- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 31, 2017

A law professor at the University of Pennsylvania wrote an op-ed encouraging young people to live by “bourgeois” values — including hard work, self-discipline and waiting until marriage to have children — and students accused her of racism.

In the op-ed, published Aug. 9 in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Amy Wax and co-author Larry Alexander, a law professor at the University of San Diego, argued that not all cultures are created equal.

“Or at least they are not equal in preparing people to be productive in an advanced economy,” the authors wrote. “The culture of the Plains Indians was designed for nomadic hunters, but is not suited to a First World, 21st-century environment. Nor are the single-parent, antisocial habits, prevalent among some working-class whites; the anti-‘acting white’ rap culture of inner-city blacks; the anti-assimilation ideas gaining ground among some Hispanic immigrants.

“These cultural orientations are not only incompatible with what an advanced free-market economy and a viable democracy require, they are also destructive of a sense of solidarity and reciprocity among Americans,” they wrote.

The law professors encouraged a return to the bourgeois values that characterized the generation that fought World War II.

“That culture laid out the script we all were supposed to follow: Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake,” they wrote. “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.”

It didn’t take long for students at the Ivy League university to take notice of the op-ed.

In a statement issued Aug. 11, the Penn graduate student union, GET-UP, condemned the “presence of toxic racist, sexist, homophobic attitudes on campus.”

“This is not an issue of academic freedom; we have no comment on her academic work,” the graduate students wrote. “The superiority of one race over others is not an academic debate we have in the 21st century; it is racism masquerading as science.”

The IDEAL Council, a coalition of “marginalized graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania,” followed up with a list of eight demands to the university, including the issuance of a “statement from the university specifically designating racist, homophobic, sexist, transphobic speech as hate speech.”

They said the university’s silence “creates and maintains a hostile environment for marginalized students on campus.”

In an interview with the Daily Pennsylvanian, the Ivy League university’s student newspaper, Ms. Wax said bourgeois values “aren’t just for white people.”

“The irony is: Bourgeois values can help minorities get ahead,” she said.

Ms. Wax said the Western world isn’t perfect and has committed heinous crimes in the past. But she said that shouldn’t be used to blot out its remarkable achievements and the superiority of its values.

“I don’t shrink from the word, ‘superior,’” Ms. Wax told the Pennsylvanian, adding, “Everyone wants to come to the countries that exemplify” these values. “Everyone wants to go to countries ruled by white Europeans.”

Writing at the National Review, Heather Mac Donald, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, said linking negative behaviors with poor outcomes is anathema to progressivism.

“The founding idea of contemporary progressivism is that structural and individual racism lies behind socioeconomic inequalities,” Ms. Mac Donald wrote. “Discussing bad behavioral choices and maladaptive culture is out of bounds and will be punished mercilessly by slinging at the offender the usual fusillade of ‘isms.’”

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