Glenn Loury
The Glenn Show
Amy Wax – Freedom of Inquiry on the Line

Amy Wax – Freedom of Inquiry on the Line


This week, one of the most controversial TGS guests of all time returns: Penn Law professor Amy Wax. She’s currently in a dire predicament. Her job is on the line. Whatever you think of Amy’s positions, there are issues at play in her case that have implications for people of all political persuasions, and she deserves to be heard out.

Amy begins by recounting the events that have led up to her conflict with the administration at Penn Law and taking issue with the charges leveled at her by the school’s dean, Theodore Ruger. Some of those charges are quite serious: racism, sexism, and xenophobia. But Amy contends that they are overblown and implausible. Amy thinks this conflict began when she questioned the efficacy and ethics of affirmative action in public. If the LSATs and other standardized tests predict classroom performance, we shouldn’t be surprised when students admitted with low test scores don’t perform well. That’s a perfectly logical position, yet Amy has been pilloried for taking it. And I agree with her! But I tell her I do feel a little uncomfortable when I’m confronted by students who take my analysis of affirmative action personally.

It’s clear that, even though Amy has tenure, her job is at risk Despite the very strong free speech protections guaranteed by tenure, she may be fired for speaking her mind in public. While I don’t agree with her on many issues, I think that would be a disaster. It could open the door to the evisceration of free inquiry within the American university. Amy has said and done many controversial things, including inviting the white nationalist Jared Taylor to speak with to her students. But Amy teaches a course on conservative political and legal thought, and Taylor is an influential figure in some far-right circles. I do press Amy on this, because she has espoused interest in the kind race realism associated with Taylor, and she argues that his ideas at least merit serious consideration.

Amy and I are friends, but it wasn’t always so. I recall our first encounter, when she challenged some of my claims about race and mass incarceration. I wasn’t pleased at the time, but I’m now glad she had the freedom to make the comments she made (even though I still think I’m right). As she says, reality is often upsetting and uncomfortable, and if we choose to hide our heads in the sand rather than confronting reality, we can’t say we’re interested in the truth. That I do agree with. And I stand with her in fight to pursue the truth, even if we differ on where it may be found. If you want to support her, she provides some ways you can do that.

The comments section is always explosive after Amy appears on TGS, so I’m looking forward to seeing what debates emerge. Let me know what you think!

Join Discord

This post is free and available to the public. To receive early access to TGS episodes, an ad-free podcast feed, Q&As, and other exclusive content and benefits, click below.


Featured Content from City Journal

Charles Fain Lehman & Renu Mukherjee on why support for the Democratic Party among high-skilled Asian-Americans is not immutable, which opens opportunities for Republican lawmakers to grow their voter base.

0:00 Amy’s recent conflict with the Penn Law School administration 

7:38 Amy responds to her dean’s charges of racism, sexism, and xenophobia 

16:38 Should we take students’ feelings into account when discussing race and admissions? 

27:34 Glenn: If Amy is fired, it will be an outrage beyond belief

34:53 Why Amy invited Jared Taylor to speak with her students

44:28 Amy’s defense of race realism’s legitimacy 

50:25 Glenn and Amy’s first encounter 

53:36 Amy: Sometimes reality is upsetting and offensive

58:58 How to help Amy

Links and Readings

Dean Theodor Ruger’s letter to the Penn Faculty Senate asking for a review of Amy’s conduct

Amy’s past conversations with Glenn

Donate to Amy’s legal defense fund

Glenn Loury
The Glenn Show
Race, inequality, and economics in the US and throughout the world from Glenn Loury, Professor of Economics at Brown University and Paulson Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute