Opinion

Tiger Mom at it again: Controversial new book

Tiger Mom Amy Chua is back in the news with the release of her contentious new book.

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Photo: Amy Chua. Donna Ward/PR Photos

Remember Tiger Mom, the woman who claimed the Chinese make superior parents back in 2011? Come February, you can read why she thinks certain cultural groups are more successful than others.

In her new book, The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America, Amy Chua and her husband, Jed Rubenfeld, cite Lebanese, Jews, Mormons, Indians, Nigerian, Chinese, Iranians, and Cubans as the most successful groups in America today.

To demonstrate the proof behind this now controversial claim, Chua and Rubenfeld reference examples such as the high amount of doctorate degrees awarded to Nigerians and the “astonishing business success” among Mormons.

But what’s at the root of their success? According to Chua and Rubenfeld, it’s a superiority complex — or a belief among people in these groups that they’re inherently better — combined with built-in insecurity and impulse controls, which make them strive for success and refuse to give up.

These characteristics make up the “triple package” — an elusive combination that exists exclusively among these cultural groups.

The absurdity of the “triple package” isn’t surprising given Chua’s past run-ins with controversy. I will never forget the anecdote from her 2011 best-seller, The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, in which she threatens to refuse her daughter meals if she fails to master a complex piano piece.

This time, it’s easy to see why critics have slammed Chua’s conclusions as advocating cultural superiority. Chua’s suggestion that one’s race or ethnic background can determine success is clearly offensive to groups not included. This is, indeed, the worst part of the book: its conclusion that the very ability to succeed exists within certain groups, and not others.

Worst of all, Chua’s conclusions are dangerous, because they fuel stereotypes that some groups achieve success, while others are prone to failure.

If the problems of The Triple Package aren’t already clear, it’s also important to note both Chua and Rubenfeld’s bias: She is Chinese and he Jewish — two of the cultural groups they identify as embodying the triple-package ideal.

While The Triple Package has predictably provoked anger online, I’m puzzled as to how this book is valuable or beneficial for readers in today’s diverse society. It can’t be ignored that achievement comes from dedication and hard work, no matter where you come from.

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