Is the Australian Liberty Alliance the next One Nation?

Dear Editor,

Australia is a multicultural society and welcomes all as long as they obey the Australian law.

It is up to the Islamic and Muslim community to integrate into the community and making sure that radicalization does not spread.

Yours sincerely,

Eddie Hwang


Unity Party WA – (published)

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Is the Australian Liberty Alliance the next One Nation?

27 minutes ago – Charis Chang –

THE launch of an anti-Islam party in Australia has raised concerns about whether multiculturalism actually works.

Far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders launched the Australian Liberty Alliance in Perth this week, promising to stop the Islamisation of Australia, as extremist groups like Islamic State stoke fears of terrorism and distrust within the community.

It’s not a unique development with Mr Wilders noting that “like-minded parties” were enjoying great success in Austria, Sweden, France and Switzerland.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has seen her approval rating drop to its lowest level since 2011 and there have been attacks on places housing refugees. A recent anti-immigration rally in the country attracted up to 20,000 people.

Earlier this year a headline in Germany’s weekly newspaper De Spiegel asked the question: “Is the ugly German back?”

Australians could be asking the same question of themselves as anti-Islamic sentiment sees the re-emergence of divisive figures like Pauline Hanson. A recent Facebook post from the One Nation leader opposing “mosques, Sharia law, halal certification and Muslim refugees” was shared more than 25,000 times in just two days.

But despite the apparent growing public backlash, experts believe organisations like ALA will continue to appeal to just a small number of people, and that multiculturalism still enjoys wide support, especially in Australia.

“There will always be a segment of the community that is not happy with change,” Professor Andrew Markus told

“We shouldn’t be surprised that there is a group in Australia opposed to cultural diversity and immigration but what makes Australia different is that the size of that minority is very small.”

Prof Markus of Monash University has been tracking changes in Australian attitudes towards immigrants and asylum seekers since 2007 as part of the Scanlon Foundation’s Mapping Social Cohesion Project. He said the last two surveys showed strong support for multiculturalism. 

When asked whether multiculturalism was good for Australia, 84 per cent of Australians surveyed in 2013 agreed that it was, and 85 per cent agreed in 2014.

“It’s quite an amazing number and was consistent across Australia, it was hard to find anywhere in Australia, including those in rural areas, where support dropped much below 75 per cent,” Prof Markus said.

But the situation in Europe or even America was very different.

Prof Markus said a British study found 75 per cent its population wanted immigration reduced in 2014 but a comparable study in Australia found only 35 per cent believed immigration was too high.

Prof Markus said Australians saw multiculturalism as being good for the economy and for the integration of immigrants.

“I think people understand and accept it’s who we are,” he said, adding that 45 per cent of the population had at least one parent born overseas.

He said he would be surprised ALA got much traction within the community, and this could also be a sign of the times.

“This country has undergone very significant change over the course of a generation,” Prof Markus said.

“Young people today have grown up in a world very different to their parents,” and their attitude towards immigration or cultural diversity is likely to be “it’s life, this is it, get on with it”.

While this was not true for everybody, Prof Markus said the issues that were significant for their parents were not as prominent for their children.

Even though groups such as One Nation had managed to gain support in the 1990s, Prof Markus said that was 20 years ago and there had been a lot of water under the bridge since then.

“At its peak it got 22 per cent of the vote in the Queensland state election and since that time (leader) Pauline Hanson has struggled to get even one tenth of that,” he said.


UNSW Associate Professor Geoffrey Brahm Levey, an Australian Research Council Future Fellow in Political Science, agrees that parties like the ALA only appeal to a small number of people, but he acknowledged that the group did reflect genuine concerns.

“There is a genuine problem within the Islamic and Muslim community with radicalisation … and that naturally provokes anxiety among populations,” Prof Levey said.

“People are right to be concerned when they see members of the public act violently or unacceptably but the problem is a relatively small one.”

On the ALA website, the group asserts that Islam is not just a religion but a “totalitarian ideology with global aspirations”. While Prof Levey acknowledged some strands of Islam took a more fundamentalist interpretation, there were many others that would reject this.

He said the overwhelming majority of the 300,000 plus Muslims in Australia had integrated into the community.

“There isn’t any crash of civilisations here, Muslims are well integrated and have been for some time,” he said. “The overwhelming majority of Muslims within Australia are peaceful, law abiding and productive citizens and this also needs to be remembered.”

He said problems were created when every person in a faith community was presumed to be guilty because of the deeds of a small minority, which created a sense of marginalisation and estrangement.

It could also be counter-productive and fan the flames of radicalisation.

