Dec 21, 2021 • 1HR 37M

Amy Wax – Contesting American Identity

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Weekly conversations on race, inequality, and more, with Glenn Loury. Bi-weekly appearances by John McWhorter.
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On this week’s show, I talk with Professor Amy Wax of the University of Pennsylvania Law School. As you might have guessed, we get into some very controversial territory. But that’s why I enjoy talking to Amy—she doesn’t pull her punches.

Amy begins by talking about her position at Penn Law, where a group of alumni are attempting to get her fired. It’s not the first time people have tried this—as Amy notes, she’s been “canceled” many times, but she’s still here. We move on to a discussion of immigration. While I think the U.S. has benefitted from the talent and value of non-Western immigrants and will require more of them in the future if we’re going to compete, Amy is more skeptical. She wonders whether immigrants from South Asia and East Asia have democratic sensibilities that are compatible with American culture. She worries, too, that these immigrants will adopt woke political positions. But is it necessary to look abroad for a supply of talented, technically minded people? Why can’t we find them here? Amy and I both think that would be a good idea. Amy asks me how conservatives should deal with the problem of wokeness. I tell her that we have to fight these battles as they come. We spend the last third of our conversation talking about the extremely contentious issues of white identity, European history, and colonialism.

It wouldn’t be a conversation with Amy Wax if we didn’t push every possible hot button. I’m very curious to know what you all think of the conversation. Let me know in the comments!


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0:00 The latest attempt to get Amy fired from Penn Law

5:41 Should we be worried even about elite non-Western immigration?

19:21 Amy: “There’s nothing wrong with stereotyping” when it’s done correctly

26:28 Glenn: America need immigrants if we’re going to compete

34:23 Why aren’t we looking harder for technical talent in America?

40:09 The problem with “equal representation”

47:15 Glenn: Wokeness is a political problem that must be fought politically

59:38 The collective action problem of “commonsense” race politics

1:02:36 Is Charles Murray right to worry about white identity politics?

1:18:12 Glenn: “We need to abandon the identitarian matrix altogether”

1:26:37 Was European colonialism especially bad or an expression of broader human tendencies?


Links and Readings

Glenn’s 2021 National Conservatism Conference speech, “The Case for Black Patriotism” in First Things.

A transcript of Amy’s 2019 National Conservatism Conference speech

Matt Taibbi, “The Red-Pilling of Loudoun County, Virginia”

Yuval Levin, “The Changing Face of Social Breakdown”

Michael Anton, “Unprecedented”

Adam Hochschild, King Leopold’s Ghosts: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa


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