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Filipino fans of New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin were jolted last night when news began to spread via Twitter that a New York Times article had written that Lin's mother was part-Filipino, which meant that Jeremy had Filipino blood. But less than a few hours passed, the news was quickly debunked, and chalked up to a case of leaping to conclusions without close reading of the source.
The article in question was an op-ed piece by author Gish Jen entitled "Asian Men Can Jump," published February 16 (February 17, PHL time) in the New York Times. In the piece, Jen recounted how his Shanghai-born parents did not support his athlete brother growing up, a fact that contrasted sharply with how Lin's parents were not only supportive of Jeremy's desire to play sports, they even encouraged it.
"…where did Jeremy Lin's parents come from, that they did these remarkable things?" asks the piece. "In her memoir, the tiger mother Amy Chua recalls her immigrant father rapping the kids on their knuckles whenever they mispronounced a Chinese word. How is it that Jeremy Lin's immigrant father in particular, Gie-Ming Lin, encouraged his son to follow such an untraditional path?"
The Amy Chua in question is the author of the partly-satirical memoir, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," and it is the mention of Chua that caused the confusion.
Two paragraphs after the above, Jen writes, "Still it is hard not to wonder if the places from which the Chuas and Lins emigrated played a factor in their parenting styles. The elder Chuas came from a rich Chinese enclave in the Philippines. Faced with a hostile native population, they circled the wagons and emphasized tradition. The Lins, on the other hand, came from Taiwan, where 'Chinese-ness' now includes many Western notions, especially among the educated."
Some readers made the leap that Amy Chua was Lin's mother and that she then was part-Filipino, making Lin a quarter-Filipino or something to that effect.
Ironically, the New York Times itself did an extensive story on Lin's family, published a day earlier, entitled, "An Odd Game a Grandmother Can Appreciate."
The piece says both of Lin's parents are Taiwanese-born and "retain dual citizenship in Taiwan and the United States." Lin on the other hand, was born in California, giving him American citizenship, though Taiwan has offered him dual citizenship as well.
Lin's father is an eighth-generation descendant of immigrants from Taiwan, having moved to Taiwan from the Fujian province of China in 1707. On the other hand, Lin's maternal grandmother grew up in Zhejiang in China, and moved to Taiwan in the late 1940s. There, she married a Taiwanese native, and then later moved to the U.S.
Lin is however, the subject of a "claim war" between Taiwan and China, a natural extension of the tension between the two countries. — RSJ, GMA News