When it comes to discussing success in America, we're still afraid to talk about race
By Vivia Chen Jan. 31, 2014
Amy Chua is an easy whipping post. After all, she’s the iconic Tiger Mom who blithely bragged about her extreme parenting methods in her book 2011 Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Overnight, she became the archetype of the nightmare Asian mom, hell bent on raising uber-achievers at all cost.
I thought Battle Hymn was a humorous, breezy read, but many people (who probably never read the book) were outraged. ... This time, though, Chua is condemned not just as an arrogant elitist and abusive mother but something else: racist.
Suketu Mehta writes in TIME that the book represents “the new racism—and I take it rather personally.” Mehta adds that “the language of racism in America has changed . . . It’s not about skin color anymore—it’s about ‘cultural traits.’”
In a follow-up to Mehta’s article, Anna Holmes argues that the “new racism” in The Triple Package is just a continuation of “the same old racism.” Her verdict on the book: “It’s the same old garbage, in a slightly different, Ivy League-endorsed disguise.”
The tenor of a lot of the criticism has been angry, hostile and extremely personal (Chua seems to get singled out much more so than her husband). And, I think, racist. The fact that some of the slings come from minority group members doesn’t make the criticisms less vicious.
What gives the attacks a distinct racist tinge is that Chua is reduced to a stereotype—a Dragon Lady, of sorts. This time, though, the Dragon Lady is not the evil seducer of old Fu Manchu movies, but the new evangelist of racial superiority. Maureen Callahan writes in the New York Post: “[Chua] used her heritage and all the worst stereotypes of Chinese women — cold, rigid Dragon Ladies.” ...
Chen is the creator and chief blogger of the Careerist and a senior reporter at the American Lawyer. The views expressed are solely her own.