tv Book Discussion CSPAN September 21, 2014 3:15pm-4:16pm EDT
republican party did not take up this campaign, although republicans are -- they must be governors in 30 or 33 states. but i didn't get support. and i -- if you go up on the internet you can find me described as a torkamata and soing for. i will tell you the aup, the american association of university professors, they're stalinists. that's who they are, and they want to indoctrinate students and they fought me so they could indoctrinate students. that was their goal. of course they're winning. however, here's the thing about socialism. it doesn't work. so, at some point they bump into reality, and have to regroup, and when they bump into reality, we win.
[applause] >> has he beamed his witness dom towards us last night, president obama told us that isil was not islamic. >> you mean the islamic state is not islamic. >> doubtless if he had been around at the time of the spanish inquisition he would have told us the pope wasn't catholic. do you consider that this latest intellectual -- is further evidence that he has adopted the arab narrative, and as such, isil will never be defeated -- >> i think obama demonstrated, by saying nothing and doing nothing, while half a million christians were expelled from
their homes or slaughtered, that he is no christian. [applause] >> no christian. and i believe that -- i believe that he identifies with the islamic world, not with america. [applause] >> interesting that you mention that. in a poll taken a couple of years ago, 17% of the american public thought he was muslim, 36% believed he was christian, but nobody believed he was jewish. [laughter] [applause] >> that's a little bit of a hard act to follow. thank you. so much for all that you do, and i so appreciate the way you lead all of us and have a voice, strong voice, and i'm not going to say anything profound here, but i have a concern that runs
very deep. i'm sure most everyone here, like myself, has friends and family, good people, people who come from democratic grandparents, democratic parents, belong to the democratic part think feel proud of themselves, they're liberal, they're progressive. they have no idea that they are part of a very dangerous totalitarian movement while they go to thing into -- go to the booth and vote, and they take in no information -- >> i think that's true. >> they'll wake up one day -- of course we know it doesn't work. we know we're going to lose all of our freedoms, one after the other. but our children and grandchildren are going to have to face what we have created, and when i say "we" i mean collectively. so i'd like you to comment on that.
what do we do about that wave of people who feel they're doing the right thing because they are good people. >> that's what this book is about. in the book, i say the republicans seem -- which should beret rated -- should be reiterated, should be individual freedom. this is what is under assault. this is the way obamacare should have been fault. it's all well and good to talk about the costs of it. it's important, and the fact they lie about it, but the bottom line is, they're taking away your freedom. you no longer have the freedom to decide what kind of health care you should have. these are questions of life and death, and you are -- it's not complete yet but that's the goal, is to take it away from you. why aren't republicans saying this? and the same thing with the lynch mob. i mean, the lynch mob was out there for zimmerman, the
lynch -- and always led by the same lynchers, sharpton and jackson. the lynch mob was out there for the lacrosse players. why aren't we using this language? then your liberal friends might have a second thought. they might have a second thought. how is this different from a traditional lynch mob except they're not stringing them up by the tree, but in the case of zimmerman, spike lee and somebody else -- some other celebrity, published the address of zimmerman, obviously with the expectation that someone is going to come and do him harm. >> mr. horowitz, thank you again for being who you are. i'm going to make a statement and then i want your comment. i think of this table that you presented of numbers is
democrat, how the democrat have corrupted the whole political system, where now even republicans take part. in other words, they get up in the morning to see how they're going to be re-elected, who they going to bring in to bring money. how they going to be power and less and less, and i think the republicans are now as guilty as the democrats. i'm talking of course in general. i do believe the democrats were the ones that corrupted the system, and i want to hear your opinion. >> well, i -- in a recent video, what does obama do? he golfs and raises money for campaigns. the democrats are political from the tips of their toes to the tops of their heads, and the smarthand for how to fight the democrats toyings study what they do, and without becoming as desspeckible does despicable as they are. copy it.
anyway, thank you all for coming. [applause] [applause] [inaudible] >> next, eric lu, former speech writer anded a veers for president clinton, talks about the history of chinese-american and the experiences of his own family members in the united states. mr. lu spoke at the world affairs council in san francisco.
