The Danger of Counting Heads as Evidence of Discrimination:

Compare these two arguments — first,

"All you have to do is look at the faculty list for the law or communications schools at Cleveland State University to see impact of clearly racist hiring practices . . . . Fully 90% of the communications department faculty is white, and the department chair has always been held by a WASP. Almost all the law school faculty is white. . . . There isn’t a Mexican-American on either faculty, despite the large, multi-generational Mexican-American community in the Cleveland area."

and, second,

"All you have to do is look at the faculty list for the law or communications schools at Cleveland State University to see impact of clearly racist hiring practices . . . . Fully one third of the communications department faculty is Jewish, and the department chair has always been held by an American Jew. Almost half of the law school faculty is Jewish. . . . There isn’t an Arab-American on either faculty, despite the large, multi-generational Arab-American community in the Cleveland area."

The first quote is hypothetical; it's a version of the second quote with group identities and numbers changed to take account of the different sizes of different groups. (Given that 2% of the U.S. population is Jewish, and 70% is white, providing a comparably stark disproportion with respect to whites required me to change "one third" and "one half" to "90%" and "almost all," and I used "Mexican-American" instead of black or Hispanic since I wanted a group that was comparable in size to Arab-Americans in Cleveland, which they seem to be, at least as of 1990.)

The second quote is an actual quote from Prof. Edward Abboud, who had been an adjunct instructor at Columbus State Community College, and who says he's been denied further employment because of his ethnicity (and possibly because of his anti-Israel views). The e-mail containing that quote is excerpted here (and thanks to CampusJ for the pointer). I also have a forwarded copy of that e-mail, which I've checked myself. (The e-mail's return address is at the seeming vanity press and public relations company that publishes Prof. Abboud's book, so I assume the quotes are authentic.)

Now I don't think that either quote requires the speaker to be actually anti-Semitic or anti-white. Whether or not Prof. Abboud is anti-Semitic, his arguments could certainly be made by someone who isn't.

But I think both quotes make the same mistake of inferring that racial or ethnic disproportion means "racist hiring practices." If you think there are nonracist explanations for why Jews (or Asians or other groups) are overrepresented in certain fields, then it seems likely that there are similar explanations for why other groups are underrepresented in certain fields. (Note, incidentally, that I'm not sure that Arab-Americans are indeed underrepresented relative to the hiring pool at Cleveland State, but that's irrelevant for the purposes of my argument.)

Moreover, if you really do oppose ethnic or racial disproportion for its own sake -- if you want a "university that looks like America" (or like Cleveland), then you do have to ask yourself: Does a law school faculty that's nearly half Jewish (like ours is here at UCLA) really look like America? In 2004, 34% of freshmen admitted to the UC were Asian, and my recollection that in the past (and perhaps even now) UC Irvine was over 50% Asian; does that really look like America or like California? If the answers to these questions are "no," then either you need to impose quotas on Jews or on Asians, or you need to conclude that it's quite proper for institutions to not mirror the racial proportions of the population.