The dean at one of the country’s top law schools is calling comments from a professor at the university “racist” and “anti-intellectual” after she said the influx of “Asian elites” in the US is dangerous and problematic.
Theodore Rugers, the dean at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, issued a statement Monday about comments law professor Amy Wax made during an interview on December 19 with Glenn Loury, a Brown University professor who hosts weekly conversations online about race and inequality.
“Once again, Amy Wax has, through her thoroughly anti-intellectual and racist comments denigrating Asian immigrants, underscored a fundamental tension around harmful speech at American universities,” Rugers said in an online statement.
“Like all racist generalizations, Wax’s recent comments inflict harm by perpetuating stereotypes and placing differential burdens on Asian students, faculty, and staff to carry the weight of this vitriol and bias.”
During last month’s interview, titled “Contesting American Identity,” Wax called the dominance of “Asian elite” in the United States a “danger.”
Loury countered by asking what would be wrong with “having a lot of Chinese or Indian or Korean engineers, physicians, computer scientists, and whatnot, running around here creating value, enlivening the society? I mean, I don’t see how we lose from that.”
“If you go into medical schools, you’ll see that Indians, South Asians are now rising stars in medicine, they’re sort of the new Jews, I guess you could say,” Wax, who is Jewish, said during the interview, and went on to say diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives are “poisoning the scientific establishment and the medical establishment now.”
CNN has reached out Wax for comment.
“Why should someone who emigrated from India and has taken advantage of everything our society has to offer, who is leading the good life, who is part of the elite … why shouldn’t that person be objectively grateful? And, you know, recognize overtly all the wonderful things about our country?” she said, in reference to South Asian female doctors criticizing the US for racism.
After the interview aired, Loury posted an email he got from a viewer and alongside it was the response from Wax herself, to which she said, “as long as most Asian supports Democrats and help to advance their positions,” she thinks the US “is better off with fewer Asians and less Asian immigration.”
Previously ousted from first-year classes after saying Black students never graduated top of their class
Wax has come under fire previously and was even removed from teaching mandatory first-year courses in 2018 after making derogatory remarks about the academic performance of Black students.
During another interview with Loury in 2017, Wax said that Black students at Penn Law never graduated in the top quarter of their class.
“Here is a very inconvenient fact Glenn, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Black student graduate in the top quarter of the class and rarely, rarely in the top half,” Wax told Loury at the time.
In announcing that she would no longer teach the mandatory first-year courses in March 2018, Ruger denied Wax’s claim and said “(B)lack students have graduated in the top of the class at Penn Law.”
Even though Wax’s speech may be protected, Ruger said in his most recent statement that the law school will not ignore the “real harms such speech causes.”
CNN reached out to Penn Law though it’s unclear if any disciplinary action will be taken against Wax.
“I thought that Amy’s comments, in places, were outrageous,” Loury told CNN in a statement Wednesday. “I said as much during the interview what she said about the Asians could have been said, and was said, about the Jews not so long ago. Today we call that antisemitism.”
In Ruger’s statement, he distanced Penn Law’s beliefs from Wax’s by saying her views “are diametrically opposed to the policies and ethos of this institution.”
“They serve as a persistent and tangible reminder that racism, sexism, and xenophobia are not theoretical abstractions but are real and insidious beliefs in this country and in our building.”