The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, March 23, 2018


Science fiction writer Philip K. Dick once wrote:
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”
That simple aphorism seems to have escaped many Democrats, some GOP members, and most progressives as they navigate the world, form policy positions, and accuse their opponents of any of a number of evils.

A case in point is Amy Wax, a tenured law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who had the temerity to (indelicately) suggest that (among other touchy subjects) "all cultures are not created equal" and that African American law "students [sometimes admitted under various affirmative action programs] rarely finish in the top half of their class."

In the long tradition of Leftist attacks that began with the demonization of Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray for their scholarly book,"The Bell Curve," Wax was labeled a racist and a bigot. Molly Roberts writes about the aftermath:
Critics excoriated Wax’s initial essay as white supremacy in the guise of scholarly argument. Fifty-four Penn students and alumni called on the university to denounce what they saw as racism, and 33 Penn Law faculty members soon did just that in an open letter. Wax responded by tripling down in an on-campus Federalist Society lecture and the pages of the Wall Street Journal. After the statements about class rank surfaced, Penn stripped Wax of her duties teaching curriculum courses first-year students are required to take. She will still teach a full schedule of elective classes. The law school dean has said Wax’s claims were false but hasn’t provided the (proprietary) data to debunk them.
And therein lies the rub. If Wax is wrong about student outcomes, it would be relatively easy for the University of Pennsylvania to use readily available academic data to prove her contention as an egregious error. Yet they fail to do so.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Wax herself writes:
The mindset that values openness understands that the truth can be inconvenient and uncomfortable, doesn’t always respect our wishes, and sometimes hurts. Good feelings and reality don’t always mix. But there is a price to be paid for putting the quest for psychological comfort over openness on matters central to how our society is organized. While some people benefit from the favored view, others lose out. People accused of bigotry and discrimination—claims that are more pervasive than ever—are understandably unhappy about being deprived of the ability to defend themselves by pointing to alternative reasons for group differences. Hoarding and hiding information relevant to such differences, which amounts to predetermining a verdict of “guilty as charged,” violates basic principles of fair play and gives rise to justified resentment.

Universities, like other institutions, scheme relentlessly to keep such facts from view. Yet although the culture war is now tilted against those accused of discrimination, politics persists, and frustration tells at the ballot box. The deeper price is that people come to believe that truth yields to power, and that political pressure should be brought to bear to avoid inconvenient realities.
Those who use ad hominem attacks rather than facts to rebut commentary like Wax's believe that transparency and subsequent debate is not appropriate when certain groups are involved. That protecting those groups is far more important than looking at the world as it is and then trying to make it better.

In her op-ed, Wax concludes with this comment:
That belief that political force determines objective reality has characterized totalitarian regimes world-wide and throughout history—regimes that are responsible for untold amounts of human misery. That mindset is dangerously inconsistent with the kind of free society Americans have painstakingly built and defended over many centuries, at the cost of blood and treasure. Perhaps we no longer want such a society. But we relinquish it at our peril.
Based on their actions over the past few decades and the ascension of political correctness as a trump card to shut down any debate that is unpleasant, the Left would argue that it wants a "free society," but one that is free to debate and discuss only those topics that are approved by the Left. That's why new editions of history books are conveniently altered, statues are torn down, building names are changed, social media sites sometimes censor views that are not politically correct, school mascots are eliminated ... the list is long and getting longer. Wax may be wrong in her accusations about students (we'll never know because easily acquired data are hidden) but she's right to suggest that we do all of this "at our peril."