Steven Farron, who earned a Ph.D. at Columbia University and was a professor of classics for many years at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, has produced a masterly volume on the thorny subject of what is euphemistically termed affirmative action. It doesn’t seem that an article, a book, or a collection of raw data on affirmative action has escaped his keen eye. He has written not only a comprehensive and exhaustive study of the subject but a brilliantly insightful critique of the whole ugly and unconstitutional process of discriminating against whites. Refreshingly, Farron pulls no punches, calling the process “vicious” and “anti-white” and underpinned by “shameless frauds and deliberate lies.” This second edition of The Affirmative Action Hoax contains data and documents not available when the book was originally published in 2005.
Farron argues persuasively that the precedent for affirmative action in universities was set shortly after the turn of the 20th century in an effort to ensure that Ivy League colleges would remain predominantly WASP. Many of the schools, having adopted standardized entrance exams, were suddenly admitting unacceptably large numbers of Catholics and, especially, Jews. Moreover, many of the Protestants admitted were not the “right sort” from prestigious prep schools but the products of public high schools. As a consequence, the Ivy League schools began to devise methods to neutralize the higher entrance-exam scores of the undesirables.
At the 1918 meeting of the Association of New England College Deans, the dean of Yale University proclaimed, “A few years ago every single scholarship of any value was won by a Jew. I took it up with the Committee and said that we could not allow that to go on. We must put a ban on the Jews.” Columbia, in the heart of New York City and with a rapidly increasing number of Jewish students, was the first to take action. The school established an Office of Undergraduate Admissions, which “not only made possible greater leeway in evaluation of academic admissions criteria; it also permitted the future addition of non-academic criteria that could be subjectively evaluated.” The dean at Columbia made it clear that this would allow the admission of more “Gentile boys of a desirable type.” The process was called, in terms that are strikingly familiar today, an “affirmative process of selection and not merely a negative process of exclusion.”
By the late 1920’s all the Ivy League schools had dramatically increased subjective criteria for admission while lowering the importance placed on entrance-exam scores. There are good arguments for admission based on qualities that students may possess beyond the ability to ace an entrance exam. However, those subjective criteria such as “potential for leadership” or “ability to overcome hardship” or some such thing are often simply masking a hidden agenda.
This is certainly the case today in California. Under the California Civil Rights Initiative, commonly known as Proposition 209, an initiative adopted by the people of California by a 55-45 margin in 1996, discrimination on the basis of race for admission to either the University of California or the State University system was prohibited. In effect, this meant that a policy of favoring blacks and Hispanics for admission would have to come to an end. If purely objective criteria were used for admission, such as SAT scores and high-school grade-point averages, the numbers of blacks and Hispanics would decline, so schools quickly developed what some called a more “holistic” approach. When Proposition 209 passed, Chang-Lin Tien, the chancellor at the University of California, Berkeley, said that it wouldn’t have much of an effect because “We can come up with some tricks.” Just like Ivy League schools at the beginning of the last century, California schools today twist, bend, and pervert subjective criteria to admit students from “underrepresented” groups, while outstanding white students are rejected.
One of the tricks used by the U.C. schools is a heavily weighted consideration: whether an applicant has “overcome adversity.” One would think that family income would be a criterion. However, such is not the case because family income can be calculated relatively objectively and accurately, and poor whites and poor Asians academically outperform poor blacks and poor Hispanics. Thus, the University of California pulled out of its bag of tricks a variety of personal, family, and psychological obstacles that applicants could report. “In some cases university staffers . . . have coached minority students on how to identify and present their hardships. . . . The advice outreach workers give isn’t guesswork: Some of them do double duty as evaluators of applicants.”
