Wokeness Crippling America’s Tech Fight With China: Scholar

Wokeness Crippling America’s Tech Fight With China: Scholar

Proponents of affirmative action hold signs during a protest at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., on July 1, 2023. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)

John Seiler

John Seiler


Updated: 8/2/2023

China is going to clean America’s clock unless this country, and in particular California, gives up its wokeness obsession. That’s my main takeaway from the speech by Heather Mac Donald July 20 before local business and community leaders at the Pacific Club in Newport Beach.
A native Californian who lives part-time in Southern California, she is a prolific author on America’s political and social problems. She was in town to promote her latest book, “When Race Trumps Merit: How the Pursuit of Equity Sacrifices Excellence, Destroys Beauty, and Threatens Lives.”
“China is not ending gifted and talented programs,” she warned. “China does not give a damn about who its best math talent is. It’s finding them and throwing everything it can get at those kids” to make them the best in STEM: science, technology, engineering, and math.
By contrast in California, she said, “We are saying, we’re going to hold back. We’re going to make Lowell High School in San Francisco go to a lottery system [to pick students] because we don’t like the outcomes—too many Asians—if it admits on the basis of academic accomplishment. We’re tearing down Thomas Jefferson in Virginia. And Virginia Stuyvesant High School in New York has been in the crosshairs for four decades. It will fall unless we can start speaking the truth.”
Entrance into Lowell is based on merit. The city’s left-wing school board was going to change that to a lottery system, meaning less-qualified students would get in. Fortunately, in that case, there was a happy ending—so far. In February last year, the three radical board members were recalled in landslides because of the attack on Lowell, excessive lockdowns during COVID-19, and other “woke” nonsense.
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia, ditched its tough admissions tests for essays and was sued. As reported by The New York Times in May, “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled on Tuesday in favor of a new admissions process at one of the most prestigious public high schools in the country, and found that it had not discriminated against Asian American students in its admissions policies.
Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria, Va., in August 2017. (Google Maps/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria, Va., in August 2017. (Google Maps/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

“Writing for the majority, Judge Robert B. King, an appointee of former President Bill Clinton, said that the school, widely known as T.J., had a legitimate interest in ‘expanding the array of student backgrounds.’” So we’re still stuck with the divisive, race-based radicalism of Bill and Hillary Clinton more than three decades after they were elected.
The New York Times continued, “The decision reversed a 2022 decision by Judge Claude M. Hilton of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, who found that the changes made by the high school had disproportionately burdened Asian American students.
“The case is likely to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Stuyvesant long has been the country’s best-known merit-based school. The latest attack on it came in a “news” story in the anti-merit New York Times in June, “About 10 percent of offers to New York City’s most elite public high schools went to Black and Latino students this year, education officials announced on Thursday, in a school system where they make up more than two-thirds of the student population overall.
“The numbers — which have remained stubbornly low for years — placed a fresh spotlight on racial and ethnic disparities in the nation’s largest school system.
“At Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, the most selective of the city’s so-called specialized schools, seven of the 762 offers made went to Black students, down from 11 last year and eight in 2021. Twenty Latino students were offered spots at Stuyvesant, as were 489 Asian students and 158 white students. The rest went to multiracial students and students whose race was unknown.”

California’s Dumbed-Down Math Curriculum

During the Q&A, I brought up how California’s Department of Education is dumbing down the state’s math curriculum, which I reported this month in The Epoch Times. And I asked how that would affect the ability of California, as America’s high-tech center, to compete with China.
“That’s the data science debate,” Ms. Mac Donald said, which takes some explanation. CalMatters fortunately provided perspective on the California curriculum changes: “The framework also creates a new high school data science course as an alternative to calculus. The authors say this course will result in a more diverse student body pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. But some experts say calculus is vital to prepare students for a stable STEM career.
“If you want a job in data science that isn’t replaceable by a computer in the next couple of years, you need to take calculus,” Svetlana Jitomirskaya, a math professor at UC Irvine, told CalMatters. “They want a data science course that is completely dumbed down.”
At the talk, Ms. Mac Donald added, “There’s been, surprisingly, some pushback from the University of California. I never would have believed it, but it’s obviously disastrous. Data science is a fake class. It is not real math.”
By contrast, she said, China is “relentlessly” working to “whoop” us in the sciences. “When it comes to science and technology, they’re beating us. They are absolutely on top. China is way ahead on the nanotechnologies. I cannot stress enough how bad this is.”
Nanotechnology is defined as “the manipulation of matter on a near-atomic scale to produce new structures, materials and devices … promis[ing] scientific advancement in many sectors such as medicine, consumer products, energy, materials, and manufacturing,” according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Affirmative Action Obsession

Ms. Mac Donald said friends in medicine and science send her articles from the Journal of the American Medical Association and Scientific American that, she said, are “declaring that our real fight is against racism and science, and we shouldn’t have standards.”
I looked at one opinion article from Scientific American last Oct. 31, titled “Why Scientists Must Stand for Affirmative Action and against Scientific Racism: STEM professionals must stand against the white supremacy and scientific racism that fuels arguments against affirmative action.”
The article concerned the lawsuits against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina for race-based affirmative action programs. The authors, Stacy Farina and K. Amacker, were hoping the Supreme Court would uphold affirmative action. Fortunately, the court didn’t listen to them and struck down affirmative action on June 29 as violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.
The two authors argued, “Education is fundamentally an issue of human rights, and affirmative action in admissions is one tool in a larger strategy to address social injustices and shape the future of scientific research. Yet white supremacy, whether systemic or interpersonal, is still deeply ingrained in society, leading to financial and social disadvantages for nonwhite students. As scientists, we must fiercely defend affirmative action, if we wish for equity in science and in U.S. society.”
Except the students being discriminated against were Asian Americans!

Conclusion: We Must Get Back to Merit

I have emphasized the global competitive aspect of Ms. Mac Donald’s excellent talk and book. She also brought up other issues, such as crime rising in recent years because of “woke” police policies. I plan on reading the book and reviewing it in the coming weeks.
One way or another, merit-based education will triumph. Either America goes back to it, beginning in California, or it quickly will be overtaken by a society laser-focused on merit: China. Do we want to be ruled by a country lacking the basic civil liberties?
Can’t we find sensible ways to help Latinos and blacks achieve? Such as more school choices to get them out of the wretched public schools they must attend?
Can’t we reform education without destroying our systems of medicine, science, and education?
China isn’t letting up. If we don’t get rid of wokeness, wokeness will get rid of us.
John Seiler

John Seiler


John Seiler is a veteran California opinion writer. Mr. Seiler has written editorials for The Orange County Register for almost 30 years. He is a U.S. Army veteran and former press secretary for California state Sen. John Moorlach. He blogs at and his email is

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