Controversial University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax has again stirred up a debate with recent remarks. This time, she claims there are too many Asians moving to the U.S. who do not have the “spirit of liberty.”
During a Dec. 20 interview with Glenn Loury, a social sciences professor at Brown University, she said, “The U.S. is better off with fewer Asians and less Asian immigration.”
Now there is a petition to sanction Wax, and it seems the school is listening. Penn law students have circulated a petition calling for the school to take action against Wax, citing her “offensive and obviously racist” statements. A number of Philadelphia council members this month asked university president Amy Gutmann to launch a “comprehensive review” of her position.
The dean of the University of Pennsylvania Carey School of Law, Ted Ruger, said he would pursue sanctions against law professor Wax following her latest inflammatory public statements on race and immigration, Reuters reported.
“Professor Amy Wax has repeatedly made derogatory public statements about the characteristics, attitudes, and abilities of a majority of those who study, teach, and work here,” Ruger wrote. Ruger noted that Wax could not be fired because she is tenured.
“It’s just harder to assimilate those people or to have confidence that our way of life will continue if we bring a lot of people in who are not familiar with it. These are not original ideas on the [political] right,” Wax told Loury. “This might result in a shift in the racial profile of people who come in. Obviously, we’ll have fewer people from Africa. We’ll have fewer people of some parts of Asia, and it’ll be more white — not that many white people want to come to the United States.”
Wax specially targeted South Asian elites migrating to the U.S., comparing the group to Hispanic immigrants, The Daily Beast reported.
“[We] have to distinguish mass-immigration, which we’re getting from the Hispanics, south of the border, which I think poses different questions and challenges from the Asian elites that we’re getting,” Wax said. “It doesn’t mean that the influx of Asian elites is unproblematic. I actually think it’s problematic. …I think it’s because there’s this…danger of the dominance of an Asian elite in this country, and what does that mean? What is that going to mean to change the culture? … Does the spirit of liberty beat in their breast?”
For Wax, those who possess the spirit of liberty are “people who are mistrustful of centralized concentrations of authority who have a kind of ‘don’t tread on me’ attitude, who are focused…on our freedoms, on our liberties, on sort of small scale personal responsibility who are non-conformist in good ways.”
The law professor noted that the idea of “wokeness” is an elite ideology and that “Asians tend to be more conformist to whatever the dominant ethos is.”
Loury’s listeners were taken aback by Wax’s message and many emailed complaints. Wax responded, “Maybe it’s just that Democrats love open borders, and Asians want more Asians here,” she wrote. “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.”
Wax does have supporters, if not for her remarks, then for her right to say them. Free speech groups on campus have said sanctioning Wax would violate the principles of academic freedom.
“The only appropriate action that the University of Pennsylvania should take in this situation is to publicly reaffirm the free speech rights of the members of its faculty,” the Academic Freedom Alliance, a national group of university and college faculty, wrote in a Jan. 16 letter to University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann.
The nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is also defending Wax.
“Predictions that a faculty member’s views mean they will treat a student differently are not sufficient to justify eroding expressive rights,” FIRE attorney Adam Steinbaugh said in a statement.
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This isn’t the first time Wax has been in the hot seat. Wax has previously faced backlash for falsely claiming that Black students in classes at Penn U are rarely among the most successful students, The Washington Post reported.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Black student graduate in the top quarter of the class, and rarely, rarely, in the top half,” she said in a 2017 interview with Loury.
These remarks resulted in Wax being banned in 2018 from teaching required first-year courses, Reuters reported.
Also, in 2017, she co-authored an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer with another law professor, Larry Alexander, praising bourgeois norms, loosely associating them with white people, and blaming America’s social ills on the breakdown of those norms, according to The VDare Foundation. This nonprofit journalist venture covers education.
In 2019, Wax said at a conference, “our country will be better off with more whites and fewer nonwhites.”
“Conservatives need a realistic approach to immigration that…preserves the United States as a Western and first-world nation,” Wax reportedly said. “We are better off if we are dominated numerically…by people from the first world, from the West, than by people who are from less advanced countries,” Inside Higher Ed reported.
She went on, “Let us be candid. Europe and the first world, to which the United States belongs, remain mostly white, for now; and the third world, although mixed, contains a lot of non-white people. Embracing cultural distance, cultural-distance nationalism, means, in effect, taking the position that our country will be better off with more whites and fewer non-whites.”
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