Sunday, June 05, 2005

Successful minorities need not apply

Just days after winning the EW Scripps Co. annual spelling bee, Anurag Kashyap is on the media circuit, rehashing how he knocked the word "appoggiatura" out of the park. And he should be honored for the feat. Thankfully intellectual development is still glorified in some small way between presentations of vogue American Idol and Survivor winners.

Interestingly, the media do not mention Kashyap's nationality. At least the American media do not. To verify that he was of Indian heritage, as his name and appearance suggests, I had to go to an Indian news service. That Kashyap is Indian is not an anomaly:

He beat 272 others, including three other Indian American students in the final
four... keeping with the recent trend, that Indian American students yet again
dominated the contest. The last surviving four were Kashyap, Patel, Rajiv
Terigopula and Deri.

This throws a wrench into the putative popular belief that there is no significant differences across various cultures and races. Indians coming in from abroad to a foreign culture do well? What about the incredible success of Jews despite suffering quite possibly the worst perpetual persecution of any group in the history of the world? Eep. We can't have all that. What about European white male hegemony and exploitation? Consequently, our media sweep these minority successes under the rug and pretend they do not exist (Grrr, why is Israel still around?). But if a problem or failure happens to involve a minority, I don't need to tell you that you'll hear about it. The debacle involving Jai-isha Akins, the five year-old urchin who was handcuffed in Florida for attacking her teacher, climbing on furniture, and damaging school property is one of countless examples. Discussing the situation on the O'Reilly Factor was Akins' attorney, CK Hoffler, who said:

I would be naive if I didn't mention that, certainly, I wonder, I question whether if this had not been an African-American child the same thing would have happened.

In the blogosphere it becomes even more conspicuous, as this tendentious piece makes apparent:
I am almost physically ill after watching U.S. television news video of a 5 year old child - a little girl who "just happens" to be Black - first, being set upon by two women - both white - who purportedly are her teachers; then later as the little girl sits quietly - being surrounded and handcuffed by 3 police officers - every one of them also "just happens" to be white.

The plight of select groups is well-documented and tirelessly harped on. When one member of this group succeeds, they may selectively be spotlighted for their achievement against the odds or they may not. Fantasia Barrino, the American Idol winner who is also a single black mother, has been glorified for attacking the stereotype about single mothers. Of course illegitimacy is overwhelmingly linked with poverty and pathological behavior, but that's beside the point. Judge Janice Rogers Brown, on the other hand, has not been held up as a minority who has made her way. Most people are not even aware that she is black. Instead she draws criticism (though some, like myself, consider this praise!) from people such as Senator Ted Kennedy:

She has criticized the New Deal, which gave us Social Security, the minimum wage, and fair labor laws. She's questioned whether age discrimination laws benefit the public interest... No one with these views should be confirmed to a federal court and certainly not to the federal court most responsible for cases affecting government action.
And we wonder why we have a solvency problem or that corporations want to outsource. Basically, if a member of the disadvantaged group succeeds by embracing the culture that tends to fail, they become heroic. If they abandon the said culture to better themselves, they at least lose that special "disadvantaged" tag, and often become called turn-coats and Uncle Toms.

These examples are microcosms of the larger social climate. When talking about the unfair difficulties that minorities face, the media are really only referring to select groups. Those that do astoundingly well (and in fact outperform native whites) are usually excluded from analysis. As the Census link shows, Hispanics and especially blacks do not do as well as their white counterparts. However, Asian Americans consistently do better than whites. As this graph shows, the differences in income have been remarkably static, showing that some minorities have been able to consistently outperform the majority.

It is virtually impossible to find data on income by country of origin in the US, but Japanese, Korean, and Chinese American immigrants (as a group) earned 110% as much as their native counterparts. That is exceptional given that immigrants as a whole earned 11% less than natives during the same year, irrespective of nationality. Asian Americans also have a greater affinity for obeying the law than other minorities and whites. From Steve Sailer:

Nationwide in 1997, non-Hispanic whites comprised 34.8 percent of the prisoners, African-Americans 46.9 percent, Hispanics 16.0 percent, and others 2.3 percent. Overall, the study found that 2.6 percent of the African-American adult population was imprisoned in 1997, compared to 1.1 percent of Hispanics, and 0.3 percent of non-Hispanic whites. The report does not break out imprisonment rates for Asian-Americans, but most experts believe Asians tend to be imprisoned the least of all major groups.

They would almost certainly have to. Asian Americans made up 4.2% of the US population in 2000 (the Census defines Arabs as separate from Asians). So in that 2.3% "other" category is contained Arabs, native Americans, people of numerous different races, and groups with very small populations in the US in addition to Asians. Maybe Asians are 1% of that? If so, they are only about 25% as likely as the average American to end up in the slammer, and about half as likely as their fellow whites.

Asians are the best example of minorities succeeding and subsequently being ignored by the media machine. As Randall Parker summed in one his recent posts:

What is missing from the above report? Asians. South Asians. East Asians. They live in the United States. But to the leftist intellectuals who write about ethnic groups in America they are largely invisible. Why? They are inconvenient. They do at least as well as whites economically and yet they are not white.

But it is not just Asians. Within large categories there is huge variation in the amount of success that different subgroups attain. A recent report from the Pew Hispanic Center showed that Cuban Americans have a net worth about fifteen times greater than Hispanics from Central America and the Caribbean.

Why the differences? Cultural and genetic differences come to mind. Indians, for example, place an extraordinary emphasis on education. From Confucian morality, the East emphatically stresses a respect for superiors. If a student in Harlem mouths off to a teacher, he's likely to become a class hero. If the teacher tries to discipline him, she may end up facing a lawsuit or getting a fist from the boy's father. In Singapore, however, the little whelp will be ostracized by his peers and receive a caning from the teacher. The hip-hop culture promotes misogyny, anti-social behavior, violence, irresponsibility, and drug-use. Couple that with a home environment where no father is present, and you have the recipe for an out-of-control kid who is not going to be able to compete with Anurag Kashyap.

Genetics is another factor that is often dismissed. Just for suggesting that something so obvious has an effect often leads to one being branded a racist. But we know genes are hereditary, and race is nothing more than an extended family. Here are the estimated average IQs for a few countries that may shed some light:

Hong Kong--107
South Korea--106

It is much overdue for the public discourse to move from the blank-slate, egalitarian belief that people (and groups) are all the same beyond the pressures of their external environment to face the realities of human nature. It is also past time that the politically correct belief in moral equivalency be discarded. Hip-hop and classical music are not different but equal. Nor is liberal democracy as a political philosophy equal to theocratic authoritarianism. Finally, laying the failure of some select groups on the shoulders of the majority is self-defeating and illogical, as many other minority groups surpass the majority in a host of ways.

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