Zahir's Response to Rafia Zakaria's 'Asians at Harvard'

To: Dawn Columnist Ms. Rafia Zakaria [ rafia.zakaria@gmail.com ]
July 05, 2018
Dear Ms. Rafia,
Hello. I read your column “Asians at Harvard” in Dawn yesterday with much interest. Thanks for the link to the NYT article. I also read all the links that it referenced, including briefly scanning the PDFs of court documents by both Harvard College and SFFA (Students For Fair Admissions, Inc.). I just wanted to share with you some points and personal experiences as just FYI --- although, I don't know why anyone should care what I think or have experienced.
a) The entire issue appears to be tempest in a tea cup. There are far more important matters of empire than Affirmative Action in its imperial colleges and the American Dreams of its have-nots.
b) Peering inside that tempest in a tea cup, as both parent of IVY League alumni, and as myself being an alumnus of MIT, these elite universities of America are imperial institutions. They take the brightest from among the various pertinent demographics throughout the world who show the most promise of serving imperial interests the best, and groom them.
Some of these imperial interests are obviously achieving academic supremacy in research and technology across the gamut of human activity, from hard sciences to social sciences, and to humanities, law, economics, arts, and most importantly, infusing the imperial spirit into the younglings ambitious enough to join them for the lure of self-actualization. Today this imperial spirit is the Pax Americana based on universalizing American values, just as yesterday these were the Anglo-Saxon values, and before that Muslim imperial values. Some call this subconscious infusion of axioms and presuppositions of empire, indoctrination.
Others see this in finer grain resolution, of mental induction by rulers of the prospects to be groomed, into either their own ubermensch superiority complex that permits them to so easily rule the world as technicians and managers of empire without the accompaniment of guilty consciences, or groomed into the Uncle Tom mind-lock that accepts without question, the superiority of the currency du jour of the ruling classes and easily serves as their proxy agents over their own nations, again without the accompaniment of guilty consciences.
These values are subsequently promulgated down into their own communities, societies, civilizations, and suzerainties in various forms, to make empire acceptable, and indeed inevitable.
This is how all empires have always worked in principle, only the techniques have differed according to their own times. That is the overarching agenda of America's Ivy Leagues, and all “Ivy Leagues”. It is not altruism. It is not diversity. It is only the exercise of primacy and hegemony. It is an endeavor that is as old as mankind. This is always achieved with due lip-service to all that is politically deemed to be motherhood and apple pie in the prevailing currency. This helps sell empire's currency to the masses and to the world. Today these political winds are blowing for Diversity and Affirmative Action. Well, empire harvests that too.
Every society, all societies, in all ages, and their seduction and control systems, continually, daily, present Faustian bargains to its best lieutenants and soldiers as the means of career advancement, social respect, accolades. Higher one rises on the ladder of privileges, the more insidious these Faustian bargains become. Those groomed in empire's best “IVY Leagues” (notice the quotes which implies that it is a template to which hundreds of its best universities subscribe), are more prone than others. That should be self-evident.
To resist these Faustian pacts is often impossible. In this modernity it is next to impossible for many, the mere sampling alone of which ropes one in for life like no narco-opiate can.
For the Social Darwinians among us, it is the only path to survival, and beyond that for thriving to man's fullest potential, the “self-actualization” trap at the expense of anyone too stupid to thrive.
For everyone else, irrespective of our individual belief systems, what we take six feet under is the degree to which we resisted these Faustian pacts.
I have explained this imperial grooming in several articles, not as someone for whom "grapes are sour", but as someone who has been privileged to see the world from the other side, read their books, studied in their institutions, and experienced the best of personal, intellectual and emotional growth that empire offers in its best imperial training grounds. But as I note in the short bio that sometimes follows my two cents worth:
"The author, an ordinary justice activist, formerly an ordinary engineer in Silicon Valley, California (see engineering patents at http://tinyurl.com/zahir-patents ), founded Project Humanbeingsfirst.org in the aftermath of 9/11. He was, mercifully, most imperfectly educated in the United States of America despite attending its elite schools on both coasts. This might perhaps explain how he could escape the fate of “likkha-parrha-jahils” (educated morons) mass produced in its technetronic society with all his neurons still intact and still firing on all cylinders. He is inspired by plain ordinary people rising to extraordinary challenges of their time more than by privileged and gifted people achieving extraordinary things. He chose his byline to reflect that motivation: The Plebeian Antidote to Hectoring Hegemons."
