The Chinese-American Yale law professor and her Jewish law professor husband have landed themselves in trouble with the usual suspects. They have written about different cultures and claimed some are more successful than others. The hand-wringers of political correctness merely bemoan them, rather than denounce them. Or maybe not.
Amy Chua and her husband are doing us all a favour. They are broaching topics that urgently need to be discussed: the inequality of outcomes, the relationship of outcomes to family culture, and the legitimacy of making generalizations different cultures.
Some of you may not believe that rednecks actually exist, for example. This is a true story. A fellow brought up in East Germany believed that, since everything his then mainstream Communist media taught about capitalist society was a lie, there could be no unemployment in capitalist societies. Likewise some of the readers of erudite political blogs like this one may not have actually met a redneck, not just a Canadian talking like one.
Once ages ago I ran into a lawyer from Arkansas. I met him at a conference on telecommunications in the States. He had a fringed buckskin jacket and a large bowie knife. He threatened violence just by his presence in the room. He grew up huntin’, shootin’, fishin’ like his forbears on rivers in Arkansas. He did not drop his ‘g’s as we say, he and his ancestors had never said “fishing” in their lives. His attitudes towards other races was frankly appalling. He was not just being politically incorrect, provocative or cute; he was the embodiment of Huck Finn’s father. This was an irony-free creature, a relic of the mid-18th century alive and well in the late twentieth century. After a beer with him I felt it advisable to stay away. Mostly he engendered a feeling of incredulity that someone from such swamps ever could have made it through law school. The Scots-Irish tribe is explored in Albion’s Seed and Born Fighting. If you want a less scholarly approach to this largest of American ethnic groups, Google Rednecks.
It is currently okay to denigrate white people, particularly Christian white people, as the source of most of the world’s violence and oppression. In the left-wing paradise of current culture, they are about the only safe group left to attack. They prove the truth of Dalwhinnie’s Second Law, that there is a fixed amount of intolerance in the world, though its targets are periodically redistributed.
Thus, when Amy Chua produces facts about successful groups, she is breaking a large, pervasive tabu in modern society. Regardless of whether her book is true or rubbish, she and her husband are bringing the fight into the academic world, into the Volvo-driving classes, and making them realize that they too, bear all the hallmarks of successful cultures.