[applause] >> welcome-everyone. thank you for coming. i'm very pleased to give you a further introduction to eric lu, who is an author, educateddor, entrepreneur, founder and ceo of citizen university works to create a stronger culture after citizenship. a former white house speech writer for president bill clinton and was late their president's deputy domestic policy advisor. after the white house he was an executive at the digital media company, real networks. in 2002, eric was named one of the world economic global leaders of tomorrow. he cao are authorized the guardians of democracy, the story of citizen ship, economy, and the role of government. has written or cowritten several other books, including the true patriot, and imagination first, unlocking the power of possibility. his latest book is entitled "a china man's chance: one
families downand the chinese american dream." join me in welcoming eric lu. [applause] >> the question begs to be answered, why the title? >> first of all, thank you for having this conversation and thanks to the world affairs council and asian society for gathering us together today. i really excited to talk about this book, and the title in particular, the phrase "a chinaman's chance" many people noes phrase that has fallen into both disrepute and out of use. it is a slur in essence. and a phrase that has its origins from the earliest days when chinese immigrants arrived in the united states, and laborers from china were given some of the most thankless, dangerous, life-threatening jobs in laying the railroads, mining, such that they often had a slim
to no chance of surviving. which got short-handed in the language of the time as china man's chance of surviving, and ironically, that phrase long survived its original usage. by the time, 100 pleasure years later, when my father immigranted to the united states in the late 1950s, my dad, as a real sponge for language and,d something with a playful sense of humor, he heard the phrase. he probably heard it used either against him or used kind of unthinkingly in his company and presence. and it was my father's nature to take something like that, where the intention was to wound, and to grab that dart in mid-air and redirect it, and so what he began to do was just in this kind of ironically playful way, reappropriate and claim the phrase, "a china man's chance." when i was a kid he would apply
it to everyday locations. trying to get to the grocery store before closing time but we were 15 men's became he'd say, we have a china man's chance of getting there on time. if the yankees were down by five runs in the bottom of the nine, he'd say they have a chinaman's chance of getting back here, and he said it in way, intended intd to -- to kind of poke and prod me, and am kind of get my goat, basically. to use this phrase, which was so a., archaic, and b., patently offensive to see if he could get a rise out of me. >> did he? >> guest: he didn't. what he did, which perhaps was his deeper intention, was to teach ways in which we can reclaim and reappropriate language. and that part of claiming americanist is to take these words and phrases and slurs and ideas that are meant to be used against us and to say, we detoxify them. we detoxify them by grabbing.
the ourselves and using them in way we dictate the terms and that's part of the bigger process of us claiming voice. so it's partly to honor my dad's spirit that i named the book. the other piece is the idea of chance and opportunity. we were talking before we came out here about how this moment, the book that mary kay is work only here, we live in this age of china and america, an age often cast as chinese versus america, an age where here in the united states, because of income inequality and wealth concentration, because of all of this churning social and demographic change, our sense of opportunity is beginning to diminish and our sense of relative opportunity is certainly beginning to diminishing compareson to china, and part of what i'm writing the book about is to remind americans about the meaning of opportunity in the united states and what it means to have a chance to express your full
potential to have chance to have your voice heard to have chance to rae define what it means to be american, and that's really a lot of what the story-telling and arguments of the book are about. >> host: also a lot of it about identity, and how you construct your own identity. all of us have multiple identities. we have identities related to our work, to our passion, to our gender to our relationship to our religion or egg is inty -- ethnicity, citizenship. when you were growing up, how much -- where on the spectrum was your -- in the sense of how you constructed your identity or thought of your identity, was being american and being chinese? how important was that to you in terms of how you thought of yourself and how did others see you? did you feel there was a gap between those? >> guest: i would add a third point to triangulate thiessens of identity and that's asian. and so i want to speak to all of
this. i think you're absolutely right, that we have -- every one of us has many identities, and when you think about that, you realize the ways in which we as americans often conflate the two words, heritage, and it's, we use them to mean the same thing but they're not the same thing. i have a chinese heritage. i am the recipient, the trustee, the inheriter of this legacy of chinese culture and civilization, and i've done at best a middling job of holding on to that legacy and trying to pass it on to a third generation. that's distinct from identity, how one identities one's self and what one takes and constructs in putting together the sense of self. and so today when asked, what are you? in that most basic sense. >> what are you or who are you? >> guest: people of color get, what are you? my answer is, chinese-american. and i hasten to add i do not
hive nate chinese american. chinese, space, american, american is the noun. chinese is the adjective. chinese is actually one of many adjectives i am a -- i'm a baseball-loving american. i'm a politically active american. all these different adjectives. the chinese part of my americanness looms large, and so growing up, i would say that as a kid, actually, i had this very dish had this wonderful sense that chinese-ness and american-ness could be aligned and overlapping. and part of that is just -- not just, isn't that nice. part of it was the active will of a second generation kid trying to make sense, trying to create unity and integrity out of different streams of heritage and identity that were surrounding him, and so i grew up with stories of my paternal grandfather, who was a pilot and
