Category: Gamaliel Isaac

Amy Wax and Free Speech at Penn


In August 2017, Amy Wax, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and Larry Alexander, a law professor at the University of San Diego, wrote an article arguing that we are paying the price for the loss of values that we had up to the mid-60s. They listed those values as:

“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.”

They argued that these values are superior to what we have today such as “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.”

One could hardly imagine a more innocuous article, yet the blowback has been escalating ever since and Black Lives Matter plans to sow chaos on Penn’s campus if Dr. Wax is not fired.

Note that while single parenthood is a bigger problem in the black community than in the white community, Amy Wax and Larry Alexander went out of their way to describe it as a characteristic of the white community, because they wanted to stress that people from all segments of our society have lost the values of the past. Wax emphasized that “Bourgeois values aren’t just for white people,” and that “bourgeois values can help minorities get ahead” in an interview about her article with the Daily Pennsylvanian.

The efforts of Wax and Alexander to be evenhanded didn’t protect them from false accusations of racism and white supremacism from organizations at Penn. It didn’t stop 33 Penn Law faculty members from publishing a letter in the Daily Pennsylvanian condemning Amy Wax.

Why such a negative reaction to the Wax’s accurate pinpointing of problems that need to be addressed in Western society?

The Penn professors condemned Wax for saying that “All Cultures are not equal” and for saying that Anglo-Protestant cultural norms are superior but did not explain why they found those statements so offensive. Neither did GET-UP, a graduate student organization that issued a statement that called her views hateful and regressive. Their statement also condemned the “presence of toxic racist, sexist, homophobic attitudes on campus.” Haley Pilgrim, the chair of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access and Leadership Council said Wax should no longer be allowed to teach a mandatory first-year course because it places students affected by the public comments in an unfair learning environment. Why it was an unfair to learn from someone who believes society used to have better values, Haley did not explain.

An answer to why the left reacted in this way can be found in a debate that Wax with Duke Professor Erwin Chemerinsky. Dr. Chemerinsky and others in the audience expressed the concern that Amy Wax was blaming blacks for their problems instead of white people, thus absolving white people of their obligation to pay more and more to help black people Wax’s response was

“if you look across the nation, you see that school districts like Washington DC and Philadelphia which are almost exclusively African-American have some of the highest per pupil spending in the country and have achieved some of the worst results and that is because education is not something that one does to people, it is something that people do for themselves.”

She pointed out that when blacks went to the same schools as whites, many performed worse. “They’ve got a mother who’s got a sort of revolving door of boyfriends, they have a chaotic home situation they have an unreliable parental familial setting” and “they’ve got violence-ridden communities.” She explained that “violence is not something that comes down from the sky, violence is something that people do, it involves choices that people make. Nothing that the white community does forces an individual to pick up a gun, aim that gun at another person, and shoot it. Nothing that some white person does will force a black person to abandon the mother of his child.” No government program is going to stop people from making these choices. Wax stressed that only the black community can choose better values; no one can do it for them and those values are essential for success.

From the left-wing perspective, Wax had committed two major heresies, in so doing threatening help for the oppressed. According to the left-wing narrative, evil white racists are responsible for the problems innocent oppressed blacks are having, and therefore owe reparations in the form of more money and more affirmative action. Wax challenged the narrative that all whites are racists, stating that white society used to have good values. She threatened the belief that whites should redistribute more and more of their money to blacks by suggesting that a dominant cause of the problems blacks have today has to do with choices they make and wouldn’t be fixed even if whites gave more money.

Opponents of Dr. Wax found ammunition to use against her in a video of an interview on the Glen Loury show in September 2017. Wax stated, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a black student graduate in the top quarter of the class,” and “rarely in the top half.” Wax made that statement while explaining to Loury that efforts to help blacks by placing them in highly competitive environments for which they were unready might hurt more than help. This argument has been made by others, including by Thomas Sowell in his book Preferential Policies.

Penn Law students and alumni signed a petition demanding that law school dean Ted Ruger take action against Wax’s “false and deeply offensive claims.” The petition called for Ruger to dismiss Wax’s claims and to remove her from teaching first-year courses and from committees involving the direction of the law school. On March 13, Ruger attempted to appease the activists, announcing that Wax would no longer teach the first-year course. His excuse was that although she had the right to free speech, she had violated Penn policy by revealing student grades when saying that she didn’t know of blacks who had graduated in the top half of their class. He also yielded to the demand that he deny her claims and said that black law students “have graduated at the top of their class at Penn law.” With that statement, Ruger violated the same policy against revealing student grades.

