Alexander Riley, Senior Fellow, The Alexander Hamilton Institute (AHI) has published a detailed article in the Claremont Institute’s “The American Mind.” A professor of sociology at Bucknell University, Dr. Riley denounces an official attack on a conservative scholar named Amy Wax at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Dr. Wax has become controversial in recent years for questioning the wisdom of racial preferences, also known as reverse discrimination.
Powerful forces in our country’s academic life have become “hostile to intellectual freedom” and “subservient to moral totalitarianism and childish emotionalism,” Dr. Riley observes. They aim to crush dissenting views like those of Dr. Wax, a distinguished scholar.
“Amy Wax’s case is not just about Amy Wax. It is about all of us in higher education and everyone else with an interest in free intellectual inquiry and expression. We had better all be paying close attention.”
The June 23 letter, a 12-page report from Penn law professor and dean Theodore Ruger to the chair of the faculty senate, has been posted publicly by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Wax “is being attacked,” Riley writes, “as the representative of a whole set of heterodox intellectual frameworks and bodies of research. It is that set of ideas that Ruger and his ilk—indeed, all the academic purveyors of woke morality—want to destroy. They will do it one individual at a time … the most feasible and practical way to advance their agenda. However, the goal is not just to remove the individuals. It’s to make it impossible even to think those ideas in the contemporary university.”
With an impressive scholarly publication of his own, Riley describes the intellectual bankruptcy of Ruger’s letter. He suggests Wax’s tenure be revoked and that she be fired. Ruger’s indictment “demonstrates, with stunning clarity, just how low the standard of argument and analysis has sunk at the highest levels of American academia.” Extreme political correctness, or “wokeism,” Riley continues, “is destroying higher education.” An especially good example of its poisonous effect is “the anti-intellectual rhetoric issued by high-level administrators … when faced with perspectives with which they disagree and about which they patently know almost nothing.”
“Ruger occasionally stoops to outright dishonesty,” Riley writes, by claiming for example that Wax has “said publicly that black UPenn law students should not be in institutions of higher education. She’s said no such thing. In conversation with Glenn Loury, she discussed the well-known mismatch theory of affirmative action, which states that this policy frequently brings relatively high achieving black students to the most elite campuses where their qualifications, however comparatively good they are within their group, are poorly suited for academic success. If those students were directed instead to somewhat less demanding schools, they would do better academically and professionally.”
The smears against Wax are also based on a prevailing ignorance of which the letter is just one example. “The truth lurking behind Ruger’s rhetoric is evident,” Riley points out. “He—a dean speaking in an administrative capacity with punitive intent against a faculty member under his professional power—doesn’t know the relevant literature on which Wax is relying on to make wholly defensible statements to which he objects … He is relying on the faculty senate members being equally free of any knowledge of these academic fields, which is, unfortunately, a safe bet in today’s university.”
To help Professor Wax with legal bills, she began a GoFundMe page on July 16th.