Rise of the Tiger Nation?
Data Skewed to Show Asian American Success
Despite their very different histories in this country, Asian-Americans now share with American Jews both the distinction and the occasional burden of phenomenal immigrant success.
This Wall Street Journal article, Rise of the Tiger Nation, makes it seem like Asian Americans are succeeding everywhere you turn. This simply isn’t true. The article declines to include recent Asian American immigrants: the Hmongs, the Vietnamese, the Cambodians and any other Asian American group not at the top of the pyramid. They are among the Asian Americans still living in poverty yet they are lumped (or not as this article fails to include them in order to skew the stats into an overwhelming success story) into this polygot “American-defined” group defined, falsely, as Asian American.
As you can see, you can slice the data anyway you want it. Asian American isn’t a real group. There is no such thing as Asian American that actually transcends language, culture, religion or geography.
- For the purposes of demographic studies, Asian-Americans are defined as Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese, with the Chinese being the largest group and the Japanese the smallest.
- The Pew study is rich with statistics: The Indians and Filipinos lead Asian-Americans in household wealth, Asian-Americans vote mostly liberal, the Japanese and Filipinos are most likely to marry outside their group, more Chinese-Americans than any other Asian-American group say they are doing better materially than their parents were at a similar age.
- Asian-Americans have become the immigrant group that most embodies the American promise of success driven by will and resolve.
- When, six years ago, the Korean-American management consultant Yul Kwon won the 13th season of “Survivor,” it must have been a social scientist’s dream come true. The show’s producers had separated that season’s contestants into ethnically and racially divided groups: white, black, Hispanic and Asian-American. Never mind the sorry lack of taste. The crude segregation also served as an illumination, bringing to the surface America’s eternal subterranean scrimmage between newly arrived tribes. Mr. Kwon’s victory made abstract social trends vividly concrete.
- Not only had Asian-Americans gone beyond Hispanics as the most populous group of new American immigrants. They had risen to the top in the pursuit of the American dream.
- Asian-Americans have followed the opposite trajectory from Jewish-Americans. Toxic racism and then prohibitions against immigration prevented them from rising in American society for nearly a century. And then they did so with unique alacrity.