Pro-affirmative action Asian American protesters outside the Supreme Court. (Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund)

Rafu Staff Report

A political mailer being distributed by Washington, D.C.-based America First Legal Foundation condemns affirmative action as harmful to Asian Americans.

The mailer, which does not specify any candidate or ballot measure, reads, in part: “Biden and the left want to decide who gets hired and who gets fired according to their skin color. Even pilots will be chosen based on skin color — not flying ability.

“Now Hiring — Requirements: College degree, 3-5 years experience, must be Black or Latinx. Whites and Asians need not apply.

“Joe Biden and left-wing officials are engaged in widespread racist discrimination against white and Asian Americans — even though it’s against the law.

“One of Biden’s first executive orders was to mandate racial ‘equity’ as a central policy of the U.S. government. ‘Equity’ is a code word for EXCLUDING people from jobs, college admissions, government and financial benefits based solely on the color of their skin.”

The mailer includes clippings from Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal and other publications.

The mission statement of America First Legal Foundation: “We believe that all Americans deserve a government that puts their needs, their interests, and their country FIRST. This is the sacred obligation of every elected leader. This is the system our Founding Fathers established. This is the priceless heritage of every American citizen.

“Yet America First principles are now under attack like never before. Our security, our liberty, our sovereignty, and our most fundamental rights and values are being systematically dismantled by an unholy alliance of corrupt special interests, big tech titans, the fake news media, and liberal Washington politicians.

“We founded America First Legal to save our country from this coordinated campaign. With your support, we will oppose the radical left’s anti-jobs, anti-freedom, anti-faith, anti-borders, anti-police, and anti-American crusade.”

The group’s president is Stephen Miller, former senior advisor to the president during the Trump Administration.

Candidates’ Positions

Affirmative action has been raised as an issue in the race for California’s 45th Congressional District, which is between two Asian Americans — Republican incumbent Michelle Steel, who was born in South Korea and raised in Japan, and Democratic challenger Jay Chen, whose parents immigrated from Taiwan.

In an Oct. 31 tweet, Steel said, “Jay Chen has spent the last 12 years working to get Chinese Communist Party Confucius Institutes into American classrooms, but when it comes to ensuring Asian Americans get into college classrooms, he’s not so helpful.

“Just like his support for CIs, Chen went all-in on advocating for race-based selection in universities across the country, which has led to discrimination against Asian Americans.

“Chen’s advocacy for affirmative action is so ingrained he went on Tucker Carlson, where he actually denied students are being penalized because of their race.

“Chen’s push for affirmative action is disproportionately affecting Asian Americans. Michelle Steel has spent decades standing up for Asian Americans and fighting affirmative action. She has:

“Led an amicus brief with Sen. Ted Cruz and 80 of her congressional colleagues in support of the plaintiffs in SFFA v. Harvard.

“Introduced the Helping Applicants Receive Valid and Reasonable Decisions (HARVARD) Act, which would promote transparency at institutions of higher education by requiring them to list their usage of personality traits in admissions decisions. If they fail to do so, they will be ineligible for Title 4 federal funding.

“Questioned U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona during an Education and Labor Committee hearing about these discriminatory policies. He said, ‘I believe students should have an opportunity to apply and get into colleges based on their own merit.’

“Supported and campaigned for California’s Proposition 209 in 1996, which banned racial preferences in public hiring, education and contracting. Subsequently, minority graduation rates improved drastically. In 2020, California Democrats introduced Proposition 16 to bring back racial preferences in hiring, contracting and our education system. She campaigned against this discrimination and it was again rejected.

“Testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee about AAPI discrimination and the way affirmative action hurts students in schools nationwide.”

After his 2016 appearance on Carlson’s show, Chen said, “The entire premise of his questioning was an invalid one, which is ‘If you are Asian with high test scores and you didn’t get into Harvard, it’s because of your race.’ It could just as easily be that you weren’t a legacy, don’t play lacrosse or sail, didn’t attend a feeder private school, or your dad didn’t donate $2.5 million to Harvard like the president-elect’s son-in-law. Getting into Harvard is not just about SAT scores.