I invite you to read at least two articles that address the other side of Ivy League education, and my missive on what my dream university would look like:
[1] Groom them for top Ivy Leagues of America, Email to Pakistan's educators, November 09, 2012, https://print-humanbeingsfirst.blogspot.com/2013/12/groom-them-for-top-ivy-leagues.html
[3] My Dream University, Email to Pakistan's academia on November 15, 2012, https://humanbeingsfirst.blogspot.com/p/my-dream-university.html
I had written the following letter to a Harvard professor after he decided to quit professoring to join Google to, as he stated: “I get to hack all day”; the self-actualization trap that underscores all the preceding verbiage:
[4] Response to 'Why I'm leaving Harvard' By Zahir Ebrahim, November 19, 2010, https://print-humanbeingsfirst.blogspot.com/2010/11/response-to-why-im-leaving-harvard.html
As does this article about an “Ivy League” Dartmouth professor inducted into America's National Inventors Hall of Fame, 2011, for his contribution to making surveillance police state more quickly enabled, and even openly admitting his Faustian bargain with the unconscionable statement: “I don't really like this application of my technology. There is nothing I can do about it, I have now unloaded that on you, so thank you.”; again the same ubiquitous self-actualization trap of empire that underscores all the preceding verbiage:
[5] The Fable of the Bees and the Seduction of Science and Technology Corrupting the Intellect and the Soul, Thursday November 10, 2011, https://print-humanbeingsfirst.blogspot.com/2011/11/seduction-of-science-and-technology.html
That is the actual empirical reality of all major imperial universities du jour that I collectively call “IVY Leagues” in quote marks. These excel in seducing those that can best serve imperial interests, and their admission is based solely on that agenda. Their admission criterion has neither anything to do principally with meritocracy, nor Affirmative Action, except when it serves the persistent needs of empire. These continually evolve with time and happenings in society. Those nice sounding political ideas principally serve an agenda --- the agenda to promulgate American supremacy, American primacy, American values, globally, soon to be openly replaced by one-world supremacy, one-world values, under the global banner of Secular Humanism. Some argue that these are already the underlying motivations of everything empire does, both openly as well as by covert means.
Some tempest in a tea cup!
Your point about hypocrisy of Indo-Pak aspirants of Ivy-Leagues, I am not sure is entirely valid, at least for public sector universities of Pakistan. I studied at UET Lahore in 1970s, and admission was based on one single metric, marks in FSC exam. At the time, medical school admissions were also based on the same singular metric, the dreaded “merit list”. There were just a handful on DN quota (defence nominee), and some foreigners from Iran and Palestine and Jordan and Sudan etc. on scholarship from their countries, as far as I recall at UET. Where in Pakistan's public sector universities is the Pakistani public admitted on anything besides FSc marks? Which university, which examples? Many talented people are shut out by that awful singular metric who cannot command the requisite “rote learned” marks to be on the admit list. There are multiple intelligences, multiple types of IQ, in human beings and Pakistan, like the rest of the developing world, is woefully behind in its recognition. We are even woefully behind understanding talent, how can we ever cultivate it? Those who get the opportunity to develop their natural talents is often due to the diligence of their parents, and the handful of teachers who surely still exist in society that still deem their profession noble.
