Are some groups of people superior to others?

According to Amy Chua, a Chinese American law professor at Yale and author of the soon-to-be-released book “The Triple Package: Why Groups Rise and Fall in America,” the answer to this question is yes.

According to Chua and her husband, Jed Rubenfeld, co-author of “The Triple Package,” there are eight cultural and religious groups that are inherently more likely to succeed because of three specific traits.  Not surprisingly, the daring duo happens to belong to two of the groups who made it onto their exclusive list:

  • Jewish (Rubenfeld’s background)
  • Indian
  • Chinese (Chua’s background)
  • Iranian
  • Lebanese-Americans
  • Nigerians
  • Cuban exiles
  • Mormons

The underlying message in this book that some groups of people are “just superior to others and everyone else is contributing to the downfall of America” has already sparked a firestorm of controversy and has become a hot topic of discussion in the social media world.

Chua and Rubenfeld explain that these eight “cultural groups” — carefully avoiding the words “racial” or “ethnic” — have three traits in common, the so-called “triple package”: a superiority complex, insecurity, and impulse control. The sense of superiority allegedly generates a belief in deserving the best, while the underlying inferiority complex fuels the need to compensate for feelings of worthlessness. Impulse control is seen as not only the ability to delay gratification, but also the strength to persevere in the completion of difficult tasks.

As a follow-up to her previous highly controversial book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” where she boldly declared Chinese mothers to be superior, Chua and Rubenfeld are asking their readers to adopt a thought process which is eerily reminiscent of the type of thinking which fueled some of history’s most horrific events, such as slavery and the Holocaust, and which encourages belief systems that, to this day, continue to empower radical groups like the KKK and Westboro Baptist Church, by suggesting that one entire group of people is better than another simply based on race or religion or some other aspect of diversity.

According to the New York Post, “As for why African-Americans don’t make the list, the authors believe that the Civil Rights Movement took away any hope for a superiority narrative, and so the black community is screwed — even as they cite Mitt Romney’s loss to Barack Obama as evidence of Mormon ascendancy.  ‘In this paradoxical sense, equality isn’t fair to African-Americans,’ they write. ‘Superiority is the one narrative that America has relentlessly denied or ground out of its black population.’”

“That certain groups do much better in America than others — as measured by income, occupational status, test scores and so on — is difficult to talk about,” Chua and Rubenfeld write. “In large part, this is because the topic feels so racially charged.”

Is it a racial issue?  Is it a religious issue?  Does Chua make a fair argument here?  Are some of us predisposed to live a “successful life” and some of us not?  What defines “success” for you?  If you happened to have drawn the short straw and were placed into this world within a cultural group other than the elite eight, such as myself, are we truly at a disadvantage and better luck next time?

Believing in the illusion of superiority could be one of the most damaging choices one can make to the well-being of humanity as a whole, not only because it perpetuates the disparity between the haves and the have-nots and fosters a “them” and “us” mentality, but it suggests that if God did not create you as one of the chosen few – or eight, as Chua opines – or if you do not select to associate yourself with the appropriate religion, that, well, you are doomed.

Your thoughts?  Your opinions?  Your insights?

(Lisa McCormack is a Feature Editor at The Global Conversation and lives in Orlando, Florida.  To connect with Lisa, please e-mail her at

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