general in the chinese air force, fought in the -- i never knew him but heard legends of him. i knew him from a uniform looking down at me. his name in mandarin -- lu is family name and the other part is deliverance of the nation. so in pressure. my grandfather had this huge name to live up to, and in many ways the did. he had the good fortune, i suppose, to come of ain't when the time dynasty was ending and the republic of china was emerging and participated in those consequential years of chinese history. so, growing up, had all these stories of world war ii. stories in which americans and chinese were on the same side. in which -- indeed, my grandfather worked with the
flying tigers, the group of semi official american america anywhere pilots who helped the cause of the nationalists, and so i had these kind of legends in my mind that to be american and be chinese were in some sense overlapping. now, there were limits to that. and the limits were the limits once i left my imagination, and once i left the safety of my home and my family. you good out into the wider world -- i grew up in a part of upstate new york that was fantastic idyllic place to grow up but not particularly diverse. incredibly white community. i went to a school that was largely white. and so i was very aware of growing up of my difference. and difference was cast not so much in chinese terms but in asian terms. so the sense that you are not white like everybody else, you're something else, and the something else is this kind of indiscriminate lumping -- i don't know if your chinese or
japanese or korean or what. you're just not this. and so a lot of my youth was really trying too figure out how to triangulate these different points of identity, to claim american-ness to hold on to an idea of chinese-ness, fuse those into a way that were meaningful and reckon with the other point of asian. is a wrote in hi first book "accidental asian" i spent much of my early years in overcompensating arms length, holding away asia -- asian identity. i wanted to claim american and didn't what to get put in a category like that. i was proud of being chinese and of my family's story and heritage, it was only kind of later, by college age, and now today, in deep into parenthood age, and deep as well -- i'm 14 years now away from the east coast, 14 years as a west-coaster, 14 years as a seattleite, 14 years being steeped in a cultural and civic
and social milieu where there is pan-asian everything, politics-culture, fun, organizations, networking and so on and so forth, and that has shaped my to embrace the sense of asia-ness as the third point in the triangle. growing up, it was much more about chinese and american and not so sure what the asian thing was about. >> host: do you think the change came because you moved to the west coast or because there's actually also been an evolution and maturation within the united states in terms of how americans look at ethnic identity? >> guest: i think all of the above. there was an revolution and maturation in -- an evolution and maturation in me, recognizing -- i think a lot of young people who are subject to stereotypes, could be an ethnic stereo type, gender stereo type, sex uoreown addition stereo type -- often feel the need to live in perfect opposition to the stereo type, right? if people think i'm x, i'm going
to be exactly not x. and what i came to realize by the time that i had gone through college and was reflecting on kind of how i'd been form in my earlier years, was realizing that when you are reacting and living in such direct automatic opposition to a stereo type, you are as much a prisoner of the stereo type than any other way, and at the point of identity in america should be to make a path and to make an identity and to choose a path, and if what happens is i live up to certain asian stereotypes -- i do play the violin. i love playing the violin, and i'm not going to give it up. embrace that. that's you. you don't have to not play the violence because people like you are expected to play the violin. and i think this is -- but the other piece that changed this is not just america's maturation and evolution, but the world's. everything that you know from your time in asia and watching the rise of china is not just
the material economic rise. it's a cultural civilizational rise, where now there are just ways of being that you could identify as chinese or as asian, that people in america now see, that's a plus. that's a cool thing. that's a value-ad. right? that was not the case 25 years ago necessarily. but it is increasingly the case now, and part over the message of the book is for us to take that seriously not just at the level of sloganeering, but to and what cultural assets to chinese americans bring to the table that could contribute to an american advantage in the larger global theme. >> host: about your violin. they're a lovely scene in your book who you and your friend are jamming in a rehearsal room the high school. you learned the technique of
playing violin, and then you learned jazz, chaz cal, and you said that was a very important experience for you. why. >> guest: it was very important experience because it was about exercising imagination. the work -- i did violin education in all -- starting with suzuki and then a great nonsunday suze teacher and i did all the competitions and played in the school orchestra, and i gained a certain command of the form, and -- not even but -- then when i felt a yearning to do, and my buddy, rob, who is not chinese american, who is a pianist and a jazz aficionado, and we both love this free-style improvation, and we just started jamming on our own, and that