What I see is this stupidly being rectified in some elite Pakistani private sector universities, like LUMS and AKU, where ability to pay is an unfortunate requisite, but beyond that, other “holistic” criteria such as personal interests, letters of rec, essays, admission test, etc., may be in more significant play that attempts to select the best candidates subjectively “objectively”, and that opens the door for all sorts of very talented people to get in who would otherwise never get in, including some undeserving ones based on feudal connections. But the latter also happens at Harvard as well, it is called “legacy” admissions; and wards of political families groomed to rule nations, why else would Benazir Bhutto and Murtaza Bhutto be admitted to Harvard? Why else would the wards of third-world dictators be studying there? Same is true of our own teenage Nobel laureate Ms. Malala, being admitted to Oxford. One cannot seriously tell me that she is not being calculatingly groomed by empire to be the future prime minister of Pakistan! There is hardly even a semi-intelligent person in Pakistan who does not understand this calculus.
I was admitted to UET singularly on that merit list published in the newspapers and the official board gazette. I must have been good enough academically, competitive enough too, obviously, to be admitted to America's top ranking university, rated number one by US News and World Report for years on end as the number one university in America in Electrical Engineering, far ahead of the actual IVY Leagues, and also ahead of Caltech, ahead of Stanford, directly from UET. I had no connections, no money, and I was offered almost full financial aid to attend, with one time payment from my parents --- which was also hard for them to come up without borrowing. I had just applied out of whim, after due preparation of course. But, in fact, why I was admitted to MIT I will never really know. I found myself surrounded by the most brilliant people on earth far more talented than I as soon as I arrived. They had had far more opportunities to develop their passions and interests and thrive beyond measure far more than I in my typical middle class home. My father struggled to put honest bread on the table all his life. My only escapes as teenager were the free libraries of empire, the British Consul and American Center, and the Sunday used books market on the city footpaths where I first found and read some of the strangest books. It was always sink or swim, survive or perish, for our social class at the time I was growing up into a young man. It is even worse today not just in India-Pakistan, but in most places on earth, including here in the United States where good college education is seen as the meal ticket to prosperity, especially among Asian immigrant families.
Asian immigrants in general do tend to spend more effort, more time and money, educating our children than the average white American families. No sacrifice is deemed too small. Because, after all, it is only in America, not anywhere else in the world, that anyone coming from nowhere from anywhere in the world, can potentially become the CEO of a company. Etceteras. That prosperity is inevitably accompanied by Faustian bargains which remain out of sight like the rest of a submerged iceberg. It becomes the background like the air we breathe. We seldom notice it, but our life depends on its presence.
Being admitted to MIT was a God send for me. I once asked MIT what they looked for when they admitted me – as I was having a hard time initially, as I found my preparation for surviving at MIT less than adequate despite the fact that I was among the top few students of my department at UET – and went for counseling to the sympathetic foreign student advisor wondering what the hell I was doing in “hell” (the name techies lovingly give MIT but are still loathe to leaving it), and I was told that it was based on how I performed in the system I grew up in, and with the opportunities or lack thereof that I had received at home and in the society, and specifically, how I did in relation to my local peers with those opportunities, gifts, and handicaps, and that, if they had admitted me, I should be sure that I belonged there, and that I should never doubt it. In fact, the advisor quoted me the MIT handbook that an education at MIT was like trying to take a drink from a fire hydrant: painful, most of it falling on the ground, and that it took time to get used to being in “hell”. It was MIT's way of grooming us, through intellectual pain, which they evidently inflicted uniformly on everyone, except perhaps a handful. No wonder that on Harvard bridge on Mass Ave. that links Boston to Cambridge, about half way coming towards MIT, it used to be etched or painted on the bridge: “half way to hell”, or something like that. Perhaps it still is --- but I am told that MIT has become a bit easier since my time. I doubt that.
Later in life when my children were applying to college, I again asked Harvard's admission officer how they decided whom to admit among the intensely competitive lot of uber high achievers, given that some of those admitted in past years clearly had less than stellar scores on their SATs and came from underprivileged families, and some who were rejected had higher and even perfect scores and came from more privileged backgrounds. I was told what I had already figured out for myself: it is Output / Input, not merely Output, to be eligible for the limited seating at the admitted list table of empire.
