Professor’s argument that US is better off with ‘fewer nonwhites’ misunderstood, twisted to sound racist?

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Screen capture … Professor Amy Wax … Credit: C-SPAN

A University of Pennsylvania professor, Amy Wax, is under fire for alleged comments made during a conservative conference a week ago, and the college is being pressured by activists to fire her. Liberal media outlet Vox attributed panel-discussion comments to her that have been taken up by some on social media as cause for outrage.

The reported remarks in the Vox article are being disputed by critics in attendance as lacking in context or understanding of what the professor was saying.

The controversy arose out of the three-day Edmund Burke Foundation’s National Conservatism conference in Washington, D.C. that ran from Sunday through Tuesday. It’s not helpful that transcripts or video of the remarks are not as yet available online, creating confusion about the truth of the matter. But Wax does have the support of at least one other panelist, Yoram Hazony, who tweeted that Vox reporter Zack Beauchamp “pulled these words out of context, and apparently misunderstood Wax’s argument.”

The Vox article claimed that Wax said, “Conservatives need a realistic approach to immigration that … preserves the United States as a Western and First World nation. We are better off if we are dominated numerically … by people from the First World, from the West, than by people who are from less advanced countries.”

“Wax’s view is an outright argument for white supremacy,” the article stated.

The reporter also wrote: “In a panel on immigration, University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax claimed that immigrants are too loud and responsible for an increase in ‘litter.’ She explicitly advocated an immigration policy that would favor immigrants from Western countries over non-Western ones; ‘the position,’ as she put it, ‘that our country will be better off with more whites and fewer nonwhites.’ (She claims this is not racist because her problem with nonwhite immigrants is cultural rather than biological.)”

Hazony, author of the popular 2018 book, “The Virtue of Nationalism,” tweeted on Friday: “Zack misunderstood this passage from Wax’s paper, and Wax did not say what he claims she said. Wax advocated an immigration policy that favors immigrants with cultural affinities to the U.S. She emphasized that the position she was defending “doesn’t rely on race at all.”

In following tweets, Hazony wrote: “Wax does, however, think that the obstacles to implementing such a policy are ‘formidable.’ In listing the obstacles, she says that ‘the most important reason’ such policy alternatives ‘remain underexplored’ is that First World countries ‘remain mostly white for now.'”

“This means a cultural affinity-based immigration policy will ‘for now,’ ‘in effect,’ correlate with race–‘that is the result, anyway.’ Wax presents this correlation of cultural affinity with race not as an advantage, but as an obstacle that may make the best policy impossible.”

“Specifically, Wax did not propose racial tests for immigration, and did not say that her own position is that America ‘will be better off with more whites and fewer non-whites,'” Hazony continued. “@zackbeauchamp pulled these words out of context, and apparently misunderstood Wax’s argument.”

“I don’t personally have a position on Wax’s proposals. But the views she presented at the National Conservatism Conference are legitimate and should be heard and debated. They do not constitute a ‘gotcha’ that proves Wax is white supremacist, as Beauchamp suggests.”

“Nor do Wax’s comments prove that the National Conservatism Conference is crypto-racist as others have been quick to infer. It just proves that we were doing our job: Inviting out-of-the-box thinkers who are willing to take risks and say new things,” tweeted Hazony.

“Let me emphasize this: The National Conservatism Conferences will be worthless if they aren’t a forum for thinkers to takes risks and say new things. This means we will make mistakes–creative people simply say outlandish things much more often than dogmatists following a script.”

“Even those who disagree with the substance of national conservatism ought to be able to understand this. A conference with 50 speakers will always produce some gaffes and poor formulations. A project trying to encourage new thinking and creativity will produce even more of these.”

“But so what?” he wrote in the final tweet in defense of Wax. “That tells you nothing at all about the quality of our work. The culture of ‘gotcha’ quotes and ‘gotcha’ journalism diverts attention from the real issues: Is national conservatism coming together as a cohesive movement? Are its ideas any good? Do they have a chance?”



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