process of jamming on our own, even though we didn't produce keith jarrett level recordings but the process of exploring and playing and breaking out thereof forms you already gained command of, that you earned the right to break out of because you gained command of them, that was an incredibly formative experience, and not just in the moment. i don't do improvisational jazz violin anymore, but this apattern, template, the think that america lets us do. other countries may be bert than the united states at getting young beam to master the forms, this is all of our debate about k-12 education. our young people don't know the forms forms of mathematics or civics or sentence construction, but one thing we do retain -- i'm knock sure how to capture it -- is the capacity to encourage our students and younger citizens in this country to, at certain
point, exercise imagination to combine things in ways that hadn't been combined before to make hybrids and mixtures of styles and voices and methods and meanings that hadn't been con tell plated in the world before. -- contemplated in the world before of the. nat was a pattern set in me when i was jamming with rob that influenced my mindset about what america roz competitive advantage is in the world. we are this incredible, open tray, this open operating system for this kind of hybridity, and aggressively contradictory mixing and meshing and melding of influences, that produces things that the world hasn't seen before, and as long as we nurture that, i feel good about our chances. but that caveat is a giant caveat in our item, as long as we nurture that, because we are in an age where every political and cultural instinct that is
dominant right now is to close, to narrow, shut borders, close hearts and minds, and that is dangerous, not just on a policy level. dangerous on a cultural competitive advantage level. >> host: what specific live do you think should be done differently in this moment? >> guest: i think it starts with values and the lange that we use -- the language we use in leadership. not just the president but business leaders, people who are here in this room today. if you're showing up for a gathering of the world affairs council you're a high-class shower-upper. you're already something somebody who is participating and involved in stuff and making your voice heard. everybody in this room has to take it response themselves to preach a gospel of openness, hybridity, and that as aspect of the american sad advantage -- american advantage. but it can't just be ceo of this and president of that. it has to be this middle-out, bottom-up way, and that's a matter of norms and value so that when a crisis disarise,
like the crisis at the border, with mexico, that the reflex, the reflex of our country and our fellow citizens, isn't the reflex of marietta. it's the reflex of massachusetts, the reflex of other people who are saying, it is not the american way to treat these people as disease-carrying invaders who must be eradicated. not the american way to treat these children as a mortal threat that must be sent straight back. there's something deeper we must do on the values level. then on he policy level, look, comprehensive immigration reform, figuring out how we not only rationalize certain parts of the immigration system but he bring into the civic fold our 11 or 12 million undocumented friends, neighbors, coworkers, fellow students, family members. it is -- this is a nontrivial thing. if we can't figure out how to do
this, we are essentially exceeding to the idea that america shall heave a permanent underclass of sing class not even citizens, of people in limbo, and we're many years past the era of chinese exclusion, years past the ways and periods in the countries history a where, by under color of law, we decided to treat a whole group of people as outsides the bounds of participation in american life. we have have to comprehensive immigration reform to address that. i think that's another piece of it. >> host: for those who are already citizens, who are already in the country, there's the approach to education, which we were talking about earlier. what are you seeing? >> guest: i'm glad you asked that question. this is both a thread throughout my book but actually more -- even more to the heart of the work die in running this nonprofit, citizen university. we run a variety of different programs that are -- some are political or policy but many of
them are in seems cultural, or to use another phrase, civic religious, about the idea we have in this country a civic religion, a creed, and indeed a creed that essentially the only thing that holds us together. we're not a nation of blood or tribe or common faith. we're a nation where a set of ideas and a fairly finite number of documents, from the declaration to the preamble to the constitution to gettysburg, the i have a dream speech, a few core documents of the american civic religion that we have to attend to, and breathe life into. one of the programs we have at citizen university is a prom called, sworn again america. what we're doing is to try to bridge the gap between the immigrant experience and the experience of native-born americans. i'm just -- by show of hands, how many of you have been to or
participated in a naturalization ceremony here in the u.s.? so, a few. for the rest of you, i urge you, i demand that sometime in the next week you find your way to a naturalization ceremony. i'm serious. it is -- even though it's fill with bury cattic talk -- bureaucratic talk and a cheesy video, it's one of the most powerful and moving things to experience, when they do the roll call of countries, and people are rising, and they're -- immigrants from china, and denmark, and georgia, and vietnam, all rising, and then they're told, the next time you sit down you'll be americans, that's a goose-bumps kind of moment. i'd been to enough of these ceremonies and my partner and i thought, what if we created something like this for everybody? not only for brand new citizens and naturalized immigrants but for all of us, native-born as
well. whether your family has been here one day or 100 years or more, for in a sense for us to renew our vows, and so we created this ritual. this simple civic ritual that had readings of civic scripture, has a ceremony, has an owing, simple nonpartisan, not political oath, about citizenship as contribution, citizenship as service, citizenship as showing up for each other and pushing each other to do better, and we've been doing this sworn-again american ceremonies around the country in ways that bring immigrants, documented and undocumented, together with native born are sons and daughters of the american revolution, people from all different parts of the country to see the way in which we have a common story, a common faith, common creed, but it's not self-renewing. it takes to us pay attention it to and remind ourselves of it through words and deeds. >> host: what impact have howown
