October 14, 2012

Affirmative Action brain puzzlers

At the Supreme Court's oral questioning on affirmative action last week, Chief Justice Roberts kept asking about how much ancestry somebody needs to be A Diverse One: 1/4th, 1/8th, 1/32nd? Meanwhile, Justice Alito kept asking General Verilli of the Obama Administration to admit that under the Texas affirmative action plan, all else being equal, race matters. 

But the defenders of affirmative action kept saying that no two individuals could possibly be equal, so this ceteris paribus question is meaningless.

Let's try this hypothetical: two blue-eyed identical twins raised together apply to the University of Texas. They have equal GPAs, test scores, extracurricular activities and so forth. They differ only in one opinion. Seven of their eight great-grandparents are minor northern European royalty. But the other great-grandparent is the King of Spain. Does this entitle them to check the Hispanic/Latino box on their UT applications? Enquiring minds want to know! Over to you, Justice Sotomayor ...

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

Only if she was a Morisco!

Peter said...

One-quarter would be a reasonable minimum fraction in order for one to qualify as Hispanic or Asian for affirmative action purposes. In most cases a person with less than that amount of Hispanic or Asian ancestry will look mostly (or entirely) white, and probably was raised in a mainly white culture. Not to mention the fact that if it weren't for affirmative action he or she would be unlikely to identify as Hispanic or Asian. Surnames do present a problem if, say, one's father's father's father was Mr. Rodriguez or Chang.

Chad Vader said...

I think a great way to defeat AA would be to make it meaningless. By allowing someone who is 1/64th Hispanic can claim to be Hispanic, and no one is checking his actual ancestry, the whole thing becomes just a paperwork exercise.

Enoch Powell said...

It doesn't matter if the twins are entitled by the rules of lively, vibrant, diverse tyranny to define themselves as a protected minority. It doesn't matter because leftist tyrants play by the rules of Calvinball.

Jehu said...

Perhaps the thing to do is just to tell all our kids to check Hispanic, it's the most fuzzy category, and overwhelm the system by insane amounts of bad faith.

Anonymous said...

Ironically the term blue blood came from the Spanish term sangre azul. During the reconquista, the visigothic nobles would show their blue veins to signify that they were untaited by moorish bloodlines.

See dictionary.com:
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/blue+blood?s=t

Anonymous said...

"I think a great way to defeat AA would be to make it meaningless. By allowing someone who is 1/64th Hispanic can claim to be Hispanic, and no one is checking his actual ancestry, the whole thing becomes just a paperwork exercise."

Too late, we passed that threshold a while ago. Ask Squaw Elizabeth Warren.

All the sanctimonious platitudes mouthed to the S. Ct. in the arguments about how the universities rely solely on self identification is a load of BS that they have to spout in order to avoid icky blood quantum tests and other unpleasant lines of questioning. Don't be so naive as to actually believe that there is no attempt to verify self identification. The reality is that they ain't letting Chung -Kee Park self-identify as a brother when he obviously ain't , no matter WHAT they tell S. Ct. Chung-Kee will need to look mighty dusky in his Facebook photos and belong to the step dancing club or his app is going in the trash. The admissions officers are highly sensitive to any attempts to "game" the system in a way that doesn't suit them and this would be a sure kiss of death.

Warren OTOH, was allowed to get away with it because she was so awesomely female and liberal that "self-identification" was plenty good for her. But don't YOU dare try it, whitey.

On the other hand, if your hypothetical twins have pretty good scores anyway, the college has every incentive to take the "Hispanic" one and mark him into the "minority" category so that they can brag about how many wonderfully diverse minorities they enroll without having to actually enroll too many of those icky ghetto types who have been thru the horrible public schools. Nice civilized, suburbanized minorities are a prized commodity which is why UT wanted to take them outside of their "top 10%" program. These self same nice Negroes don't usually make the top 10% of suburban schools so they had to toss Ms. Fisher's app so they could get themselves some nice AA girls whose dads were surgeons and lawyers.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we can turn them into Rocket Scientists

Auntie Analogue said...

The more I read the transcripts of the Supremes' powwow with the lawyers, the more I get the same chill I feel when I read the Nazi Nuremburg Race Laws.

Speaking of jurisprudence: Godwin's Law strikes again!

stari_momak said...

I wish Alito or Scalia would ask if they -- or their grandchildren -- count as "Latinos".

A small sum is coming your way, Steve. I'll procrastinate, but it will come. Every little bit counts, right?

Steve Sailer said...

