Don't just revile Amy Wax--rebut herRoundup
tags: racism, academia, Amy Wax, White Nationalism
Jonathan Zimmerman teaches education and history at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Campus Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press) and six other books.
Asian Americans represent 5 percent of American public high school students and 22.9 percent of Harvard University’s freshman class. Last year, ACT results showed that every racial group took a dip in their average scores, except one: Asian Americans. Unsurprisingly, they also have the highest rate of participation in test-prep courses.
But law professor Amy Wax reportedly thinks the United States should favor “first-world” immigrants who are mostly white over “third-world” immigrants who aren’t, because people in the first category are more likely to share our national values of individualism, hard work and the rule of law.
That’s what Wax told a conference in Washington earlier this month, triggering outrage at the University of Pennsylvania -- where Wax and I both teach -- and beyond. More than 1,000 people signed petitions calling on the university to relieve her of her teaching duties or to fire her altogether.
Meanwhile, the dean of Penn’s law school released a statement describing Wax’s comments as “repugnant” and at odds with the university’s core values. “At best, the reported remarks espouse a bigoted theory of white cultural and ethnic supremacy; at worst, they are racist,” Dean Ted Ruger wrote.
But simply calling Wax’s comments racist -- and leaving it at that -- actually forsakes our foremost institutional value, which is knowledge itself. I understand and share the public outrage at Wax’s remarks, but outrage does not and cannot refute what Wax said. Only facts can do that.
And the facts are not on her side. The idea that that people from the first world (which is mostly white) make better Americans than people from the third world (which is mostly nonwhite) isn’t just bigoted. It’s also false.
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