Wax, University of Pennsylvania, sabbatical
University of Pennsylvania Penn Law professor Amy Wax is under fire for her racist comments. She's taking a sabbatical, but still has a job. (Photo via Jeffrey M. Vinocur under Wikimedia Commons)

University of Pennsylvania Condemns Law Professor Amy Wax for Racist Comments, Does Not Fire Her

Amy Wax, a Robert Mundheim Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania, is on a bona fide paid vacation following condemnation of her “repugnant” racist views.

Wax spoke at a “National Conservatism” conference this month suggesting the country would be “better off with more whites and fewer nonwhites,” saying immigrants are loud and create litter. She argued her views aren’t racist because her problem with immigrants is cultural and not racial.

Vox broke the story, discussing the broader issue of Trumpism emboldening white supremacists. The Edmund Burke Foundation, which hosted the event, has not yet released a transcript of it.

Over 1,000 student groups and others affiliated with Penn signed a petition calling for Wax to lose her job. Her dean, Ted Ruger, the Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law condemned her remarks in a statement.

“At best, the reported remarks espouse a bigoted theory of white cultural and ethnic supremacy; at worst, they are racist,” the statement said. “Under any framing, such views are repugnant to the core values and institutional practices of both Penn Law and the University of Pennsylvania.”

Despite the strong language condemning Wax in the statement, she is still tenured. She is taking a planned sabbatical — that is, a paid leave — for the upcoming year. Steven Barnes, a spokesperson for Penn Law, told Inside Higher Ed the sabbatical was preplanned.

This instance is not the first Wax has publicly touted xenophobia and white supremacy.

She has written an opinion piece expressing her nostalgia for bourgeoise culture that kept everyone in line. In that same piece, she argued, “all cultures are not equal.”

While President Trump’s supporters chant “send her back,” many are pointing out how his racist rhetoric is bringing bigots out of the woodwork. The 2017 Unite the Right rally that resulted in the death of counter-protester Heather Heyer is another example of this emboldening.

Related Story: Harvard’s First Black Faculty Deans Removed Over Professor’s Decision to Represent Harvey Weinstein in Sexual Assault Cases

Though tenure is designed to support ideological diversity, the marketplace of ideas stops short of dangerous, racist rhetoric.

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