citizen university having of people going out and doing something with it? >> guest: i'm an optimist. i see a lot of positive signs. we're seem to be in a moment of things falling apart or breaking but think of it as a moment of new things emerging. so much of our national politics is broken so much of our able to deal with the wider world is stuck, or not nimble, and yet, there is this yearning, all across our country, of people to in a sense reclaim their power and responsibility as citizen problem solvers in arenas where they can have some control. there's this renaissance of local citizenship, of people reclaiming what it means to live in a city. redefining the life of community at the level of a neighborhood or precinct or county, and jot just in a parochial, anytime my
little bubble in seattle or chicago or vegas or whatever, but doing what i call network locally. partly aided by technology and partly aided by the fact we're u.s. >> an age of networks. mindset-wise and tech-wise, and so that people in seattle are barrowing, learning from people in san francisco and they're borrowing and learning from people in tampa and cleveland, there's this new interesting web of people trying to make change at a local level, but webbing up withs no a way that makes the change nationwide in scale, and this to me is an instance of what makes this country resilient. if you compare again back to the down starting theme of looking at the united states in the shadow of nor relation to shawne, there's a lot hoof china has going for it, and it's probably going to be fairly soon that china's gdp surpass that of the united states and that will be a great moment of
psychological crisis for many americans, but i don't care. i do not care when that happens and i do not care that it will happen, that chinese's gdp will surpass ours and their economy will become number one. be retain a deep and lasting competitive advantage. one hack suspect that we're a resillen, network, bomb-up society, change gets made in the spirit of, i don't see anybody else solving this so i will and nobody is telling me not to pet bet for ask forgivings in than permission, and that ethos which permanent nates american -- permeates american civic life, and if you're just paying attention to the beltway and d.c., is one reason for our relative adaptability and resilience. the other -- going back to what we described earlier, our open, bridizing, intermingled, intermixed cultural operating system. and i boil it down that our advantage over china, anyplace
in the world is this. america makes chinese americans. china does not make american chinese. china does not want to, is not interested in does not know how to. it not in ircivilizational operating system to figure out how to take immigrants and welcome them and fuse enemy and help them, empower them to change the very meaning and the content of chinese-ness, are there more people from the rest of the world coming to china? you bet. working in china? yes. making now chine? sure. but changing the idea and the content of chinese-necessary? no. that's the point here. that is the very essence of the american idea, and i think that, plus this network local resilient bottom-up citizenship, middle-out citizenship, gives me hope. >> host: i will say from experience, better to asking forgiveness than permission is embraced in china.
>> guest: true enough. >> host: could you see a citizen university existing in china. >> guest: what a great question. yes, i could, but not today. not so easily today. >> host: what would have to happen? >> guest: i think this is -- thick there are pockets -- i think there are pockets -- and unfortunately the government is probably more adept than we who another serve from far-at sniffing out where the pockets are. pockets of citizens of that country who want to solve problems on their own, who want to bypass stuck procedures. who want to call out corruption. who want to have voice and have agency in ways that are beyond what they have thus far been permitted. i think there is a yearning there, and gasolining is bubbling up in different corners and pockets across the broad complex landscape of china. of course as you know from your recent reporting, among the
organizations being persecuted in chinese right now is one called the citizens league. it's got the word "citizens "any in it, and the idea of a culture of this citizenship, taking hold in china, is going to require a couple of things. going to require examples. it's going to require people like us and people like you, who come to gatherings like this, perhaps out of an interest in or dealings that you have in china or with china, it's going to take us actually spreading a egg cal contagion -- ethical contagion. i don't mean sub versesively. i mean modeling by example what it means to take ownership and responsibility of problems probd solve. the yours and organize others in doing that and advocate in ways that name the structures of power, and petition those structures of power without necessarily trying to overthrow them. these habits of citizenship and citizen problem-solving, you're
not born knowing how to do the. and they are different from the act and the task necessary to overthrow tyranny. the arab spring taught us that. showed us it is totally possible to topple tier -- tyranny, about opposite you have done that. if there isn't a preexisting seed bed of the practice of this kind of self-go and self-governing citizenship, that something else will come fill the vacuum, as happened throughout parts of the arab world. and i think part of what i would love to see, if there were to be a citizen university in mainland china, would be to help -- not in the spirit of challenging the authority of the communist party or threaten the government there but actually in the spirit of business, what will help make china stable and resilient and adaptable without upheaval, without new revolution over the long term.
