Asian Immigrant Father Knows Best
April 13, 2013 Leave a comment
I think I’ve discovered a new genre of opinion writing. Consider these two commentaries from recent months:
The New York Times ran the top opinion last fall. Recall my glorious skewering of it here. The second is an April post by a blogger at The Wall Street Journal. Both pieces–written by different authors–are the product of a culturally liberal, big city-dwelling Asian-American, who makes a career out of writing. Each author offers an anecdotal account–real or imagined–of how his or her own curmudgeonly, conservative, immigrant father comes to take a liberal position on a major national controversy. Their stories are each a perverse appeal to patriarch. But unlike the 1950s TV show Father Knows Best, the correctness of dad’s authority is completely contingent on his child’s judgment.
As the son of an Asian immigrant myself, I’m intrigued by these opinion pieces. They cleverly exploit the prevalent “model minority” stereotype to hook readers in. Our imaginations find traction in the conflict between the up-by-the-bootstraps, old-world sensibilities of dad, and the live-and-let-live mores of the progressive, urban kid.
This drama isn’t unique to Asian-American immigrant families. It has largely defined the immigrant story since the ascendance of American counterculture five decades ago. The parents sacrifice greatly to come to America, thankful for the opportunity to work hard and build something. But then their children succumb to the dominant values of the native culture: instant gratification, moral autonomy, and entitlement. The American Dream shipwrecks on the subsequent generations’ inability to steward the precious treasure given to them.
Common opinion is that conservatives strongly oppose immigration. But nothing could do America better than to keep hardworking immigrants coming in. We need their work ethic and traditional values to turn the tide against the flaming wreck that is American culture today.