The anti-Asian battle in California, once limited to high school, now plays out in the world of higher education

Lowell High SchoolI grew up entirely surrounded by Asians.  I think I had one friend who was Jewish.  The rest were Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Filipino.  They all came from homes that had exactly the same values:  marriage, education, hard work, and self-reliance were the family watch words.  Those are still watch words amongst conservatives who believe (and have the data to support them) that those people most likely to leave poverty behind are the ones who do well in school, get married before they have children, and then work extremely hard.  Nevertheless, if I am to judge by Facebook, all of my Asian high school friends are hard-core Progressive Democrats.

But back to my youthful friendships.  Why did I have so many Asian friends?  It wasn’t just that I grew up in San Francisco, which is to Asia what Ellis Island was to European, Central European and Russian immigration.  It was that I went to Lowell.  Lowell was unique among public schools in that you didn’t get into it because of your neighborhood.  Instead, you had to grade into it, so it drew the top students from all over San Francisco — something it had done so since its founding in 1868.

Back in my day, Lowell wasn’t yet being called a “Chinese girls school,” but a quick glance through my late 1970s’ yearbooks shows that the student population was around 40% Asian.  The “Chinese girls school” phrase came into being, I believe, in the 1980s.  Back in my day, there was also still a big enough bolus of Jewish kids that we made the joke that, if Chinese New Year and Yom Kippur fell on the same day, they’d have to close the school.

The year I graduated, Lowell was ranked as the 9th best high school in the country.  Its list of august graduates (as well as embarrassing grads) was a sight to behold.  The abbreviate list below is culled from a fuller list here, but even that list is incomplete, since I know it’s missing a few Nobel Prize winners (in the sciences) and authors (e.g., Lemony Snicket):

ALBERT MICHELSON, Class of 1868.
First American Nobel Prize in Physics, 1907. Michelson Hall of Science on the Naval Academy campus honors his name.

JOSIAH ROYCE, Class of 1871.
Philosopher, author, Harvard professor. Royce Hall on UCLA campus honors him.

FRANK ANGELLOTTI, Class of 1879.
Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court.

STEPHEN MATHER, Class of 1883.
“Father of the National Park System”. First Director. Mather Air Force Base honors him.

EUGENE DE SABLA, Class of 1883.
Visionary builder of first hydroelectric plant in Northern California Called “Father of the PG&E”.

JOSEPH ERLANGER, Class of 1892.
Physician; Professor, Washington University in St. Louis. Nobel Prize in Medicine, 1945.

U. S. Army aviation pioneer. First man to die in an airplane accident – in the Wright Flyer, 1908. Selfridge AFB in Michigan honors him.

REUBEN (RUBE) GOLDBERG, Class of 1900.
Dean of American cartoonists.

MATHEW TOBRINER, Class of 1920.
Judge of the California Supreme Court.

IRVING STONE, Class of 1920.
Biographical novelist: “Agony and the Ecstasy”, “Lust for Life”, “Passion of the Mind”.

EDMUND G. (PAT) BROWN, Class of 1923.
District Attorney of San Francisco; State Attorney-General; Governor of California, 1959-1967.

Winston Churchill called him “One of the Allies finest fighting generals”. Commander of the 45th (Thunderbird) Division in World War II.

JOHN A. BLUME, Class of 1928.
Seismic Engineer; “Father of Structural Engineering “. Blume Earthquake Center at Stanford honors his name.

WILLIAM R. HEWLETT, Class of 1930.
Inventor, businessman, philanthropist. Co-founder, Hewlett-Packard Company; Flora & William Hewlett Foundation; Hewlett Computer Lab at Lowell honors him.

DR. MAKIO MURAYAMA, Class of 1933.
Biochemist, NIH, Bethesda, Md.. First recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King Medical Award for sickle- cell anemia research.

CAROL CHANNING, Class of 1938.
International star of stage and screen. Lowell’s Carol Channing Theater honors her achievements.

One of America’s foremost abstract painters. Received UCLA Medal in 1987.

PIERRE SALINGER, Class of 1941.
Press Secretary to President John F. Kennedy. Chief, ABC European Bureau.

