The Legal Beat
Penn Law School Prof Amy Wax Stumbles Into A Truth… Before Delving Back Into Vile Conspiracy Theories
Posted on Friday June 22, 2018
It is now safe to say that the luckiest people on the face of the planet are Penn Law 1Ls because they no longer have to deal with Professor Amy Wax. Wax’s musing that black people can’t get good grades finally forced the school to remove her from the position of teaching minority students who have every reason to believe she harbors racial animus against them. There are other professors more than capable of teaching Civil Procedure — Amy Wax is not a special snowflake as much as she may like to think.
But Professor Wax will not be ignored, and her desperate grab for attention continued on the latest episode of the “Big Ideas With Ben Weingarten” podcast. The podcast is both laughable and infuriating. It could be retitled, “An Evening With Your Racist Grandma” and ignored if it weren’t for the fact that a top-tier law school willingly associates itself with this tripe. My notes from listening include many instances of, “Wait, what?” — as she meanders through a litany of racist and misogynist “observations” without the slimmest shred of support.
It’s all “manifestly obvious,” you see. Time and time again, she pushes some perverse stereotype and brushes aside any disciplined interrogation of the claim. Women have lower IQs on balance as proven “over and over again,” she says. In fact, that’s been debunked, as women’s IQs have rapidly moved into parity as access to equal education and attitudes about women’s role in society have advanced. Black people are more likely to be drug addicts, she posits at one point, before noting that all the serious research into this claim concludes that there’s no significant difference in drug use between whites and blacks. The sum total of her response to this is, “I have my reasons for doubting that.” Indeed she does. Those reasons are “racism.”
As we’ve pointed out before, her laziness in offering any support for her wild claims provides reason enough for Penn to sever ties with her. Every time she puts Penn’s imprimatur on such shoddy claims, she undermines the school. She doesn’t even mount an effort to back up her most provocative claims. There are Flat Earthers who show more academic rigor in backing their claims.
And yet there’s a glimmer of truth to be found in her musings. While bashing the academy, Professor Wax lays out what she calls “The Caitlyn Problem,” a name probably intended to be demeaning toward young women, but let’s hear her out:
Donors and alumni are absolutely determined to get their children and relatives into these institutions and get them out and they don’t much care what happens while they’re there because these elite universities are just one huge expensive elaborate HR department for lucrative jobs.
Actually… yeah. In fact, one of the primary motivations for affirmative action is disrupting this hegemony of legacy appointments where the biases of the past are cemented into the future by parading the mediocre scions of well-to-do whites through an institution that propels them along the same path. Earlier in the show, Weingarten argued that economic disparity doesn’t arise from nowhere. He used this claim to support the contention that people earn less on balance because of their flawed culture, but Wax unwittingly has the better of it here — it’s a rigged game at the top.
But, as with Weingarten’s flimsy theory of cultural inferiority, Wax’s motivating worldview cannot help but delve back into racist and misogynist conspiracies. The great sin of these alumni is not that they’ve garnered unearned advantages, but that the perks they’ve received have blinded them to the real threat of diversity.
She dispels the heap of serious scholarship and research confirming the benefits of diversity with the conclusory aside, “which has never been proven” before offering her case for the evils of diversity:
One of the downsides of diversity has been the death of open inquiry academic values and free debate. I think diversity has produced orthodoxy and that’s been very detrimental to the academy.
Her proposed antidote to this death of open inquiry is, confusingly, to return to teaching Western Civilization just as it was in the 1950s and reject any of the work being done that might unsettle that grand narrative. The academy is, in truth, as open today as its been in decades. Professor Wax has just found herself on the losing end of these debates as her repetition of “obviously” has failed to stand up to inquiry.
Why has she been so maligned? Well, it’s the conspiracy of course. She lacks any data to back up her claims because “the progressive powers that be have found out all sorts of devilishly clever ways to hide and obscure what they are actually doing.” She lacks broad support because people “clearly don’t want to start a stampede or a movement — they’re not willing to collectively go public….”
On the one hand, it’s sad to listen to someone so convinced that the world is hiding the truth from them. There’s a powerlessness that is no doubt intensified by serving in an institution based on scholarly inquiry and showing up every single day empty-handed.
On the other hand… screw that.
Earlier: Amy Wax Relieved Of Her 1L Teaching Duties After Bald-Faced Lying About Black Students
Professor Declares Black Students ‘Rarely’ Graduate In The Top Half Of Law School Class
Law Professors Say White ’50s Culture Is Superior, Other Racist Stuff
Dog Whistling ‘Bourgeois Values’ Op-Ed Gets Thorough Takedown From Other Law Professors
Law Students Seek To Ban Professor From Teaching 1Ls
Joe Patrice is an editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news.