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Embattled UPenn Law Prof Amy Wax Sets the Record Straight: “mainstream media coverage has been agenda-driven”

Embattled UPenn Law Prof Amy Wax Sets the Record Straight: “mainstream media coverage has been agenda-driven”

Wax: “The mainstream media coverage has been agenda-driven … very superficial, very careless, and leaves out abundant information favorable to me.”

Last week, a family friend—a prominent, politically conservative, with-it lawyer—came over to talk during a visit to the West Coast. I was anticipating my next Amy Wax update, so I decided I would pick his brain: What does he think about the embattled UPenn Law professor, facing termination and loss of tenure for her outspoken rightwing opinions?

Wax, LI readers will remember, first triggered the woke campus mob by  unapologetically expressing conservative views in a 2017 op-ed.

Rather than engage her in discussion and debate, students and faculty demanded from an all-too-willing Dean Ruger that she be fired for being a “racist.”

It was not long before the dean caved to the students’ demands and took up their cause in the conflict that escalated as Wax continued to voice her unorthodox views over the years. Finally, as we wrote here, last June he submitted a letter to the Faculty Senate calling for a review of Wax’s conduct for violation of University policy under the Faculty Handbook and a “major sanction” including possible termination.

Our lawyer friend follows her story, which we’ve covered from the beginning:

And he agrees with her views, including her “third-rail” observations about racial disparities:

“When she says that black students rarely appear at the top of the class,” he confided, “everyone knows it’s true—but, you just can’t say these things to students.”

Our friend is not the only one who believes Wax crosses the line when she says what she thinks out loud. Of all the charges leveled against her, that one has given pause even to one of her warmest supporters, Brown University professor Glenn Loury.

And less sympathetic critics like Columbia University professor John McWhorter say that Wax’s incendiary comments about race send a message to minority students that “You don’t belong here”:

Here she is, saying actual obviously racist things right in front of them. … How can [we] expect students not to feel that they’re being judged. … How do they participate in discussion? It’s gonna throw them.

It is one thing to think it, or even write it, McWhorter explains, but another to say it. Amy says it.

But did she, in fact, make the statements alleged by Ruger? As we wrote here, Wax and her lawyer say the dean’s charges against her are so vague and incoherent and ripped out of context, they can’t tell what they are. And 95% percent of them, Wax says, are based on extramural speech—speech that is fully protected under her tenure contract.

Meanwhile, an “agenda-driven” media repeats the allegations, condemning her in the court of public opinion before her case is adjudicated by the Faculty Senate. And the University denied her the opportunity to be in the room, much less respond, when students aired their grievances against her. No wonder that our West Coast friend and others like McWhorter have already convicted Wax before she has even been tried.

Wax Tells Her Side of the Story

At a webinar sponsored by FIRE earlier this month, Wax addressed the most egregious statements alleged by Penn Law’s Dean Ruger and featured in a recent New York Times article:

Wax denies that she told a student (who graduated more than ten years ago) that she only got into Ivy League schools because of affirmative action. But, she asks, even if she had, what would be so “racist, so traumatizing, so harmful” about it? If affirmative action is an acknowledged good, necessary to achieve diversity, why is it “racist” to say a student benefitted from it?

Penn Law Professor Tobias Wolff accuses Wax of homophobia and bigotry, she says, because of negative statements she made about gay marriage. But as Wax explains, context matters. The statements he objects to were made at an academic panel at Penn Law that took place before the United States Supreme Court decided Obergefell (requiring states to recognize gay marriage).  She was invited to present arguments from one of her scholarly articles about gay marriage, including the implications for children who would not be raised by their natural parents.

Ten years later, Wolff claims that he is personally offended. Wax isn’t buying it:

Tobias Wolff is trying to turn a valid academic presentation into an instance of bigotry. Should we allow him to do that? Consider the consequences. … Academic presentations [will] have to be submitted for approval. … Perhaps Tobias Wolff would supply us with a list of the arguments that are allowed to be made and not allowed to be made. … Do we really want to live in that world?

Wax says there are very few details about when and where the gathering took place at which she is accused of saying, “Ah, finally an American. That’s a good thing.” Nor does she remember it. Students were supposedly going around the room saying their names, and Wax says she has a history of “mangling exotic names.” So her remark might have been: “Finally an American name,” an expression of relief at being able to pronounce it. By dropping one word, Wax says the allegation misrepresents her true intent. Still, she denies making such a “flippant” remark.

Wax says the dean’s charges are baseless and she’s prepared to fight them to the finish. If she prevails, she says it will be a victory not only for herself, but for the “integrity of free speech and free inquiry within the University.”

Too Many Accusations

As the FIRE webinar drew to a close, an anonymous professor brought the meeting back to the core question: Can we believe Amy Wax when so many students have claimed to be “hurt,” “traumatized,” and “harmed” by her?

