A new book from Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld seeks to explain why some groups succeed in America, and some fail. But when does cultural pride cross over into racism, asks Suketu Mehta in Time
Recently, though, the language of racism in America has changed, though the plot remains the same. It’s not about skin color anymore–it’s about “cultural traits.” And it comes cloaked in a whole lot of social-science babble. The new racialists are too smart to denigrate particular cultures. Instead, they come at things the other way. They praise certain cultures, hold them up as exemplary. The implication–sometimes overt, sometimes only winked at–is that other cultures are inferior and this accounts for their inability to succeed.
The Rise of Groupthink
The U.S.–like Brazil or England–likes to think it has moved beyond race. After all, we elected a black President, twice. But in reality, the terrain of race-baiting has simply shifted. The condescension once aimed squarely at African Americans now also claims as its targets Latinos, Muslims and–in a novel twist–large swaths of whites. And the people doing the condescending might be black or brown themselves.