"Every little bit counts, right?"

Right.

ssh said...

Basically they are arguing that the race coefficient in a regression on the probability of being admitted would be zero. Of course its not. And that would also mean they are indifferent to affirmative action all together and wouldn't mind if the program was banned.

Anonymous said...

Peter:"One-quarter would be a reasonable minimum fraction in order for one to qualify as Hispanic or Asian for affirmative action purposes. In most cases a person with less than that amount of Hispanic or Asian ancestry will look mostly (or entirely) white, and probably was raised in a mainly white culture"

Peter, there are people who are 100% Hispanic who look entirely White. Remember, Hispanic does not equal Amerind. A son of Spanish immigrants to Mexico, without a trace of Amerind blood, counts as Hispanic. A person descended from German immigrants to Argentina counts as Hispanic. Heck, by virtue of the fact that my Ashkenazi mother was born in Mexico to Latvian Jewish immigrants, I count as Hispanic (I still kick myself for not having filling in the Hispanic box on my uni applications...).

Syon

Chicago said...

The contrast between the public and the private is really as stark as it can get. Institutions loudly proclaim their 'diversity' as though it's a major selling point. Privately, people look for the whitest places to live, work and enroll their children. It's quietly understood as a mark of probable quality. The very same people who publicly push the former secretly engage in the latter. I wonder how long this contradiction between people's public utterances and their actual private behavior can last. Perhaps it's a permanent feature of life in the US: to succeed beyond a certain level one must be a complete hypocrite and recite the party line from memory at least once a day.

Anonymous said...

Chad Vader said...

I think a great way to defeat AA would be to make it meaningless. By allowing someone who is 1/64th Hispanic can claim to be Hispanic, and no one is checking his actual ancestry, the whole thing becomes just a paperwork exercise.


Elizabeth Warren has you beat on this by being a Cherokee with 0 Cherokee ancestors.

You show us how to make AA meaningless sista'.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Stating that no two people are precisely equal (a psychiatrist friend used to refer to "the truths people use to lie with"), is code for "we're going to do the math in our head, and won't show the work." That's what the essential request to "trust us" derives from. When you don't have to show your work, the truth can be hidden - even from yourself.

Dan said...

Steve, I have got to gripe about you and your Internet fans because I am still fuming.

You see, I went out personally with 3 big signs in front of the Supreme Court on Wednesday morning to politely point out that race-based admissions are themselves racist and can we please just consider people based on their character and merit rather than color as MLK told us.

I was never so lonely in my life. One old guy showed on my side while hundreds of people from the NAACP and other organizations showed up to represent the position that we need more, you know, legal racism.

Ours is the winning side because ours is the side of justice. But you can't win if you don't show up. There was a team of about 20 or so people from the other side (overkill, methinks) who were tasked with standing in front of me and blocking my signs from the press with their own, even though my signs were super polite and just pointed out the hypocrisy. Steve, if you with the height of an NBA center had shown up, you would not have had that problem. I am alas on the short side so I didn't really have a chance, and with a couple of cops milling about I had to be polite while my speech rights were, well, blocked.

If there had been just 10 of me, it would have been really effective and that would have won the day over the 200 or so people they had. Our message is the call for simple fairness and an end to treating people differently based on race. The irony is that we have majority support, as evidenced by the AA vote in liberal California. But c'mon, must every last man, woman and child hide out on the Internet? If nobody shows up in person, it doesn't matter how correct your position is.

People shouldn't be afraid to show up in person and say simple truths. Everyone is super civil and opposing AA is opposing legalized racism. It is a really easy case to make and opposers of AA hold the moral high ground.

(I'd love if you posted this)

- Dan in Maryland

Anonymous said...

Anybody can say they're Hispanic and there's no verification process.

I've asked people in academia and they've confirmed that they don't even look at photos of the applicants before deciding who to accept.

BTW, much like the English with the many non-English Kings, a lot of the recent Spanish Kings haven't been very Spanish in blood.

So if someone is 1/8th Spanish through a King of Spain, there's a chance he'll actually only be something like 1/64th Spanish.

Anonymous said...

For example the mother of current Spanish King Carlos was Princess MarĂ­a Mercedes of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, a lady of French, Spanish, Austrian, and Italian ancestry.

Anonymous said...