“If this conservative attack on affirmative action were really about protecting Asian Americans, why do they gloss over the fact that white students, who are 60% of the student body, also have substantially lower test scores than Asian American students? Statistically, and by their own logic, far more white students are unfairly taking the spots of Asians than Latinos or African Americans, so where is the lawsuit? 

“No, their focus is on affirmative action and the minorities that might be benefitting from it. Don’t be fooled by the rhetoric, Asian Americans are just being used as a wedge in this debate.”

Supreme Court Arguments

On Monday, the issue was brought before the Supreme Court, which will consider whether colleges and universities can continue to take race into consideration as a factor in admissions. Opponents of affirmative action argued that Harvard and the University of North Carolina violate equal protection principles, dash the promise of a colorblind society, and discriminate against Asian Americans.

One of those opponents is Students for Fair Admissions, which describes itself as “a nonprofit membership group of more than 20,000 students, parents, and others who believe that racial classifications and preferences in college admissions are unfair, unnecessary, and unconstitutional. Our mission is to support and participate in litigation that will restore the original principles of our nation’s civil rights movement: A student’s race and ethnicity should not be factors that either harm or help that student to gain admission to a competitive university.”

New York-based Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund rejects the allegation that race-conscious admissions policies discriminate against Asian Americans or perpetuate harmful stereotypes against them.

“The Asian American community is vast and varied, including first-generation college students and children whose parents’ professions secured their immigration; children of working-class refugees and multigenerational Americans; speakers of over 300 languages; aspiring entrepreneurs, artists, teachers, and more,” AALDEF said.

According to AALDEF, SFFA relies on “manipulated date” to attempt to demonstrate that Asian Americans with high test scores are admitted at lower rates than other racial groups.

ECAASU (East Coast Asian American Student Union) said in a staement on Oct. 31, “Today, the Supreme Court is hearing two cases on race-conscious admissions at Harvard and the University of North Carolina. Opponents are trying to use Asian Americans as a wedge against other communities of color.

“But we’re not here for it. We #DefendDiversity. We stand with a coalition of over 121 Asian American organizations and activists who support race-conscious admissions in higher education.

“Contrary to what anti-affirmative action activists claim, Asian Americans benefit from an admissions process that allows us to present our whole selves in the college application process.

“Over two-thirds of Asian Americans support affirmative action, according to an @AAPIData poll conducted in English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, and Vietnamese.”

Melinda Samaratunga, OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates policy intern and Sri-Lankan American graduate from Columbia University, wrote in an opinion piece, “Affirmative action has divided the Asian American community: some support the challengers in the Harvard case, while others have joined organizations like OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates and Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, which advocate for affirmative action …

“As Asian Americans, it is easy to fall into the trap of opposing affirmative action because we think it harms us. However, it is crucial to reconcile America’s racist history with the necessity for restorative programs such as affirmative action. We Asian Americans must advocate for affirmative action in order to reject the exploitation of our identities and demand equity for America’s most marginalized populations.

“It can often be confusing for we Asian Americans to determine how affirmative action may impact us, as it is sometimes suggested that affirmative action pulls opportunities away from Asian Americans and toward other racial groups. In reality, however, it is crucial for our racial group to support this policy; if Asian Americans oppose affirmative action, we fall into the trap of allowing our identities to be exploited for the sake of white dominance.

“Asian Americans have historically been taken advantage of in the pursuit of anti-Black policies, as early as the civic disenfranchisement of Chinese immigrants in the 1860s … For example, the model minority myth is the idea that Asian Americans succeeded independently only to be hampered by Black inclusion; it is a white construction that allowed white decision-makers to oppose race-conscious programs without appearing racist …

“Asian Americans have become pawns to advance the anti-Black interests of white individuals. For example, the Harvard Supreme Court case was brought by Students for Fair Admissions, which was founded by white conservative strategist Edward Blum … Does Blum care that much about the well-being of Asian Americans? Or is he simply exploiting us to advance Black exclusion from higher education?

“Also, like Black individuals, Asian Americans have benefited from — and continue to benefit from — affirmative action … Such race-conscious programs level the playing field between white Americans and people of color … To oppose a policy that empowers and benefits one’s own community is simply irrational.

“Asian Americans must actively support affirmative action in order to benefit our own people and resist exploitation by white decision-makers.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.