Amy Waxes Incoherent: It is the Poison in the Ivies
(Picture credit: kolumbus24.com)
Ah, yes! These days we cannot have even a moment’s respite from the world as we are constantly bombarded with the blathering, bullshitting, bamboozling, or bloviating by someone about something of which and whom they know little about. If Munch lived now, his “Scream” would depict exploding heads, lips twisted in pretzel shapes, and mouths streaming zeros and ones….
And so it is that we must address the woeful, pitiful, aimless, and clueless remarks of 68-year-old Prof. Amy Wax — the one who has a BS in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale; an MA in philosophy, physiology, and psychology from Oxford; an MD from Harvard Medical School; and a JD from Columbia. We can now add a Ph.D. in piffle to the multiple suffixes on her calling card. Her official bio says she “is an American lawyer, neurologist, and academic,” and that she is the Robert Mundheim Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. For someone so academically qualified and more than three decades’ experience in Ivy League schools, we can expect that her salary is in the range of $400,000 to $500,000 a year. After all, another Amy at the school she teaches, Amy Gutmann, makes $3 million a year as president of the university, and lawyers, we know, get paid a lot, especially one that is a neurologist to boot, and someone who seems to claim to be able to read people’s minds, especially those of “Hindu Brahmin women.”
But we are jumping ahead. To summarize briefly, Prof. Amy Wax has concerns and expressed them about immigrants, Blacks, and people from “shithole” countries who will not or cannot show goodwill or good sense toward the place they now call home. Why is American not beautiful for these folks? It is because they refuse to acknowledge what it has offered them and can offer them, she says. She has been making these statements or expressing her concerns since 2017, we are told: “In a message to the school, law dean Ted Ruger said that he has received complaints since 2017 that Wax’s comments are harming students’ educational experience” (Reuters, January 19, 2022). Not that some of those concerns should not be or cannot be expressed, and not just because of First Amendment rights that we all have in this country. We should be discussing and have been discussing these issues about fairness, discrimination, privileges, etc., and of some of the challenges that some groups of immigrants have faced integrating into American society. We have also been concerned about some of the problematic analyses and pleas offered about the status of Blacks in the country. Therefore these matters should indeed be part of public discussions on how to make American society healthy (“Make America Great Again,” as Trump wanted) and how to resolve the issues facing the acculturation of some immigrant groups – based on their ethnic, race, and nationality backgrounds. However, for a Jewish woman tracing her roots to Eastern Europe, and for someone with so many academic accomplishments, and for someone who is in her 60’s, we would expect a more careful, rigorous, and thoughtful exposition of these matters and not off-the-cuff and crude remarks she has made on national media and on popular radio/podcast shows.
In this context, on January 19, 2022, Reuters published a report titled, “Penn Law seeks to sanction professor who said U.S. ‘better off’ with fewer Asians.” This was following her talk with Glenn Loury, Brown University’s social sciences professor, who himself has made eloquent pleas to fellow Blacks about understanding and repairing their plight in the US, and that Democrats/liberals/Black leaders have misled them as well as failed them in pointing out some of the right solutions to the wrongs they have suffered. In her talk with Loury, Prof. Wax is said to have remarked, “As long as most Asians support Democrats and help to advance their positions, I think the United States is better off with fewer Asians and less Asian immigration”. Whoa! As Americans would exclaim…
No statement should be read in isolation, and we don’t want to play “Gotcha!” here, but is there truth to Prof. Wax’s claim that most Asians vote for Democrats? No! Even in a 2012 report, what we read is that while the majority among Indians, and Korean Americans identified with and voted for Democrats, Filipinos and Vietnamese Americans identified with and voted for Republicans. Interestingly, that report says, “When combined, the percentage of Asian Americans who choose not to identify as either Republican or Democrat is greater than the national average of self-identified independent voters at 51% and 40% respectively”. Given that Indian Americans are fewer and came to the US later, or maybe for reasons unknown (including the fact that many Indian Americans were still on H1-B status or Green Card status), “Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Americans” were “most likely to be contacted to ‘get out the vote’,” whereas “Indian Americans were not targeted to the same degree”. Prof. Wax is also wrong that while 63 percent of Asian Americans voted for Biden and only 31 percent of them voted for Trump, as a 2020 report points out, the latter did not lose support from Asian Americans. And, like in all other matters of life, the issue of why Asian Americans have voted the way they have is “complicated,” including the fact that large majorities of them also live in “blue” states on the East and West coasts as well as in big cities that vote “blue”. More to the point, is it OK for Whites, and Jewish, and Blacks and Muslim citizens to vote Democrat? Why or why not?