“Any group that feels itself unfairly marginalised or targeted will breed frustrations that can turn into forms of hitting back at the community,” he said.

He said groups like ALA had always existed in western democracies and it was interesting to note that in the 1960s, Australians had an issue with Irish Catholics in particular.

“They were the target of hostility and marginalisation and then with the arrival of Asian refugees and immigrants in the 1970s, Irish Catholics became identified with the core culture.”

At this point, Australia began describing itself as being an “Anglo Celtic” population, instead of “Anglo Saxon”. “So to some extent, each new wave initially excites these exaggerated responses among locals,” he said.

Past experience with groups like One Nation may have also shown Australians that they did not have the answers to many people’s questions.

“They are the great pretenders, they are voicing all sorts of frustrations that are misguided in most cases and ill informed,” Prof Levey said.

“When it comes to solutions they don’t have much to offer except exclusion and nastiness, which I think most Australians have seen through and is not the sort of place they want Australia to be.”


While some people believe multiculturalism is different to integration, Prof Levey said multiculturalism was actually a form of integration, especially in the way the concept was applied in Australia.

He said some people thought of integration as “full assimilation”, which involved the complete loss of a person’s prior identity when they became a new Australian.

But experts generally had another view that sees it more as a two-way process

“In contrast to assimilation, you are not expected to lose affection for traditions of the old country,” he said. But it did involve embracing parts of the new culture, and this could include learning the language, abiding by local laws and socialising in a new way.

This two-way approach relies on the dominant society accommodating newcomers, and instead of them being absorbed into the dominant soup of the multicultural “melting pot”, the addition of newcomers change the soup and a new identity is created.

Prof Levey said he did not believe it was reasonable for someone to give up all their old habits and traditions.

“It goes too far and is a violation of our freedoms but it is perfectly reasonable to insist on integration into society, and for immigrants to be full and productive citizens in society,” he said.

For example, on the issue of child brides, he said it was not unreasonable for Australian law to prevail because it was a publicly defendable position and backed by sentiment in the community.

“But for other practices that don’t involve some obvious harm, it’s also reasonable that institutions be more accommodating,” he said.

This could involve for example, allowing Sikhs who work at train stations to wear a turban, instead of a cap as part of their uniform.

“There can be reasonable adjustments to uniforms and this becomes a mechanism of integration rather than just excluding people.”

When it comes to halal meat, Prof Levey said the reasons why people objected to it, needed to be understood. Some could be concerned about funding terrorism, while others may be concerned about slaughtering being inhumane. These types of fears could be alleviated if evidence was produced.

“If people are simply concerned that the meat is halal, this is really nonsensical, it’s simply a custom,” he said.

He stressed that multiculturalism did not have to mean the denial of established majority tradition or public celebrations of occasions such as Christmas. Instead it could involve making them more inclusive, simply by acknowledging that not everyone celebrates them.

In the US, which Prof Levey said did inclusion well, instead of wishing people a “Merry Christmas” they said: “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays”.

“This signals to others that you are aware they may not be celebrating it,” he said.

“The attitude in Australia is, ‘you’ve got to be joking, bugger off’ but I think there are ways of handling this.”

Celebrating other faith festivals throughout the year could also help others feel more included.


While some have suggested multiculturalism was a failure including German chancellor Angela Merkel, former UK prime minister David Cameron and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, Prof Levey said it was interesting to note that two of these countries did not have multicultural policies and Britain’s was very different to Australia’s.

He said the way Britain practised multiculturalism was to encourage communities of minorities, which seemed to have developed parallel lives that did not interact much with each other.

“The Australian model is very different, it’s not about recognising group rights or segregation.,” he said.

He said no other language had been given the same status as English and Australia had always insisted on respect for its parliamentary institutions and liberal democratic norms.

Prof Levey said he thought there was confusion about what multiculturalism was and how it was applied in Australia.

“Because it has, for so long, been presented in terms of ‘celebrating diversity’ or ‘valuing all cultures equally’,” he said the fact it was based on Australian liberal democracy principles which respect the liberty, equality and inclusion of all Aussies, struggled to shine through.

This was one of the main difficulties with ALA, Prof Levey said, which claims to represent the authentic values of the Australian way of life, but did not recognise that this included the principles of being a liberal democracy, which is part of our British inheritance.

“If one truly believes in liberty, as ALA claim they do, one must also allow for cultural liberty,’ he said.

“This includes freely expressing your religion, and culture up to a point, within the law.

“Democracy must include all citizens and allow for different voices to be heard.”


Aust launches bid for UN human rights seat

Dear High Commissioner  Al Hussein,

We consider by granting an UN human rights seat to Australia would be a mistake until it closes the Nauru and Manus Island detention centers.

