Top 51 Eric Liu Quotes

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“The summer of 1991, I took $2,000 of my savings and a desktop program, and I asked my friends to write 800 words about something they cared about. I got eight or nine articles and put them together. It was no frills, black and white, no graphics. I printed them out and just dumped piles around D.C.”

― Eric Liu

“I know many people on the left are suspicious of words like Americanization. To them, it can sound like a cover for white privilege and warmongering. It suggests arrogance and groupthink. But these connotations are not fixed. It is in our power to reshape them by recalling the best of America.”

― Eric Liu

“Have you ever watched someone become American? Last week, at a national citizenship conference I organize, thirty immigrants from 17 countries swore an oath and became citizens of the United States. It was a stirring experience for the hundreds of people in the room.”

― Eric Liu

“We live in a great country. It’s time again to get religion about it.”

― Eric Liu

“We all want merit to mean something, and we all may be tempted to reduce that meaning to something measurable and concrete like an SAT score. The reality, though, is that who deserves entry into an institution depends on what the institution exists to do.”

― Eric Liu

“There have been, in recent years, many Asian American pioneers in the public eye who’ve defied the condescendingly complimentary ‘model minority’ stereotype: actors like Lucy Liu, artists like Maya Lin, moguls like Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh. They are known, often admired.”

― Eric Liu

“Why should citizenship be a matter of birth? The premise held by those who want to end birthright citizenship is that some people deserve it and some do not – that the status shouldn’t be handed out automatically. Frankly, that’s a premise worth considering.”

― Eric Liu

“My grandfather was a general in the Nationalist Chinese Air Force during World War II, and I grew up hearing the pilot stories and seeing pictures of him in uniform.”

― Eric Liu

“America is exceptional: but because it yields the likes of Obama, not the likes of Bush.”

― Eric Liu

“Talk of citizenship today is often thin and tinny. The word has a faintly old-fashioned feel to it when used in everyday conversation. When evoked in national politics, it’s usually accompanied by the shrill whine of a descending culture-war mortar.”

― Eric Liu

“What we should celebrate more than diversity is what we do with it. How do we bring everyone in the tent and create something together? In a twenty-first century way that activates our true potential, we all need to become sworn-again.”

― Eric Liu

“When Bryan Price taught me how to throw a changeup, he made me see myself. All my life, I’ve been the equivalent of a fastball pitcher – trying to use blazing speed and brute force to wow the people around me.”

― Eric Liu

“Throughout this country’s history there have of course been systematic efforts to create an official underclass.”

― Eric Liu

“In the end no segregationist scheme has withstood the force of a simple idea: equality under law.”

― Eric Liu

“If the undocumented have to work hard to attain citizenship, those of us who already are citizens should have to work hard to sustain it. We should all have to serve more, vote more, build more, and do more for our country.”

― Eric Liu

“You want to defend citizenship? Don’t persecute or isolate those without papers. Just live like a citizen. That’d be a first-class way to be American.”

― Eric Liu

“From the right, you get demagogues shouting about brown-skinned anchor babies and clamoring to deport the undocumented. From the left, you get advocacy for the oppressed but otherwise, when it comes to national civic identity, mainly silence.”

― Eric Liu

“Conservatives forget that citizenship is more than a thing to withhold from immigrants. Progressives forget it’s more than a set of rights.”

― Eric Liu

“In the end, a new Americanization movement can’t just be about listing our privileges and immunities, which we catalog in our laws. It also has to be about reinforcing our duties, which we convey in our habits.”

― Eric Liu

“Great numbers of Asian Americans do not fit the model minority or ‘tiger family’ stereotypes, living instead in multigenerational poverty far from the mainstream.”

― Eric Liu

“Imagine filling a college with the first 1,000 students to get perfect SATs. Whatever the racial composition of that class would be, the notion seems absurd because we know that college in America is supposed to be about creating citizens and leaders in a diverse nation.”

― Eric Liu

“In the end, arguing about affirmative action in selective colleges is like arguing about the size of a spigot while ignoring the pool and the pipeline that feed it. Slots at Duke and Princeton and Cal are finite.”

― Eric Liu

“Six decades ago, as Mao’s Communists seized power, the question in Washington was, ‘Who lost China?’ Now, as his capitalist descendants stand astride the world stage and Washington worries about decline, it seems to be, ‘Who lost America?’”

― Eric Liu

“To be sure, the United States has profound problems, not least our faltering educational and physical infrastructure.”

― Eric Liu

“Much of our national debate proceeds as if China and America were locked in a zero-sum game in which one’s loss is precisely the other’s gain.”

