This post was written by Oliver Wang, who was guest-blogging for Ta-Nehisi Coates.
As I began to describe yesterday, my first reaction to Chua-gate was quite personal and premised in a specifically Asian-American context. But after I tampered down my inner mommy issues, I started to notice: hey ... I get why I care about this...and why other Asian-Americans care...but why does everyone else seem to give a damn?
Seriously, it's been stunning to see how much coverage this book has gotten. When's the last time anyone can remember this much interest in a parenting memoir not written by a celebrity? It's not like Sarah Palin decided to pen Raising Real Americans: Lessons From a Mama Grizzly or anything.
The intention of my first post, before I sidetracked myself, was to probe how Chua's book (and to be more precise, that WSJ "extract" has become such a flashpoint in mainstream media (not to mention #4 and rising on Amazon.com). What I'm trying to break down here isn't any single answer, but rather, I'd surmise what we have is heady potpourri of different forces.
Let's start with some of the obvious parts:
1) No one likes a smug parent.
Smugness is bad by its damn self but it grows infinitely worse when linked with parenting. For one, everyone already thinks they're an expert on parenting by virtue of either having parents and/or being one. However, parenting is also the locus of tremendous anxiety, especially within the American middle class, for whom the raising of children can be tied into a host of other neuroses around social status, self-image, etc.