I doubt that there’s much I can say to assuage the enmity expressed towards me in postings on this blog. Let me simply state that my wife and I understand that it’s important for our daughters to know and be proud of their culture, and will have our unstinting support to do so.Of course, Simon is entitled to his opinions, as am I. But no one is entitled to have everyone agree with their opinions! And disagreeing with someone's opinion is not expressing "enmity!" I don't think he expressed "enmity" in his comment here.
I find it incongruous, in this month in which we celebrate the Rev. Martin Luther King for hoping his children “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” that we are assailed for trying to do just that for our daughters. I am keenly aware of America’s racist history and bigoted tendencies. Not a week goes by that I don’t receive anti-Semitic or gay-bashing emails. But as I note in my book, “(I)n China, our daughters might have faced bigotry for being Hui, Miao, Manchu, Yi, Mongol, or any of the other of China's 55 other nationalities that they could be.” They have already been stung by prejudice toward women in the land of their birth, and if someone looks a little funny at our family, or makes some boorish remark, I do not assume that the Klan rides again. We receive about a thousand times more consideration.
I reject the idea that my wife and I should feel guilt for taking our daughters out of their native culture because we remember that our daughters had been relinquished and left to languish in orphanages. Those orphanages, not the China of the Qing dynasty, Chen Rong, or modern adventure capitalists, were their culture. Our daughters will stand a better chance of appreciating the majesty of Chinese culture by growing up and learning about it in our American and French family, than if they’d been left in those orphanages, and slotted into factory or farm work by their teens.
Our daughters are hardly the only Asian kids in their respective classes. I suspect, as they grow older, and kids being kids, someone will kid them about being Chinese. And they, delightful as they are, may kid other kids about being chubby, or red-haired, or big-nosed, Puerto Rican or Russian. Ordinary adolescent obnoxiousness need not be regarded as a trauma. Kids of all ethnicities worry about their identities, even Bushes and Kennedys. It’s a stage of development, for goodness sake, not a crisis.
We can’t predict how interested our daughters will be in their heritage at various times of their lives. They learn the language, songs, dance and food now, but as my wife and I say, “You can drag the girls to Mandarin class, but you can’t make them speak.” They also dance ballet, play with Thomas the Tank Engine, and learn music. If they get interested in African art, French cuisine, Tuva throat-singing, and South African literature, that’s fine, too. They are our daughters. We want to see into their hearts and minds, not just their blood and skin color.
Will they identify themselves as American (and French), as well as Chinese? Of course. We have become a nation of hyphenated identities, and scores of millions of Americans, myself included, have more than one ethnic, national, or religious identity. It’s one the great strengths of both our country and our family. I doubt that Chinese culture, or our daughters, will be diminished by that.
We cannot rewrite their lives, or the laws of China, that would restore them to their birth mothers and the culture into which they were born. But we can give them a loving family to grow strong in, and the background to make their own choices.
So you can judge the "enmity" Simon sees in postings about him here, check them all out:
Scott Simon, "Meant to be," & Ethnicity
Scott Simon's New Book -- Excerpt
Scott Simon Talks Adoption With His Daughter
"How to say Thanksgiving in Mandarin"
Now if you want to see enmity, which is distinct from a difference of opinion, check out my opinion of the Super Bowl guy!