NAS Urges the University of Pennsylvania Law School to Affirm Amy Wax's Freedom of Speech

National Association of Scholars

Amy Wax is under attack again. Once again, the cancel-culture Morlocks want her at least punished for her words, and ideally driven out of the academy.

Wax, the Robert Mundheim Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania, and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Scholars, is congenitally addicted to those old-fashioned American pursuits of thinking freely and speaking freely. She regularly shocks our would-be masters. For her latest heresy, Wax wrote these words in comments to her interview on Professor Glenn Loury’s The Glenn Show:

In the case of Asians in the U.S., the overwhelming majority vote Democratic. In my opinion, the Democratic Party is a pernicious influence and force in our country today. It advocates for “wokeness,” demands equal outcomes despite clear individual and group differences in talent, ability, and drive, mindlessly valorizes blacks (the group most responsible for anti-Asian violence) regardless of behavior or self-inflicted wounds, sneers at traditional family forms, undermines and disparages the advantages of personal responsibility, hard work, and accountability, and attacks the meritocracy.

I confess I find Asian support for these policies mystifying, as I fail to see how they are in Asians’ interest. We can speculate (and, yes, generalize) about Asians’ desire to please the elite, single-minded focus on self-advancement, conformity and obsequiousness, lack of deep post-Enlightenment conviction, timidity toward centralized authority (however unreasoned), indifference to liberty, lack of thoughtful and audacious individualism, and excessive tolerance for bossy, mindless social engineering, etc.

Maybe it’s just that Democrats love open borders, and Asians want more Asians here. Perhaps they (and especially their distaff element) are just mesmerized by the feel-good cult of “diversity.” I don’t know the answer. But as long as most Asians support Democrats and help to advance their positions, I think the United States is better off with fewer Asians and less Asian immigration. There needs to be more focus on people who are already here, and especially the core (and neglected) “legacy” population, and a push to return to traditional concepts and institutions and Charles Murray’s “American Creed.”

Woke Penn Law students have circulated the usual petition calling for Penn Law to punish Wax for speaking freely, essentially because her freedom of speech contradicts the diversity ideology: “We urge you to take tangible actions regarding Amy Wax’s latest offensive and obviously racist statements. … Wax’s continued employment at the Law School undermines the School’s commitment to a robust legal education that engenders collegiality, fosters diversity, and aims to further justice.”

Of course Penn Law should reject this petition out of hand. What Wax says, above all outside the university, is not the business of the university, her colleagues, or her students—save, of course, that they should rush to her defense against all would-be censors. It speaks badly of lawyers’ principles when they evince no love of liberty, and speaks even worse of their character when they evince no affection for their colleagues. Only tyrants who wish to suppress dissent show such feverish concern with what other people think or say.

Every American has the right to argue for or against immigration by any group of foreigners, on any grounds whatsoever, and any institution that values academic freedom should be especially vigilant to protect this right.

Beyond that basic principle, the petition is malignantly partial. President Biden recently said that “Indian of descent Americans are taking over this country”—and yet there has been no mass call from law students and professors to have him disbarred. Every law professor who evinces a belief in systemic racism is surely bigoted against white Americans, and ought in a just world to be expelled from the universities—yet law professors demonstrated no sensitivity against this gross prejudice. Tu quoque only takes you so far as an argument, but such silences do help us to assess how seriously to take these attempts to eject Wax from the academy.

The National Association of Scholars is proud to have Amy Wax as a member of its Board of Directors. She is a splendid scholar and a splendid American, with a spotless personal and professional character. She deserves every commendation that the University of Pennsylvania Law School can bestow. The Law School has already dishonored itself by its actions against Wax; all it can do now is dishonor itself further.

Unless, of course,  the Law School affirms Wax’s good name, dismisses the complaint against her, and states as a matter of principle that it will not consider any further such complaints, since their purpose and effect is to harass members of the university, to deprive them of their freedom of speech, and to intimidate the entire community into forfeiting its academic freedom. We urge that it do so at once.


Image: Jeffrey M. Vinocur, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

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