Progressive white nationalists

In recent years, white parents in California have watched with increasing dismay as a growing share of spots at top universities are snatched up by Asian-American students. Now they are fighting back in the courts:

The University of California must immediately suspend all use of SAT and ACT test scores for admission and scholarship decisions under a preliminary injunction issued by an Alameda County Superior Court judge.

The goal is to switch the admissions criteria to areas such as “personality”, sports, and legacy preferences, where white students would have a better chance competing against workaholic Asian students.

PS. I don’t have strong views either way on the utility of SAT exams, although they seem like one reasonable data point that students can use when other criteria don’t show their actual ability. I never would have been accepted to Chicago without SATs. (I was a B student in high school, with zero extracurricular activities.) But then maybe I should not have been accepted.

Either way, the courts should certainly not ban them.



19 Responses to “Progressive white nationalists”

  1. Gravatar of Benoit Essiambre Benoit Essiambre
    3. September 2020 at 11:43

    This is also a way to keep out the poor, who often have less opportunity for extra-curricular.

  2. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    3. September 2020 at 12:55

    Benoit, That’s right.

  3. Gravatar of Kgaard Kgaard
    3. September 2020 at 12:56

    Whites are the cause of so many problems. Why not quarantine them in whites-only colleges, like blacks used to be relegated to? That would solve a lot of problems for everyone who has to suffer the presence of whites.

  4. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    3. September 2020 at 12:56


    Do you question motives here? Rosenbaum says he did it all for students of color, students with disabilities, and students from low-income families. LOL.

    This reminds me a bit of the discussion about zoning, where it was actually you who first accused the other side of having evil motives.

    But in the case of the SAT tests I have to agree with you. I bet they are probably the best single predictor for a successful university education there is. They are not ideal in any case, the other side likes to emphasize this, while concealing that there is no better simple single method out there. This is just really dishonest.

    And judges have way too much arbitrary power in the US. Let universities decide for themselves how they want to pick their students.

  5. Gravatar of AMT AMT
    3. September 2020 at 16:03

    When people complain about standardized testing, I’m always reminded of a joke by Daniel Tosh:
    Don’t you love it when people say, “I’m a bad test taker.” You mean you’re stupid. Oh, you struggle with that part where we find out what you know?! See I can totally relate, I’m a brilliant painter, minus my god-awful brush strokes.

    Tests might not be a perfect measure of what schools are or should be looking for but they are very underrated.

  6. Gravatar of Jonathan Miller Jonathan Miller
    3. September 2020 at 16:22

    There was recently a discussion about an Science article ( about US graduate programs dropping the GRE requirement. There were a number of people, many of them who described themselves as both successful scientists and as having come from disadvantaged backgrounds, who maintained that they would have never had a chance to attend graduate school without GRE exams. I am not sure if I would have gotten into good graduate programs without my high GRE scores.

    I would guess this would be true for SATs/ACTs too. Would have I have gotten the scholarships required for me to be able to attend college if I had not been a National Merit Semifinalist? Not sure.

    For graduate school, there was a study ( showing that only recommendation letters and not grades or exams or research experience were indicative of successful completion of graduate school.

    I wonder if the same would be true of college?

  7. Gravatar of Charles Allard Charles Allard
    3. September 2020 at 18:28

    The SAT/ACT should be banned because it is a racket. Many a parent who has had to register and go through this will agree. If you want some standardized test, make it public and make it free. Don’t give it some oligopoly.

  8. Gravatar of Skeptical Skeptical
    3. September 2020 at 19:13

    This has been one of my predictions for the next 10-15 years for some time now. People rolled their eyes when I said it in 2010. Any objective criteria for applying to college will be outlawed or banned in practice among the schools that matter.

    It will be presented as a racial equality measure, but in reality is a measure to ensure dumb upper middle class white kids and legacies have a smooth glide-path to securing a sinecure.

    There’s a bootlegger/baptist story here, and a darker racial exclusion one.

    My kids are double legacy so I get to enjoy the show I guess.

  9. Gravatar of BC BC
    3. September 2020 at 22:26

    This lawsuit appears to have been brought by people that think the SAT/ACT discriminates against students of color and the poor (under the guise that it discriminates against the disabled this year due to Covid restrictions): The “historic decision puts an end to racist tests that deprived countless California students of color, students with disabilities, and students from low-income families of a fair shot at admissions to the UC system.” The goal is to increase under-represented minority admissions, although Scott is correct that it may also increase white admissions at the expense of Asians.

    Love the reasoning here. The Covid shutdowns made it more difficult, if not impossible, for some disabled students to take the SAT/ACT. So, rather than declare the *shutdowns* discriminatory and modify the rules so that the disabled can take the tests, declare the tests discriminatory! Makes perfect sense.

