Charles Murray thinks that Asian Americans should be Republicans. He doesn’t come right out and say it, but it’s obviously on account of their praised IQs and because they are not the biggest fans of urban blacks. OK, just kidding. He thinks that their work ethic and appreciation for American freedom and capitalism makes them natural Republicans, but they are spooked by social conservatism.
Being an immigrant I have some insight into the issue. In 1990 my family landed in the lovely city of Sacramento, CA, and after a while I made some American friends. They were somewhat geeky and ostensibly sweet. We were all contemplating a move to SF, giving how it was an exciting big city just two hours away. They loved to talk smack about Sac and how it was all rednecks. I heard that Rush Limbaugh, who got his start in Sacramento, was just awful. I kind of had the feeling that my friends were just saying things, just being topical. I never ever ever said anything bad about Rush. The way I was brought up, if I am to talk smack about people, I had to back it up with quotes, and I had better things to do than listen to people talk about politics on the radio. Nevertheless, I filed Limbaugh under “most likely an evil clown”.
When later in the 90s Neo-Nazis firebombed Sacramento synagogues, the in-group opinion attributed it to what now would be called the Rush Limbaugh climate of hate. I came to Rush fairly recently. I was already a conservative for many years, but I had this impression that he’s probably some sort of pontificating blow-hard like… OK, no naming names, but I’m not that big on talk radio. I tuned in when I started driving my kids around, and in no time I was hooked on Rush. I don’t think there is another political commentator today so smart, genuine and cheerful.
The moral of the story is this: immigrants arrive to major population centers where they are absorbed into the liberal culture. Even in fairly conservative cities like Sacramento new arrivals tend to assimilate into liberal culture whose adherents seek out foreigners. And yeah, maybe some conservative sound over the top, but there is a belief that all conservatives are over the top, and that belief is unjustified. Moreover, there is more then enough of radical demagogues in urban population centers, but they become part of the scenery after a while an urban dweller accepts them.
Although “Russians” (read Russian-speaking Jews) are fairly conservative, we did vote Democratic in the 90s. I suspect Asians have more reasons to be liberal. Granted, there is a world of difference between an Indian and a Vietnamese, for instance, so we shouldn’t paint everyone with one large brushstroke and yaddah-yaddah-yaddah. Many Chinese Americans are refugees from Maoism, for instance. You’d think, good, then they are staunchly anti-communist, and, of course, they are, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into being anti-big government because they are also the people who inherited centuries of Mandarin tradition. Their ancestors worked at the service of emperors, and they think it’s an honor to be part of a bureaucracy.
Take, on the other hand, a middle-age Russian-speaking Jew like myself. Our grandparents came out of towns in what is now Ukraine and Belarus to form a new Soviet intelligentsia, often loyal to the regime. Our parents were professionals, usually engineers. They treasured Russian literature didn’t hold bureaucrats in particularly high regard. They came to despise communism. We knew that the Jews who immigrated to the US in the early 20th century did really well for themselves, and we credited capitalism for providing them with an opportunity.
As I mentioned, we did vote Democratic in the 90s, but that’s largely because we believed Democrats to be reasonable people. The onset of the second “intifadah” and 9/11 put an end to that delusion. We are fiscally conservative, have stable marriages — although we don’t vote American-style culture wars. We are vehemently against affirmative action, though. Of course, none of our political preferences are found in Russian Jews that get mentioned in the media, like Sergey Brin or Gogol Bordello. Hmm… I wonder why.
UPDATE: Linked by Temeple of Mut — thank you!