is some of these, what both robert bella and -- described as habits of the heart. if they can be taken to heart in different parts of china, think about what it took cheng chui -s the economic zone. saying here in these areas we're going create zones where you get to play and practice capitalism. we're going to cordon it off because we don't want the experiment to go too far too fast but we'll do that and then methodically let that spread, as it works. i -- i think china's government would benefit if they began in some ways to imagine the civic version of specialized economic zones. >> host: probably gone considerably farther than that
already, with the advent of wave watch, china's version of twitter. you have hundreds of millions of people online, sharing ideas criticizing the government at time, et cetera, and there are ngos in china, lawyers who are trying to practice, according to the chinese constitution, who have been thrown in jail for doing that. ngos audited because they get funding from american foundations and the government's been suspicious that there's some ulterior motive of trying to destabilize the government, and at this point in china, the government banned discussion in universities of western ills like democracy, rule of law, constitutionalism, which is following your own constitution. so this is a long preamble into asking the question do you think kind of strong civil society you're passionate about, that you're advocating within the
united states and elsewhere, is possible under a strong authoritarian government? >> guest: i think it is possible under a strong authoritarian government to nurture the development of that kind of civil society, and now need look no farther then other parted of east asia and the arc of democratic development that south korea, or taiwan, or for that matter japan -- japan is a different case -- have taken over these decades. and the republican of china, from 1949 through the mid-'8sod, had plenty of authoritarianism. and they figured out a way to make possible both the practice and the cultivation of these habits of constitutionallively, self-government, i think the key phrase you used, rule of law.
by the way, for any of you whoever play with the naturalization ceremony, if you ever go take the actual u.s. citizenship exam, there are all kinds of questions that, who is the first president, and how many stars in the flag, and so on and so forth, but there are a couple of ringer questions in there that you're like, wow, i'm not sure that most native-born americans could answer this. one of the questions on the u.s. citizenship exam is what is the rule of law? we could spend the next couple hours here trying to get to an answer on what is the rule of law? and that mainly suggests that we as americans have taken for granted so much about the rule of law. so much about how we operate in an environment with the rule of law, and how, again, that is not automatically self-renewing. but in china, or in other places where you have a tradition of political author tareanism, i think -- authoritarianism, it's
possible to cultivate the rule of law in this way, and one thing you have to push against, that die push against in my book, is thissing mythology of n values and they're inherently inhospital able to dem crease and freedom that's a rhetorical string that more authoritarian rulers promote in asia and i just do not buy it. i think to buy it and to say that, gosh, they're asians and the asian way is not so much to have a voice and stick up for yourself and govern yourself. the asian ways to be headed like cattle and be led by strong men, is repugnant to me, as an asian, as an american, as a human, to think that, and now, does that mean that american style
democracy can and should be exported in an untouched, undiluted way, and can be translated into other countries? the last ten years tells the answer to that. no. we can not a and should not pretend that's the case. but -- our form and version of democratic practice is not necessarily perfection itself. but i think that the idea of rule of law mattering is something that can, i think, be seeded even in a context like that prevails in china today. >> host: so, moving on a little. i think most of us here at this world affairs council consider themselves as citizens of the world you. how were to have a world citizen university how would it be different than your current citizen university? >> guest: another question question. i'm prepared with the question a lot. and mainly from my friends on the left, who have more of an
you will for better or worse petition the united states congress. you may not like the answers they come up with to your petition. if that is the unit, the entity that we will be all to redress wants and needs and be responsive to these things. and so, on one level i do think that even this globalized age, even in the company we are red, people thinking of globalists, detonations matter in this nation in particular matters especially. particularly if you care about global thinking the global mind that that he should be super dedicated to making sure the experiment called the united states works, that the experiment called the united states delivers on its promise because we have a promise of everything everything earlier. we welcome all people. we take all breeds. we create new things.