Yours respectfully,

Eddie Hwang


Unity Party WA (published)

Fax/hone: 61893681884

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Aust launches bid for UN human rights seat

AAP – October 19, 2015, 8:46 am

Australia has launched its bid for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council from 2018.

“Australia would bring the values of our nation, an inclusive, diverse and tolerant society, built on migration,” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in Canberra on Monday.

“We’re one of the most successful open, free, liberal democracies in the world, committed to the rule of law and to human rights.”

Attorney-General George Brandis said Australia’s candidacy was the “most natural thing in the world” for a country built on a belief in and commitment to human rights. 

“It should never be forgotten (we’re) one of the world’s most generous societies to displaced people,” he said.

Ms Bishop already has received positive feedback about the bid from Geneva and New York.

“We’re up against some very good competition, but I believe it’s appropriate that Australia does campaign for an inaugural seat on the human rights council – we have not been here before,” she told reporters.

The cost of the campaign will be absorbed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Abyan needs our help

Dear Prime Minister,

We urge you again to grant Abyan and other abused refugees permanent residence in Australia and close the Nauru and Manus Island detention Centers without delay.

It is our moral duty to do so.

Yours respectfully,

Eddie Hwang


Unity Party WA (published)

Fax/hone: 61893681884

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From: Aurora – GetUp! []
Sent: Sunday, October 18, 2015 11:36 AM
Subject: URGENT: Abyan needs our help

** Content warning: sexual violence, abortion, abuse **


It’s an absolute horror story.

On Friday evening the Turnbull government chartered a plane and sent Abyan* – a raped, pregnant 23 year old refugee – back to Nauru, without receiving medical care.1

Here’s what happened:

  • Abyan came to Australia seeking safety, but instead the government sent her to Nauru, where 14 weeks ago she was raped, an attack that resulted in pregnancy. Abortion is illegal on Nauru, so Abyan begged to come to Australia to receive care, including a terminaton of the pregnancy.2
  • Last week the government responded to enormous public outcry on behalf of Abyan, and brought her to Australia for medical treatment. But once here, this 23 year old woman was denied access to a counsellor to talk her through the procedure.3
  • Instead, she was flown in secret back to Nauru, avoiding legal action on her behalf; still pregnant, and without having been given the medical treatment she needs.4

Instead of providing Abyan with appropriate medical care, the Turnbull government forcibly returned her to Nauru. For Abyan, this is abuse heaped upon abuse – rather than giving her basic human respect, our country has turned her away.

We need to generate an enormous uproar to show the Prime Minister his government can’t get away with this in our name. Click here to sign the urgent petition to bring her back to Australia.

We’ve been in touch with Abyan’s lawyers. When she came to Australia she was weak, sick and traumatised. She had received no care on Nauru after the violent assault, and had lost 10kg. She was in desperate need of appropriate medical attention, including counselling.

But once again the government did not provide for her safety and welfare. Just days after arriving in Australia, Abyan was flown to Nauru, despite her desperate plea not to be returned.

“I cannot go back to where this happened to me; I cannot go to where I was raped. What happened to me there [in Nauru] is what caused me to run away from Somalia. What happened to me in Somalia is what happened to me there [in Nauru]”

Yet this is exactly what the Turnbull government has done. Make no mistake, this is abuse.

Can you sign the urgent petition to Prime Minister Turnbull to bring Abyan back to Australia, and ensure she receives the care she needs?

Abyan’s story is a personal emergency. It’s also yet another outrage in a long line of abuses committed by Australian governments towards refugees and people seeking asylum.

We need to make this huge – for Abyan, and every person like her, who has been so grossly let down and abused by Australia’s devastating policies.

Click here to sign the petition to bring her back.

Thank you,

Aurora and Sally for the GetUp team

PS – This morning, the Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton claimed that Abyan had changed her mind about receiving an abortion, which is why she was taken back to Nauru. This is in direct contradiction to the accounts given by Abyan’s lawyer and advocates in contact with her. We are in touch with them, and they have told us that weak, tired and unwell, Abyan asked for more time, and to see a counsellor to better understand the procedure. A court injunction for her to remain in Australia to receive care was being filed as she was flown by private plane out of the country.

*Abyan is not her real name; it is the name used by the media and her advocates to protect her identity.

