Penn Professor Amy Wax, Under Fire for Speaking ‘Hate’ Facts, Receives Academic Courage Award

Truth trumps feelings.

By William M Briggs Published on April 14, 2018

Penn Law Professor Amy Wax has been charged with spreading hate facts. Few modern crimes are more detestable to our elites, which is why a swift and predictable reaction against Wax has begun.

In August 2017 Wax published an editorial in the Philadelphia Inquirer in which she spoke forbidden truths. Many of our culture’s “maladies,” she said, are caused by “the breakdown of the country’s bourgeois culture.” We could “significantly reduce society’s pathologies” if we embraced traditional values. She went on:

Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. 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.

These hateful words were noticed at Penn, which forced a spokesperson to issue a statement. “The views expressed in the article are those of the individual authors. They are not a statement of Penn Law’s values or institutional policies.”

The spokesperson did not say what Penn Law’s values were.

Somebody’s Knocking at the Door

Wax might have got away with her crime if she had stopped there. She did not. She went on to hate-notice that with respect to immigration, “Everyone wants to go to countries ruled by white Europeans.”

The Black Law Student Association sprang into action. They discovered an interview in which Wax said:

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a black student graduate in the top quarter of the [Penn Law School] class and rarely, rarely in the top half,” Wax said of her belief of the downside of affirmative action in universities. “I can think of one or two students who’ve graduated in the top half of my required first year course.”

“Outrage,” that ubiquitous emotion, was the reaction. A petition said Wax’s figures were “false and deeply offensive.”

Brave Cowardice

Wax’s serial hate facts were obvious even to the meanest intelligence. This included the intelligence of Ted Ruger, the Dean of the Law School. He decided punishment was in order. He charged that Wax “transgress[ed] the policy that student grades are confidential” and that Wax used “her access to those Penn Law students who are required to be in her class to further her scholarly ends without students’ permission.”

Ruger then forbade Wax from teaching her first-year course.

Wax did not reveal any student’s grade, nor did she use her access without permission to “further her scholarly ends.” No one produced official figures to rebut Wax’s claim. But hate facts are hate facts and their use cannot go unpunished lest others are encouraged to speak them.

Ruger probably hoped his punitive acts would silence Wax. He was wrong.

She later wrote in the Wall Street Journal that a “reason measures of academic performance are hard to ignore is that students often expect equality of results and — especially in our identity-conscious world — issue loud demands for equality in group outcomes. When that doesn’t happen, frustration and disappointment ensue, followed by charges of racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination.”

One of Wax’s supporters wrote to her, stating, “The facts about the comparative performance of the different groups on [for example] the bar, medical boards, SATs, MCATs, LSATs etc. are well-established. Viewing these facts as offensive will not make them go away.”

A Scholarly Response

The National Association of Scholars recognized Wax’s efforts and on Thursday night at the offices of First Things in New York city presented to her the Peter Shaw Award “for her courage in the face of continued harassment for speaking uncomfortable truths.”

Wax noted in her acceptance speech that, although she is receiving massive encouragement from the public, all but a few of her fellow Penn professors have abandoned her. One or two expressed sympathy, but “did not want to go on the record.”

One man did go on record. This was University of Pennsylvania Trustee Emeritus and major donor Paul Levy. Make that ex-Trustee and ex-donor. Levy wrote to Penn President Amy Gutmann, “Preventing Wax from teaching first-year students doesn’t right academic or social wrongs. Rather, you are suppressing what is crucial to the liberal educational project: open, robust and critical debate over differing views of important social issues.”

Levy resigned his board seats. Wax is still employed by Penn and has no plans to back down from the fight. You can help her cause by spreading the word and forwarding this article to your friends, especially those in academia.