The U.C. tricks worked. In 2003 Berkeley admitted 374 applicants with SAT scores below 1,000, nearly all of them black or Hispanic. At the same time, Berkeley rejected 3,218 applicants with SAT scores above 1,400, nearly all of them Asian or white. In 2001 at UCLA the average SAT score of Hispanic applicants admitted was 1,168, and for blacks it barely broke 1,000. The average of Asians admitted was 1,344, and that of whites, 1,355. The average of Asian applicants rejected was 1,174, and whites, 1,209. Farron is quick to note that, although the media showcases highly qualified Asians who are rejected, whites suffer far greater injustice. California taxpayers, most of them white, pay $250 million or more each year for the University of California to implement its minority outreach and evaluation bag of tricks.
Another way to ensure the admission of blacks and Hispanics is by simply accepting applicants who fall within the top four percent of their graduating high-school class. Texas does the same sort of thing with its public university system, though it accepts the top ten percent. In both cases this means that whites who score far higher on the SAT and have a far higher GPA than blacks or Hispanics but don’t fall into the magic percentile at high-achieving white schools have no chance of admission. Farron also reveals that this discrimination continues into graduate schools and provides example after example from schools across the nation. Evidently, most schools have learned Berkeley Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien’s antiwhite tricks.
One of Farron’s best chapters is devoted to a discussion of who is eligible for affirmative-action status. Originally, nearly all affirmative action was reserved for blacks, even those with considerable white blood. By the late 60’s eligibility had been expanded to include Hispanics and American Indians. This has led to all sorts of people, for school or for the workplace or for government benefits, suddenly declaring themselves a member of one of those groups. In the federal census of 1960 there were 509,000 people who declared themselves American Indians. In the 1990 census there were 1.96 million who did so, and in 2000 4.12 million. To census takers 70 percent or more of these self-declared American Indians looked white. However, ever since the 1970 census, it is a person’s self-classification that determines his racial category.
Farron’s examples would be hilarious were it not for what they say about the blatant racial discrimination against whites. The Malone brothers, Philip and Paul, grew up in Boston dreaming of becoming firemen. However, when they were old enough to take the Boston Fire Department exam, neither scored high enough to be hired. Undeterred, the fair-complexioned Malones retook the exam, this time as blacks, scoring 69 and 57 respectively and were hired. The lowest score for a white hired was 82. The newly black Malones based their claim on a sepia-tone photograph of a great-grandmother, who they said was black or partly black. For ten years all went well for the Malones, until their very success undid them. Philip Malone scored the highest of any “black” for promotion to lieutenant, and Paul was not far behind. A fire-department commissioner, who knew their family, recognized their names and questioned why the Malones were categorized as black. An investigation was launched, and the Malones were fired. Public officials denounced the Malone subterfuge but not the official policy of discrimination against whites.
Farron does not shy away from a discussion of racial IQ differences. The average lower IQ of blacks and, to a lesser degree, Hispanics is not mentioned in today’s politically correct society. However, Farron demonstrates that all efforts to level the playing field by compensating for disadvantages such as poverty, fatherless homes, disabilities, or poor schools without considering race puts whites at the top of the heap. The average IQ of whites with disadvantages is far higher than that for blacks from similar backgrounds—the same holds true to a lesser degree with Hispanics—and even significantly higher than the average IQ of blacks from privileged backgrounds. Since IQ correlates closely with SAT and ACT scores and with performance in college, the politically correct authoritarians are forced to use race as the principal factor. Either blinded by their own dogma or playing a great game of pretend, they don’t acknowledge the implications of this.
Farron does a good job at exposing the media failure to report on the nonexistent results from billions of dollars and dozens of programs to improve the academic performance of blacks. The same media are hyperbolic in their description of the rare marginal success of one or another of the programs. Yet even these rare successes are often later proved to be based on miscalculations or flaws in methodology. The revisions come not from those hostile to the programs but from sympathetic professors publishing in academic journals. From 1965 to 2010 some $166 billion of taxpayer money has been poured into Head Start. Newspapers such as the New York Times published rave reviews of the program during the late 1960’s, claiming that the IQ of black children had been raised by as much as 30 points. Then, in February 2010, the Department of Health and Human Services, which administers Head Start, published the result of a multiyear study. Of 44 cognitive tests given to former Head Start children at the end of the first grade, only two tests show any positive results—and that tiny number could be the consequence of random chance. There was deafening silence in the media when it came to reporting on the department’s own multiyear study.
