Fifteen years ago — fifteen blessed years, readers— I wrote a piece titled “The Whining Minority.” That was at the time of the Wen Ho Lee brouhaha, for those who remember it, and the minority I was writing about was Americans of Chinese descent.
Permit me to quote myself from the yellowing parchment of September 2000:
Asians in America, and most particularly Chinese in America, are in danger of getting themselves a reputation as the whining minority. From a tiny number of instances of “discrimination,” many of them of very questionable significance, “Asian-American” activists are building a case for special treatment like that accorded to blacks, homosexuals and so on. They are, they want us to believe, victimized. They are, they claim, “distressed” by words they find “demeaning.”
The particular word they had found demeaning was, as I had just noted, the word “Chinaman.” That word had been declared taboo at some point in the later 20th century by whomever it is that gets to declare these things, though to my knowledge there was never any offense in it, direct or implied. Rather the contrary. My father, an Englishman born in 1899, whenever he had a stroke of good luck, used to say: “I must have shaken hands with a Chinaman!”
In that fifteen years another half-generation of delicate little human snowflakes has come to maturity, or at any rate legal drinking age. We are now in the era of microaggressions and four-hour sensitivity-training sessions in the workplace.
Asian-American whining has gotten correspondingly louder.
There is a story on this in the October 3 issue of The Economist: The model minority is losing patience. Subhead: “Asian-Americans are the United States’ most successful minority, but they are complaining ever more vigorously about discrimination, especially in academia.”
Much of the material in the body of the story will be familiar to listeners. Chinese-Americans do very well in academics, but the Ivy League universities have quotas on their admission numbers, holding them firmly down in the range 15 to 20 percent of admissions even as numbers of college-age Chinese-Americans have risen. Chinese-Americans have no trouble getting middle-class jobs, but they do have trouble getting up into senior executive ranks—the so-called “bamboo ceiling” … and so on.
As is normal—in fact compulsory—in Main Stream Media news reports in this age of science-hating ignorance, actual facts about human nature are ignored or denied in the Economist article:
Why do they do so well? Amy Hsin of the City University of New York and Yu Xie of the University of Michigan examined the progress of 6,000 white and Asian children, from toddlers through school, to find an answer. They rejected the idea that Asians were just innately much cleverer than whites: there was an early gap in cognitive abilities, but it declined to insignificance through school. The higher socioeconomic status of Asian parents provided part of the explanation, but only a small part. Their data suggested that Asian outperformance is thanks in large part to hard work. Ms. Hsin and Ms. Xie’s study showed a sizeable gap in effort between Asian and white children, which grew during their school careers.
That sounds authoritative, but you need to remember a few things.
- The state ideology throughout the Western world is that biology plays absolutely no part in human nature, that race is a fiction, and that anyone who speaks of race differences is motivated by malice. Upholding this state ideology in an authoritative way brings considerable career rewards for academics; contradicting it brings down fierce obloquy and career damage.
- For purposes of upholding the state ideology, there is a small number of academic studies you can quote. This University of Michigan study cited by The Economist is becoming a favorite among race-deniers, up there with the 1959 Eyferth study on black-white differences.
- But one swallow doesn’t make a summer and one academic study doesn’t make a fact. Replication, replication. To the best of my knowledge the results of the Eyferth study have still, after 56 years, never been replicated. Neither have the results of the Michigan study; although since it only appeared last year, I guess it’s unfair to be asking for replication yet.
- The statement that the white-Asian IQ gap, quote, “declined to insignificance through school” is contradicted by a mountain of evidence stretching back through decades of psychometric research. The Unz Review webzine has good aggregations of references to the relevant papers: go to Unz.com and read pages on psychometry by Anatoly Karlin and “JayMan.” Adult East Asian mean IQ is significantly higher than the white mean by at least a sixth of a standard deviation, perhaps a half.
- For The Economist to say that the Michigan study data “suggested that Asian outperformance is thanks in large part to hard work,” merely shifts the nature-nurture issue from innate intelligence to innate patterns of behavior. There is a large and flourishing field of research called “behavioral genetics.” Its results to date leave no reasonable doubt that overall patterns of behavior are highly heritable and so genetic.
The underlying issue here is, therefore, differences in the statistical profiles of the different races on factors of behavior, intelligence, and personality. In a multiracial society these differences will naturally express themselves in statistical differences in educational and athletic attainment, occupational categories, and social dysfunctions.
That is all perfectly normal, natural, and unsurprising. Across the past few decades, however, Western societies have engaged in a concerted effort to deny what is normal and unsurprising about human nature. Hence public policies of racial set-aside and Affirmative Action; hence jurisprudential juju like “disparate impact.”
The grievances of Chinese Americans reported in the Economist article are a consequence of that denial. The equalist dogmas of our state ideology validate and encourage the kind of whining on display here. If innate race differences do not exist, then observed differences in life outcomes must be due to social or environmental factors that can be corrected. Why don’t we set about correcting them?
Here’s a more interesting question: How is it that decades of effort to correct them have delivered such slight and feeble results?
The other way is to spread a calm acceptance of the realities of human nature, as attested by well-replicated results from science; to abjure pretty lies; to discard administrative practices and jurisprudential doctrines based on pretty lies; and to let every individual live in freedom under equal laws equally applied, letting the statistical chips fall where they may.
But for our Ruling Class, of course, that is of course too horrible to contemplate.
So…let the whining continue!
John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him. ) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books.He’s had two books published by VDARE.com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and From the Dissident Right II: Essays 2013. His writings are archived at JohnDerbyshire.com.