[1] ‘Australia secretly flies pregnant refugee out of country before hearing’, Guardian Australia, 16 October 2015
[2] ‘Refugee raped on Nauru begs Malcolm Turnbull to let her come to Australia for an abortion’, Sydney Morning Herald, 7 October 2015
[3] ‘Asylum seeker that claims she was raped in Nauru returned to the island’,, 17 October 2015
[4] ‘Pregnant Somali asylum seeker returned to detention, advocates say’, ABC News, 16 October 2015

GetUp is an independent, not-for-profit community campaigning group. We use new technology to empower Australians to have their say on important national issues. We receive no political party or government funding, and every campaign we run is entirely supported by voluntary donations. If you’d like to contribute to help fund GetUp’s work, please donate now! To unsubscribe from GetUp, please click here.

Our team acknowledges that we meet and work on the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. We wish to pay respect to their Elders – past, present and future – and acknowledge the important role all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to play within Australia and the GetUp community.

Authorised by Paul Oosting, Level 14, 338 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000.

Sec 18c of the RDA on again

Dear Prime Minister,

We the Unity Party WA, the Multicultural Communities Council of New South Wales (MCC NSW), the Chinese Community Council of Australia and the Chinese Australian Forum support the status quo – not to repeal Sec 18c of the RDA and to do will divide the ethnic communities in Australia.

Yours respectfully,

Eddie Hwang


Unity Party WA

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Rebellion over race hate laws, with half a dozen Turnbull government MPs set to cross the floor

Date – October 15, 2015 – 11:44AM – Latika Bourke

Another conservative senator has declared he will cross the floor in support of a bill to water down the Racial Discrimination Act, invoking Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s own words to justify his rebellion.
This means more than half a dozen government senators would now cross the floor should the issue came to a vote.

Liberal senator Zed Seselja told the Senate on Thursday that the current act, which makes it an offence to “insult” or “offend” someone on the basis of their race, was too subjective for a court to decide.

Conservative columnist Andrew Bolt was found to have breached the act in 2011.

compromise bill has been put forward by Family First senator Bob Day after the Coalition dumped its own promise to repeal section 18C of the act.

The compromise would make it no longer an offence to offend or insult a person on the basis of their race.  It would remain unlawful to humiliate or intimidate a person or group of people based on their race or ethnicity.

“When Senator Day proposed an alternative compromise for reform of the act that simply struck out the words ‘insult’ and ‘offend’ the then communications minister, now Prime Minister Turnbull, said he was ‘very comfortable’ with the proposal and did not foresee ‘any negative impact’,” Senator Seselja said.

“So it is clear there has been substantial support in this Parliament for this reform over the last few years. But we haven’t matched those words with deeds.”

Senator Seselja noted Mr Turnbull has previously said changing the act must be done “delicately” and “you’ve got to bring people along with you”.

“Well I believe the time to bring people along is now,” Senator Seselja said.

He added that despite the government’s decision to set the issue to one side under the leadership of former prime minister Tony Abbott, it was important to stick to the Coalition’s pre-election promise to repeal section 18C of the act.

Senator Seselja’s intervention sees him join fellow Liberals Cory Bernardi, Dean Smith, Linda Reynolds, Chris Back and Ian Macdonald in declaring they would back the compromise bill.

Mr Turnbull’s assistant minister and numbers man, Senator James McGrath, had told the Young Liberals he would also cross the floor but has retreated from his strident stance since being elected to the frontbench. Crossing the floor would mean giving up his ministerial position.

A vote is unlikely to occur after Mr Turnbull asked Senator Day to delay any vote. A senior government source confirmed the Coalition would not revisit the issue, citing the need to keep the Muslim community on-side during the heightened national security environment.

Labor senator Lisa Singh called on Mr Turnbull to publicly declare his position.

“All we’ve had is silence,” she told the Senate.  “You’re completely divided.”

Senator MacDonald confirmed his support for the bill and said it was right that it should remain an offence to humiliate and intimidate a person based on their race.

He told the Senate: “If people want to insult and offend me, that’s fine, I’m not going to slit my wrists.”

Senator Back also spoke in favour of the proposal and described the act in its current form as a “grotesque limitation on political discourse”.

Labor senator Jenny McAllister called on Liberals backing change to provide a list of the insults and offences they want people allowed to say under if the law is changed.

Name, shame rogue officers

Dear Editor,

Those corrupt officers must be prosecuted in order to restore public confidence in the corruption watchdog.

Eddie Hwang


Unity Party WA (published)     (published)

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Name, shame rogue officers”

Phoebe Wearne – October 15, 2015, 12:45 am – The West Australian

The head of the Corruption and Crime Commission’s parliamentary oversight committee wants members of an allegedly corrupt unit of covert investigators to be named and shamed to restore public confidence in the corruption watchdog.