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  • Karen

    It certainly takes lots of courage to announce that you think black people are genetically stupid. As for what she actually said, there are very few black students at Penn Law School. After her announcement, anyone interviewing students at Penn could quite easily infer that said black student had poor grades. Also, since the grades are confidential, how could she even suggest that she knows the class rank of graduating black students? She has no evidence for this. Lawyers are not supposed to have opinions without evidence. Finally, being relieved from teaching a burdensome first year class is anything but punishment. She gets to keep the good parts of her job AND get all that sweet sweet wingnut welfare your side dished out to the mediocrities who keep your special little snowflake minds contained in their bubble.

    • Darin H

      You bring so much Christian love to these discussions. Thank you, so much, dear sister.

      • Karen

        Sometimes Christian love requires harsh language. Amy Wax did something that lands somewhere between stupid and evil, and deserves to be called out for it. Anyone who thinks announcing that black people are inferior in our society is both stupid and evil, so the organization that treated her quite boring bit as academic bravery deserves every bit of scorn that can be heaped on them.

        • Darin H

          Yeah, right. Tell that to the Judge.

          “I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.” Matthew 12:36

          • Karen

            Professor Wax has much more to worry about than I do.

          • GPS Daddy

            Whether Wax has more to worry about than you do is irrelevant. We all have that judge to worry about.

          • D McGovern

            Your arguments are pathetic and aren’t even arguments. As for Christian? Do me a favour, dear, go and read what Jesus actually said.

        • Kevin Carr

          Quote where she said blacks are stupid. She did say she hasn’t seen any graduate at the top of the class and believes it is due to affirmative action policies. Very differing statements.

          • Karen

            She said that in the context of a conversation in which she offers the opinion that blacks are unsuited to competitive institutions, even those who were actually admitted to those institutions. She assumes that black people are automatically too dumb for the Ivy League. How is that anything other than ‘blacks are inferior?’

          • Charles Burge

            That’s a complete misrepresentation of what she said, and you know it.

          • B-Real

            No, she doesn’t….

            She wouldn’t make Ivy league either….

          • Kevin Carr

            What was the exact statement, please?

        • Kevin B

          That isn’t what Wax said; you’ve misinterpreted and misconstrued the obvious.

          • B-Real

            She had to be dramatic….

        • pngmac

          “Amy Wax did something that lands somewhere between
          stupid and evil, and deserves to be called out for it.” Interesting. I
          recently read Luke 11:37-54. Check it out. Jesus was an invited guest at a Pharisee’s home for a meal. In the first recorded sentence of dialogue Jesus accuses his host of being “full of greed and wickedness.” In the very next sentence he says his host and all his host’s mates are fools! A lawyer recognized all this as insulting and acknowledged that Jesus’ insults included him and his lawyer mates and told Jesus so. Jesus’ responded with three more woes specifically for the lawyers. Not surprisingly the Pharisees responded by trying “to catch him in something he might say.” Apparently what Jesus already said was not enough “to catch him.” Perhaps the Pharisees recognized the truth of what Jesus said. Still, I think that in this age, many of us Christians would say that both Jesus and John the Baptist (see Mt. 14:1-12) got what they deserved.

        • She didn’t say that blacks are inferior in our society, Karen. You just did that. She said that blacks perform poorly in law school, in particular in the mandatory class that she has taught for several years.

        • B-Real

          I reckon crime statistics isn’t your game….

          I know…. A SPELLING CONTEST!!

    • Andrew Mason

      Where did Wax say Black students are stupid? She said that affirmative action is harmful, that Black students accepted into programs because they’re Black, rather than because they’ve proven their academic competency, result in mediocre outcomes. She acknowledged having had a couple who were above average, but that they were outliers. And since she would have done (or overseen) the marking isn’t it obvious how she knows the marks of students? As for losing the class, it was intended as a punishment. Whether it proves to be is of course another matter.

    • Blacks are dumber than whites. This is not controversial. Literally every single test ever done shows this. School grades, graduation rates, and standardized testing shows this. You see it in the real world. Job hiring and performance testing was banned by courts because blacks couldn’t pass the tests that whites easily passed.

      Denying that blacks are dumber than whites is like saying the Earth is flat. But then, Karen’s comment above includes several other deceitful, obtuse, and wrong-headed statements. At least she’s consistent.