Like our lawyer friend, the professor has already made up her mind:

I don’t believe … Amy Wax … I would have believed her if these accusations had occurred one to three times, scattered upon the decades. Yet the accusations are not that. They are everywhere. I read the [University’s] letter on Ms. Wax and there are too many accusations.

But that is exactly the kind of witch-trial evidence admitted by the court in Salem, where basic rules of fairness yielded to hysteria. In those notorious cases, each of the individual accusations of witchcraft, standing alone, were “trivial; but there being such a course of them, it made them the more to be considered.” The Salem witch trials ended badly for the 19 blameless victims sent to their deaths. And they marked the total breakdown of the rule of law in colonial Massachusetts.

Wax says her case is part of a broader project, and she fears the same demise of the rule of law today:

Make no mistake, the wokeistas want to get rid of that rule. Their ultimate agenda … is to bring down our entire system of safeguards … of proof, of evidence, of rigor, of logic, of consistency, of due process, of the adversary system … all of those precious parts of our glorious legal system which is the envy of the world. Their goal is to demolish it … because [it is] ‘racist.’

If you believe the piling on of accusations without proof is enough to fire professors with unpopular views, Wax says, “then you are part of that project.”


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It’s amazing a tenured professor can be brought down for trivial things

I couldn’t imagine anything like this as a college student, having the delusion or desire to do this

    Rupert Smedley Hepplewhite in reply to gonzotx. | April 24, 2023 at 6:14 am

    To be fair, they are immature and have been emotionally hurt and brain-washed by previous “educators” so it stands to reason the students know everything and their demands must be met in order to facilitate “emotional healing” … until the next racist remarks fall upon their snowflake ears.

Not allowed to be in the room?
So much for the “right” to face one’s accusers.

We are all patiently awaiting a statement from the black Hebrew Israelites.

not_a_lawyer | April 24, 2023 at 4:41 am

“When she says that black students rarely appear at the top of the class,” he confided, “everyone knows it’s true—but, you just can’t say these things to students.”

This must be said ‘out loud’ again and again.

In modern society, only one of two things in this regard can be true, that blacks suffer routine and systemic racism and thus are kept out of cognitively demanding professions, or that blacks are naturally less intelligent, on average, than whites.

Insofar as blacks are, in fact, not proportionally represented in law school, one of the above must be true. Leftists will insist that all races are of equal potential across all measures of human ability, and therefore the racism argument must be true.

But it’s not. The average intelligence of the races do differ, and we have all the empirical data we need to be quite certain of this perhaps unfortunate state of nature. The military has hundreds of millions of datapoints gathered from over 100 years of military placement exams that confirm this. The important point that must be made again and again is that blacks are not going to be found in any cognitively demanding profession in proportion to their fraction of the population, that this is a fact of nature, not an effect of racism, must be pounded into everyone’s head again and again so that public policy can be formulated with respect to reality and people can state facts without having their entire career and lives destroyed.

That it takes someone of Professor Wax’s extraordinary intelligence, accomplishment, and age to state that which is true, and yet she still must battle the forces of political correctness, which are wrong, says a lot about our society.

Say it out loud, Professor Wax, again and again and again. Force the Dean to release an anonymized dataset of entrance exam results that break down admissions based on race and test scores. The data is right there, in the admissions office; if he is correct, he merely need hand over the data to an anonymous social science group that can run the numbers. It is a simple mathematical regression which could be done by an undergraduate STEM student. The fact that he will not says all we need to know, but force him to do it anyway. Force people to look at reality. Publish the results in all the newspapers across the land!

Only then can we move beyond this insidious notion that white people are all full of evil racist intent, even if unconscious intent, and see the world as it is, not the way we wish it to be.


    Charles Murray has studied this thoroughly, From Facing Reality (2021),

    The charges of white privilege and systemic racism that are tearing the country apart float free of reality. Two known facts, long since documented beyond reasonable doubt, need to be brought into the open and incorporated into the way we think about public policy: American whites, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians have different violent crime rates and different means and distributions of cognitive ability. The allegations of racism in policing, college admissions, segregation in housing, and hiring and promotions in the workplace ignore the ways in which the problems that prompt the allegations of systemic racism are driven by these two realities.

    What good can come of bringing them into the open? America’s most precious ideal is what used to be known as the American Creed: People are not to be judged by where they came from, what social class they come from, or by race, color, or creed. They must be judged as individuals. The prevailing Progressive ideology repudiates that ideal, demanding instead that the state should judge people by their race, social origins, religion, sex, and sexual orientation.

