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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

TWO JEWISH SURPRISES


I wrestled with the title, for I don't wish to be offensive or ethnically incorrect.  Just over the past few days I learned two surprising (to me) things (purposefully a general term) about Jews (apparently it's okay to use this word):  they dominate broadway songwriting and are probably over represented in Ivy League schools.

Let me start with the entertainment part.  My ignorance probably can be explained by my relative color or ethnic blindness,  enhanced by growing up in Hawaii, where there is insularity and a higher sense of racial tolerance.  As a junior in high school I was not aware of terms such as civil rights and jewishness.  A few years later in college I was asked by a girl I was dating what a Jewish person looked like.  I had recently seen the film, Exodus, dealing with the founding of Israel, and a Jewish girl was played by Jill Hayworth, who was blond.  I thus responded that Jewish females must have blond hair.  For all I know, that girlfriend could have been Jewish.  I still don't know.

Thus, not to have noticed that all those popular broadway shows having Jewish songwriters should not have been particularly astonishing.  I watched "A Jewish Legacy" on public TV and was finally educated.  South Pacific is my favorite show, and to find out that both Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard  Rogers were Jewish was enlightening.  It was explained that Hammerstein in particular was portraying anti-semitism analogously through the racism shown in the show/film, and I finally understood why he was so much the pioneer in bringing light to these issues.  Then to learn that the following were also Jewish, amazing:

Harold Arlen, Burt Bacharach, Jerome Kern, Carole King, Alan Jay Lerner, Frank Loesser, Melissa Manchester, Marry Manilow, Neil Diamond, Anthony Newley, Sigmund Romberg, Carole Bayer Sager, Dorothy Fields, Bob Dylan, Neil Sedala. Carly Simon, Art Garfunkel, Stephen Sondheim, Lorenz Hart, Billy Joel, Victor Young, George Gershwin....

In my maturity, some are obvious, but I never ever associated their name with any ethnicity.  Interestingly enough, Cole Porter, who is not Jewish, only succeeded when he slightly adjusted Jewish tunes.  It could well be, then, that the key to broadway songwriting success goes back to old Jewish songs.  There is a book on this topic:  Jews on Broadway.

Finally, the most popular Christmas songs are written by Jews:  White Christmas (Irving Berlin, right)), Silver Bells (Jay Livingston and Ray Evans), The Christmas Song (Mel Torme), Let It Snow (Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne), Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Johnny Marks) and I'll be Home for Christmas (Walter Kent, Kim Gannon and Buck Ram).  All Jewish.

First of all, to quote:

The 20th century list of Nobel Prize winners makes Twain’s words almost prophetic. Jews, more than any other minority, ethnic or cultural, have been recipients of the Nobel Prize, with almost one-fifth of all Nobel laureates being Jewish. They make up 0.2 percent of the world population, but 54 percent of the world chess champions, 27 percent of the Nobel physics laureates and 31 percent of the medicine laureates. Jews make up 2 percent of the U.S. population, but 21 percent of the Ivy League student bodies, 26 percent of the Kennedy Center honorees, 37 percent of the Academy Award-winning directors, and 51 percent of the Pulitzer Prize winners for nonfiction.

The second part dealing with academia is particularly a shock to me.  There is a stereotype that all Jewish people are smart and successful.  APPARENTLY NOT!!  Using Orientals as an example.  I've noticed that the first generation of immigrants from Asia do very well.  In the next generation of children there is a decline, and by the third, they become almost average.  Seems that this is also happening to Jews.  The following presentation is my attempt at selecting highlights featured in two articles, reviewing information from a wide assortment of books on the subject.


According to a December 2012 New York Times article, written by a Harvard graduate, Ron Urz, at one time Ivy League schools in the 1920's denied the existence of a "Jewish quota."  Today, they deny there is an "Asian quota."  The irony to all this is that the exact reverse has occurred.  Now Jews are over represented at Ivy League schools.  Plus, Christian Whites have become a minority group.  What happened is that Asians are now the old Jews and Jews are the old whites!  A telling trend seems irrefutable:



A bit busy, but all the Ivy League schools are bunched at the bottom, while the California Institute of Technology, where admission is strictly race-neutral, mirrors the growth in percent of Asian students available.  What makes this issue particularly suspicious is that Ivy League Schools (ILS) are secretive about their selection process, while Caltech is not.

