Undermining the model minority myth

Kal Penn, this week’s guest host on The Daily Show, did his bit to undermine the model minority myth by having a discussion on politics with a group of Indian-Americans, in which most of the men revealed themselves to be utterly smug, self-satisfied, opinionated, arrogant, and ignorant, older versions of Vivek Ramaswamy. I wish I could suggest that Penn had picked a particularly obnoxious group but my own experience with other people from the Indian subcontinent, including Sri Lankans, supports the view that of course while not everyone is like that, the negative impression that especially the older men gave is not at all uncommon.


  1. sonofrojblake says

    There’s a word for this kind of man… If they’re white British. The word is “gammon”. South Asians are far from having a monopoly on such traits


    India has long had a system based on hierarchy. Those who immigrate come heavily from segments of that society who have a long practice of being smug. No surprise. Now to work some American virtues into them, and see what they bring to us that expands us.

  3. rgmani says

    This group is not really representative of Indian Americans. As Kal Penn said, they were mostly conservative leaning. Most Indian-Americans tend to lean liberal and in the last election, something like 70 percent voted for the democratic party. Why is it surprising that conservative Indian-Americans talk like typical conservatives?

  4. garnetstar says

    I can say, the model minority myth didn’t hold in my experience with Asian-American students.

    You know that that group is held up as “industrious”, “highest IQ”, “exceptional work ethic”, etc. (And some Asian-Americans have talked about the discrimination and other bad effects this stereotype exposes them to.)

    Well, I taught general chemisty, which always has an enrollment of thousands, for five years, two sections of 300 students each semester, that’s 600 students/semester, for five years about 6000 students. A good sample size.

    The classes were all races and ethnicities, and the Asian-American students performed exactly like everyone else did. There were the smaller amount who worked really hard and got good grades, then the great middle of the curve who were medium, then the low end who were lazy, unmotivated, often entitled students who got bad grades. Exactly the same percentages of each as occured with every other racial and ethnic group (including Indians) in the class.

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