    We on the center left and center right who are the American Creed’s natural defenders have painted ourselves into a corner. We have been unwilling to say openly that different groups have significant group differences. Since we have not been willing to say that, we have been left defenseless against the claims that racism is to blame. What else could it be? We have been afraid to answer. We must. Facing Reality is a step in that direction.

    Claude Coupé in reply to not_a_lawyer. | April 24, 2023 at 4:11 pm

    Is it permissible to ask why there are not more Eskimo-Americans in professional sports?

    You know — in proportion to their population in Alaska? Or the U.S.

    Or on the U.S. Olympic track team?

    Or Mexican-Americans?

    Or Japanese-Americans?

bobinreverse | April 24, 2023 at 6:55 am

Amy is Belushi in reverse. She aughta wear a COLLEGE sweatshirt to campus every day.

Yet again we see it. In The Coming of the Third Reich (2003), historian Richard J. Evans explains how, in the early days of National Socialist Germany, Stormtroopers (Brownshirts) “organized campaigns against unwanted professors in the local newspapers [and] staged mass disruptions of their lectures.” To express dissent from Nazi positions became a matter of taking one’s life into one’s hands. The idea of people of opposing viewpoints airing their disagreements in a civil and mutually respectful manner was gone. One was a Nazi, or one was silent (and fearful).

Today’s fascists call themselves “anti-fascists.” Just like the Nazis, they are totalitarian: they are determined not to allow their opponents to murmur the slightest whisper of dissent. Forcibly suppressing the speech of someone with whom one disagrees is a quintessentially fascist act.

Blame the parents of these imbecile kids. They raised them in bubbles and in a hands off manner allowing the educational system to do what they should have been doing.

E Howard Hunt | April 24, 2023 at 8:26 am

Just take a look at all the phony daycare accusations from decades ago. Once the gravy train gets going everybody jumps aboard. I find this human tendency sadder than any difference in average intelligence among the races since it seems impervious to intelligence itself.

Steven Brizel | April 24, 2023 at 8:45 am

This is a Stalinist show trial at work

If affirmative action is an acknowledged good, necessary to achieve diversity, why is it “racist” to say a student benefitted from it?

And that’s the unanswerable question to the whole program. The intent of the program is to benefit people. If the program doesn’t benefit people, then what is the point of the program? If the program is not benefitting people, then why is it allowed to persist.

The proponents of Affirmative Action cannot answer those simple questions.

    fscarn in reply to ss396. | April 24, 2023 at 10:22 am

    Odd, isn’t it, that AA beneficiaries don’t want it known that they are/were AA beneficiaries.

    Even they KNOW that AA means “not up to par,” or stated otherwise, “you don’t deserve to be here.”

And all of Prof. Wax’s would be allies are circumspect when it comes to defending her. Cowards will ultimately kill academia.

    Claude Coupé in reply to Whitewall. | April 24, 2023 at 4:01 pm

    Respectfully, it seems to me that by any reasonable definition, “academia” is already dead.

    If it were not already dead, then you and I would not know about this situation at Penn.

    Because this situation would not exist.

    Nor countless others.

A handmade tale. All’s fair in lust and abortion.

That said, welcome to the ouroboros.

USA in dire need of a cohort of New Founders of the qualities of the originals to find us and bind us and in the light of day guide us. Or we can just lean back and relax and enjoy the ride as the Founder’s creation swirls down the drain to inevitable destruction.

I need to get that engraved on the inside of a golden band.

Claude Coupé | April 24, 2023 at 3:44 pm

Funny thing about inconvenient truths.

They’re so ….inconvenient.

What really is needed is a place where knowledge — new knowledge — could be pursued.

Truly pursued.

Unhindered by the various mobs.

With their various agendas.

– – –

All it would require would be money, and a location outside the reach of the various extremists.

Elon Musk could fund it?

Maybe Steve Kirsch?

Peter Thiel?

A consortium?

Perhaps a few anonymous pro athletes?

Tentative name for the place? Perhaps The Institute for the Honest Study of New Knowledge..

Where? Idk but obviously it would have to be outside the United States.

Could be , maybe Korea? Or Japan? A Caribbean nation? Hungary? Israel? Africa? I don’t know where — but there’s GOT to be a place that would be interested in bringing together the truly most talented people — in order to work on solving the most important issues of the day.

Safely away from the mob.

The amazing 1969 prophecy that racial preferences would cause the exact grievances of protesters today

“As that essay was going to press, Heterodox Academy member Amy Wax sent us the text of an astonishing letter written in 1969, at the dawn of racial preferences, from Macklin Fleming, Justice of the California Court of Appeal. Judge Fleming had written a personal letter to Louis Pollak, the dean of Yale Law School.”

The Downfall of the Ivy League | Victor Davis Hanson

Joseph H. Manson

Social scientist. Refugee from mainstream higher education.

Why I’m Leaving the University