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Humans are tribal; we need to belong to groups. But according to international law professor Amy Chua in her book Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations, Americans are often spectacularly blind to the power of tribal politics—and that blind spot has continually undermined American foreign policy. Chua takes our stage to outline how Washington’s foreign policy establishment and American political elites alike remain oblivious to the group identities that matter most to ordinary Americans—identities that are tearing the United States apart.
Chua is joined onstage by KUOW host Bill Radke (of The Record and Week In Review) to explore the complex landscape of modern American identity politics—which Chua asserts have seized both the Left and Right in an especially dangerous, racially inflected way. Every group feels threatened: whites and blacks, Latinos and Asians, men and women, liberals and conservatives. Chua argues that America must rediscover a national identity that transcends our political tribes. She urges us to end the false slogans of unity, which are just another form of divisiveness. Join Chua and Radke for a conversation about the difficult unity Americans must construct, one that acknowledges the reality of group differences and fights the deep inequities that divide us.
Amy Chua is the John M. Duff, Jr. Professor at Yale Law School. She is a noted expert in the fields of ethnic conflict and globalization, and the author of the bestselling titles World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability, Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance—and Why They Fall, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, and her most recent book, The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America, co-written with Jed Rubenfeld.
Bill Radke is the host of The Record and Week In Review on KUOW. He has been a host on American Public Media’s Weekend America and Marketplace Morning Report, and is the creator of past show Rewind, a news-satire show heard on KUOW and nationwide on NPR.
Presented by Town Hall Seattle as part of the Civics series.