Penn Law Dean Ted Ruger responded in a column that tied the Wax-Alexander item to the events in Charlottesville. This was ethically troubling in itself, since it associates a Nazi rally with a totally unrelated social analysis. Much worse, however, he said, “I reject emphatically any claim that a single cultural tradition is better than all others.”
Wax and Alexander made no such claim. What they said is: “All cultures are not equal.” That statement seems not only defensible but axiomatic; would anyone claim that China during the Cultural Revolution is morally equal to China today? If all cultures are equal, then nothing we do can make our culture either better or worse. Is that what Dean Ruger believes?
Wax and Alexander then questioned the rejection of “bourgeois” norms by several subcultures in America, including “the single-parent, antisocial habits prevalent among some working-class whites; the anti-‘acting white’ rap culture on inner-city blacks; and the anti-assimilation ideas gaining ground among some Hispanic immigrants.” Dean Ruger’s distortion of what they said is despicable cowardice since he is Professor Wax’s boss; she would risk retaliation in many ways if she called him out for distorting what she said.