Wax has also been accused of using her access to university data to make “inaccurate statements” – for example, “how she had never seen a Black student graduate in the top quarter of the class and rarely in the top half”. These comments led to her being banned from teaching first-year courses but did not get her fired from UPenn. One can wonder why, and we may not be wrong in speculating that UPenn did not want to reveal any data that might support Wax’s contentions. In this Yahoo News report is also a link to an hour and a half long interview with Glenn Loury in which Wax claims that she has gone through the “cancellation” tunnel and emerged at the other end and that it has been “liberating”. January 21, 2022, Yahoo News report also mentions that “Academic Freedom Alliance, a non-profit organization whose main goal is to protect the rights of faculty members in colleges and universities, came to Wax’s defense following the controversy. In a Jan. 16 letter, the group said that the ‘appropriate action’ for the university to take would be to ‘publicly reaffirm the free speech rights of the members of its faculty’.”
Yes, indeed, faculty and students and everyone else in the US and US college campuses should be free to express their ideas. But academic freedom comes with academic responsibility, and an experienced professor like her would not bother to speak with care, rigor, and discipline is also not a good academic. She is indeed a player, an actor, in the “culture wars” being played out in the US now, but her invoking of “academic freedom” does little good when she adds some dry kindle to the fire. She may indeed be right that she has seen her “…students change over even 10 to 15 to 20 to 30 years… They have become these cowed, benighted sheeples. It’s just unbelievable…. So, not only are they thoroughly intimidated as they should be, but they are ignorant.”
From Black students’ performance in law school to Asian Americans’ voting for Democrats, Amy Wax has slouched along the “putting her foot in her mouth” path, and the latest kerfuffle of hers came when she, on April 11, 2022, on “The Tucker Carlson Show,” said “non-Western peoples, and specifically Black Americans, harbor resentment and shame over Western achievements,” and disparaged Indian doctors and “Hindu Brahmin women” at UPenn who came from India, a “shithole” country: “Here’s the problem. They’re taught that they are better than everybody else because they are Brahmin elites and yet, on some level, their country is a sh*thole.” She went on to say, “They’ve realized that we’ve outgunned and outclassed them in every way… They feel anger. They feel envy. They feel shame. It creates ingratitude of the most monstrous kind”. We know she is trained in neurology, but we did not know that she is also a Freudian psychologist! Wendy Doniger and she may be closet buddies, for all we can say! For Doniger Ganesha’s trunk might be a limp phallus (see Paul Courtright, “Ganesha: Lord of Obstacles, Lord of Beginnings,” 1985) and who knows, for Amy Wax, Hindu Brahmin women may represent nuclear arsenals or goddesses who will swallow her whole.
The thrust of our piece here is about her remarks on “Hindu Brahmin women” and the selective outrage of the media and of the left/progressive cabals among whom are some of these Hindu Brahmin women worthies too. What exactly did Amy Wax say about “Hindu Brahmin women” on the Tucker Carlson Show? This is what is reported:
“Here’s the problem. They (Brahmin women from India) are taught that they are better than everybody else because they are Brahmin elites and yet, on some level, their country is a shit hole.”
Not one of the American media outlets nor the Indian newspapers and magazines who have published articles on this matter have bothered to unpack Amy Wax’s statements about “Hindu Brahmin women,” and that should come as a surprise to only those who have not been following the work and ideas espoused by India and US-trained academics in the social sciences and humanities on matters Hindu, Hinduism, Brahmins, Brahminism, and Hindutva. So, here are some questions we may want to ask and points we may want to ponder:
- Why did Wax pick only on “Hindu Brahmin women?” Why not just “Hindu women?” Why not just “immigrant women?”
- Which particular “Hindu Brahmin women” did she have in mind when she spoke about them being resentful and criticizing the US on race and class issues?
- How does she know that they are “Brahmin women”? Did they tell her that, or is she guessing? Are there any Hindu Brahmin women who teach at the UPenn Law School? There is one Indian man and one Indian woman among her colleagues at the law school. See here. Is Natasha Sarin a Brahmin woman?
- Why did she not pick on “Hindu men” or “Hindu Brahmin men”? Does she not have any colleagues in the law school who are Hindu/Brahmin/men? Is Pravin Kosuri a Brahmin man? I don’t know, and I am a Brahmin man.
- Why did she not pick Muslim women? Or Jewish women? Or Sikh women? Or Latino women? After all, Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are the most vocal of America’s critics, are they not? What about AOC? Or is it that she is focusing only on Pramila Jayapal? If yes, why? Does she know if Pramila Jayapal is a “Brahmin woman”? I don’t know if she is, and I am a Hindu Brahmin man.
- Why did she not make the point that these “Hindu Brahmin women” that she is so angry about got their higher education degrees here in the US, and that their academic mentors were White, Black, Brown, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, men, women? Where does she think these “Brahmin women” got to read about and inquire into and write about American racial conflicts, injustices, inequities, and critical race theory?
- What has she read that is written or spoken by these “Hindu Brahmin women?” Does she know that some of these “Hindu Brahmin women?” have written scathing treatises on Brahmin men, “Brahminism,” caste inequalities, caste-based discrimination, patriarchy, etc., and their mentors on these projects of “Hindu-bashing,” and “Brahmin demonizing,” have been Jewish, Christian, Sikh, Muslim men and women academics in the West?