Chairman and Upper House Liberal Nick Goiran told a parliamentary hearing yesterday he found it “somewhat dissatisfying” that the reputations of the officers whose exploits featured in a damning report by CCC Parliamentary Inspector Michael Murray remained untarnished.

The report, tabled in State Parliament in June after a two-year investigation, laid out allegations against officers from a rogue unit known as the Operational Support Unit, including 23 cases of systemic corruption.

According to the report, staff were involved in theft of cash and property from the watchdog, falsifying records in an attempt to cover up fraud, hiring four-wheel-drive vehicles for private use, going fishing in work time and unlawfully obtaining driver’s licences under assumed names.

Eight officers left the CCC and two were charged by WA Police.

Mr Goiran compared the outcome to the findings of the CCC report on Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi accepting corporate hospitality made public last week.

He said it did not seem fair that the CCC officers were protected “secretly” and no opinion of misconduct, serious misconduct or corruption had been made public because the matters went to police and the Director of Public Prosecutions had concluded that it could not prosecute.

“It is somewhat dissatisfying that there is no clear outcome in regards to some of these officers, who as far as I understand are no longer working with the commission,” Mr Goiran said.

“Is it right that those people who at least meet the threshold of having charges considered, it’s really silent as to who they are and what they’ve done, and you contrast that to the Lord Mayor where everybody in Perth knows who she is and what she did — it almost seems like there is a bit of an inconsistency.”

Mr Murray told the hearing the “clear out” of the officers from the commission was now complete, but about three outstanding related matters were subject to a continuing police investigation.

He said matters of criminality that appeared to be an essential feature of the misconduct were placed before the police.

Pauline Hanson White Supremacist

Dear Editor,

You are quite right to say that Pauline is a “white supremacist” because she does not like Aborigines and other ethnic people as indicated in her maiden speech below.

Eddie Hwang


Unity Party WA (Published)     (Published)

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Pauline Hanson in fiery interview on Today show

an hour ago – – 09-10-2915.

PAULINE Hanson was in a fiery mood this morning and Today host Karl Stefanovic landed in hot water after suggesting she could be overshadowed by Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie.

The controversial leader of One Nation came out swinging on the program after being asked about suggestions she was a “white supremacist”, saying “what a load of hogwash”.

“I’ve never said one racist thing in my life,” Hanson said. “I speak the way I see it and I speak the truth.”

Stefanovic picked up Hanson’s combative vibe early, telling her: “you’re on fire this morning”, but that did not stop him from antagonising her further by asking whether she had any Muslim friends.

“I possibly may have, I have met Muslim people over the years by all means,” Hanson said, adding that she didn’t ask about the religious background of those she met.

When pushed she said: “I went down to Bankstown and met some Muslim women who stood around and had a chat with me that time.

Pauline Hanson’s Maiden Speech In The House Of Representatives

Pauline Hanson was elected to the House of Representatives electorate of Oxley at the March 1996 election.

Hanson was disendorsed by the Liberal Party during the election campaign because of comments she made about Australian Aborigines. Because of the timing of the dis-endorsement, she appeared on the ballot paper as a Liberal candidate.

Oxley was a traditionally safe Labor electorate in Queensland, centred on Ipswich. Labor’s Les Scott held Oxley with a two-party-preferred margin of 14.65%. Hanson secured a swing of 19.31% and won the seat with a majority of 4.66%.

Hanson’s maiden speech to the House on September 10 caused a storm of controversy because of its criticisms of Aboriginals, multiculturalism and immigration.

The sentence in which Hanson claimed “I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians” became the most well-known line of the speech.

Listen to an extract of Hanson’s speech

Asians in America and Australia

Dear Prime Minister,

Sadly it is the same in this “lucky” country – Australia.

Would you like to comment, please?

Yours respectfully,

Eddie Hwang


Unity Party WA (published)     (published)

Fax/hone: 61893681884

Save the trees – Please use email

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Asians in America

The model minority is losing patience

Asian-Americans are the United States’ most successful minority, but they are complaining ever more vigorously about discrimination, especially in academia

Oct 3rd 2015 | From the print edition

MICHAEL WANG, a young Californian, came second in his class of 1,002 students; his ACT score was 36, the maximum possible; he sang at Barack Obama’s inauguration; he got third place in a national piano contest; he was in the top 150 of a national maths competition; he was in several national debating-competition finals. But when it came to his university application he faced a serious disappointment for the first time in his glittering career. He was rejected by six of the seven Ivy League colleges to which he applied.

“I saw people less qualified than me get better offers,” says Mr Wang. “At first I was just angry. Then I decided to turn that anger to productive use.” He wrote to the universities concerned. “I asked: what more could I have done to get into your college? Was it based on race, or what was it based on?” He got vague responses—or none. So he complained to the Department of Education. Nothing came of it. “The department said they needed a smoking gun.”