Assistant Commandant, Retired, U.S. Marine Corps; only Lowellite to attain the rank of a four-star General. Board Chairman, Retired Officers’ Association.

JEAN KAYE TINSLEY, Class of 1944.
One of the world’s foremost helicopter pilots. Chief Judge from the U. S. at the World Helicopter Championships held near Paris in 1989.

The three stars of a Vice-Admiral is the highest Naval rank to have been achieved by a Lowellite.

DIAN FOSSEY, Class of 1949.
Sacrificed her life protecting the mountain gorillas of Ruanda. Book and film, “Gorillas in the Mist” describe her life with the great apes.

BILL BIXBY, Class of 1952.
Movie and TV star: “The Incredible Hulk”, “My Favorite Martian”. Director.

STEPHEN BREYER, Class of 1955.
Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Appointed by President Clinton in 1994.

RICHARD LEVIN, Class of 1964.
President of Yale University (1993).

NAOMI WOLF, Class of 1980.
Yale; first Lowell alumna to win a Rhodes Scholarship. Author of “The Beauty Myth – How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women”.

The first American-Samoan ever to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy and is now a fighter pilot for the US Navy. Was president of CSF while at Lowell, also member of Shield and Scroll all four years.

The point of the above list is to say that going to Lowell once meant something.  I was proud of my alma mater.  Indeed, up until the 1970s or so, San Franciscans were generally proud of Lowell.  It was a testament to “the City that knows how.”

As San Francisco became increasingly Leftist, however, City government became hostile to Lowell, which was seen as an unfair, elitist institution.  The view was that it just wasn’t fair that all those Asians got in.  The mere fact that they worked harder than everyone else (at least 12 hours more of homework per week than any other student group) didn’t justify their admission to such a good school.  The school district felt strongly that there were way too many Asians and whites (including Jews) at the school and far too few blacks and Hispanics.

Following a lawsuit, which San Francisco did not vigorously fight, the school district instituted a quota system.

Suddenly, Lowell ceased to be a Chinese girls school and started achieving the correct skin color that only a Leftist multiculturalist can love.  It also stopped being Lowell, a place of high academic accomplishment.  Instead, it became just another high school with a slightly better GPA than all the other high schools in the City.  It dropped like a stone in nationwide rankings.

San Francisco’s Asian community, however, wasn’t going to give up without a fight.  The Asians knew that, if they could once again get into Lowell based upon the content of their academic record and not the color of their skin, Lowell could return to its preeminent status — one that gave Asian grads a serious leg up as they applied to colleges and universities around the world.  The Asian community therefore sued and sued and sued . . . and finally won, sort of.  A 1999 consent decree resulted in a court ordered quota system that worked in Asians’ favor, so much so that the school (a) became primarily Asian again and (b) rose in nationwide rankings again.

The racial hate mongers were not pleased that the school was ascending again thanks to the Asians and wanted to rejigger the quota system.  That did not happen.  Right now, the school operates without quotas, and continues to be fairly highly ranked nationwide, although it’s never regained the stratospheric academic heights it had before the Leftists messed with it.

Why this long history about Lowell?  Because the racial hate-mongers in California are trying to do to the UC system what the Left did to Lowell, which is to boot out the Asians:

California has a long and ugly history of discriminating against Asian Americans. From the Anti-Jap Laundry League, the Anti-Chinese League, the Asiatic Exclusion League, the alien land laws, the Anti-Coolie Act . . . the list is long. Much of that discrimination had its origins on the left, with the Ant-Jap Laundry Act, the Asiatic Exclusion Act, and the Anti-Coolie Law being in the main projects of organized labor, which did not like the idea of being made to compete against Asians for work.

And now another group of left-leaning Californians is chafing at the idea of being made to compete with Asian Americans.