- Is she OK with the “undermining” of the “shit hole country” by her fellow White, Jewish, Christian, men and women colleagues over decades, and that India and Hindu-bashing is a cottage industry in US academe, and her fellow academics have found their tenure in Ivy League schools and made their millions objectifying Hindu traditions, culture, men, and women, and that these academics come from the right and left of the political spectrum?
- Beyond the wax in Amy’s ears that is stopping her from listening to the “Brahmin-bashing” by her left/progressive academic colleagues, and India-bashing by her right-Christian-Western friends and fellow travelers, what does she know about Hindus and Hinduism that enables her to identify and target “Hindu Brahmin women?”
- Of the score or so articles and reports on Amy Wax’s reported “rants” that I have come across none raise the above questions. Why? Is it because it would undermine the claim by the critics of Hindus and Hinduism that there is no “Hinduphobia” in the West? Or is it that Amy Wax is merely a fellow traveler with them but wears red instead of blue garb?
- Why is Amy Wax not targeting Muslim critics of the US? What is she afraid of? Are there not Muslim men and women in activist groups? In politics? In academe? In law and the justice system? Do a Google search for “Amy Wax, Muslims, Islam” and not one item pops up. Curious to say the least, right? Is it because, in the weird ways about the sons of Cain, Jews, Christians, and Muslims are all part of one family, and they will fight their own battles, kill and destroy each other, but what they have to fear in common are those “dreaded, elitist” Hindus?
- Amy Wax claims she comes from a barely middle-class family background, and that she has had to work hard to be where she is and for what she has achieved. Does she think that all “Hindu Brahmin women” come from upper-class backgrounds and that they don’t work hard in churning out their theses on race, class, patriarchy, Brahmins, Hinduism, Hindutva, America, race, et al?
- Is Amy Wax fine with “Christian/Jewish White women” or “Christian Black women” from European countries or South American countries or African countries critiquing America? Why? If she is not happy with their criticism, why has she not complained about them?
- Would she permit criticism by people from “not shithole” countries? Why or why not? Is it because they are among the people who have “outgunned and out-classed” “shithole” India?
- “Outgunned”. Why have none of the critics pointed out to her choice of this word? What does “outgunned” mean and imply?
- And, finally, where are all the Jews – men and women – who claim to be Indophiles, lovers of Carnatic music, or students of Hindu philosophy – who seem to have gone “radio silent” in the past week? Are you so tribal in your identity that you cannot criticize one of your own for her patent nonsense?
Amy Wax is but a creature caught in the fast-moving political waters of present-day America, and if Glenn Loury keeps inviting her, she sure is an appealing spokeswoman to a large section of conservative White, Black, and Jewish Americans. Maybe even some conservative Asian Americans nod to her in agreement too on some matters. None of the conservative newspapers or magazines, however, have published any opinion pieces on this matter of “Hindu Brahmin women,” though they have had some tepid responses to some of her past bloviating. One Wall Street Journal opinion writer had said that “we must take the outrage over Amy Wax’s remarks at the National Conservatism Conference in Washington earlier this month with a grain of salt,” because “progressives” were denouncing “a conservative for respecting the power of culture”. The National Review has published Amy Wax on a matter of law and order, and praised her for “truth telling” on matters of “Affirmative Action”. Writing in the National Review, Richwine, says, “As part of a critique of race-based admissions, Professor Wax observed that black students at Penn Law ‘rarely’ graduate in the top half of their class. Her observation is almost certainly correct, but Penn Law dean Ted Ruger declared it false without providing any evidence. (And he has access to the evidence, so his failure to reveal it is telling.)” He takes to task UPenn Law School for adopting policies that “generate a skills gap in Penn’s first-year law class.”
Again, it is telling that neither conservatives nor liberals have risen to challenge Amy Wax’s specific targeting of “Hindu Brahmin women,” and that is another sordid aspect of the American political and academic world. The land of the free and brave is now just a vast, mindless bloviating blog space where noise replaces sound, where sense is in short supply, and everyone bleats in their own echo chambers.
We have to be fair though as both Amy Wax and Tucker Carlson hummed and hawed and offered exculpatory clauses for the remarks they were making: “Oh, I am not talking about all Hindus,” “Oh, I have a very dear Indian friend who is in fact my child’s godfather,” blah, blah, blah…. You know what? If that were so, have the guts to name the offending Hindu Brahmin woman or women, or the truculent Indian doctor, or whoever. Don’t generalize and then try to make excuses, you idiots!
“These are just racists,” some of my friends have opined, and maybe Amy Wax is a racist, or maybe they cannot distinguish their mouth from their anus, but here we have a very well-credentialed and very well paid academic, and a very popular talk show host and commentator, both carried away by their own sense of worth and goodness, and someone else’s deviousness and intent. They seem to be worried that their “God” – that angry, white-bearded fulminator — cannot save America, and we Hindus therefore are their latest and easy excuse to account for the “great western civilizational collapse”.
Munch, if he lived now, would have imagined the scream differently…
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