Penn Law rebukes professor who said U.S. would be 'better off with fewer Asians'

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The dean of the University of Pennsylvania Law School criticized comments by a professor at the school as "thoroughly anti-intellectual and racist" for suggesting that the United States is “better off with fewer Asians and less Asian immigration.”

The dean, Theodore Rugers, was responding to comments made by Amy Wax, a white law professor, in an interview last month.

“Once again, Amy Wax has, through her thoroughly anti-intellectual and racist comments denigrating Asian immigrants, underscored a fundamental tension around harmful speech at American universities,” Rugers wrote in a statement.

“Like all racist generalizations, Wax’s recent comments inflict harm by perpetuating stereotypes and placing differential burdens on Asian students, faculty, and staff to carry the weight of this vitriol and bias.”

No punishment has been announced.

During a Dec. 20 interview on journalist Glenn Loury’s web show, Bloggingheads.tv, Wax criticized Asian immigration to the United States, warning of the “danger of the dominance of an Asian elite in this country.”

“If you go into medical schools, you’ll see that Indians, South Asians are now rising stars. In medicine, they’re sort of the new Jews, I guess, but these diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives are poisoning the scientific establishment and the medical establishment now,” said Wax, who is Jewish.

Wax did not respond to NBC News’ request for comment.

Loury, a professor of social sciences at Brown University, attempted to defend Asian Americans by invoking the model minority myth. “What would be wrong with having a lot of Chinese or Indian or Korean engineers, physicians, computer scientists, and whatnot, running around here creating value, enlivening the society?” he said.

Wax also said Asians in the U.S. should be more thankful. “Why should someone who emigrated from India, has taken advantage of everything our society has to offer, who is leading the good life, who’s part of the elite — why shouldn’t that person be objectively grateful? And, you know, recognize overtly all the wonderful things about our country?” she said.

On Sunday Loury published an email he received from a listener who was critical of Wax’s comments. He also allowed Wax to respond to the listener.

“Maybe it’s just that Democrats love open borders, and Asians want more Asians here,” she wrote. “Perhaps they (and especially their distaff element) are just mesmerized by the feel-good cult of ‘diversity.’ I don’t know the answer. But 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.”

Wax’s comments quickly went viral on Twitter.

It’s not Wax’s first time facing backlash over racist or discriminatory remarks. In 2006, faculty at Penn Law rebuked her public advocacy against same-sex marriage. In a 2017 interview on the Glenn Show, Wax said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Black student graduate in the top quarter of the class, and rarely, rarely in the top half.” (Ruger denied that this was true and Wax was barred from teaching first-year law courses.)

And in 2019, students at Penn Law called for Wax’s termination after she was caught on camera saying the United States “will be better off with more whites and fewer nonwhites,” the Pennsylvania Capitol-Star reported.

"They [Wax’s views] serve as a persistent and tangible reminder that racism, sexism, and xenophobia are not theoretical abstractions but are real and insidious beliefs in this country and in our building. This reality sharpens and deepens our commitment to support our community as we continue to work to advance equity and inclusion,” Ruger said in this week’s statement.

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