Affirmative Action Tactic Spills Over to Elections


On election week, a week after the SCOTUS affirmative action hearing, you’d think things would die down until a decision is rendered sometime in 2023.

But why bury a good wedge when it’s still hot?

I mean, this is an election, and democracy deniers out there aren’t ready to quit a little fear mongering to rile up the conservative base. One Asian American voter brought to my attention a flyer put out in the closing days of the campaign.

Emil GuillermoEmil Guillermo

The hit piece screams the claim “Joe Biden and Left-Wing officials are engaged in widespread racial discrimination against WHITE and ASIAN AMERICANS.”

It’s false, backed up by out of context headlines from right wing news sources.

But the hit piece shares the formula put forth by anti-civil rights activist Ed Blum, the mastermind behind the Students for Affirmative Action (SFFA) attack on race conscious admissions at Harvard and the University of North Carolina.

And since they’ve ridden this from the lower courts all the way to the Supreme Court for years, other conservative anti-civil rights folks must have figured the idea of ginning up fake hate against whites and Asian Americans has the legs to make it a “thing.”

Picking up on the theme is none other than the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant advisor Stephen Miller. He’s proudly started something called America First Legal, a right-wing group intending to be the conservative answer to the American Civil Liberties Union.

No one will ever mistake the ACLU with this new-fangled AFL which believes that spreading lies as truth under the guise of free speech is part of the American way.

Sounds like good ole Republican rhetoric. But the AFL is sending out this propaganda piece to voters mostly on the northeast. Another hit piece linked to AFL takes out of context remarks by Vice President Harris about the needs of people of color after Hurricane Ian. AFL believes it was an example of egregious racial preference. She wasn’t, but it’s an example of the race-conscious misinformation being spread across the country in the hopes of scaring voters into voting for conservative candidates.

Funny, AFL doesn’t mind the use of race when it comes to propaganda.

And all of this comes after a test run using Asian Americans as a wedge to dismantle fair and legal race conscious college admissions at Harvard and University of North Carolina. Will it be a thing going forward?

Asian Americans being allied with whites in all things regarding race? 

Let’s hope not. In a national poll of Asian American voters, a large majority of  Asian Americans are consistently  supportive of affirmative action. And not just in college admissions. They believe in the idea of race equity and programs to achieve the kind of balance needed in the institutions of a diverse society.

Keep that in mind as you see the idea of the Asian/White wedge  used by political forces to destroy efforts to create that diversity.

About that SCOTUS Hearing

As for the decision on the SFFA case by SCOTUS, anyone who claims to know how the judges will rule is lying. The justices have shown their conservative tendencies on matters, but based on the questions at the hearing, the liberals, led by newly appointed Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, were adept in asking SFFA to show the harm in the system they so desperately want to destroy.

They never could effectively.

In fact, going back to the lower courts determination that there was no discrimination found is pretty strong. With no new evidence provided, one would think the lower court would prevail.

That would be true if a ruling were based purely on legal logic rather than the justices’ personal beliefs.

I thought Justice Clarence Thomas was most dismissive, even rude.

Everyone must know by now, Thomas, because of the actions of his insurrectionist supporting wife, is seen as the most political of the justices. The fact that election deniers who sought to overturn a Biden victory, sought Thomas’ approval is telling of his perceived bias.

At the hearing Thomas wore his bias on his sleeve.

“I’ve heard diversity quite a few times and I don’t have a clue what it means,” Thomas said, which is somewhat dishonest intellectually. But if it is true, then we should be able to expect to uphold race conscious admissions? Not in this lifetime.

“It seems to mean everything for everyone,” Thomas continued, as he asked Brian Park, the North Carolina Solicitor arguing for UNC, for examples of diversity.

“I’d also like you to give us a clear idea of exactly what the educational benefits of diversity at the University of North Carolina would be.”

Park answered dutifully and well, as he talked about the value of broad criteria that included, but was not limited to race.

“We value diversity of all different kinds and all the ways that people differ in our society,” Park said. He also reminded that SFFA’s own expert agreed that diversity leads to “a deeper and richer learning environment…more creative thinking, and an exchange of ideas” between people of different backgrounds.

But in this telling exchange Thomas was a bully. “You still haven’t given me the educational benefits,” said Thomas. “I didn’t go to racially diverse schools, but there were educational benefits.”

What does that say?

Thomas was a beneficiary of affirmative action at his alma maters, Holy Cross and at Yale Law.  They served him well. He saw the educational benefit.

And now he wants to shut the door on all those who come after?

That’s not justice. That’s an affirmative action denier.

Add it to the list of the election deniers. Who are also immigration deniers. DACA deniers.

And foremost, democracy deniers.

Emil Guillermo is a veteran journalist and commentator. You can follow him on Twitter @emilamok