Tuesday, January 4, 2022

The truth comes out: "Amy Wax is not woke."

That's the apt gloss by the funniest law professor on Twitter on the latest "wisdom" courtesy of Professor Wax.  First she disparaged African-American students at Penn, now she's come for the "Asians" (with a jab at her least favorite racial group thrown in as well):

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.

Soon the only students who can safely take her classes at Penn will be Jews and WASPs.

ADDENDUM:  An opinion writer at a local Philadelphia magazine reviews the history of her remarks (as of 2019) and, predictably, called for Professor Wax to be fired.  Penn Dean Ruger has issued an even stronger condemnation than before of her recent racist tirade (quoted above). 

Under the AAUP definition of academic freedom, "extramural" speech by faculty is protected speech that cannot be sanctioned by a university employer.  Yet even the First Amendment right of public sector employees to free speech can be outweighed by the employer's interest in running its workplace efficiently and without excessive disruption (the "Pickering test").  One can imagine a court being sympathetic to a private university's invocation of similar reasoning.  Certainly Professor Wax is speaking on a matter of "public interest" (immigration policy), but does her speech impede Penn's ability to perform its educational mission?   This will turn on information not in the public domain:  Do students still take her classes?  Do certain racial and ethnic groups avoid her classes? Is there any evidence of racial harassment or misconduct in the classroom?   Student offense should not be a metric for the acceptability of faculty speech, for obvious reasons; but at some point, offensive and inflammatory speech by a faculty member could, in principle, impede the school's ability to perform its pedagogical functions.  I imagine these issues are being discussed in the university counsel's office at Penn.  


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