University of Pennsylvania Law School professor Amy Wax may come across as somewhat of an aberration at one of the high-ranking bastions of liberal academia.
That's because Wax — the Ivy League school's Robert Mundheim Professor of Law who boasts degrees from Yale, Harvard and Columbia — often stands against the left-wing tide.
Wax penned an op-ed for Philly.com Wednesday, co-written with Larry Alexander of the University of San Diego School of Law, in which she declares that our society's multifaceted breakdown can be linked to the abandonment of a long-lost cultural "script."
You know what it is: "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," she writes.
Her piece also blasts as culturally unsuitable the "single-parent, antisocial habits, prevalent among some working-class whites; the anti-'acting white' rap culture of inner-city blacks; the anti-assimilation ideas gaining ground among some Hispanic immigrants" and warns that we need to get back to old values — and fast.
In a follow-up interview with the Daily Pennsylvanian Thursday, Wax told the school paper that Anglo-Protestant cultural norms are superior.
"I don't shrink from the word, 'superior,'" she told the paper, adding that "everyone wants to come to the countries that exemplify” these values and that "everyone wants to go to countries ruled by white Europeans.”
But Wax told the paper her perspective isn't meant to imply that whites are superior.
“Bourgeois values aren’t just for white people,” she told the paper. “The irony is: Bourgeois values can help minorities get ahead.”
Someone of Wax's intellectual pedigree certainly isn't blind to the fact that her views aren't the most popular at what the school paper called "elite, Ivy League universities," which Wax added can be "totally clueless, out of touch and oblivious."
But that doesn't mean she believes that western, European governments are perfect: "It’s partly what gets the left in trouble," she told the Daily Pennsylvanian, "to tar everything that’s good with some of the crimes that undoubtedly have been committed."
Steven Barnes, a Penn Law spokesperson, had the following to say to the paper about Wax's op-ed: “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.”
Reactions to Wax's assertion that Anglo-Protestant cultural norms are superior were less diplomatic.
"Have you ever heard of colonialism, imperialism or neoliberalism?" Eashan Kumar asked. "Are you aware of what these 'countries ruled by white Europeans' have done to entire nations and communities of people, exploiting and ruining their way of life? And you think quality and value of life should be determined by how well people fit into your elitist view of success? You are clearly the totally clueless one who is out of touch and oblivious."
Another commenter offered: "Somebody should tell this lady that Anglo-Protestant culture is the worst ever as it has led to planet heating, wrecked the planet, and guaranteed the 6th extinction. The worst culture in the history of humanity."
Commenter Rich Rubin told the writer of the Daily Pennsylvanian piece that he "should be ashamed for promulgating such racist tripe."
Jara Khrys added: "Yet these 'superiors' love to culturally appropriate garments, language, and melanin from the minority. Bitch please... I'll take my Mexican, escort, tr@nny a$$ any day over that Becky." ("Becky" is slang that generally refers to white women "familiar with sexual acts." Not that such a term is racist or anything.)
More from the Daily Pennsylvanian:
At Penn, Wax has previously drawn sharp rebukes from her colleagues for taking a stance against same-sex marriage. According to a DP article from June 2006, Wax expressed support for “Ten Principles On Marriage and the Public Good,” a report that, among other things, called for marriage to be defined as solely between a man and a woman. In the previous year, she penned an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, headlined “Some Truths About Black Disadvantage,” which spawned criticism from the Black Law Students Association at the time.
“Enduring injuries to human capital are now the most destructive legacy of racism,” Wax wrote in the WSJ article. “Evidence suggests that soft behavioral factors, including low educational attainment, poor socialization and work habits, paternal abandonment, family disarray, and non-marital childbearing, now loom larger than overt exclusion as barriers to racial equality.”
After earning a degree from Harvard Medical School, the school paper said Wax moved into law and worked for eight years in the Solicitor General’s office during the Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations. She's been at Penn Law since 2001, the paper added.
This story has been updated.