Since the inception of programs such as Head Start, I have often wondered: If these programs improve the performance of black children, however marginally, wouldn’t they also improve the performance of white children, and wouldn’t we then be right back where we started with a large gap between blacks and whites?
What the media and the politically correct don’t want to address is the simple fact that, like eye color, intelligence is mostly genetically determined. There are only occasional lapses in the practice of not reporting such once widely acknowledged information. As cited by Farron, an article in the Washington Post in September 2003 declared that scientific studies “have repeatedly found that people’s genes—and not their environment—explain most of the difference in IQ among individuals.” Moreover, said the article, IQ “remains the best predictor today of social and economic success in U.S. society.” One researcher, after analyzing the strong and consistent correlation between the IQ of parents and that of their children, concluded, “The implications of this result for improving children’s intellectual functioning by intervention in mothers’ control and discipline techniques are dismal.”
Farron also addresses affirmative-action grading and graduation, which are in many ways a greater problem than affirmative-action admission. We now have blacks admitted to graduate schools, including medical school, who are less than proficient in high-school level English or math. He offers numerous examples that should convince anyone that affirmative action has entirely corrupted undergraduate education. The scores achieved by blacks with undergraduate degrees, on test after test, are on average embarrassingly low compared with what whites achieve on the same tests. What has been the response of states, for example, that require their teachers have a minimum level of competency? Dumb down the tests, of course. Any state that does not lower its standards is sued for administering a test with “disparate racial impact.” This has all been caused by a dramatic increase in grades of A or B and a near disappearance of any grade below a C.
There are real consequences to all this, as Farron as ably demonstrates. Not only are deserving whites excluded from schools of their choice, both as undergraduates and graduates, but we have incompetent black high-school students becoming incompetent undergraduates becoming incompetent medical students becoming incompetent physicians, whose incompetence kills patients—and Farron provides the statistics.
Farron does not restrict himself to affirmative action in academe. He also takes a sharp look at “blue-collar affirmative-action hiring.” He focuses particularly on this practice in police hiring and promotion because, “as in medicine, incompetence in police work has calamitous results.” His examples of what has happened to various police departments should convince even ardent proponents of affirmative action of the folly of the policy. Through the 1970’s, Washington, D.C., had one of the best police departments in the nation. Beginning in 1980, however, in an effort to increase the number of black officers, the qualifying exam was lowered, and lowered, until many who passed it were functionally illiterate. The police academy was forced to devote much of its time to remedial courses in reading and writing. When this proved insufficient to get blacks in the academy up to speed, they were allowed to take exams again and again—and provided with answers—until they passed the exams. A final exam was eventually abandoned altogether. The quality of officers declined precipitously, as noted not only by white critics but by the D.C.-based black journalist Carl Rowan. In the early 70’s the department solved 90 percent of all homicides in its jurisdiction. By the 1990’s this rate had declined to 34 percent. Other crime-solving experienced a similar demoralizing decline. Farron describes the same sorry affirmative-action corruption of the Detroit and Miami police departments.
In what may surprise many—it certainly surprised me—Farron punctures the myth of victimhood for Asians in affirmative action and clearly demonstrates that whites suffer far more than any other group from this insidious policy. He shows that Asians have actually benefited. An exhaustive analysis by William Kidder, a professor at the University of California, Davis, demonstrates that whites and not Asians are hurt the most by affirmative action in the U.C. system. Farron cites other studies that confirm this for other state systems.
Perhaps it was peculiar to my advance copy, but the book lacks an index, which harms its usefulness as a handy reference. Nonetheless, The Affirmative Action Hoax should sit on everyone’s bookshelf as the standard reference work on antiwhite discrimination. Thorough and thoroughly documented, it provides the reader with a wealth of information to refute the advocates of affirmative action.
[The Affirmative Action Hoax: Diversity, the Importance of Character and Other Lies, by Steven Farron (New Century Foundation) 334 pp., $28.95]
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