Unz has a 47-page report, The Myth of American Meritocracy, with all the details about Asian superiority and Jewish decline. Regarding Asians, he indicates:

  • At ILSs white students have mean scores 310 points higher than black classmates (in terms of the 1600 max college board scores), but Asian students averaged 140 points higher than whites.
  • Texas, with only 3.8% Asians, more than 25% were National Merit Scholarship semifinalists.
  • The Math Olympiad has averaged 58% Asians during the past 13 years, Computing Olympiad showed 75% Asians this past year and Chemistry Olympiad average for the past decade has been 90% Asians.

But this is a posting on Jewish trends:

  • The national Jewish population of college age is less than 2%.  Harvard students today are 25% Jewish and 20% "traditional whites."  Yale and Columbia also have 25% Jews, but as low as 15% Gentiles.  
  • Ivy League enrollment:  4% of all Jews living in America, 1% of Asians and 0.1% of Christian Whites.
Is this because Jewish students are performing fantastically well?  The answer is a resounding NO!
  • Take California:  with 3.3% of the population, 4-5% of National Merit Scholars (NMS) are Jewish; the 13% Asians garnered 57%  the NMS awards.
  • In New York, with 8.4% of the population, 21% of NMS; the 6% Asians got 34%.
  • All things considered, there should be five Asians for every Jew in Ivy League Schools, and at Caltech there are 5.5% Jewish students and 39% Asians, while in the five most selective California universities, 8% Jewish and 40% Asians.  Not so for the Ivies, where the Jewish population is 40% higher.
  • During the 1970's, well over 40% of the top Math Olympiad students were Jewish.  Since 2000 only 2.5% have been Jewish.
  • The most prestigious mathematics competition for American college students is the Putnam Exam.  Prior to 1950, 40% of winners were Jewish.  Since 2000 this percentage declined to 10%, but not one Jewish name in the top 40 students over the past seven years.
  • Regarding the Science Talent Search (once called Westinghouse, now Intel), which has been awarded since 1942, Jewish students got more than 20% of the prizes through the 80's, which declined to 15% in the 2000's, but in 2010 was only 7%.  Then, more recently, only one Jew among 30 awardees.  
  • In the Physics Olympiad, from 25% in the 1986-1997 period, down to 5% during the past decade.
  • There has been no Biology Olympiad Jew the past three years and zero also for the Chemistry Olympiad the past two years.
  • To quote:  "Taken in combination, these trends all provide powerful evidence that over the last decade or more there has been a dramatic collapse in Jewish academic achievement...
  • The suspicion is that Jewish students today are not as diligent in work habits.  Those that did well in more recent academic olympiads were immigrants from the Soviet Union.  Thus, the situation is even worse for "American" Jews.
  • The "white" race has also academically collapsed!!!

So why do the Ivy League Schools accept less qualified Jewish applicants?

  • By 1993 Harvard, Yale and Princeton all had presidents of Jewish ancestry.
  • The three most recent Harvard presidents have either Jewish origins or a Jewish spouse.
  • The incoming Yale president is Jewish.
  • While the current Princeton Provost (sort of a #2 in administration) is not Jewish, the previous seven were, and the situation is similar at all the ILSs.
Unconscious bias?  Lack of introspection?  But isn't it remarkable that much of the leadership of our best universities, at least in the East, comes from 2% our population?  Also, isn't it interesting that three of the last six Caltech presidents have been of Jewish origin, but there appears to be no sign of any ethnic favoritism?  Finally, exploring the opposite end of the selection process, it is said with some sarcasm that admission officials are paid less than public school teachers, have no professional training and have little prospects for career advancement.  

Of course, universities shouldn't limit their selection to only test scores, as is the case in much of the Orient, for example.  Leadership traits, initiative, etc., are all important.  Our top universities are trying to balance meritocracy with diversity, and the Ivy League Schools now find themselves uncomfortably at the cliff of rectification.  


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