  10. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    4. September 2020 at 02:00


    Affirmative action for the majority. Hilarious. Not a first of course, happens world wide these days. Then again, if you read the 3rd Reich’s internal documents – even back then the Nazis did not believe that Jews were inferior. They believed that that Gentile Germans didn’t stand a chance against Jewish Germans. They believed Gentiles were the inferior ones and needed protection.

  11. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    4. September 2020 at 05:19


    Are you sure about that? What document would that be? Is there an example? Would you start a world war against certain “races” when you think that you are inferior? From what I read they really thought they were superior and would therefore win with ease.

    I also find Scott’s interpretations regarding the article pretty wild, to put it mildly. His interpretation is not even implied in the article, not even close.

    Scott always complains when someone (allegedly) accuses him of “bad” motives (hardly anyone ever does), in truth he does that himself all the time with others, a pretty classic example of what Freud called “Übertragung”.

  12. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    4. September 2020 at 07:36

    Charles, Yes, it says right in the US Constitution that everything Charles Allard does not personally like should be banned. All of it.

  13. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    4. September 2020 at 07:44


    The blog post title was sarcastic. I don’t think progressives are literally white nationalists, or that they hate Asians, rather they are behaving like white nationalists in this case, albeit unintentionally. And progressives are all about judging policy based on “disparate impact” and “structural racism”, so I am hoisting them on their own petard.

    I’m sure the pro-zoning progressives also see themselves as having pure motives, but the effect is to increase structural racism.

  14. Gravatar of Mark Z Mark Z
    4. September 2020 at 09:38

    Sigh. Alright, first of all, ethnicity-wise, black and hispanic students are the biggest beneficiaries of this policy, and many activists specifically purporting to represent such groups have often sought precisely this kind of policy, so your choice of allocation of ‘racial blame’ is odd. If you’re specifically blaming white people for this outcome because you know 1) it’s more socially acceptable to vilify white people than other races and 2) it curries favor with a progressive audience to gratuitously racialize it, I guess that ‘makes sense’ but seems like part of a wider problem itself.

    Second of all, judge ruled that they can’t accept these tests because they harmed disabled students who wouldn’t be able to be able to take the test in special conditions like usual because of the epidemic; right or wrong, the ruling isn’t about the merits of the tests themselves. Your take is thus doubly ridiculous.

  15. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    4. September 2020 at 11:05


    thank you for the clarification, much appreciated.

  16. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    4. September 2020 at 19:01


    I’m definite that I read about it because it surprised me as much as you. To what extent it is true, I don’t know. I read it recently – might have been from some interviews in the context of Nuremberg or such, and I was as surprised as you by the open admission that the whole thing was about a chronic German inferiority complex. Then again in the wider context you can see shades of this. In the early days of the Nazis, Jews were demonized as taking advantage of the German people, being part of national and international cabals to keep Germans down, as taking positions (say in academia) rightfully due to Germans. Even that famous boycott sign read “Germans, defend yourselves – don’t buy from Jews”. The Nazis stirred hate from the common people’s fear of being out-competed by powerful forces. Once the Nazis had removed Jews from ordinary life, taken their jobs and property, the line became more about racial inferiority as a justification for the holocaust (which was a much later idea).

    It’s a bit of a demagogic miracle that the Nazis pulled it off to sell to their constituents the idea that Jews were at the same time dangerous overlords with powerful and controlling machinations, and racially inferior people. Then again, you see shades of this rhetoric today too. Fear is generated from the same feeling of powerful and ‘unfair’ competition (“they take our welfare payments”, for European immigrants, and “they destroy our industries and are becoming spying overlords” in US vs China). And at the same time immigrants are being described as inferior, and Trump describes China as undeserving thieves of intellectual property etc. Similar rhetoric one-two.

  17. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    5. September 2020 at 08:13

    Mark, This is part of a big battle against SATs that is being waged on many fronts. To focus on the reasons for this specific court ruling is to miss the bigger picture. SATs are on the way out, and numerous excuses are used.

    Second, whites control higher education in this country, the influence of blacks and Hispanics is tiny. At the University of California, it’s primarily a battle between whites and Asians.
    Also, see my reply to Christian, above.

    mbka, I was always under the impression that Nazis resented the fact that Jews were successful. So I’m not surprised by what you found.

  18. Gravatar of Thomas Hutcheson Thomas Hutcheson
    6. September 2020 at 13:18

    How does this get coded, “Progressive?” White supremacy is white supremacy whoever the “other” is.

  19. Gravatar of Matthias Görgens Matthias Görgens
    6. September 2020 at 18:52

    Thomas, Scott is mixing styles a bit in the title. It’s “progressive” because of the professed believes of the people involved,and it’s “white nationalists” because of the impact of the policies.

    At least that’s my interpretation of Scott’s point of view. So take it with a grain of salt.

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