In May this year Mr Wang joined a group of 64 Asian-American organisations that made a joint complaint to the Department of Education against Harvard, alleging racial discrimination. That follows a lawsuit filed last year against Harvard and the University of North Carolina by a group of Asian-American students making similar charges. The department rejected the claim in July, but another two complaints have since been filed by Asian-Americans, one against Harvard and one against nine other universities.

On October 3rd 1965 President Lyndon Johnson signed the Immigration and Nationality Act into law, sweeping away a system that favoured white Europeans over other races. One of its main consequences was the beginning of mass immigration to America from Asia. By most indicators, these incomers have done better than any other ethnic minority group. Indeed, they have long been described as the “model minority”: prosperous, well-educated and quiescent. But there are problems, as a result of which they are becoming somewhat less quiescent than they once were.

Before the 1965 act, the experience of Asian-American immigrants had not been entirely happy. The largest mass lynching in American history, in 1871, in which 17 Chinese were murdered; the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which prohibited Chinese immigration; the internment of 120,000 Japanese-Americans in the second world war, when relatively few German- or Italian-Americans were interned: all were symptoms of a racism that was reserved not just for African-Americans.

Things changed after the war. The Chinese and Indians were seen as allies, and the internment of Japanese came to be seen as wrong. As the civil-rights campaign changed attitudes to race, the new immigration act enabled people to be admitted on the basis of skills and family relationships. Asia’s large population and fast-developing economies have meant an abundant supply of skilled aspirant Americans. In 2013 the numbers of both Chinese and Indian migrants overtook Mexicans for the first time.

Asia being a big place, Asian-Americans are a various lot, who came at different times, for different reasons and with different levels of education and prosperity. The Japanese mostly arrived before the second world war, the Chinese from the 1980s onwards. The Indians and Chinese are on average well educated and prosperous, whereas the (small numbers of) Cambodians, Laotians and Hmong are struggling. The Japanese—the only Asian group mostly born in America and more likely than not to marry a non-Asian—are closer in attitudes and educational level to the American population as a whole. But on average Asian-Americans are unusually well educated, prosperous, married, satisfied with their lot and willing to believe in the American dream: 69% of Asians, compared with 58% of the general public, think that “most people who want to get ahead can make it if they are willing to work hard.”

It is their educational outperformance that is most remarkable: 49% of Asian-Americans have a bachelor’s degree, compared with 28% of the general population. Whereas Asian-Americans make up 5.6% of the population of the United States, according to the complaint to the Department of Education they make up more than 30% of the recent American maths and physics Olympiad teams and Presidential Scholars, and 25-30% of National Merit Scholarships. Among those offered admission in 2013 to New York’s most selective public high schools, Stuyvesant High School and Bronx High School of Science, 75% and 60% respectively were Asian. The Asian population of New York City is 13%. Surging immigration is likely to increase the disparity between Asians and other groups, because recent immigrants are even more highly qualified than earlier cohorts: 61% of recent immigrants from Asia have a bachelor’s degree, compared with 30% of recent non-Asian migrants.

Why do they do so well? Amy Hsin of the City University of New York and Yu Xie of the University of Michigan examined the progress of 6,000 white and Asian children, from toddlers through school, to find an answer. They rejected the idea that Asians were just innately much cleverer than whites: there was an early gap in cognitive abilities, but it declined to insignificance through school. The higher socioeconomic status of Asian parents provided part of the explanation, but only a small part. Their data suggested that Asian outperformance is thanks in large part to hard work. Ms Hsin and Ms Xie’s study showed a sizeable gap in effort between Asian and white children, which grew during their school careers.

When the researchers asked the children about their attitudes to work, two differences emerged between Asian and white children. The Asians were likelier to believe that mathematical ability is learned, not innate; and Asian parents expected more of their children than white ones did. The notion that A- is an “Asian F” is widespread. Another study, by Zurishaddai Garcia of the University of Utah, shows that Asian-American parents are a lot likelier to spend at least 20 minutes a day helping their children with their homework than any other ethnic group.

In “The Asian American Achievement Paradox”, a study based on interviews with young Chinese and Vietnamese in Los Angeles, as well as Mexicans, whites and blacks, Jennifer Lee and Min Zhou argue that it is not just what happens at home that matters. They point to “ethnic capital”—the fact that these groups belong to communities that support education—as part of the explanation.

