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'Tiger mom' stirs debate with list of religions, ethnic groups that succeed

Published: Thursday, Jan. 30 2014 4:35 p.m. MST

Some have charged the book and its authors as more racist than real. For example, Time's Suketu Mehta notes that, "Recently, though, the language of racism in America has changed, though the plot remains the same. It's not about skin color any more — it's about 'cultural traits.' And it comes cloaked in a whole lot of social-science babble. The new racialists are too smart to denigrate particular cultures. Instead, they come at things the other way. They praise certain cultures, hold them up as exemplary. The implication — sometimes overt, sometimes only winked at — is that other cultures are inferior and this accounts for their inability to succeed."

The authors have supporters, along with detractors. Euny Hong of Quartz, for example, says flatly that Chua and her assertions are not racist, as many others charge.

"If you bother to read the book through to the end," Hong writes, "it states clearly and at length that the traits that augur success start to dissipate as the younger generations become assimilated into mainstream American culture. 'The Triple Package,' the book argues, 'is worth aspiring to precisely to break out of it.' Like, for example, a set of braces or the Committee to Re-elect the President, the Triple Package’s potency lies in its ability to obsolesce when it is no longer needed.

"If the authors are saying that these traits disappear via assimilation, then obviously they talking about cultural traits, not about racial traits." Hong continues. "Can Chua and Rubenfeld reasonably be accused of racism? No. Cultural exceptionalism? Definitely."

Braceras notes that "although critics argue that 'Triple Package' relies too heavily on anecdotal evidence, they, ironically, attempt to prove the authors wrong with a silly anecdote of their own: the African-American Barack Obama defeating the Mormon Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election. (Apparently, these critics fail to understand, as Chua and Rubenfeld do, that Romney’s financial and occupational successes support, rather than detract from, the 'triple package' theory).

EMAIL: lois@deseretnews.com, Twitter: Loisco

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