Boston — Most talk about foreign investment today concerns the Japanese. In the '70s, one could easily have substituted the word ``Arab'' for ``Japanese.''
But the Arabs and the Japanese have never been the biggest foreign owners of America.
Right now, for example, the British are No. 1, followed by the Dutch. Japan is No. 3 and has only just recently slipped ahead of Canada.
Americans don't worry much about British, Dutch, or Canadian ownership. Why are they bothered by the Japanese?
Experts suspect there is a component of racism at work here. When the new buyers look European, there's little concern. When their complexions have color, when their backgrounds are not Judeo-Christian, and when their histories have been in conflict with the US - it's another story.
Will they understand the American way? Will they be normal employers? Will foreign owners somehow undermine US foreign policy?
``There's a lot of huffing and puffing when it comes to non-Anglos,'' says Earl Fry, a Brigham Young University professor who has studied foreign investment for 10 years. ``The Japanese are very sensitive to this.''