The Asian-American interviewees recall wearily their parents dangling the PhDs of cousins and neighbours in front of them. Being part of an entrepreneurial society helps. The four-inch-thick Southern California Chinese Yellow Pages, which lists Chinese businesses, offers thousands of listings for Chinese-run SAT prep and tutoring services. Close links to the motherland are also an advantage, to parents at least. Children who rebel may be threatened with being sent to stay with family in China, and they know from relations there that teenagers in America, even Asian ones, get off relatively lightly compared with those in China.

Thanks to such pressures and hard work, many Asian-Americans do end up in top universities—but not as many as their high-school performance would seem to merit. Some Asians allege that the Ivy Leagues have put an implicit limit on the number of Asians they will admit. They point to Asians’ soaring academic achievements and to the work of Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Walton Radford of Princeton, who looked at the data on admissions and concluded that Asian-Americans need 140 SAT points out of 1,600 more than whites to get a place at a private university, and that blacks need 310 fewer points. Yet in California, where public universities are allowed to use economic but not racial criteria in admissions, 41% of Berkeley’s enrolments in 2014 were Asian-Americans and at the California Institute of Technology 44% were (see chart).

Racial prejudice of the sort that Jews faced may or may not be part of the problem, but affirmative action certainly is. Top universities tend to admit blacks and Hispanics with lower scores because of their history of disadvantage; and once the legacies, the sports stars, the politically well-connected and the rich people likely to donate new buildings (few of whom tend to be Asian) have been allotted their places, the number for people who are just high achievers is limited. Since the Ivies will not stop giving places to the privileged, because their finances depend on the generosity of the rich, the argument homes in on affirmative action.

Several states have banned the use of race as a criterion for admission to their public institutions and there have been several lawsuits against affirmative action. One, brought by Abigail Fisher (who is white) against the University of Texas, has been ricocheting between the Supreme Court and lower courts for seven years; in June the Supreme Court agreed to hear her appeal. In September, 117 Asian-American outfits under the umbrella of the Asian-American Coalition for Education filed a brief to back Ms Fisher. That case’s outcome will bear on the one brought by the group of Asian students against Harvard and the University of North Carolina. Given that several Supreme Court judges, including John Roberts, the chief justice, are unsympathetic to affirmative action, the court seems quite likely to rule against it.

Too successful by half

For the moment the court has taken the view that universities may take race into account, but racial quotas are not on. The Ivies deny running a racial quota. But in its comment on the Asian groups’ complaint, Harvard defends the use of race as a criterion in admission—“a class that is diverse on multiple dimensions, including on race, transforms the educational experience of students from every background and prepares our graduates for an increasingly pluralistic world”—and describes its admissions process as “holistic”, meaning it takes into account considerations wider than mere test scores.

Many Asian parents think this is wrong. They woke up a long time ago to the need to counter the stereotype of the maths-nerd Asian who does nothing but work, and encouraged their children to diversify—into music, debating, charity work, sports, everything that is supposed to increase students’ chances of admission. But many who have excelled in those areas, including Mr Wang and Irene Liu, a student from Massachusetts with a similarly stellar CV, were rejected by the Ivy League. Ms Liu’s mother, Tricia, says, “I feel angry about it. We came for the American dream: you work hard, you do well. This just doesn’t add up.” Irene has accepted a place at a top Canadian university, and is happy about it. Her mother isn’t: “It breaks my heart that she’s going abroad. If she had gone to Harvard, I could have brought her dumplings.”

Mr Wang doubts that Asians, in reaction, are likely to slack off. Asian parenting, he says, “isn’t getting more relaxed. It’s probably getting stricter, because parents realise they’re going to have to work even harder. Standards are rising for everybody, but they’re rising faster for Asians than for everybody else.” As Arnold Jia, a 14-year-old from Short Hills, New Jersey, points out, the problem becomes circular. “To counter affirmative action we have to work harder than everybody else,” he says. “And that reinforces the stereotype.”

But the Asian-American community is unwilling on the whole to oppose affirmative action. It tends to vote Democratic, and many of its members recall the years when they were a despised, not a model, minority. So those who dislike the way the system works tend to argue for it to be adjusted, not abolished; and some say that Asians should actually support it.

It is true that although Asian-Americans do remarkably well at school and university, and have high average incomes, in the workplace they are under-represented in top jobs. A “bamboo ceiling” seems to apply. Asians do well in the lower and middle levels of companies and professions, but are less visible in the upper echelons. Buck Gee, Janet Wong and Denise Peck, Asian-American executives who put together data from Google, Intel, Hewlett Packard, LinkedIn and Yahoo for a report published by Ascend, an Asian-American organisation, found that 27% of professionals, 19% of managers and 14% of executives were Asian-American (see chart).

