Part 1 of a two-part series, features Yale University Professor Amy Chua, the author of multiple books including “Political Tribes: Group Instinct And The Fate Of Nations” and “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.” Chua dissects the current meaning of the word “tribalism” as it related to Politics and other dimensions of our world today. She also reveals the historic and other significant cultural factors that impact how people around the world view the involvement of the United States and other state actors in global disagreements.
Chua describes a tribal issue she’s observed develop at Yale, where students are actually splintering into more niche groups instead of assimilating and becoming more diverse. Because Chua wants to create more space and opportunities for in-depth conversations, she has developed a number of practices she implements into her own classroom. She describes these in detail and discloses the results she has received.
One of the premises of her book “Political Tribalism” relates to the polarized ways of thinking Americans in different parts of the U.S. have from each other. This sometimes stems from geographical locations, economic differences, social stratification, geographic-based political evolution, and educational disparities. A possible solution she offers to solve this growing gap is the concept of implementing one year of mandatory national service for high school graduates. This could entail traveling to a part of the country that is very different than where students grew up. They would work together with other students, including many from the target locale, to build relationships and create greater cultural understanding within our own country while they worked on a service project which made a contribution to the community.
Professor Chua goes beyond our borders to address the significance of tribalism and actual tribes in the Middle East. She posits that part of the issue regarding U.S. failures in our involvement in the Middle East, stems from our distinctly American way of thinking in “national” terms, rather than in the more regional nature of the area. She emphasizes the regions consist of multiple tribes and each tribe has its own way of viewing and thinking about its own culture.
Despite what some past and current leaders may believe in terms of “nation building” and bringing the blessings of Democracy to the masses of the Middle East, Democracy is not a panacea. She asserts, as we’ve seen in the Middle East among other areas of the world, the forced implementation of Democracy rarely works and, in fact actually can catalyze ethnic tensions, hence, worsening the situation in a given country.
In Part 2 of a two-part series, Yale University Professor Amy Chua, the author of multiple books including “Political Tribes: Group Instinct And The Fate Of Nations” and “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” further explores the historical context of natural human instinct, particularly as it relates to tribes.
Chua’s analysis of the conflict in Vietnam is focused on how the country had been colonized by the Chinese for thousands of years before the 20th century dispute in which the United States got involved. The result of America’s blinding paranoia of Communism resulted in our unhelpful and unwanted insertion into the Vietnamese/Chinese conflict when we essentially took the place of the French.
We failed to recognize the power of the desire for independence when the Vietnamese were trying to fight for their independence from the Chinese, and then from the French, and, finally, from the United States. Chua observed how the vacuum we created by our departure from Vietnam allowed for and resulted in ethnic cleansing programs in which thousands of Vietnamese who had stood with us were killed.
Shifting her analysis to Afghanistan, she noted the Taliban was an ethnic Pashtun movement and, once again, the United States, despite its great military might, failed the recognize the power held by those who believed they were fighting for their own land and their own futures as opposed to foreign invaders (first Russia and then the U.S.) attempting to control their country.
Focusing on the impact and evolving use of language, Chua argues the word “Racist” is an overused term because it now is so widely applied and often is used in situations which have little or nothing to actually do with race. She observes that some of our Politically Correct dialogue has gotten so extreme, that it no longer is constructive and can be self-defeating. Chua points out that, in some cases, in our efforts to become more understanding, we’ve actually created more ways to divide ourselves from the “other.”