Of course, appeasement never works. Four days later, Asa Khalif, the leader of Pennsylvania Black Lives Matter,  told the Philadelphia Tribune that he wants Wax fired and that he is prepared to disrupt classes and other campus activities if she isn’t. BLM has probably done more to hurt blacks than any other organization, spreading a false narrative of police brutality which resulted in reduced policing and more black-on-black violence.

Did Wax tell the truth about black performance at Penn? We don’t have access to student grades, but we can get a clue from a study that showed that the elimination of race-based admissions policies would lead to a 63% decline in black matriculants at all law schools and a 90% decline at elite law schools. Heather MacDonald wrote in the Wall Street Journal that

“In the early 1990s, the Law School Admissions Council tracked 27,000 students at nearly 90% of all accredited law schools. Of the 2,000 students attending the most “elite” law schools, 52% of blacks were in the bottom tenth of their class, compared with 6% of whites. Only 8% of blacks were in the top half of their class. Bar failure rates were also skewed; the LSAC data showed that 19% of blacks graduating from these elite schools failed the bar, compared with 3.5% of whites.”

Putting black students in a position where they fail the bar after accruing enormous debt at an elite law school is not helping them.

Ironically, the loss of values leading to poor performance are in part a result of white efforts to help blacks. Sowell’s explanation of this is that white efforts to help black people with welfare have been very harmful to the black community.

By substituting the government for fathers as a breadwinner for children, government welfare has reduced the incentive for black women to get married with the result that many black children grow up in single families. Welfare also created an incentive for black women to have as many babies as possible since they get increased benefits for each. As a result, many black children lack a supportive environment that encourages educational achievement.

Amy Wax is right in claiming that the government can’t force blacks to make good choices, but our public schools can stop indoctrinating black children that they are helpless victims of racism. Instead, schools could teach them that if they work hard, they can succeed — maybe even become president of the United States. More importantly, our schools, instead of indoctrinating blacks that they live in a racist society, could start addressing the problem of black racism and teach that all racist beliefs, whether black or white, are wrong.

In August 2017, Amy Wax, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and Larry Alexander, a law professor at the University of San Diego, wrote an article arguing that we are paying the price for the loss of values that we had up to the mid-60s. They listed those values as:

“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.”

They argued that these values are superior to what we have today such as “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.”

One could hardly imagine a more innocuous article, yet the blowback has been escalating ever since and Black Lives Matter plans to sow chaos on Penn’s campus if Dr. Wax is not fired.

Note that while single parenthood is a bigger problem in the black community than in the white community, Amy Wax and Larry Alexander went out of their way to describe it as a characteristic of the white community, because they wanted to stress that people from all segments of our society have lost the values of the past. Wax emphasized that “Bourgeois values aren’t just for white people,” and that “bourgeois values can help minorities get ahead” in an interview about her article with the Daily Pennsylvanian.

The efforts of Wax and Alexander to be evenhanded didn’t protect them from false accusations of racism and white supremacism from organizations at Penn. It didn’t stop 33 Penn Law faculty members from publishing a letter in the Daily Pennsylvanian condemning Amy Wax.

Why such a negative reaction to the Wax’s accurate pinpointing of problems that need to be addressed in Western society?

The Penn professors condemned Wax for saying that “All Cultures are not equal” and for saying that Anglo-Protestant cultural norms are superior but did not explain why they found those statements so offensive. Neither did GET-UP, a graduate student organization that issued a statement that called her views hateful and regressive. Their statement also condemned the “presence of toxic racist, sexist, homophobic attitudes on campus.” Haley Pilgrim, the chair of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access and Leadership Council said Wax should no longer be allowed to teach a mandatory first-year course because it places students affected by the public comments in an unfair learning environment. Why it was an unfair to learn from someone who believes society used to have better values, Haley did not explain.

An answer to why the left reacted in this way can be found in a debate that Wax with Duke Professor Erwin Chemerinsky. Dr. Chemerinsky and others in the audience expressed the concern that Amy Wax was blaming blacks for their problems instead of white people, thus absolving white people of their obligation to pay more and more to help black people Wax’s response was

“if you look across the nation, you see that school districts like Washington DC and Philadelphia which are almost exclusively African-American have some of the highest per pupil spending in the country and have achieved some of the worst results and that is because education is not something that one does to people, it is something that people do for themselves.”