― Eric Liu

“Why does an iPhone cost only a couple hundred dollars? Because, as the stage performer Mike Daisey depicted in an arresting one-man show called ‘The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,’ Apple’s shiniest products are made by a shadowy company in China called Foxconn.”

― Eric Liu

“After watching my first World Series in 1977, I wanted to be Reggie Jackson. I bought a big Reggie poster. I ate Reggie candy bars. I entered a phase during which I insisted on having the same style of glasses Reggie had: gold wire frames with the double bar across.”

― Eric Liu

“Identity in America is complicated but it’s also simple: it’s about whom you identify with and who identifies with you.”

― Eric Liu

“Jeremy Lin is the only Asian American in the NBA today and one of the few in any professional U.S. sport. His arrival is surely leading other talented Asian American athletes this week to contemplate a pro career.”

― Eric Liu

“The nativism behind the push to repeal or amend the Fourteenth is ugly and obvious.”

― Eric Liu

“Here’s a proposal, offered only partly in jest: no resident of the United States, whether born here or abroad, should get to be a citizen until age 18, at which time each such resident has to take a test.”

― Eric Liu

“Republicans say they want citizenship to truly mean something. Let’s be equal-opportunity about it and test everyone, including those very Republicans and others whose forbears came here generations ago.”

― Eric Liu

“It turns out umpires and judges are not robots or traffic cameras, inertly monitoring deviations from a fixed zone of the permissible. They are humans.”

― Eric Liu

“True fans of the Constitution, like true fans of the national pastime, acknowledge the critical role of human judgment in making tough calls. We don’t expect flawless interpretation. We expect good faith. We demand honesty.”

― Eric Liu

“Sometimes when I listen to fellow progressives, I wonder if the only lesson we took away from the ’04 elections is that politics is a word game.”

― Eric Liu

“Many smart folks seem to think that if you just get your metaphors and messages right, you’ll win. That if you start describing what you favor as a ‘moral value’ – ‘affordable health care is a moral value’ etc., – then you’ll appeal to red-state voters.”

― Eric Liu

“’The Purpose-Driven Life’ is not just a mega-bestselling work of Christian faith; it is the thing that every voter, secular or not, yearns for.”

― Eric Liu

“You cannot mistake Bush’s clarity of purpose. He believes in a story about freedom and opportunity that makes his followers feel like they aren’t just ticking their days down but are part of something larger than themselves.”

― Eric Liu

“As it stands now, those of us who are lucky enough to be citizens by birth don’t have to do much. Very little is asked of us.”

― Eric Liu

“Today, public understanding of our past and our system of government is pitifully low.”

― Eric Liu

“The next time someone uses denial of citizenship as a weapon or brandishes the special status conferred upon him by the accident of birth, ask him this: What have you done lately to earn it?”

― Eric Liu

“The Boomers have modeled a set of bad habits, and one grand gesture is not going to unwind all those bad habits.”

― Eric Liu

“Like the ‘little emperors’ of one-child China, too many Boomers were taught early that the world was made (or saved) for their comfort and enjoyment. They behaved accordingly, with a self-indulgence that was wholly rational, given their situation.”

― Eric Liu

“Americans need to call on Boomers, in their next act onstage, to behave like grown-ups. And there is no better way for them to do this than to guide young people to lives of greater meaning, effectiveness, and purpose.”

― Eric Liu

“The Boomers will eventually have to accept that it is not possible to stay forever young or to stop aging. But it is possible, by committing to show up for others in community after community, to earn a measure of immortality.”

― Eric Liu

“Race in America has always centered on our mutual agreement not to see each other. White or non-white. Black or non-black. Mongoloid, Hindoo. We’ve always bought into to the crudest, humanity-denying forms of sorting.”

― Eric Liu

“If whiteness were of no particular advantage, then having a fuller color wheel of skin tones would be purely a matter of celebration. But whiteness – just a drop of it – does still carry privilege. You learn that very young in America.”

― Eric Liu

“If half-black Barack Obama had decided years ago to call himself white – which his genes certainly entitled him to do – his story would have carried very different meaning. If millions of part-black people had followed him into whiteness, then the N.A.A.C.P. would be in true crisis.”

― Eric Liu

“I had heard so much negative talk about our generation, that we’re slackers and young fogies, that I knew wasn’t true of the people I know.”

― Eric Liu

“We tend to think of politics as bad, full of dirty tricks, negative ads, big campaigns, but I am here to explore the original meaning of politics, which is positive and has to do with balancing competing interests and looking for solutions.”

― Eric Liu

“Today’s multiracial Americans are at greater liberty to choose how they’d like to be seen, and under less pressure to pass for white.”

― Eric Liu
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