The Character Assassination of Amy Wax and Her Response
On August 23rd, the New Yorker ran a hit piece with the sensationalized headline, “A Penn Law Professor Wants to Make America White Again.” The writer, Isaac Chotiner, had interviewed Amy Wax, who had recently received considerable attention after a speech she made at the National Conservative Conference in Washington D.C. last month. Part of the speech included the controversial comment that “we are better off if our country is dominated numerically, demographically, politically, at least in fact if not formally, by people from the first world, from the West, than by people from countries that had failed to advance.”
I decided to reach out to Professor Wax, who described the New Yorker feature as, “all part of this shallow ‘gotcha’ heresy-hunt that these young journalists are taught is so hip and cool, but of course does not require them to read anything or know anything. Intellectually it’s a dead end.”
She even told Chotiner as much when she said in their interview, “Once we’ve labeled something racist, the conversation stops.” Should it? Isn’t the point of free speech being able to discuss ideas that you might not agree with and actually make you uncomfortable, too? Why even have convictions if you won’t defend them?
Instead, the use of “hey, that’s racist” has been weaponized as a way to silence the discourse that is essential for a nation comprised of many different cultures and ethnicities, under our Founding Documents. Free speech is being limited by this single-word veto. No policy can be discussed if there is any possibility that race can be injected.
Take Wax’s views on immigration, which Chotiner used as the foundation to build his piece. Wax argues that immigration should be taken “low and slow.”
“We would just very much limit the numbers who come. We’d take it low and slow. And we would have a much better chance to incorporate and assimilate those people to whatever system we have left.”
The idea that this statement has some racist undertone is absurd. Nonwhite immigrants from the Caribbean and Nigeria, along with some Asian groups, rapidly and successfully assimilate, economically and educationally.
While her words were manipulated into a gross headline, in her own words to me, “Any reasonable person reading his intro and then the interview knows that the whole point is to pigeonhole me into those stock categories (white supremacist, racist, whatever) that are routinely trotted out these days by our ignoramus ‘young journalists’ as clickbait. The last thing they are interested in, or can handle, is the actual merit of the argument.”
She explained to Chotiner that Western culture is one of the common themes among the small handful of successful states around the globe. In her New Yorker interview, she posed her own question:
“Why are successful, peaceful, orderly, prosperous, technologically advanced, democratically sound countries so rare and so few, and why do they clump up in one tiny corner of the globe, namely Europe, the Anglosphere? We also have Japan, which is a wonder, I think, in many ways, a very admirable country. Perhaps Taiwan. And why is the rest of the world essentially consisting of, in various degrees, failed states? Why do we have a post-Enlightenment portion of the world and a pre-Enlightenment portion of the world? And I guess, to be really crude about it, you would use Trump’s succinct phrase: Why are there so many shithole countries?”
Chotiner made this seem symptomatic of some deep cultural racism simply to discredit a very valid point. In his own racist mind, he links “successful” to “white.”
She expanded in our conversation, “Not all of Europe is exemplary, to be sure. It’s really a subset of Europe that has managed to reach the commanding heights of modern civilization, despite some salient setbacks, for example awful wars. But war is the default position of mankind.”
I agree, and believe that the strong military traditions we see in successful nations, whether America or Japan or Israel, is simply a by-product of having a culture so valuable that it’s worth such an effort to defend.
More importantly, these traditions and values that do correlate to certain countries and their success, aren’t taught in college. They are embedded into children within family units, and then reinforced over a lifetime.
The reception of the New Yorker interview was just what Chotiner was going for. People called for Amy Wax to lose her position as a tenured professor at one of the most prestigious law schools in the country. Ironically, that was exactly what Wax was trying to point out in the interview; how easy the Left is riled up over this roaming idea of what constitutes racism.
Not only will progressives shut down public discourse if they’re uncomfortable with the context, but they will use any argument that alludes to some cultures being better adapted to America than others to discredit anything else that person has ever done. Racism of any conceivable nature, even imaginary, taints an entire career or even an era. This sort of thought-policing has even been used by scholars to discredit the greatest document ever written, our Constitution, on grounds that some of the Framers were racists.
I was most intrigued by Wax’s statement that “essentially what the left is saying is: We can’t even answer the question… Once we’ve labelled something as racist, the conversation stops.” When I asked her whether President Trump’s unapologetic rhetoric that stands up to this sort of Orwellian-control could combat this stifling and intellectual laziness, she said, “Not really, because progressives control the universities and the mainstream media. They are unmoved by candor and plain speaking – it just enrages them. And they go into attack mode. Much of Trump Derangement Syndrome can be explained this way.”
Professor Wax is totally correct that this does enrage modern progressives. But in the words of Sun Tzu in The Art of War, “If you know your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him.”
President Trump does not allow Leftists the free assault of calling him a racist. In fact, he hits them back with the charge. He has called “The Squad”, Rep. Elijah Cummings and even Hollywood racists. Instead of getting trapped in defending himself from this idea of veiled racism (remember: It’s impossible to prove that you aren’t a racist), he just hits them back. And the last thing modern Democrats can handle is a parallel drawn to their own racist history.
Photo credit: YouTube screen grab.