She pointed out that when blacks went to the same schools as whites, many performed worse. “They’ve got a mother who’s got a sort of revolving door of boyfriends, they have a chaotic home situation they have an unreliable parental familial setting” and “they’ve got violence-ridden communities.” She explained that “violence is not something that comes down from the sky, violence is something that people do, it involves choices that people make. Nothing that the white community does forces an individual to pick up a gun, aim that gun at another person, and shoot it. Nothing that some white person does will force a black person to abandon the mother of his child.” No government program is going to stop people from making these choices. Wax stressed that only the black community can choose better values; no one can do it for them and those values are essential for success.

From the left-wing perspective, Wax had committed two major heresies, in so doing threatening help for the oppressed. According to the left-wing narrative, evil white racists are responsible for the problems innocent oppressed blacks are having, and therefore owe reparations in the form of more money and more affirmative action. Wax challenged the narrative that all whites are racists, stating that white society used to have good values. She threatened the belief that whites should redistribute more and more of their money to blacks by suggesting that a dominant cause of the problems blacks have today has to do with choices they make and wouldn’t be fixed even if whites gave more money.

Opponents of Dr. Wax found ammunition to use against her in a video of an interview on the Glen Loury show in September 2017. Wax stated, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a black student graduate in the top quarter of the class,” and “rarely in the top half.” Wax made that statement while explaining to Loury that efforts to help blacks by placing them in highly competitive environments for which they were unready might hurt more than help. This argument has been made by others, including by Thomas Sowell in his book Preferential Policies.

Penn Law students and alumni signed a petition demanding that law school dean Ted Ruger take action against Wax’s “false and deeply offensive claims.” The petition called for Ruger to dismiss Wax’s claims and to remove her from teaching first-year courses and from committees involving the direction of the law school. On March 13, Ruger attempted to appease the activists, announcing that Wax would no longer teach the first-year course. His excuse was that although she had the right to free speech, she had violated Penn policy by revealing student grades when saying that she didn’t know of blacks who had graduated in the top half of their class. He also yielded to the demand that he deny her claims and said that black law students “have graduated at the top of their class at Penn law.” With that statement, Ruger violated the same policy against revealing student grades.

Of course, appeasement never works. Four days later, Asa Khalif, the leader of Pennsylvania Black Lives Matter,  told the Philadelphia Tribune that he wants Wax fired and that he is prepared to disrupt classes and other campus activities if she isn’t. BLM has probably done more to hurt blacks than any other organization, spreading a false narrative of police brutality which resulted in reduced policing and more black-on-black violence.

Did Wax tell the truth about black performance at Penn? We don’t have access to student grades, but we can get a clue from a study that showed that the elimination of race-based admissions policies would lead to a 63% decline in black matriculants at all law schools and a 90% decline at elite law schools. Heather MacDonald wrote in the Wall Street Journal that

“In the early 1990s, the Law School Admissions Council tracked 27,000 students at nearly 90% of all accredited law schools. Of the 2,000 students attending the most “elite” law schools, 52% of blacks were in the bottom tenth of their class, compared with 6% of whites. Only 8% of blacks were in the top half of their class. Bar failure rates were also skewed; the LSAC data showed that 19% of blacks graduating from these elite schools failed the bar, compared with 3.5% of whites.”

Putting black students in a position where they fail the bar after accruing enormous debt at an elite law school is not helping them.

Ironically, the loss of values leading to poor performance are in part a result of white efforts to help blacks. Sowell’s explanation of this is that white efforts to help black people with welfare have been very harmful to the black community.

By substituting the government for fathers as a breadwinner for children, government welfare has reduced the incentive for black women to get married with the result that many black children grow up in single families. Welfare also created an incentive for black women to have as many babies as possible since they get increased benefits for each. As a result, many black children lack a supportive environment that encourages educational achievement.

Amy Wax is right in claiming that the government can’t force blacks to make good choices, but our public schools can stop indoctrinating black children that they are helpless victims of racism. Instead, schools could teach them that if they work hard, they can succeed — maybe even become president of the United States. More importantly, our schools, instead of indoctrinating blacks that they live in a racist society, could start addressing the problem of black racism and teach that all racist beliefs, whether black or white, are wrong.



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Leftists Declare War on Thomas The Train


A conservative cynic from birth, I foolishly thought I had seen it all when it came to leftist madness. But then I saw, posted on CNN’s website, “Why kids love ‘fascist’ cartoons like ‘Paw Patrol’ and ‘Thomas’.” The article referenced several other articles that described Thomas as “a premodern corporate-totalitarian dystopia,” “imperialist racist and sinister,” and “classist, sexist, and anti-environmentalist.”

