The New Yorker’s contentious interview with conservative University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax (entitled A Penn Law Professor Wants to Make America White Again) is so weird. I sensed some of this weirdness in my own analysis of Amy Wax’s (much-maligned) address to the (much-maligned) July conference on National Conservatism in Washington, DC. But she ratchets up the strangeness in her Q&A with Isaac Chotiner.
Wax is both bright and obtuse at the same time.
She generally defends free speech and free exchange of ideas. She says the progressive left has used the epithet “racism” as a club, to the degree the term has become mostly noise. These opinions make sense. They are reasonable and defensible positions. Wax’s locutions are also witty and imaginative (“[Racism] is a protean term, it is a promiscuous term, it is a term that’s trotted out as a mindless bludgeon, whatever.”). Her insights into the cultural impact of parenting and early childhood development are insightful and engaging (as Jewish woman herself, she wonder, “Why are Jews so Jewy?”). But her specific claims about “shithole countries” are mostly dumb, and not so much offensive as silly.
Litter is the tell.
While Amy Wax is a tenured law professor who has argued cases before the Supreme Court, her ventures into social and political theory and cultural explanation are juvenile in their simplicity and errancy. Indeed, in the Q&A, she freely admits she doesn’t know much about this immigration stuff. She emphasizes the importance of “reality and facts” over “political correctness,” but then fails entirely to offer any facts or data to uphold her views that non-Anglo immigrants from failed states will simply, and inevitably, fuck things up.
In the end, what Amy leaves us with, in both her address to the National Conservatism conference and in her New Yorker Q&A, are anecdotes and nostrums about litter. Amy Wax hates litter and she likes “decorous, neat, clean, quiet, litter-free, beautifully maintained, orderly places” one finds in non-urban, ethnically pure, Anglo-Saxon enclaves. I am not making this up. Please do not send Amy Wax to Baltimore. But please also do not send her to most of rural America, which has its own share of white-sourced litter spume.
And then are the white supremacists.
Amy also cannot stop praising and citing white supremacists and eugenicists. People like John Derbyshire, Enoch Powell, and Richard Lynn, who are not even marginally inside the pale of reasonable discourse. She can consort with anyone she wants, of course, but she should not pretend these are respectable voices. Also, weirdly, these guys are all very old (or dead) English dudes. So not exactly on the cutting edge of anything.