Authors Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld link keys to success to ethnicity and religion

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      African American Barack Obama may have defeated Mormon Mitt Romney in the last presidential election.

      But that hasn't stopped self-described U.S. Tiger Mom Amy Chua and her husband, Jed Rubenfeld, from claiming that Mormons are superior to most Americans.

      Their new book, The Triple Package, says it all in a simplistic subtitle: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America.

      I haven't read the book, but I can already guess that it's going to trigger a wave of accusations of racism and ethnocentrism.

      The three traits, according to Chua and Rubenfeld, are "superiority complex", "insecurity", and "impulse control", according to an article in today's New York Post.

      Chua and Rubenfeld declare that Jews, Indians, Chinese, Iranians, Lebanese-Americans, Nigerians, Cuban exiles, and Mormons have these qualities to a greater degree than other cultural groups.

      This type of cultural stereotyping utterly ignores what the great Nobel Prize–winning Indian economist and author Amartya Sen covered so well in his landmark book, Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny.

      Sen pointed out that we're all a multiplicity of identities. We define ourselves not only by our ethnicity or our religion, but also by our occupation, our class, our educational level, our hobbies, our marital status, our sexual orientation, or any number of other aspects of our being.

      As a result, two people of different racial backgrounds may find they have a lot more in common with one another than with people of their own race.

      Of course, Chua and Rubenfeld might argue that Sen is so great precisely because he's of Indian descent, which means he has the gift of the "triple package".

      But how does their theory explain Obama, Cesar ChavezCornel West, Chief Bobby Joseph, or all the other great achievers who don't fit into Chua and Rubenfeld's tiny box of success?

      To reduce humanity to religion or ethnicity is to deny who we are. The way that Chau and Rubenfeld have done so is quite shameful.

      No doubt, there will be a market for their book. They'll do the rounds on talk shows, get written up in magazines, and make a lot of money.

      But they'll never be seen in the same light as the true giants in our midst, no matter how many articles get written.

      It's reductionism run amok.


      We're now using Facebook for comments.



      Jan 5, 2014 at 1:04am

      Interesting had a white person written this classless dribble they would be lambasted as racist. An Asian writes it and it's okay. Amy Chua is a narcissistic racist, typical of an immigrant or an immigrants offspring that takes the best of the West then uses it and insults the people who made her and gave her the opportunity to be successful. Funny how she lists Chinese as smart what ripping of Western innovation and back engineering stolen products.


      Jan 5, 2014 at 11:31am

      Didn't these "academics" read Stephen J. Gould's critique of The Bell Curve ?


      Jan 5, 2014 at 12:06pm

      The writer of this article admits that he has not read the book. I am amazed that he could not wait to trash it. Next time when I see the author's name, Charles Smith, I can simply dismiss his writing without reading it first.


      Jan 5, 2014 at 3:25pm

      Exactly Michae. I thought judging people is wrong in any religion. I am sure if both were transplanted to the Middle-East the book would have ben written. Michael, could I add, greedy narcissistic racist.


      Jan 5, 2014 at 4:10pm

      Research has shown that immigrants in America generally do better. It is a matter fo survival for them because they do not feel entititled.


      Jan 5, 2014 at 7:20pm

      Anyone who writes a review without having read the book is to be discounted immediately. And it reflects very poorly in anyone who publishes a review by someone who hasn't read the book. Really!!!

      Charlie Smith

      Jan 5, 2014 at 8:14pm

      Hi Sylvia,

      It isn't a book review. It isn't even posted in our books section. It's a commentary.

      Charlie Smith

      Albert Ross

      Jan 5, 2014 at 10:27pm

      "Funny how she lists Chinese as smart what ripping of Western innovation and back engineering stolen products."

      Okay Michael. Western and other nations have been ripping off Chinese inventions for ages before the Western concept of "copyright" even existed. The four great Chinese inventions are paper, compass, gunpowder, and printing. Not to name the countless number of inventions (go look it up genius) including the inspiration for Italian spaghetti and pizza. Your reply shows an utter ignorance for history and it is probably why you are not likely to be successful while I come from a family that has bred success for generations.


      Jan 6, 2014 at 3:10am

      Don't forget to add group support as part of the package. Insecurity seems to contradict with superiority complex. I think this feeling of superiority comes from the fact that he or she has that support of the group. Being insecure also necessitates the formation of a supportive group.


      Jan 6, 2014 at 3:28am

      I feel sorry for the students of these Yale lecturers who don't fit the racial profile of what they consider will make a successful American.