The Look Like America bill, originally H.R. 1533, seemed a perfectly ordinary piece of feel-good legislation when proposed by Barack Osama Obama. “Our diversity is our strength,” he said. “We must increase the representation of minorities in our institutions to reflect our diverse population and ensure the fairness for which America stands.” Congress passed the bill without reading it. It was the sort of thing one passed. Besides, there was no money involved, and the bill was not obviously anti-Semitic.
Not obviously. But then one of the obscure policy shops that abound in Washington, the Committee for Ethnic Piety, filed suit against Harvard for noncompliance. The proximate cause was an article in the Harvard Crimson, the school newspaper, about a course called Math 55, the hardest math course at the university and thus, Harvard liked to think, in America. The students in Math 55, reported the Crimson, were 45 percent Jewish, 18 percent Asian, and 100 percent male. The class didn't, said the Committee for Ethnic Piety, look like America.
It certainly didn't.
Harvard, ever sensitive to questions of justice, which it conflated with federal funding, agreed to make the class Look Like America. The administration asserted that only through inadvertence had it failed to notice the clear racism, sexism, and continent-ism occurring under its nose. It established a committee of reform, which set to work.
The first and most ticklish hurdle was The Jewish Question. Jews were two percent of the American population. At 45 percent in Math 55, they were over-represented by a factor of over twenty. The injustice was undeniable. Two percent of a class of twenty-five meant that Math 55 should contain half a Jew. It would then look like America. The Jewish students would have to go.