal trajectory very different from the one whose decision will be announced within the next few days.

Yet the true circumstances of the current lawsuit—as opposed to our media portrayal of it—are actually not so very different from that seemingly far-fetched scenario I have just outlined, as was finally revealed earlier this month by the Guardian, a leading British media outlet. Then on Friday, those explosively provocative headlines were repeated in an even longer article that ran in the Harvard Crimson:

Harvard affirmative action challenge partly based on Holocaust denier’s work
Complaint draws heavily from 2012 article by Ron Unz, who publishes antisemitic, anti-LGBTQ+ and neo-Nazi screeds
Ed Pilkington • The Guardian • June 6, 2023 • 1,500 Words
Deep Within the Anti-Affirmative Action Lawsuit, a Holocaust Denier
Michelle N. Amponsah • The Harvard Crimson • June 23, 2023 • 2,200 Words

Although I might take issue with a few points here and there in those two articles, the overwhelming majority of the facts they present are absolutely correct, as were their dramatic headlines. Yet my crucial role in the Harvard lawsuit and the exceptionally controversial nature of my stated positions on numerous other issues had previously remained obscure due to the deliberate omissions of the media and nearly all of its American journalists.

Indeed, I would even argue that the full range of my controversial views considerably exceeds those held by Duke, and if our reporters had chosen to cover and emphasize these over the last few years, our high court might have been very reluctant to hear the case, thereby preserving Affirmative Action. The story of why virtually every journalist in America chose to spend these years hiding such facts seems an enormously important one, well worth investigating, and I have my own suspicions.

The absurdity of this total lack of media coverage is easily demonstrated if we consider two of my own articles, one of them on the Harvard lawsuit and my role in the case and the other recounting and summarizing some of my exceptionally controversial views on other topics. Although they were both published on the same website just seven days apart in October 2018 and each attracted a great deal of readership and many hundreds of comments, not a single journalist in America was ever willing to report and connect them.

On October 22, 2018, I had discussed the start of the Harvard lawsuit and its origins:

This last week trial began in Boston federal court for the current lawsuit in which a collection of Asian-American organizations are charging Harvard University with racial discrimination in its college admissions policies. The New York Times, our national newspaper of record, has been providing almost daily coverage to developments in the case, with the stories sometimes reaching the front page.

Last Sunday, just before the legal proceedings began, the Times ran a major article explaining the general background of the controversy, and I was very pleased to see that my own past research was cited as an important factor sparking the lawsuit, with the reporter even including a direct link to my 26,000 word 2012 cover-story “The Myth of American Meritocracy,” which had provided strong quantitative evidence of anti-Asian racial quotas. Economic historian Niall Ferguson, long one of Harvard’s most prominent professors but recently decamped to Stanford, similarly noted the role of my research in his column for the London Sunday Times.

Two decades ago, I had published a widely-discussed op-ed in The Wall Street Journal on somewhat similar issues of racial discrimination in elite admissions. But my more recent article was far longer and more comprehensive, and certainly drew more attention than anything else I have ever published, before or since. After it appeared in The American Conservative, its hundreds of thousands of pageviews broke all records for that publication and it attracted considerable notice in the media. Times columnist David Brooks soon ranked it as perhaps the best American magazine article of the year, a verdict seconded by a top editor at The Economist, and the Times itself quickly organized a symposium on the topic of Asian Quotas, in which I eagerly participated. ForbesThe AtlanticThe Washington MonthlyBusiness Insider, and other publications all discussed my striking results.

Conservative circles took considerable interest, with Charles Murray highlighting my findings, and National Review later published an article in which I explained the important implications of my findings for the legal validity of the 1978 Bakke decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

There was also a considerable reaction from the academic community itself. I quickly received speaking invitations from the Yale Political Union, Yale Law, and the University of Chicago Law School, while Prof. Ferguson discussed my distressing analysis in a lengthy Newsweek/Daily Beast column entitled “The End of the American Dream.”

Moreover, I had also published an associated critique suggesting that over the years my beloved Harvard alma mater had transformed itself into one of the world’s largest hedge-funds with a vestigial school attached for tax-exempt purposes. This also generated enormous discussion in media circles, with liberal journalist Chris Hayes Tweeting it out and generously saying he was “very jealous” he hadn’t written the piece himself. Many of his colleagues promoted the piece with similarly favorable remarks, while the university quickly provided a weak public response to these serious financial charges.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to myself or other outside observers, Harvard itself launched an internal investigation of the anti-Asian bias that I had alleged. Apparently, the university’s own initial results generally confirmed my accusations, indicating that if students were admitted solely based upon objective academic merit, far more Asians would receive thick envelopes. But Harvard’s top administrators buried the study and did nothing, with these important facts only coming out years later during the discovery process of the current Asian Quotas lawsuit.

Only the first part of my very long article dealt with the question of anti-Asian racial discrimination in elite college admissions, but it attracted vastly more attention than any other element.

For many years, there had been a widespread belief within the Asian-American community that such discriminatory practices existed, a sentiment backed by considerable anecdotal evidence. But the university administrations had always flatly denied those claims, and the media had shown little interest in investigating them. However, my powerful new quantitative evidence proved very difficult to ignore.

Among other things, I focused upon the publicly available statewide lists of National Merit Semifinalists (NMS), a group that constituted the highest-performing one-half percent of American high school seniors. By a fortunate coincidence, this fraction of the American student body was reasonably close in size to the total enrollment of students at the Ivy League schools together with similarly elite schools such as Stanford, Caltech, and MIT. The NMS dataset had previously been almost entirely ignored by researchers, but I found it provided a treasure-trove of useful empirical information.

Since Asian last names are extremely distinctive, I was able to estimate that Asians nationally constituted roughly 25-30% of this top academic group, a figure considerably larger than their enrollment at Harvard and other elite schools. This conclusion was supported by the even greater Asian dominance in more highly selective academic competitions such as the Math Olympiad and the Intel Science Talent Search, though the far smaller numbers involved reduced the statistical validity of these analyses.

But my most dramatic finding relied upon an even simpler analysis of public data, which had previously remained unnoticed. As I wrote in my New York Times column…

This statistical finding was illustrated in a simple graph, demonstrating that over the last two decades enrollment of Asian-Americans had gradually converged across the entire Ivy League, while sharply diverging from the rapidly increasing Asian-American population, with only strictly meritocratic Caltech continuing to track the latter.

It would be difficult to imagine more obvious visual evidence of an Asian Quota implemented across the Ivy League, and this chart was very widely circulated among Asian-American organizations and activists, who launched their lawsuit the following year. If they do succeed in winning their current case in federal court, the history books may eventually record that the wealthiest and most powerful university in the world was brought low by a single striking graph.

American Pravda: Racial Discrimination at Harvard
Ron Unz • The Unz Review • October 22, 2018 • 10,300 Words • 578 Comments

Just one week before that October 2018 article in which I had recapitulated the history of the Harvard lawsuit, I had also published an article responding to a critique by the ADL, a leading Jewish activist organization, taking the opportunity to enumerate my extremely controversial writings.

Read the Whole Article

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