The California state legislature was on the verge of approving a referendum to restore the consideration of race and ethnicity in admissions to state universities. The referendum originally had the support of three state senators who have since had a change of heart: Leland Yee of San Francisco, Ted Lieu of Torrance, and Carol Liu of La Cañada, Democrats all. They changed their minds when they were overwhelmed with telephone calls and e-mails — thousands of them — from angry constituents who know exactly what such affirmative-action programs mean in the context of elite universities: Asian quotas. A petition to cancel the referendum has already been endorsed by 100,000 signatories. Subsequently, the senators sent a letter to the speaker, John Pérez (do I need to note that he’s a Democrat?) seeking to have the measure tabled. The letter reads in part: “As lifelong advocates for the Asian American and other communities, we would never support a policy that we believed would negatively impact our children.”

Will this manifestly racist effort to deprive Asians of academic opportunities succeed in driving the Asians out of the Democrat party and the politics of racial grievance?  Sorry, but no.

Just like my fellow Jews, for a smart people the Asians sure can be dumb when it comes to political allegiance.  These are two ethnic/cultural groups that assiduously avoid looking at the actual issues dividing the two parties (effectiveness of big government versus individual freedom, obsession with race versus obsession with individual ability, etc.) and think, instead, in simplistic terms:  Democrats are good; Republicans are evil.  It will take more than a second sustained, aggressive Democrat-powered racist attack against Asians to change this allegiance.

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  • barbtheevilgenius

    I’ve given up caring about the “Republicans are evil” crowd. They may be book smart, but reducing an entire group of people to simply being “evil” makes them dumber than a box of rocks. I also don’t know how much headway I can make with someone who thinks me evil right out of the gate (while noting that I’m much more conservative than Republican these days.) Is it dangerous for our country to have this great ideological divide? Yes. But I think we’ve gone too far to avoid reaping most of what the leftists have sown.

  • Ymarsakar

    One of the primary issues in the Asian community is immigration and the INS. It doesn’t take the Left or Democrat propaganda to highlight the deportation issue. The ICE and INS agencies were a combination of IRS power with DMV monopoly.
    The second issue is that Asian countries long ago utilized Western enlightenment results, such as the communist ideology in such places as Cambodia and China. Thus national healthcare and things being controlled by the top in an authoritarian system, makes sense. From Singapore, to Japan, to China, hierarchy has always been valued, along with individualism historically. But when individuals contest the state, the state usually wins.
    So long as the regime is considered benevolent, wise, or at least half way competent, the hierarchy of authoritarianism is tolerated. Buy the moment it is seen otherwise, then the illusion breaks down, ala Hong Kong where most Chinese exiled themselves to, then left once again when Hong Kong fell under the Chinese Mao Regime. Individual survival always trumps personal ideology.

  • 11B40

    I channel surfed through a KQED new program last evening thanks, I think, to the Progressive (née Public Broadcasting System that addressed the UC, especially Berkeley, admission policies since Californians voted for whatever it was number 209.  The Proggies will never stop trying to repeal or subvert that suspension of anti-white and especially anti-white male oppression.  
    What caught my mind though was that the supposed “panel” consisted of two male and two females of the Asian persuasion (sorry couldn’t resist that opportunity) and the borg-like consensus (as opposed to the common senses) was that Asians would best be served by  joining with other obviously oppressed, perhaps tortured, minority groups to overturn what hasn’t yet been subverted by the various bureaucracies involved.  With friends like these, etc.
    For the better part of half a year now, I have been wrestling with the idea that “affirmative action” was the death knell of our civilization.  When whites, especially white males, submitted to that oppression, perhaps under some kind of a “Rule of Law” delusion, we opened the doors for the Progressives to start their Long Marches through all our Institutions.  And, it seems to me that, for Progressives, “Long” means “Forever”.
    I seem to have no ability to envision any way that this damage can be fixed.  Progressives are too many, too determined, too embedded in too many bureaucracies for our ship to state to be righted.

  • JKB

    Well, if they can’t learn from experience, leave them and their children to their fate.  
    Their kids can’t get into the UC system, so what.  If they’ve a brain, they’d develop an alternative college, but they won’t so leave them.

  • Earl

    That list of distinguished alumni left out Carl Aagaard, Class of 1939 (maybe 1940)….my Dad.
    As for the (Patty Hearst-like) Asian community, the Stockholm Syndrome is strong with them!!

