March 14, 2023
Yesterday’s New York Times related the tale of Penn Law School professor Amy Wax who has stated publicly that “on average, Blacks have lower cognitive ability than whites,” that the country is “better off with fewer Asians” as long as they tend to vote for Democrats, and that non-Western people feel a “tremendous amount of resentment and shame.” Prof. Wax also invited a white nationalist to speak to her class. And a Black law student who had attended Penn and Yale says that Wax told her that she “had only become a double Ivy ‘because of affirmative action.’” On a recent podcast, she said, “I often chuckle at the ads on TV which show a Black man married to a white woman in an upper-class picket-fence house,” adding, “They never show Blacks the way they really are: a bunch of single moms with a bunch of guys who float in and out. Kids by different men.”
Wax is not new to controversial utterances. A 2017 op-ed that she co-wrote claimed that “all cultures are not equal” and lamented “the single-parent, antisocial habits, prevalent among some working-class whites; the anti-‘acting white’ rap culture of inner-city blacks; the anti-assimilation ideas gaining ground among some Hispanic immigrants.” In 2021, she pontificated against “an influx of Asian elites.”
There is now a movement afoot to have Wax — who is tenured — removed from the faculty. The free speech zealot that I am, I am inclined to agree with those who, in the words of one former colleague, view Wax “as both a scholarly embarrassment and a toxic presence at Penn and in the academy generally,” but who oppose university sanctions “for public expressions of horrible views.”
Freedom of speech cuts both ways.