but that is only in theory. in practice we have continuously, severely failed to live up to that ideal. and so, if we ever actually get it right in this country and make americans to the friendship always live up to its full breadth of potential, that will be the closest thing this planet will have yet seen to global citizenship. that would be the closest thing the planet bolivia seemed to transcending nations, transcending tribe, creed and religion in if we can prove each year by delivering on that promise, then we can actually give the world a fighting chance with the meaningful notion. >> i went to after a couple questions before i go to audience questions which are sitting here next to me. language is important to you as a writer and a former speechwriter. you didn't speak much chinese when you're a kid. when did you decide it was important to learn that language and why? what insights did you learn about chinese culture through learning the language?
>> boy, you know, i like many second-generation kids, children of immigrants grew up in a household where my parents would speak to the 80% chinese, 20% english and i would answer in a reverse ratio. so my listening listening comprehension izvestia name. you can put me in many situations and i really understand more than chitchat level of chinese conversation. but my ability to respond in kind as much for a limited, right? the one thing that i realized as they grew older though is a lot of -- during my childhood and upbringing, i basically saw these things is one big language and that is still how, for instance my mom and i talk and are sent in this are mixed with chinese nouns in english verbs are putting ing after cheney's verb and just creating this, you
know, the name, what i would recommend to all of you, the great comedy about his understanding across chinese americans. for me, there is a line in my book that say those who ignore cheney's are doomed to repeat it. as a kid i really try to keep chinese school at bay. i hated going. i was distract it, counting the minutes until i could play baseball with my friends. and now is the father of a now teenager who i'm trying to make sure learned some core of chinese, the generational cycle of revenge is come. i'm on this cracking up at my efforts to make my daughter learn chinese. one of the things i came to realize is of course it's so obvious that other good, parenthood creates a greater sense of urgency and responsibility about sustaining
this. when i was pha was even when i wrote the accidental asian was a twentysomething kid imagining the venture of myself with a blank slate rippling canvas that i would paint on with a different thing than being in my mid-40s, raising a teenager in realizing all the ways in which my sensibility and in turn her sensibility were already as they say in my book pieces parchment for the entire defense bill, where stroke saturday been written, were certain in print saturday been formed. teaching my daughter chinese, i gave up on the weekly chinese school, which aided by a major deal with that if you don't go to school, you and i will have to do it one-on-one tutorial. it's been about six years now
and we missed plenty of weeks, but we are generally in a rhythm of tuesday afternoons we do chinese. to do that, i have to go take a look that i used as a kid in later books that i used in college when i began to feel the spark of i. should really get more access to this. and i took a meandering again in college. so i'm digging out these books and teaching chinese to her. the way we do these chinese lessons of the south very american. i am the very opposite of a tiger parent. whatever the taxonomical opposite of a tiger is me. part of the way i teach chinese is in the spirit of playing game. was she laments are the software the mountain is high. the river is long. she makes a nonsense sentences
in english. i translate them into chinese and she is to figure out how to write them. they are just pure, playful nonsense in the scheme was created about how to play with language. look, my daughter but not too well if you just put in on today and begin to converse with her in mandarin. but she has enough now with a core, of access so that she's got certain instincts. this is what i really feel it's my obligation to pass on to her is the instincts that she really can't teach otherwise. the rosetta stone for whatever it don't quite get you to the instincts. if you are doing written chinese about the right order of strokes. which says something. there is a meaning any purpose any history to there you can be in a proper order of strokes, let alone to what that is from top to bottom, left to right in certain ways from outside to inside. there were certain messages being sent about how you compose a character. from the outside in, from the
community context to the south. the language itself in the spoken language, chinese is a language that doesn't have a lot of prepositions. it doesn't have a lot of various conditional verb sentences. you have to give what is being set largely by context. you have to translate the precise verb usage and meaning of things by the larger context you are speaking and have that again is a deeply chinese name. it is the essence in some ways the chinese. the view of context rather than the shiny thing. a view of a web in a week of relationship an obligation that things are sad and rather than just a standalone and apart mystically. and this idea that language is part of inheritance in a tradition that you feel in your bones feel expressed in your ear
and tongue. these are things i am trying to convey to her. i think she has enough of a sense of it. it comes out sometimes and how she's extraneous, but frankly it comes out in the playfulness with which he speaks english and the way she will do things and is focused on the musicality in the rhythmic nature of language. chinese is such a poetic rhythmic language, particularly if you get into sloganeering and everything than five b3 seven b. and chinese poetry is in its concise rhythmic way and it's the way my daughter is learning to read and converse on to joke even in english. i was there for me to shape the way way i write as well. >> okay, so audience questions. there's one here. as many parallels between the jewish american and chinese american communities. one of the most striking is culture and identity are endangered by the group success and assimilation into the dominant culture. do you see the pervasive trend
of intermarriages and subsequent offspring who are getting dual cultural messages that positive? >> when they start at the end of that question, which is that dual cultural messages are positive. i want to assert that if a statement. you resorted a trope a bit of a cliché about time between two worlds, caught between two cultures. yes of course, anybody growing up in immigrant households feel certain tugs and pulls of certain things circle truly okay here are not culturally okay there. but in general, i treat this as additives, not a zero sum. where one plus one equals three and i think that mindset is important when you talk about chinese americans, jewish americans, whatever.
