Two law professors are facing charges of racism, sexism, and homophobia over an op-ed published in the Philadelphia Inquirer this month that calls for Americans to act responsibly.
“That culture laid out the script we all were supposed to follow: Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake,” University of Pennsylvania Law School Professor Amy Wax and University of San Diego Law School Professor Larry Alexander wrote in a recent op-ed for the Philadelphia Inquirer which calls for a return to American “bourgeois culture” of the 20th century. “Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime,” they added.
Wax defended her thesis that some cultures are better than others in an interview with the Daily Pennsylvanian in the days following the publication of her Inquirer column. “I don’t shrink from the word, ‘superior,'” she said, adding, “Everyone wants to come to the countries that exemplify” these values. “Everyone wants to go to countries ruled by white Europeans.”
Shortly after the interview, a group of University of Pennsylvania student’s calling themselves, GET-UP, published a response entitled “Statement about Wax Op-Ed” which condemned “presence of toxic racist, sexist, homophobic attitudes on campus.”
The “superiority of one race over others is not an academic debate we have in the 21st century,” the column’s author wrote. “It is racism masquerading as science.”
But Wax and Alexander’s column in the Inquirer called out the forms of discrimination that persisted in the American era that they long for a return to. “Was everything perfect during the period of bourgeois cultural hegemony? Of course not. There was racial discrimination, limited sex roles, and pockets of anti-Semitism.”
On August 17, a group called the IDEAL Council, which is made up of minority graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania, published a Medium post, calling Wax “racist and homophobic.”
These statements will not be surprising to many students of color, especially those in the law school who have had to take a course with Wax. Her racist and homophobic statements are well-documented both on and off campus. She asserted during a talk at Middlebury university that black adults “co-habit in a kind of merry-go round fashion.” Her recent article in the Harvard Law Review, “Educating the Disadvantaged: Two Models,” muses that low-income, students of color may cause “reverse contagion” — infecting more “capable and sophisticated” students with their “delinquency and rule-breaking.”
Writing for National Review, author Heather Mac Donald criticized the students for the statement, calling their belief that they are persecuted as graduate students at an Ivy League institution”delusional.”
“The idea that privileged graduate students at Penn, one of the most tolerant, racially sensitive environments in human history, experience everyday ‘hate’ is delusional,” she wrote.