  • Matt_SE

    “As lifelong advocates for the Asian American and other communities, we would never support a policy that we believed would negatively impact our children.”
    The SF Asian community have simply replaced the anti-white racism of the Democratic party at large with their own pro-Asian racism.
    The proper course is to eliminate racism as a whole, but that doesn’t seem to have occurred to the SF Asian community. The endgame is entirely predictable: various racial tribes (as opposed to the usual economic tribes) seeking rents from the government.
    This fight will never end unless one of two things happens:
    1) tribalism itself is rejected.
    2) one race gets the demographic upper hand and disenfranchises the others in a brutal way.

  • Charles Martel

    Despite their great work ethic and innate intelligence, East Asians come from conformist cultures that do not honor deep political thinking. The Chinese and the Japanese did not invent the concept of rights, and never would have conceived of them in the absence of outside western influences. So you come to America to enjoy the benefits of a cruelty-free, law-based government that allows your cultural inclination to disciplined hard work to blossom without fear of overlords or thugs stealing the fruits of your labor.
    As minorities, and in the absence of your native culture’s lack of political sophistication, it’s going to be easy to be seduced by the Siren song of victimhood and Screw Whitey.  Add to that second or third-generation kids who have been thoroughly indoctrinated in the low-grade swill that passes for higher education these days and you’re bound to find many who will go along with the tedious leftist mantra about “people of color.”

    • Ymarsakar

      Most of America is no different from an authoritarian, hierarchical, class based conformist culture.

  • Ron19
    This was already settled in court for Allan Bakke.
    Remember him?

  • Eidolon

    I recently listened to an audiobook of Thomas Sowell’s The Economics and Politics of Race. It was utterly fascinating, and it really changed my view on some issues.
    What’s particularly interesting is the experience of Chinese outside of China. Chinese have consistently outperformed others in every country they’ve gone to, including Western nations. They’ve often been discriminated against, and rarely sought or had any political voice, yet they have succeeded over and over throughout history and in every nation they’ve emigrated to. I was saddened to learn that among the many nations which instituted discriminatory policies against the Chinese due to jealousy of their success was the United States.
    My wife is Chinese, so I’ve thought about these issues. She now agrees with my politics, but I think I have an idea why Asians tend to side with Democrats. Asians are not that different from black people in their politics because they view things primarily in tribal terms. Asian countries generally operate such that everyone is trying to get everything they can for their own family, and Asians assume you’re doing that too. Thus it’s not surprising when a political leader in China is shown to be corrupt; any given person would’ve done the same, just for their own family. They don’t really resent that behavior. Taking bribes just means making more to take care of your family. They all know they’d have done the same if they had the opportunity. Thus, when it comes to political parties they think in terms of “how much will you give me?” I think there’s also a sort of general pessimism, as in “this government may stay or it may fall; might as well get as much out of it as possible.” The focus is on getting as much as possible in the short term.
    This strategy is highly effective in unstable societies, or societies likely to discriminate against them (which has been most societies, historically). Thus, while it’s bad (or at least potentially bad) for the society itself, it’s good for Asians.
    Interestingly, political power has either no impact on the success of the powerful group or possibly even a negative effect. The Irish, when they first came to America, were the poorest group, and were unsuccessful in areas which Germans succeeded greatly in just a few decades later. However, they were very successful in politics. But political power had no effect on the ability of Irish to succeed generally. Thus the lack of political representation for Asians (a lack which represented a lack of interest in politics on their part, not discrimination) has not held them back much, if at all, in their host countries.

  • expat

    Charles Martel,
    I also think that the Chinese are very focussed on grades and marks of high achievement, not so much on history or culture. Someone I know who was here in Germany for a few years went on a tour of Italy with his mother. I told him he should try the risotto in Northern Italy because it was a very different way of doing rice. Turns out, their Chinese tour group only ate in Chinese restaurants during the whole trip.  I think most came back with photos of themselves in front of landmark churches and buildings but I don’t think they actually learned much about their history or architecture.  It was a way of checking off boxes for them.
    I certainly don’t attribute this kind of thinking to all Chinese, but it is a part of the picture.

