HED Team Trump's affirmative action war: Not for whites only
When news broke that the Justice Department plans to investigate whether university affirmative action policies discriminate against white people, it hit late night comedians like a ball of catnip landing in a room full of kittens.
Particularly excited was "The Daily Show's" mixed-race host Trevor Noah. To the notion that white people might have it worse than black people, he asked sarcastically: "Where? In the sun?"
"Finally!" he exclaimed. "You know how many times I go to colleges in America and say, 'Hey, where's all the white people?' If American colleges were any whiter, Jon Snow" -- a character on HBO's "Game of Thrones" -- "would build a wall to protect us from them."
But, alas, nothing kills satire like complications. On Wednesday, a Justice Department spokesman said the investigation would be narrowly tailored to a single complaint filed in 2015 that accuses Harvard's undergraduate admissions process of discriminating not against whites as much as against Asian-Americans.
On average, the complaint alleges, Asian students have to have SAT scores 140 points higher than white students, 270 points higher than Hispanics and 450 points higher than black students to be admitted.
That's the sort of complication that kills the laugh in late-night humor for a lot of people, especially those who fear the possibility of what conservative critics have long called "reverse discrimination." It's only fair that DOJ look into possible discrimination by race, regardless of the race of the alleged victims.
However, having covered this issue for more than 30 years, I also know that college admissions rely on more than grades and aptitude test scores.
I also know that the sort of program that comes to many and, perhaps, most American minds when they hear "affirmative action" actually died years ago. It has since been replaced by something so much more pleasant-sounding as to seem downright patriotic.
It's called "diversity."
The new era began with the double-pronged 1978 decision in white applicant Allan Bakke's case against the University of California, Davis. That decision struck down the use of hard numerical racial quotas but upheld taking race into account as only one of several factors for consideration to improve diversity.