      • PN8891

        What do you mean that the courts banned “job hiring”? I see people getting hired for jobs all the time.

        • PN8891

          As for the claim that tests show blacks are dumber than whites, I would suggest that you look up the definition of a “confounding variable.” If someone who is black (and grows up in a single-parent home in a situation where there’s social pressure to join a gang) doesn’t do as well in school as someone who is white (and grows up in a two-parent home where his parents help him with homework at night because they actually graduated and know how to do it), you’re going to need to argue pretty hard to prove that it’s the skin color that made the difference.

          • B-Real

            The military has proven this fact multiple times. Both backgrounds being similar.

          • PN8891

            The military has proven what? That blacks are dumber than whites, or that “job hiring” has been banned? Because I’m not convinced of either one.

    • B-Real

      Facts don’t care about feelings.

  • JP

    More conservative adults and parents need to go back universities and take classes from profs who are liberal and confront them with their lies. Forget grades. Just get in their faces with truth.

    • Andrew Mason

      How many liberal lecturers can’t deal with the truth though? How many will insist such folk be banned from their classes? Certainly an interesting idea but one likely to lead to legal action I fear.

      • Lining up to get whacked down worked for Gandhi.
        Let it go to legal action. A university class is a service. If you pay for the service, it must be provided. And every university has an official policy of academic openness. Call them on it, but be polite – and get it on camera or microphone. Check your State’s recording consent policies first, of course.

    • Bojaws Dubois

      This is a great example of a horrible idea. If conservatives want to make any difference there are ways to do that. Enter the education profession. Support conservative schools and after school activities. Be a mentor or tutor. There are so many things one can do. Being a jerk isn’t one of them. Sadly that seems to be the most common approach though

      • Being a jerk works. It’s worked for the Left for the last 80 years, hasn’t it? The squeaky wheel gets the grease. And by making loud noises, you let the other conservatives know that they are not alone.

      • Alice Cheshire

        Depends on how you define “get in their face with the truth”. Seems libs have no problem bullying and attacking anyone who disagrees but others are just to roll over and play dead? Being a “jerk” most commonly means disagreeing, no matter what the tone. There’s nothing wrong with your ideas, but being nice to bullies just leads to being owned and enslaved by bullies. It’s always been that way.

      • B-Real

        Ah, be meek and meager, you people love that.

        • Bojaws Dubois

          You see, your mind is so screwed up that you can’t understand what I’m saying. You want to yell at and complain to the milder of clay because you don’t like what he’s making, basically throwing yourself on the ground kicking and screaming like a child. This is what you’ve been taught to do.

          What I’m suggesting is that we make our own objects out of clay. You don’t like what teachers are teaching? Teach. You don’t like what’s on tv. Make your own entertainment. You don’t like colleges. Start a conservative college.

          Or just whine and moan like Danielle Bregoli. You seem to be good at that

          • B-Real

            Eat a d@ck. I don’t have to become a professor in order to have an opinion.


    • Jed

      I agree.
      Be polite. Raise your hand.
      Calmly ask a concise, yes/no question.
      Let it hang in the air.
      As for grades and recommendations: (I know this from experience)
      Know the process for filing a grievance, and press it. It works.

      When seeking a letter of recommendation, don’t waive your right to review it.
      The 1974 Student File Review act provides for this right.
      The standard form to request a letter of recommendation directs the student to check the box and “sign the form” right under the waiver to this right.

      What joy when a professor came back to me and said I “forget” to check and sign.
      No, professor, I did not.
      It was the BEST recommendation … and the BEST recourse … I ever received.

  • Belaam

    “Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. 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.”

    Yet another Anti-Trumper.

    • ncsugrant

      It turns out that Mr. Trump is not actually the subject of every article. Some people seem so obsessed with the man that they must frame EVERYTHING in terms of Mr. Trump.
      Are you among them?
      What this brave woman said SHOULD be apolitical. What could a sensible person possible object to?

      • BookMDanno

        NOTHING anymore is “apolitical.”

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