That recipe, adopted by the West and lost to the Muslims, is right out of the Holy Qur'an! What you do with what you have received, born into, with the inherited talents and limitations, and nurturing and grooming, or lack thereof, that is your lot in life. All that is God's doing --- what you do with it is your doing. Output (your efforts) / Input (God's doing, inheritance, karma, luck) is verse of the Holy Qur'an written in Algebra!
That algebra has become the “holistic” criteria of America's finest imperial universities. When they say “likable”, they are looking for people who can lead others. When they say “courageous”, they are looking for people who have overcome adversity and life's challenges. They are principally looking for the promise of character and talent that can be groomed to serve empire --- and that is difficult to quantify as a number on a merit list.
Thus more privileged a person who had been given more opportunities, more guidance, more social benefits, is judged for much higher productivity and achievement such that, overall, as an Operations Research optimization to get the best crop, it is not uneducated to surmise that the Output / Input may be more or less similar for everyone admitted, or at least balanced for the goals of the university in that admissions year, modulo of course those admitted on legacy and other special criterion. If Asian immigrant families and non-white minorities are putting in more effort to be part of empire, the empire would be foolish to ignore them completely. Thus Harvard's admission statistics for 2018 added up is 50.9% non white races, and the rest, 49.1%, presumably whites.
That is mind blowing, unthinkable during early twentieth century. In today's pluralistic world, they are harvesting the best talent they can find on the Output / Input equation across the entire racial spectrum of America. The Anglo-Saxon race is, after all, running empire, and their numbers are down 50 percent of their original strength in technicians and managers from a hundred years ago. That is of course the need of the age. Only the admission offices of these “Ivy Leagues” would know what Output / Input is for each applicant, which is always at best a subjective decision that they try to make as objectively as they can, and they cannot possibly disclose it as it is private and confidential information of the applicant. Whereas, test scores and GPAs and other quantitative data is less private and easily available to College Board for instance.
But the Ivy Leagues speak to the “holistic” measurements in general principles quite openly in their admissions blogs for instance. I used to follow MIT's official admissions blog once upon a time, and I learnt a great deal from it. It is incredible how much these competitive and highly accomplished kids and their desperate families disclose of themselves in their college applications (ignoring the ones written by professional writers which the admissions offices at most Ivy Leagues have learnt how to detect and discard).
I know for a fact what interviewers specifically look for among the applicants who even get that far: leadership potential, stellar communication skills, stellar interpersonal skills, ability to build quick rapport, etc., and many of these interviewers are indeed exceptional in what they do. One of them took my child running during an interview because they both liked to run races! For the limited seating at the imperial tables of America's finest “Ivy Leagues”, many talented kids will always be left out.
Which is why high school college counselors in the United States always encourage college applicants to apply to many schools, usually categorized as “dream schools”, “reach schools”, and “sure things”. It is foolish to think one will be admitted to Harvard or any Ivy League just because one has perfect SATs. There is a lot more at play here to uncover future leaders, technicians, managers, and assets of empire.
What appears to be missing from the court documents and in the NYT articles, is any expression of that overarching understanding of what “holistic” really underwrites. The Affirmative Action and quotas etc. are red herrings, and / or syntactic sugaring their un stated goals. I am surprised that Harvard's defence also does not cite the real purpose behind that “holisticism”, but then again I have not read the court documents as carefully as I really should.
The lawsuit is mostly frivolous and I believe will be rejected modulo the legal system. Meaning, if any laws are broken, it shall be fixed. And if new laws are needed, these will be enacted. The philosophy will remain unchanged --- or empire shall kill the goose that lays its golden eggs. And why should they ever do that!
If you want to not be in the class of “useless eaters”, you have to appear to be useful to empire, full of promise for future potential, but in competition with others of your peers and for the slice of a pie that is limited.
Harvard cannot possibly admit the 40,000 that apply to it, a vast majority of these applicants being eminently capable of not just doing well at Harvard, but also serving imperial interests better than the next guy. Those left out have plenty of other opportunities in the “Ivy Leagues” throughout empire.
