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Thursday, December 23, 2010

I'm Too Asian For this Blog

Really, I am:

Although university administrators here are loath to discuss the issue, students talk about it all the time. “Too Asian” is not about racism, say students like Alexandra: many white students simply believe that competing with Asians—both Asian Canadians and international students—requires a sacrifice of time and freedom they’re not willing to make. They complain that they can’t compete for spots in the best schools and can’t party as much as they’d like (too bad for them, most will say). Asian kids, meanwhile, say they are resented for taking the spots of white kids. “At graduation a Canadian—i.e. ‘white’—mother told me that I’m the reason her son didn’t get a space in university and that all the immigrants in the country are taking up university spots,” says Frankie Mao, a 22-year-old arts student at the University of British Columbia. “I knew it was wrong, being generalized in this category,” says Mao, “but f–k, I worked hard for it.

A personal story. My first class as an undergraduate at U of T was Economics. I walked into a large auditorium and everyone, and I mean every single student, in the room except for me was East Asian. I spent a good five minutes checking my notes, making sure I hadn't stumbled into third year Advanced Cantonese by accident. Then a old white man emerged from a door way and said: "Hi everyone, welcome to Eco 100."

It was a hard slog people. Five years - I was basically part-time for stretches - of studying next to bright, hard working, ambitious and dedicated students. How often did I mutter to myself that these people were too well behaved? How many bitter tears did I shed, dealing with people who were unfailing polite and considerate? I soon lost count of the number of lectures where - unbelievably - none of the students rudely interrupted the professor with a stupid question. How many times did I cross Hoskin Avenue, without once tripping on a drunk Asian frat boy? How often was I forced into tutorials packed with cute Asian girls, all of them studying for their CSC while still in second year? It was a painful experience. Don't know how I survived it. 

After awhile the East Asians - most of them are Chinese, with a sprinkling of Koreans - began to remind me of another group of eager beavers. They too were hardworking, bright and dedicated students who used to dominate U of T's graduating classes. They were Scottish. 

Those of our readers not victimized by a public school education, a sadly diminishing minority, will recall that much of this country's political, economic and civic life (from George Brown and John A Macdonald on down) was built and directed for years by Scots, most of them fiery and parsimonious Presbyterians.

They dominated fields like finance and engineering (there's a reason the Enterprise's engines were tended to by man named "Scotty") and helped create one of the most successful nations on earth. I saw quite a few of their descendants while at U of T, puking their guts out along pub row the night before their Poly Sci finals. There were honourable exceptions - as there always are - but the pukers outnumbered the pikers by a fair margin.

Contrary to urban legend, and it seems now the popular press, Asians are not a race of humourless robots who work from dawn to dusk, stopping only to nibble on their one daily bowl of rice. That's a racist cliche born in the days when Chinese immigrants were used to carry nitro into dark tunnels in the B.C. interior. The fear in those days - particular among trade unionists - was that the Chinese would swamp the young Dominion with cheap labour. There was much talk of Asiatics not needing European wage levels, since they lived so cheaply. No way to compete with the Yellow Peril. 

The pony tailed handlers of nitro are long gone, replaced by their Computer Science doctorate wielding descendants. Amazingly enough, Chinese people like nice things too. BMWs, iMacs and luxury condos in Yorkville. When given the opportunity, all the peoples of the world will gladly adopt "European living standards." Why? Because people live on starvation wages only because they have to. Given half a chance - and Chinese were given less than that for decades - they will gladly accept better wages and better jobs. Self-betterment is part of the human condition.

The problem isn't so much that the "Orientals" work too hard, it's that the "Europeans" work too little. In my personal experiences at U of T, the Chinese were no brighter, or more energetic than their white Europeans counterparts. They were just more academically focused, because that's what their parents expected of them. It's what most immigrant parents expect of their off spring. People who were raised in brutal poverty, and fight to escape, and will only naturally want to pass on the same hard-driving traits to their children. People raised in plenty and comparative ease, will have different expectations. 

The business (Commerce) and entry level science courses at U of T's downtown (St George) campus are dominated by East Asians. The Mississauga Campus is dominated by South Asians (think Gupta instead of Chan). The humanities courses on both campuses are overwhelmingly WASP or old stock European. The above article seems to be framing a white versus Asian conflict. It's more of a discrepancy of expectations between the children of immigrants and the children of the native born.