A similar effect is visible in the law. In 2014, whereas 11% of law-firm associates were Asian, 3% of partners were. Recruiters at the top firms typically throw out applications from all but the top universities and scan the remainder for their extracurriculars, says Lauren Rivera of Northwestern University. “They’re particularly interested in sports, such as lacrosse, squash and [rowing] crew. When you look at the demographic base of these sports, Asian-Americans are not heavily represented.”

At the very top of the tree, Asian-Americans are nigh-invisible. According to a study of Fortune 500 CEOs by Richard Zweigenhaft of Guilford College, in 2000 eight were Asian-American, and in 2014 ten were, whereas the women’s tally in the same period rose from four to 24. Academia, similarly, is stuffed with Asian-American professors, but among America’s 3,000 colleges there are fewer than ten Asian-American presidents, says Mr Gee.

High-flying Asian-Americans, like the three authors of the Ascend report, suggest that cultural patterns may contribute to the group’s under-representation at the top. “There’s something in the upbringing that makes Asians shy,” says Mr Gee. “Engineers are nerds, but within that self-selected group of nerds, Asians are even more nerdy.” “We’re brought up to be humble,” says Ms Wong. “My parents didn’t want to rock the boat. It’s about being quiet, not making waves, being part of the team. In corporate life, you have to learn to toot your horn.” “There’s a natural order of human relationships in Confucianism,” says Ms Peck. “You don’t argue, you don’t contradict authority.” Asian-Americans are a large, diverse group exposed to a range of influences, but those who do reflect such patterns may be less likely to bid for leadership, even if they are highly qualified. The comparative prominence of South Asians, who are less likely to be told not to “rock the boat”—for instance, Indra Nooyi at PepsiCo and Ajay Banga at MasterCard—is cited as anecdotal evidence.

Mr Gee, Ms Wong and Ms Peck, who run training courses to help Asians get promoted, recommend that they should network harder. But another study suggests that Asians may find getting mentors particularly tough. Researchers at Wharton Business School, Columbia University and New York University wrote an identical e-mail to 6,500 professors, ostensibly from students wanting to meet the academic. White men got notably more responses than other groups; Asian-Americans of both sexes got fewer. Since the Ivies produce a disproportionate number of CEOs, Congressmen and judges, the apparent bias against Asian-Americans at leading universities may also keep Asians out of leadership spots. “The ladder is being pulled away from our feet,” says Tricia Liu. “If we can’t go to the Ivy League universities, how can we get the positions in Wall Street, or Congress, or the Supreme Court?”

As Jerome Karabel’s study of Jews and the Ivy League (“The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale and Princeton”) shows, it was only when Jews had gained political power that the Ivies stopped discriminating against them. And Asian-Americans are under-represented in politics as well as in business. Only 2.4% of the 113th Congress were Asian-Americans; by one count, fewer than 2% of state legislators are.

Where is Senator Kim?

South Asians, though less numerous than East Asians, are more visible. Nikki Haley, governor of South Carolina, and Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, both Indian-Americans, are the only Asian-American governors in the lower 48 (David Ige, a Japanese-American, is governor of Hawaii). The contrasting political traditions of India and China may also be a factor. “We come from the largest democracy in the world,” says Sayu Bhojwani, who runs the New American Leaders project, which helps train immigrants to flourish in politics. “We’re prepared for it in the way that East Asians are not.”

In China, by contrast, “We went through the cultural revolution,” says Chunyan Li, a former employee of the Chinese finance ministry, now a professor of accountancy at Pace University in New York. “There’s a lack of trust in politics.”

Perceptions that Asian-Americans are being treated unfairly, especially in the workplace, may push more of them into politics. Andrew Hahn, a Korean-American partner in Duane Morris, a law firm, says, “I used to be a Twinkie, or maybe a banana—yellow outside, white inside—but once I hit the legal profession, I became a radical.”

College admissions—and the lawsuit against Harvard—may provide a spark to fire Asian-Americans into becoming more assertively political. Many in California were infuriated last year by a bill to rescind the state’s ban on using race in university admissions promoted by a Hispanic state senator. A petition and 36 organisations, 26 of them Asian-American, opposed the bill, and it was dropped. “There’s a growing community angst,” says Mr Hahn of the belief among Asian-Americans that they are being discriminated against. “What’s next? Law school admissions? Employment?” He organises political fund-raisers, and says that the coffers have opened. “Hedge-fund money, private equity, lawyers. They’re giving huge sums …It took the Jews half a century to get where they are,” he adds. “I hope it doesn’t take us that long.”

From the print edition: Briefing