Why Liberals Are Paranoid

Someone once defined “affirmative action” as the process by which the power elite discriminate against one group of underprivileged people in order to give an advantage to a second group of underprivileged people.

Now New York Times columnist Ross Douthat cites research that confirms that definition:

…Last year, two Princeton sociologists, Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Walton Radford, published a book-length study of admissions and affirmative action at eight highly selective colleges and universities. Unsurprisingly, they found that the admissions process seemed to favor black and Hispanic applicants, while whites and Asians needed higher grades and SAT scores to get in. But what was striking, as Russell K. Nieli pointed out last week on the conservative Web site Minding the Campus, was which whites were most disadvantaged by the process: the downscale, the rural and the working-class.

This was particularly pronounced among the private colleges in the study. For minority applicants, the lower a family’s socioeconomic position, the more likely the student was to be admitted. For whites, though, it was the reverse. An upper-middle-class white applicant was three times more likely to be admitted than a lower-class white with similar qualifications.

This may be a money-saving tactic. In a footnote, Espenshade and Radford suggest that these institutions, conscious of their mandate to be multiethnic, may reserve their financial aid dollars “for students who will help them look good on their numbers of minority students,” leaving little room to admit financially strapped whites.

But cultural biases seem to be at work as well. Nieli highlights one of the study’s more remarkable findings: while most extracurricular activities increase your odds of admission to an elite school, holding a leadership role or winning awards in organizations like high school R.O.T.C., 4-H clubs and Future Farmers of America actually works against your chances. Consciously or unconsciously, the gatekeepers of elite education seem to incline against candidates who seem too stereotypically rural or right-wing or “Red America.”

This provides statistical confirmation for what alumni of highly selective universities already know. The most underrepresented groups on elite campuses often aren’t racial minorities; they’re working-class whites (and white Christians in particular) from conservative states and regions. Inevitably, the same underrepresentation persists in the elite professional ranks these campuses feed into: in law and philanthropy, finance and academia, the media and the arts…

Among the highly educated and liberal, meanwhile, the lack of contact with rural, working-class America generates all sorts of wild anxieties about what’s being plotted in the heartland. In the Bush years, liberals fretted about a looming evangelical theocracy. In the age of the Tea Parties, they see crypto-Klansmen and budding Timothy McVeighs everywhere they look…

And Robin Shepherd on the left’s descent into self-parody:

Now, let’s be clear about a couple of things right from the beginning: First, all other things being equal a liberal-democratic society should have no problem accommodating a multiplicity of different cultures, and the traditions and customs that go with them; Second, in a free society, again with that proviso — all other things being equal — the way people dress in particular should be entirely their affair. As general propositions about Western society, few would disagree.

But with the French parliament’s decision to ban the burka this week in mind, it is a sign of the shallowness of much of Europe’s liberal establishment that no greater level of sophistication about such issues, and the profound implications they entail, is currently possible. The burka ban has been variously described across the continent by bien pensant opinion as “racism” “bigotry” and “Islamophobia”. So much is to be expected. But in some cases, they have truly outdone themselves.

First prize in the contest for the stupidest commentary imaginable goes to none other then Britain’s very own Guardian newspaper, whose editorial today is in parts laugh-out-loud hilarious. Consider the following, as our heroes summon up every ounce of conceivable insight to deliver what they presumably regard as the coup de grace on French and, by extension, Western, hypocrisy:

“Users of the metro or underground learn instinctively to avoid looking each other in the eye. It is regarded as an intrusion. And yet no state legislature would think about passing a law that bans the wearing of sunglasses indoors on the grounds that it poses a threat to national security”.

I promise readers that I did not just make that quotation up. A form of dress so extreme in its oppression of women that it forces them to hide their faces from society and that thus represents a form of subjugation unheard of in Europe since the witch burning days of the Inquisition is being compared to keeping yourself to yourself on the underground railway system, or the wearing of sunglasses.

As we have seen many times, the liberal-establishment’s anti-Western, third-worldist prejudices trump pro-Western, enlightenment notions of universal rights at every turn. And the commitment to such prejudices is so intense that it must be upheld even at the expense of inviting ridicule…

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