This caught my attention because my six-year-old boy — like children all over the world — loves stories of Thomas the Train. I recently took my children to Thomasland in Massachusetts and now my boy wants to visit the Thomasland in Japan. The Thomas cartoon is so popular that 1 billion dollars of merchandise related to the show is sold every year.

Reverend Wilbert Audrey, creator of Thomas the Train, has recounted how, when his 3-year-old son was ill with the measles, he told him stories about trains. Audrey says that in his own childhood he had to read boring books about perfect children so that he would learn from their moral example. He decided to write interesting books about engines with human characteristics in a fictional island he called Sodor. The trains would push the envelope until they got in trouble, be punished, and after making amends would be “bought back into the family so to speak.” Morality in the world of Thomas was making oneself useful to society, being a good friend, and keeping the railroad functioning smoothly. The human aspect of his trains is part of their appeal to children and the moral aspect of his stories was part of their appeal to the adults who read the stories to their children.

Now left-wing critics label the Thomas the Train show “racist” because the diesel villain is black. They call it totalitarian because trains are supposed to do what the manager of the rails, Sir Topham Hat, tells them to do. They call it sexist because there are more male trains than female trains. (In 2013 the British Labour shadow Transportation Secretary actually called out Thomas for its lack of females.) When Thomas is awarded two female passenger cars to pull because of good behavior, the feminists call this sexist too.

The leftists are particularly offended by the stories of Henry in the Tunnel and Toad Stands By. Henry the Train decides that rather than contribute to society he’d prefer to stay in a tunnel. Despite the best efforts of Sir Topham Hat to get Henry out of the tunnel Henry refuses to budge and Sir Topham Hat teaches him a lesson by locking him into the tunnel with a brick wall. The New Yorker quotes a commenter as saying “What moral lesson are kids supposed to learn from this? Do as you’re told or you will be entombed forever in the darkness to die?” In the next episode Henry, miserable in the tunnel, becomes willing to help again and is released. The New Yorker critic doesn’t mention that. In Toad Stands By bullying trains, otherwise known as the troublesome trucks, are taught a lesson by Oscar the locomotive, whom they had picked on. Oscar pulls the bullying trains behind him when they decide to cause trouble and not move. Oscar fights back by pulling very hard and the leader of the bullies, Scruffey, who is behind him bursts in half. The New Yorker quotes a commenter as writing: “I guess the lesson is that if someone is bullying you, kill them?” In the next story Scruffey is repaired and the troublesome trucks learn never to cause trouble for Oscar again. You are not told that by the author of The New Yorker article.

In yet another episode a nasty double-decker bus named Bulgy comes to the station and talks about revolution — “Free the roads from railway tyranny!” he cries. The New Yorker writes “He is quickly labelled a “scarlet deceiver,” trapped under a bridge, and turned into a henhouse.” Actually Bulgy deceives passengers into riding on his bus and gets stuck under a bridge. Too damaged to move, Bulgy becomes a home for hens. Once Bulgy is willing to make amends and be useful to society he is forgiven and repaired.

Why do leftists distort and demonize Thomas stories? Leftists do not like the idea that punishment and discipline are a good thing because it implies that the fault lies with those who misbehave instead of with society. That is one of the reasons that the anti-discipline policies of leftist Mayor DeBlasio and former president Obama have increased the discipline problems in New York City schools.

In the leftist worldview society is the guilty party and therefore revolutionaries are heroes. Reverend Audrey’s portrayal of a revolutionary as a nasty bus whose revolution gets him stuck under a bridge and keeps his passengers from getting to their destination is not a message they like. Even worse he becomes a home for hens instead of great revolutionary. He even stops being a revolutionary and starts to contribute to society. It is no wonder that a critic of Thomas ends his article in Slate by writing “Cast off your shackles and rise up, little engines! Down with Topham Hatt! Sodor revolution now!”

The leftist reaction to Thomas is a demonstration of the sick tendency of the left to demonize those they don’t like and to distort what they say. I told my 6-year-old son that I was writing this article to answer those who attack his favorite show he said “Tell them that whatever is wrong with Thomas is just little mistakes and that Thomas is very nice and teaches children a lot about trains.”

