Via Maggie's Farm, Ward Connerly discusses the elephant in the room in college admissions -- the growing fear of Asian student domination. As a parent with kids in a top prep school on an Ivy league trajectory, I must say I see this fear and loathing of Asian students among parents every day. "They're taking all the top spots in the schools! My kid can't compete, they are drones that work all the time!" You have probably heard many of the same things. I hear folks who would never be caught dead uttering anything derogatory about African Americans say the most unbelievable stuff about Asians.
Throughout history, waves of hard working immigrants have always touched off fear and racism among folks who were already here. The one difference is that past fears were generally a working class phenomenon -- whether it be against Irish immigrants in the mid-19th century or African Americans post Civil War or against Mexicans today. What is new today is that, for the first time I know of, a group of recent immigrants is perceived as a competitive threat by the middle and upper class.
All this leads me to a few thoughts:
- It is no less stereotyping to say that Asians work too hard than to say blacks are lazy or the Irish are alcoholics
- We should be thrilled that our country is so open, and class barriers so low, that a group of new immigrants can immediately challenge for the positions of wealth and power. I wrote about income mobility the other day, but could there ever be a better advertisement? Name one other great civilization in history where new immigrants could be seen as immediately and directly competitive with the wealthy and powerful.
- We should be ecstatic that so many bright people want to come to America and work hard creating wealth for all of us. After all, there is no way in a free society to create wealth without delivering value. Do we begrudge Steve Jobs his fortune when we all have iPods now?