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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Tiger Mom’s new book is misunderstood

“Some groups in America do better than others.”
 Does this sound like the kind of statement that would instigate rage, accusations of racism and hatred? Of course not. That hasn’t stopped the online community from drawing parallels between Amy Chua and her husband, Jed Rubenfield’s newest book, the source of the above quote, and Nazism.
Chua, or “Tiger Mom,” became famous after she published  “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” the 2011 book that provoked controversy by advocating a stricter, more “Chinese”-style upbringing. On Feb. 4, she and Rubenfield published “The Triple Package: Why Groups Rise and Fall in America.” The book describes three primary characteristics that mark a successful ethnic or cultural group and then names eight groups they believe have excelled in those areas. 
Racist? Hardly. However, due to Chua’s history of advocating certain cultures over others, Chua is now the main target for baseless and extreme accusations of racism. Chua’s critics have clearly overlooked the fact that her book makes an intelligent argument supported by her own experiences. 
Chua’s argument is not that certain cultures are superior, but that some groups have been more successful in implementing the “Triple Package” of success. This “Triple Package” is composed of three primary characteristics that mark a successful ethnic or cultural group: “a superiority complex, insecurity, and impulse control.”
 In addition, Chua explains how her book does not advocate racism by writing that in immigrant groups, the “Triple Package” effect “dissipates by the third generation — puncturing the notion of innate group differences.” In other words, if the “Triple Package” effect was genetically based, the differences in success would not be gone in just three generations, hereby proving that Chua’s argument does not favor inherent racial superiority.
If one culture places more emphasis on education than another culture,  it will prosper. This does not mean one group is inherently inferior. After all, the lesser-performing culture can adopt the methods of the first group in order to maximize success.
 Chua is not asking people to be ashamed of their race or to throw away their identities; she is simply suggesting that some cultures have more effective strategies that are worthy of adopting.
 Chua’s ideas speak purely of the advantages of the attitudes of various cultures. A focus on race isn’t Chua’s intention. Yes, she said that some cultures are better at grooming their children for success. Yes, she said that some cultures have less productive education methods. But in no way did she ever say that one culture is inherently better than the other. 
Chua even says, “The real promise of a Triple Package America is the promise of a day when there are no longer any successful groups in the United States — only successful individuals.” As one can see, she is bringing the discussion away from race and culture and towards real people. 
Some might argue that if Chua was truly not promoting racist ideas, she would not mention specific ethnic groups. It’s all too coincidental, they say, that Chua and her husband have named their own cultures as part of the superior eight. While such concerns are reasonable, this is no different than a Californian noting that the Silicon Valley is the United States’ most successful tech hub and the qualities that have made it so. It would be unreasonable to ban Chua from considering her own culture as successful merely because she has lived according to its values.
Still, others add that Chua’s definition of success is too limited, as she only mentions “income, occupational status, [and] test scores.” Such critics argue that test scores are by no means a guarantee of achievement. 
Yet, test scores are how the government measures a school’s success and America’s success when compared to other nations.  Even if some individuals don’t agree that test scores are an accurate portrait, the fact remains that they are an integral measurement of education. It would be impossible to include factors such as personality or creativity, as they cannot be viewed objectively. 
The truth is that the backlash against Chua’s book is a misunderstanding of Chua’s intentions. “The Triple Package” isn’t a slight on American culture; it’s “a set of values and beliefs, habits and practices, that individuals from any background can make a part of their lives or their children's lives,” according to Chua. On the whole, Chua’s critics are just readers interpreting words too rashly.
 
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