A law group at the University of Pennsylvania Law School has condemned professor Amy Wax's op-ed for The Philadelphia Inquirer in which she lamented the “breakdown of the country's bourgeois” and declared that “all cultures are not equal.”
The university's chapter of the National Lawyers Guild cited the piece, which Wax co-authored along with a University of San Diego law professor, as an example of her “segregationist” worldview, “cultural elitism,” and her “explicit and implicit endorsement of white supremacy.”
“We call on the administration,” UPenn’s National Lawyers Guild wrote on its blog, “to consider more deeply the toll that this takes on students, particularly students of color and members of the LGBTQIA community, and to consider whether it is in the best interests of the school and its students for Professor Wax to continue to teach a required first-year class.”
Wax's op-ed was denounced in a letter signed by 33 of her colleagues and published in The Daily Pennsylvanian, the school's student newspaper.
The op-ed described the deterioration of a culture that “laid out the script we all were supposed to follow”:
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.
Not everything was perfect during this era, which the authors claim falls around the mid-20th century, yet “banishing discrimination and expanding opportunity does not require the demise of bourgeois culture,” they claim. Rather:
The loss of bourgeois habits seriously impeded the progress of disadvantaged groups. That trend also accelerated the destructive consequences of the growing welfare state, which, by taking over financial support of families, reduced the need for two parents. A strong pro-marriage norm might have blunted this effect. Instead, the number of single parents grew astronomically, producing children more prone to academic failure, addiction, idleness, crime, and poverty.
This cultural script began to break down in the late 1960s. A combination of factors — prosperity, the Pill, the expansion of higher education, and the doubts surrounding the Vietnam War — encouraged an antiauthoritarian, adolescent, wish-fulfillment ideal — sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll — that was unworthy of, and unworkable for, a mature, prosperous adult society. This era saw the beginnings of an identity politics that inverted the color-blind aspirations of civil rights leaders like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. into an obsession with race, ethnicity, gender, and now sexual preference.
What seemed to really ignite criticism from Wax's colleagues was the how the “single-parent, antisocial habits, prevalent among some working-class whites,” the “anti- 'acting white' rap culture of inner-city blacks,' and the ”anti-assimilation ideas gaining ground among some Hispanic immigrants" are not suited to a first world, 21st-century environment.
The authors conclude by writing that those who “live by the simple rules that most people used to accept” will have lives that go “far better than they do now.” But this will be difficult, they admit, if the “arbiters of culture” — the academics, media, and Hollywood — are not willing to “relinquish multicultural grievance polemics and the preening pretense of defending the downtrodden.”
When asked about her piece, Wax wrote in an email to The College Fix: “The first amendment does not apply to employees of a private institution.”