January 13, 2014

Amy Chua

Amy Chua

The authors jump off the Danger Train right before it pulls into Eugenics Junction, saying it’s all nurture and that to suggest nature has anything to do with it is, quite frankly, “racially charged”:

That certain groups do much better in America than others”€”as measured by income, occupational status, test scores, and so on”€”is difficult to talk about. In large part this is because the topic feels racially charged. The irony is that the facts actually debunk racial stereotypes. There are black and Hispanic subgroups in the United States far outperforming many white and Asian subgroups. Moreover, there’s a demonstrable arc to group success”€”in immigrant groups, it typically dissipates by the third generation”€”puncturing the notion of innate group differences and undermining the whole concept of ‘model minorities.’”

Mind you, this is coming from two proud members of self-selected model minorities, so take it all with a dash of soy sauce and a pinch of kosher salt.

So as far as I can tell, their thesis is that if you simultaneously feel superior and insecure while abstaining from cigarettes, prostitutes, and heavy sauces, you can make it in America, because it’s all about culture.

But what the hell is “culture,” anyway? Talk about a social construct! Even the term “social construct” is a social construct, one unique to our culture. And who’s to say culture is entirely separate from genetics? There’s some suggestion that the two may be intimately intertwined. In rawest terms, “culture” may be nothing more than what happens when a group’s genes interact with their environment.

Because of a logical disorder that might properly be called Holocaust Panic, one is forbidden from even mentioning that genes may play any role whatsoever in disparate achievements between human social groups, because the minute you even think such a thing, you’ve bought a one-way ticket on a cattle car to Auschwitz, and it’s that sort of racial essentialism that led to slavery, and didn’t we learn anything from history and all those TV movies, for crying out loud?

But even if it’s entirely cultural rather than genetic, whites are rapidly becoming a minority in America, so perhaps they can learn from Chua and Rubenfeld’s template for how to become a “market-dominant minority.” They can feel innately supreme to all other groups, but not so overconfident that they don’t go out of their way to keep proving their supremacy. They curb their appetites for liquor, drugs, promiscuity, and vapid entertainment. They forge a strong in-group consciousness and place their collective interests above those of everyone else’s. Surely the authors would be OK with that?

I doubt it. I don”€™t think they want to be that controversial.


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