Unz on Meritocracy: “Asians as the New Jews, Jews as the New WASPs”

MeritocracyAs all writers know, a good title should be both descriptive and provocative, and both these considerations certainly apply to Russell Nieli’s very detailed 2200 word review of my Meritocracy article “Asians as the New Jews, Jews as the New WASPs,” recently published on Minding the Campus, a prominent education-oriented webzine affiliated with The Manhattan Institute.

Dr. Nieli, a Senior Preceptor and Lecturer at Princeton, has written widely about these same issues of the apparent unfairness and institutional biases in current elite college admissions, and his book, Wounds That Will Not Heal: Affirmative Action and Our Continuing Racial Divide was published late last year by Encounter Books, to considerable critical acclaim.  During the preparation of my own article, I found his numerous reviews and columns an invaluable resource, and I would highly recommend his current review as the best single summary of my own research findings, and one provided in a format far more accessible than my own 30,000 word exposition.

One of my arguments has been that when a nation’s elites are selected in a corrupt or incompetent manner, a natural result is the selection of corrupt or incompetent elites, and the recent history of our own unfortunate country does not seem to contradict such a hypothesis.  This theme—the massive failings of America’s ruling class elites, Democratic and Republican alike—was one of the main points raised in a recent Forbes interview with Angelo Codevilla of Boston University, a prominent conservative intellectual, with his summary points being reprinted on numerous conservative websites.  A couple of years ago, Prof. Codevilla had published a powerful and widely discussed article “The Ruling Class” arguing that America’s ruling elites had abandoned and betrayed our country, and the piece was later published as a book, containing a foreword by Rush Limbaugh.  I was therefore very gratified to have him now cite my elite college analysis as further supporting evidence that our rulers have grown just as insular and arrogant in their incompetence as their late Soviet counterparts.

Several other writers from various points on the ideological spectrum have also drawn somewhat similar conclusions from my research findings:


Meanwhile, the debate over the racial composition of American universities continues, with a business editor at The Atlantic yesterday publishing an article on that topic, also  provided as part of The National Journal’s continuing series on The Next America.  Although the title argued that the charts demonstrate that America’s top colleges “massively distort” our “racial evolution,” several of his commenters and a critical blogger pointed out that the analysis provided was actually somewhat superficial.  Among other elements, college enrollment levels were compared to America’s racial numbers as a whole, rather than the far more relevant college-age cohort, hardly a minor factor given the huge differences in age-distribution between (say) whites and Hispanics.  Furthermore, differences in regional distribution were ignored, and these are obviously a major reason that the University of Texas is almost five times as heavily Hispanic as the University of Michigan, as were differences in academic achievement.  So unless we assume that all American ethnic groups are exactly equal in their age structure, regional distribution, and academic achievement, the charts included were colorful but not necessarily very informative.

For those who want to explore such college racial enrollment trends in greater detail, I recently made available a simple tool to do so, which provides the official 1980-2011 NCES data for thousands of American colleges in a more convenient format.  Some prominent scholars have now tweeted out the existence of this tool, and given its growing popularity, I have now moved it to a more convenient location, and the old link has been redirected.

Lastly, the details of my January 29th debate before the Yale Political Union have now been finalized, with the YPU officers selecting the specific topic “Resolved: End Affirmative Action in College Admissions.”  Although fully summarizing my own position is obviously difficult in any such short phrase, I suspect that such a provocative and timely title will certainly draw a very substantial audience from the generally liberal political community of Yale University.  As a result, I hope that many of the attendees will not only hear ideas that they do not much like but also ideas that they may have never previously encountered, and all of this will be to the good.



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