Re: that Nuremberg feeling, this is of course why the government has to get out of the race counting business. The Supreme Court has for decades rightly stated that any racial classifications by government are highly suspect constitutionally and subject to "strict scrutiny" - so strict that they are rarely allowed. "Affirmative action" because it serves the noble, almost holy goal of "diversity" is the one exception. If the situation were reversed and some employer was arguing that he had a constitutionally valid method for figuring out who belonged to which race so that he could employ smarter white people, they would toss him out of the courts so fast that his head would spin. But because this is "good" discrimination we are treated to such discussions.

C. Van Carter said...

Democrats relentlessly push anal marriage, even after voters reject it in liberal states. Republicans do nothing about “affirmative action”, even after voters end it in liberal states.

Anonymous said...

Canada has a concept of a "visible minority". But, upon inspection, it's not as fun as it sounds. Unfortunately, they do not examine minorities for visible signs of their minorityness.

Steve Sailer said...

Yeah, that's always a question with European royalty: is the King of Spain Spanish enough to be Hispanic? For example, Czar Nicholas II was only 1/128th Russian. Most European royalty was mostly German, since Germany pre-Bismarck had so many of the royal caste.

ben tillman said...

Perhaps the thing to do is just to tell all our kids to check Hispanic, it's the most fuzzy category, and overwhelm the system by insane amounts of bad faith.

But it's not bad faith if you live in Texas or California, which used to be part of Mexico and again today are full of Mestizos and other Spanish-speakers.

Jehu said...

Ben,
It's bad faith, even if you could trump up a stepfather's last name or the like which is something like Diaz or Garcia. It is gaming the system. If you're not darker than Zimmerman, you've got no business calling yourself 'Hispanic' in an honest game.

But the system long ago ceased to have the moral standing necessary for people to respect it sufficiently not to game it much. Let the bad faith flow like a river from the mountain of hypocrisy!
Let the young adopt the credo of the Munchkin, checking whatever box gives the biggest bonus.
Let us force the hand of the servants of sanctimony. Let us force them to demand a blood quantum. Perhaps it is even time to steal a page from the 'transgendered', and subvert affirmative action for women as well.
You're a lesbian Hispanic transgendered woman. So say us all.

Anonymous said...

Cultural Marxists have always understood that AA and anti-discrimination laws are risible. I remember a decades-old PC-101 text book warning of conservative attempts to reduce AA to absurdity: The chapter was entitled 'The Red Haired Scotch Housekeeper Fallacy' (no less).

Back to 'who-whom'.

Gilbert P.

scoobius dubious said...

"One-quarter would be a reasonable minimum fraction in order for one to qualify as Hispanic or Asian for affirmative action purposes."

Why do Hispanics and Asians deserve affirmative action? Why do they deserve any preference under any circumstances at all?

They got their affirmative action when we let them settle in this country, despite their having no a priori right to do so, and despite our having no moral obligation to permit them to do so.

If anything, Hispanics, Asians, Arabs and Subcons should be paying a substantial Gratitude Tax.

class factotum said...

I wish Alito or Scalia would ask if they -- or their grandchildren -- count as "Latinos".

They're Italian, aren't they?

Then they're not Latinos.

neil craig said...

But the king of Spain is a Bourbon - ie French nobility. Its a bit like Cleopatra wasn't African but descended from Greek/Macedonian generals.

Anonymous said...

If you're not darker than Zimmerman, you've got no business calling yourself 'Hispanic' in an honest game.

Where is the paper bag test when you need it?

There are some South Asians who are so dark that they make Obama look like a person of pallor, but they are the wrong kind of dark, so no AA for them.

K

Londoner said...

Time to mention again that the US has already had its first "hispanic" president, what with Martin van Buren's great-great-great grandfather having emigrated from the Spanish Netherlands in the 1600s...

Anonymous said...

If anything, Hispanics, Asians, Arabs and Subcons should be paying a substantial Gratitude Tax.

And Armenians?

Anonymous said...

General Verilli

Why is he called this? I though that form of address was only for top-ranking Army and Air Force officers.

Anonymous said...


They're Italian, aren't they?

Then they're not Latinos.



Surely you must appreciate the semantic problem here.

The only real "Latins" are of course, the Italians.

Anonymous said...

When I went to the Univ of Texas ("THE" University) in the early '70s I played a game with my applications every semester by varying my self-identification of race or whatever. One time I was white, another black, and still another Hispanic. It didn't seem to change my grades any. Or my other school stuff. My mail, however, changed in type and style to reflect my ethnic group selection. Sure got a lot of mail in Spanish.

Iapetus said...

When asked to provide my race/ethnicity, I always check off the "white Hispanic" box. Do you think Obama checks off the "white African" box?