Readers Discuss Chinese Parenting, Democracy and Golden Voices

Conversations on last week.

By Channing Kennedy Jan 17, 2011

Last week, our own Julianne Hing was guesting for Ta-Nehisi Coates at his column over at the Atlantic. Given free rein, Julianne’s written about Jared Loughner and Lovelle Mixon, police violence and the mentally ill, ethnic studies bans and Fuck Yeah API History, and the futile quest for an inhumanly perfect immigrant story with which to humanize immigrants. Each post has sparked massive, in-depth conversations, numbering dozens or hundreds of thought-out comments. Nice work, Julianne, and a big shoutout to TNC for the pixel space!

One thread that made its way back to is on Amy Chua’s controversy-baiting Wall Street Journal op-ed, in which she espouses the value of borderline-abusive "Chinese-style" parenting. In Julianne’s reaction piece, she finds herself unable to embrace or reject Chua’s claims completely, and turns to her own Chinese-American mother for thoughts. Commenter Hanqiang asks for a step back and a systemic eye:

I really didn’t like either article, because they both lay it all on "Chinese culture" as if it exists in a vacuum and all problems in the Chinese community are self-inflicted. But you can’t talk about culture without talking about history and understanding how Asian immigrants in general are viewed in American society. Nobody seems to understand that first-generation immigrants came facing poverty and extreme hostility that isolated them from 99% of the people around them; it’s not easy fighting 99% of the population. We saw this with anti-Chinese riots, exploitation of Asian farm labor and later the Japanese internment. So people work knowing they could have everything taken away from them whenever the "natives" wanted. Like most isolated immigrant groups, they worked harder to get away from it. Even today, what can an Asian make of him/herself if they can’t succeed? Even Asian homeless I meet and talk to seem to be more marginalized than the average. Pressure doesn’t come solely from within culture, but as a response to the larger society that surrounds the Asian community. People think it’s only natural that Irish, Germans, Polish, Jews etc. pulled themselves up by hard work. Yet it’s a freakish anomoly when we’re talking about Asians.

(Not to say that individual "hard work" is everything. Collective struggle and social networks within communities of immigrant workers of all ethnicities played a huge role too.)

In the wake of the tragedy in Arizona, Kai Wright says we should be examining the yields of the false government-vs.-the people dichotomy. Reader Robin Margolis has some theories about the initial conditions necessary for libertarianism:

… One of Kai’s points suggests the truth — that government is made up of people and that a consequence of attacking the idea of government as an evil is to foster a hostility that can lead to a rationalization of violence against people no different than the agressors (like the ordinary citizens who lost their lives alongside the Judge and Giffords aide). Whenever I encounter a libertarian I am always curious of a simpler question. Why do you think people come together to live in communities in the first place? To rely on the philosophers tool of a mythic pre-history, when humans first began to live together, what was the motivation? To do as little for each other as possible?

My own bias, as you can probably guess is to feel that libertarianism only can come about once you are the product of countless generations of people who benefit from people and governments that have done things for you and allow you to live on more than your own two feet. Even if you went hermit now, so much of how you were able to would rely on a system where people help each other for more than just self-serving ideas of survival. We don’t do as little for each other as possible and, ultimately, some form of government is probably the only way to watch out for each other.

And finally, here’s the results from the poll we ran on Thursday, in which we asked you what role race played in golden-voiced Ted Williams’ media narrative. Click through to check out our interactive video timeline showing his week-long rise and fall.

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