A conservative cynic from birth, I foolishly thought I had seen it all when it came to leftist madness. But then I saw, posted on CNN’s website, “Why kids love ‘fascist’ cartoons like ‘Paw Patrol’ and ‘Thomas’.” The article referenced several other articles that described Thomas as “a premodern corporate-totalitarian dystopia,” “imperialist racist and sinister,” and “classist, sexist, and anti-environmentalist.”

This caught my attention because my six-year-old boy — like children all over the world — loves stories of Thomas the Train. I recently took my children to Thomasland in Massachusetts and now my boy wants to visit the Thomasland in Japan. The Thomas cartoon is so popular that 1 billion dollars of merchandise related to the show is sold every year.

Reverend Wilbert Audrey, creator of Thomas the Train, has recounted how, when his 3-year-old son was ill with the measles, he told him stories about trains. Audrey says that in his own childhood he had to read boring books about perfect children so that he would learn from their moral example. He decided to write interesting books about engines with human characteristics in a fictional island he called Sodor. The trains would push the envelope until they got in trouble, be punished, and after making amends would be “bought back into the family so to speak.” Morality in the world of Thomas was making oneself useful to society, being a good friend, and keeping the railroad functioning smoothly. The human aspect of his trains is part of their appeal to children and the moral aspect of his stories was part of their appeal to the adults who read the stories to their children.

Now left-wing critics label the Thomas the Train show “racist” because the diesel villain is black. They call it totalitarian because trains are supposed to do what the manager of the rails, Sir Topham Hat, tells them to do. They call it sexist because there are more male trains than female trains. (In 2013 the British Labour shadow Transportation Secretary actually called out Thomas for its lack of females.) When Thomas is awarded two female passenger cars to pull because of good behavior, the feminists call this sexist too.

The leftists are particularly offended by the stories of Henry in the Tunnel and Toad Stands By. Henry the Train decides that rather than contribute to society he’d prefer to stay in a tunnel. Despite the best efforts of Sir Topham Hat to get Henry out of the tunnel Henry refuses to budge and Sir Topham Hat teaches him a lesson by locking him into the tunnel with a brick wall. The New Yorker quotes a commenter as saying “What moral lesson are kids supposed to learn from this? Do as you’re told or you will be entombed forever in the darkness to die?” In the next episode Henry, miserable in the tunnel, becomes willing to help again and is released. The New Yorker critic doesn’t mention that. In Toad Stands By bullying trains, otherwise known as the troublesome trucks, are taught a lesson by Oscar the locomotive, whom they had picked on. Oscar pulls the bullying trains behind him when they decide to cause trouble and not move. Oscar fights back by pulling very hard and the leader of the bullies, Scruffey, who is behind him bursts in half. The New Yorker quotes a commenter as writing: “I guess the lesson is that if someone is bullying you, kill them?” In the next story Scruffey is repaired and the troublesome trucks learn never to cause trouble for Oscar again. You are not told that by the author of The New Yorker article.

In yet another episode a nasty double-decker bus named Bulgy comes to the station and talks about revolution — “Free the roads from railway tyranny!” he cries. The New Yorker writes “He is quickly labelled a “scarlet deceiver,” trapped under a bridge, and turned into a henhouse.” Actually Bulgy deceives passengers into riding on his bus and gets stuck under a bridge. Too damaged to move, Bulgy becomes a home for hens. Once Bulgy is willing to make amends and be useful to society he is forgiven and repaired.

Why do leftists distort and demonize Thomas stories? Leftists do not like the idea that punishment and discipline are a good thing because it implies that the fault lies with those who misbehave instead of with society. That is one of the reasons that the anti-discipline policies of leftist Mayor DeBlasio and former president Obama have increased the discipline problems in New York City schools.

In the leftist worldview society is the guilty party and therefore revolutionaries are heroes. Reverend Audrey’s portrayal of a revolutionary as a nasty bus whose revolution gets him stuck under a bridge and keeps his passengers from getting to their destination is not a message they like. Even worse he becomes a home for hens instead of great revolutionary. He even stops being a revolutionary and starts to contribute to society. It is no wonder that a critic of Thomas ends his article in Slate by writing “Cast off your shackles and rise up, little engines! Down with Topham Hatt! Sodor revolution now!”

The leftist reaction to Thomas is a demonstration of the sick tendency of the left to demonize those they don’t like and to distort what they say. I told my 6-year-old son that I was writing this article to answer those who attack his favorite show he said “Tell them that whatever is wrong with Thomas is just little mistakes and that Thomas is very nice and teaches children a lot about trains.”



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