What Amy Chua is actually guilty of
I am not yet entirely ready to apply this label to her when her claims seem to tie to modifiable parenting styles that can be applied by anyone and not to race. At a minimum, she is guilty of drumming up racial controversy by referring to the style as Chinese parenting, which is sort of like saying the best way to practice basketball is to practice like a black American.
Expect the denunciations and death threats to accelerate as we near the release of her coming book. But do not, however, expect anyone to ask whether it might be racist to write book after book after book about the superiority of French parenting.
The Francophiles are getting a second or third wind. Much of America needs to suppress a gag reflex at Amy Chua’s suggestion that we parent like Chinese immigrants, who follow “a great step-by-step manual for parents who want to systematically weed out any genuine interest or passion for life that their children might innately have” (Salon) and whose kids are good at math but don’t really understand it and will probably grow up to hate their parents, and I want my kid to learn to think for themselves and not just get good grades because those two things are necessarily incompatible.
The French, in contrast, are cultured and liberal and eat fresh foods and don’t get ADHD except when they do. It’s only natural to turn from the horrors across the Pacific and doggy paddle across the Atlantic for a little advice.
But a saltwater bath doesn’t rinse away racism. You need to first decide whether upholding a certain parenting style over others is racist or not. Otherwise, you will surely judge as racist the strident woman who is supposed to be a soft-spoken Asian and is instead proud of her children in a way that makes you hate her. And you won’t even think to ask whether the nice, self-effacing white Americans prostrating to France might be racist. Your judgment won’t have anything to do with who is actually racist but with who is likable.
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