If you can't even make it into any of them, you better worry, as empire in its distributed intelligence for discovering and grooming future potentials, has apparently deemed you too low in the food chain, or of the wrong race, or of the wrong religion, and perhaps they think you will serve empire more competently in some blue color profession, or at its fringes picking cherries, or just dead.
This is empire! It is cruel. It is merciless. And it benefits the naturally talented and obedient lot that buys into its axioms and values.
How is one selected for that winning lottery ticket is often a mystery to those selected.
I have always attributed that admission that changed my life to Karma, Luck, to Good Fortune testing me, above and beyond any criterion that MIT may have employed to vet my application. Indeed, I stopped asking Why a long time ago and focussed on what I could do with that education.
I am also continually surprised that I appear to be singularly also the only one among my far more talented and accomplished friends throughout Pakistan and the United States, who has taken up this burden of the pen as a categorical imperative. Most “IVY leaguers” dare not venture this far, and have not! And I have the benefit of the elitist exposures I received to thank for that very lonely exercise.
That, dear Ms. Rafia, is the success of “IVY League” education; I am probably its distinctive failure! Harvard education is more than branding, more than the recipe for personal success, more than just any parents' dream; it is the factory for technicians and managers who will willingly serve empire in every imaginable way.
Apart from creating knowledge, and the technical systems that engage with that knowledge and put science and human understanding in the service of empire, those coming out of Harvard et. al. also serve their own narrow self-interests by way of the “self-actualization” trap in which they become so invested in over time, and become so dependent upon the favors the system bestows upon them for keeping the eyes wide shut, that they simply have no motivation to escape from that golden prison which magnanimously rewards its likkha-parrha jahils.
Speak no evil, See no evil, Hear no evil, “Summun, Bukmun, Umyun”, has been the perennial recipe for material success in life in every age for a reason.
Caption Fable of the three wise monkeys: hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil (image via wikipedia)
And it was for a reason that all Prophets of antiquity took a stand against it.
It is the success of every empire and every ruler and every system of oppression, that they have successfully made that crafty silence out to be the wisdom and sagaciousness du jour.
“Be Innocent of Knowledge” that jars the conscience, as Shakespeare put it.
Harvard epitomizes that worldly wisdom. All “Ivy Leagues” strive to develop that imperial wisdom.
Which is why universities like Harvard seek diversity based on their own principal focus of imperial grooming. Caltech is exclusively technical and science based, and therefore has resisted the temptation to weaken its admission criterion from strictly objective and quantitative meritocracy to accept more people of more diverse interests and gender with the mystical “holisticism”. They want to produce the best scientists, period. MIT succumbed to those pressures somewhat more, as it sees itself playing a wider role beyond generating just knowledge of science and technology. MIT sees itself in global perspective, a player in political science which is necessary to deploy the fruits of science in the service of empire. And Harvard's ambit, like other imperial full spectrum liberal arts and science schools, is obviously much broader in their un stated charter. It encompasses grooming future leaders in every sector of human endeavor that will serve the interests and values of empire. Hence these universities must attract students from a more diverse group in the global society to fulfill their global mission. Just as Oxford and Cambridge once did, and arguably still do.
Their admissions criteria is principally underwritten on that un stated first principle. The admissions officers and application readers at Harvard, as at other Ivy Leagues, are possibly kept quite unaware of all this. They are mainly trained to implement the rubric of admission criterion, infused as they all already are in order to even be there, into the value system and axioms of empire. None of them ever asks why such a criterion or why this rubric or that rubric, I am sure. They accept it as given. Who has the time when they have to review 40,000 applications!
All the documents I have gleaned starting from the link in your oped, have remarkably abstained from stating those observations, including your own oped. Your recommendations of what to do betrays a misunderstanding of the function of imperial colleges of America, and empire.
Zahir Ebrahim


First published July 05, 2018 4213


Zahir's Response to Rafia Zakaria's 'Asians at Harvard'