Certainly the waves of recent Asian immigrants have high standards. That's nothing new. The Scots and Jews also had high standards, some still do. What's changed is that the standards of old stock Canadians have dropped. Rather than teaching their children math, science, history and literature, they teach them Left-wing agitprop and emotionalism.

It's true that Asiatic cultures are far too collectivistic, but so were the cultures of the Eastern Europeans who settled the prairies a century ago. When questioned about whether those groups would assimilate successfully, Sir Wilfrid Laurier confidently predicted they would turn out as true Canadians. So they did. 

The real danger with mass immigration isn't the threat of cheap labour, unskilled and semi-skilled immigrants actually push native born workers up the socio-economic ladder. Nor is it the pressure being applied to complacent old stock Canadians to up their game. It's that with multiculturalism these New Canadians have little incentive in become the true Canadians Laurier hoped for.

The success of Canada has rested on a skillful act of assimilation. Bringing in other cultures, take the best they provide, but instil in them (and especially their children) a respect and understanding of our individualistic culture, and our liberal democratic political traditions (which are mostly British in origin). The danger is not "them" overwhelming "us" but "us" forgetting the values that built this nation. 


Posted by Richard Anderson on December 23, 2010 | Permalink


I taught university for a long time, and of this article I can say only that every word is true

Posted by: BillBC | 2010-12-23 10:16:25 AM

I also agree. I can remember my Father 30+ years ago, when Ontario Scholars were few, worth something and published in the papers, reading out the non-Anglo names.
Immigrants know what they've left and why they have come. The native-born take it all for granted.
For the most part it all works out and 3rd generation immigrants are just as slothful as the native-born.
And so the race to the bottom continues.
As to the British inheritance, which is indeed the foundation of Canada's law and governance traditions, we'll see if it is strong enough to resist all the assaults on it.
Not doing so well in the UK, however.

Posted by: Patrick Armstrong | 2010-12-23 10:36:02 AM

Come on, Asians party just as hard as white kids. They just keep don't let it spill out into the community as much. The illusion that asians are smarter than white kids is just that, an illusion. For every smart white Canadian kid, there are propbably 100 with a lack of initiative. For every smart Chinese kid there are probably 100,000 impoverished, inbred, undernourished, and hopelessly backward peasants. We're being bowled over by the cream of a very large crop. I could support the high numbers of asian students in Canadian colleges, as long as their fees are 20 times higher than Canadian students. If every Asian student had to lay down about a $million for a Canadian education, it would go a long way in subsidizing our education system.

Posted by: dp | 2010-12-23 10:38:52 AM

Thank you DP for betraying yourself to be statist and a racist.

Posted by: Cytotoxic | 2010-12-23 12:01:20 PM

By comparison, there are considerable differences between Asians who were born in Canada and those who were born and continue to live in Asia. Asians from North America will soon adopt the sloth that has made North Americans famous. Make no mistake about it: soon North American-Asians will be complaining that Asian-Asians are taking their jobs and using up their spots in universities.

Posted by: AB Patriot | 2010-12-23 6:05:36 PM

AB- I see that phenomenum first hand. My girlfriend grew up in China, and her boys were born in a small SK town. They feel pretty much the way I do about allowing too many asians into the country. Make no mistake, they enjoy having a large Chinese community in AB. That doesn't mean they're okay with so many asians clogging the system.

Speaking of racists, our family discussions are entertaining, to say the least.

Posted by: dp | 2010-12-23 6:37:55 PM

It is due to culture and life experience rather than place of origin. Traditionally in the past all immigrant groups were much the same, as you pointed out with the Scots. People came to make a better life and knew it required long hours, hard work and sacrifice, since none of today's government hand-outs existed for them. They also demanded the same of their children, including school. The sad part is that it is much easier to resent and complain about the latest group than to work just as hard. This had more to do with the treatment received by Canadians of Japanese decent during WW II than any threat.

Posted by: Alain | 2010-12-23 6:51:07 PM

I can't resist!

An old story; How can you tell when an Asian has B & E your house??

Well your home theater is gone and your kids homework is done for a change.

Posted by: cyberclark | 2011-01-02 11:12:06 AM

Too many people want hiring quotas to get ahead instead of putting your nose in the books and excelling academically and getting that job position you desire because of brains.

Posted by: StanleyR | 2011-01-04 6:02:17 PM

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