Saturday, January 15, 2011

Asian Envy

It all started in High School with the smart Asian kids.  My envy had a nasty flavor since I was in the top of my class and the Asian kids were competition.  Later my envy became healthier as I matured and enjoyed exchanging culture with my Asian friends in grad school: learning a little Chinese at lunch time and comparing our different worlds.  I still remember being told that the English words "Soup" and "Soap" sound identical (as well as "Shirts" and "Shorts").  Try saying them with an Asian accent - you'll see why.

My best friend at my first job was genetically 100% Asian, but really 33% Asian, 33% Hawaiian and 33% Californian.  He invited me to play in a 3-on-3 basketball tournament at his Asian Christian church.  It was the most civil basketball experience I have ever had.

Now my group at work is about one third Asian: my boss is Filipino and a new hire that I'm mentoring is Vietnamese. Even my Caucasian coworker's wife is Chinese. Two years ago our group climbed Mt. Whitney and I partnered with a Chinese coworker (hiking is a good bonding experience).  At the summit, we video taped ourselves talking to friends and family.  Mine was lame.  My friends was very heartfelt.

To top off the Asian influence in our lives, we currently have a Japanese student living with us.

What do I think of Asians?  They are disciplined, hard working, cohesive, fun and friendly.

So is there anything wrong with Asians?  Here's a couple of observations:

  • Our house guest has dual citizenship (U.S. and Japan) since his parents were living here when he was born.  Japan makes him decide when he is 21 which he will be.  I was asking him about naturalized citizens in Japan and basically there are none:  no Blacks,  no Latinos, no Europeans, no Russians, no Indians, and no other Asians (not even Central Asians).  Senator Jim Webb, in his book "A Time to Fight" talks about how wonderful the Japanese prison system is compared to the U.S., but if you have no immigration and no cultural conflicts, it's not surprising.
  • Recently there was a WSJ article explaining "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior".  It has received much attention (which I am also envious of).  If Amy Chua's thesis that Chinese Mothers are superior, then explain this:  Due to China's One Child Policy (limits couples to having one child), the ratio of male births to female births has increased drastically.   The result is that there will be millions of men with no prospects for marriage.  So what is happening to the girls?  Since the Chinese culture values sons more than daughters, many girls are eliminated by selective abortion, infanticide and abandonment (Our neighbors adopted one of these neglected Chinese girls).  Chinese mothers may be superior; if your not a girl or you can survive their murderous ways.
  • China owns all of our debt.  What this means is that the government has lots of wealth due to a trade surplus with the rest of the world, and instead of raising the living standard of their people (the average annual salary is about $7400) they keep the money, throw lavish parties and buy foreign debt.
I know that it would be wrong to call Asian cultures anti-immigration, greedy dictatorships full of baby-killing mothers.  That narrative doesn't fit with my personal experience.

No comments: