HEATHER MAC DONALD
Were you planning to instruct your child about the value of hard work and civility? Not so fast! According to a current uproar at the University of Pennsylvania, advocacy of such bourgeois virtues is “hate speech.” The controversy, sparked by an op-ed written by two law professors, illustrates the rapidly shrinking boundaries of acceptable thought on college campuses and the use of racial victimology to police those boundaries.
Throwing caution to the winds, they challenge the core tenet of multiculturalism: “All cultures are not equal,” they write. “Or at least they are not equal in preparing people to be productive in an advanced economy.” Unless America’s elites again promote personal responsibility and other bourgeois virtues, the country’s economic and social problems will only worsen, they conclude. The University of Pennsylvania’s student newspaper, the Daily Pennsylvanian, spotted a scandal in the making. The day after the op-ed was published, it came out with a story headlined “‘Not All Cultures Are Equal’ Says Penn Law Professor in Op-Ed.
The idea that privileged graduate students at Penn, one of the most tolerant, racially sensitive environments in human history, experience everyday “hate” is delusional. The adults on campus so fervently seek the presence of underrepresented minority undergraduates and graduate students that they use racial preferences to admit many of them. GET-UP bravely announced that it “stands with the students attacked by Professor Wax, and against racism, xenophobia, sexism, and homophobia in all their forms.” Fact check: Wax had attacked no students. Her argument was against the 1960s countercultural revolution that had undermined the legitimacy of bourgeois values. Unanswered question: Were Wax and Alexander wrong that the virtues of self-restraint, deferred gratification, and future orientation are key for economic and personal progress, and that an anti-achievement, anti-authority culture of drug use and a detachment from the work force is inimical to advancement?
Were Wax and Alexander wrong that the virtues of self-restraint, deferred gratification, and future orientation are key for economic and personal success?
The unanswered question remains: Were Wax and Alexander wrong that the virtues of self-restraint, deferred gratification, and future orientation are key for economic and personal success? Like GET-UP, IDEAL had not one word to say about the Wax-Alexander thesis, confining itself instead to accusations of racism. Well, perhaps Wax’s fellow professors at the University of Pennsylvania law school will do better? No such luck. On August 20, Sarah Barringer Gordon, Sophia Z. Lee, Serena Mayeri, Dorothy E. Roberts, and Tobias Barrington Wolff, all U. Penn. law professors, published their own op-ed in the Daily Pennsylvanian, “Notions of ‘Bourgeois’ Cultural Superiority Are Based on Bad History.”