on the question of the parallels were comparisons between american -- jewish american and chinese american, there are certain similarities. and one of them actually goes to the heart of that question, which is both group's are perceived to be the author chart overachieving success stories. the chinese-american community today, i think this is a really important point. many people this room know this, but more broadly for the audience to be reminded of it that chinese-american comments eat asian americans in general labor under this mythology of the model minority. i want to dispute the very idea of model minority. i want to dispute it in fact and concept because in fact it is not the case that all chinese americans are college-educated or fictional careers, making
high income. in the united states that nearly half a million chinese americans living in poverty. the poverty rate in the chinese-american community is higher than that in the non-hispanic white community. that does not compete with the kind of predominant narrative of chinese-american success stories in this country and the barbell shape of the chinese-american community where you have some people who have achieved and had great success, but we ignore the other side of that and not has to do not so much with race but with class. i'm incredibly welcome opportunity of all colors. but particularly people of color. that is something i say to dispute the fact of the model minority stereotype come up with the concept is there's a model
minority by implication that other minorities are not the model. so if yellow people are mottled brown and black people in red people not so much. and so i call it a sickly damnation by high priests. he pulled me into dm not only -- not necessarily other chinese americans are asian-americans, it is an indirect way to say hey african-americans, hispanics, why can't you be like chinese americans and asian-americans and achieve like them, ignoring history, economics, the game, so much of the inheritance of social injustice we are still grappling with today. the jewish experiences and struck within a particular sand. the question is asking about intermarriage and dilution of the cultural tradition inherited. i would say it's probably in some ways more urgent in the jewish community today than in
the chinese community partly because the chinese community in the united states 4 million strong as getting rejected and were infused with fresh blood every year of immigrants from china bringing fresh access and fresh view of chinese culture and norms has also developed of coming from a rising power costs china. that is not so much the case for jewish americans and the intermarriage rates are higher in the dilution of those traditions is in a sense more urgent in that community. all i can say is this is the beautiful strategy of american life. the beautiful tragedy of american life is things to loot. that is the tragedy side. the beauty is in diluted things by new combination. so maybe it is sad some
third-generation korean americans don't have any kimchi. maybe the mexican americans don't do great mexican home cooking the way they used to. but it's often in such as cisco or los angeles there's a thing called kimchi burrito here that is kind of gray for planet earth. last night that is a beautiful thing to sit alongside the tragic thing. i think that is true whether you touch about the jewish community or any. >> so i will read three questions together because they are related and we have five minutes left. one of citizen university headquarters in seattle is expanding to other states. please explain the structure and curriculum and the other is how do you do find american, what does it mean to be a citizen and do you think the united states education system has any influence on the general idea of what american identity is. >> request is all around.
yes is my answer to the last question. the education system house or should have a role in fostering a sense of coherent national identity. they don't do that so much anymore for birdie reasons. civics classes are endangered species and more probably apart from the teaching of civics and the mechanics of how a bill becomes a law, we have gone through this interesting transition about how do you define americans. we are in this incredible second wave of immigration to the united states. the last few decades very. of incredible and the creation to rival that of a century and a half ago. a century and a century and a half ago while he had in this country is the idea that to become american you must americanize. institutions across the board. school, churches,