  • Eidolon

    I guess I should elaborate on my comment that Asians vote “like black people.” What I’ve come to believe about black people is that they think, based on what they’ve been told, that white people constitute a large bloc, a coherent cultural mass, in the same way that black people do. Therefore all issues come down to whether “they” benefit or “we” benefit. This is encouraged by all the pontificating about how racist white people and the institutions they’ve developed are. If white people say it, it must be true; they have no reason to lie or exaggerate since it makes them look worse.
    Thus, black people expect whites to vote to benefit whites, and they should do the same, otherwise “they” will get everything and “we” will get nothing. It took me a while to understand this because white people do not, in fact, have this sort of mentality at all; it’s completely foreign to the experience of the average white American (I’d be a bit surprised if any white American had the kind of racial loyalty that the average black American has). But it’s somewhat understandable that black people believe that whites do operate in this manner, as they have been repeatedly told by certain white people that they do.
    Asians are different in that they seek the most benefit for themselves and their immediate family members, not for “Asians” in general (an absurd category consisting of extremely varied and in no way similar groups), focusing in particular on things that will benefit their children. But they are similar in that their view of politics is very much “us” vs. “them” in the sense that they expect the things that benefit “us” to be opposed to the things that benefit “them.”
    There is no reason for “Asians” to seek to benefit “Asians” in general because they have no cohesive identity as “Asian,” nor would you expect them to. Chinese generally don’t like Japanese, for example. People from India have no stake in the success of Vietnamese or Koreans. Thus there’s no real consensus attempt to deal with the discrimination against Asian school applicants.
    There’s also the fact that Chinese, for example, have experienced discrimination more often than not. They’ve probably been discriminated against in, and kicked out of, more countries than Jews. This is the default for them, not some shocking exception. They have always borne unfair treatment silently, generally seeking to run their businesses under the radar as much as possible, switching industries if need be when kicked out of the one they’re currently in. Fighting against this discrimination would be out of character for them, and you see that generally they don’t do so.

  • March Hare

    I attended high school just on the other side of Stonestown from Lowell in the late-60’s/early-70’s (back when SF public high schools were 3-years, 10-11-12 grades).  Even then, the admission criteria for boys was lower than for girls; otherwise, Lowell would have been an all-girls school.
    As for the UC system:  a couple of years ago there was a movement to bring the racial percentages of enrollees in line with the racial make-up of the state.  The usual suspects were very excited until someone pointed out that the group that would suffer most were the Asians, as they were overrepresented.  White students were actually ~under-represented~.  There was, at the time, a strong movement by Asian students at Cal, to change admissions to strictly academic merit, regardless of race.
    I went to an college admissions seminar for the UC system with DS#2.  Davis, Berkeley, and Santa Cruz were represented.  There were gasps from the audience when the admissions officer from Berkeley stated that a +4.0 GPA, high SAT scores and extracurricular activities would not guarantee admission to Cal or UCLA.  The parents who asked “Why?” were Asian or East Asian/Indian.  They were appalled.  Meanwhile, I knew my blue-eyed son had a snowball’s chance of going to Davis (his first choice) since he’s not an athletic or academic superstar.  (He’s currently attending CSU Channel Islands, which, IMHO, is a much better fit for him academically and socially.
    Heck, I probably couldn’t get into Cal today!

    • Bookworm

      I don’t want to violate your privacy, March Hare, but were you by any chance one of those wearing short bluish-black plaid skirts on the bus and when wandering around Stonestown?  Or maybe in those days, they were still long bluish-black plaid skirts….

      If my guess about your school is correct, you got an education every bit as good as the one I got at Lowell — indeed, probably much better because, by the time I got to Lowell, it was already awash in the faddish education tricks that so terribly damaged school children.

      • March Hare

        Mercy me, Book!  Yes, I resemble that remark, although I’m a couple of years older than you. 
        What I appreciate now is that back in those pre-feminist days standards were high and since most of the faculty were female, no slack was cut for us being the same.  The smarter you were, the more that was expected.

        • Bookworm

          I’m shocked!!  Shocked!!! You weren’t simply victims of a patriarchal system using women teachers as a means of extending oppression?  What will people say next?

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