Feb 1, 2022·edited Feb 1, 2022

The defeat of CA prop 16 (would have re-instated racial preferences including at the UCs) shows that Amy Wax is wrong about Asians falling into the woke line - it's pretty clear that Asian-Americans contributed to the defeat (understandable self-interest since they don't want their kids to have less access to Cal, UCLA etc.) Larger picture, I find the common humanity argument against woke-ness compelling; her claims about Asians undermine that idea. She can say whatever she wants, I don't think she should be fired or demoted but I don't agree and I think to an extent factually she's just not correct.

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I have no problem with her being racist or not racist or anti-woke or whatever. It just seems to me she over-simplifies matters way too much, and apparently prioritizes the importance of maintaining White-European Culture (what even is that?) over basically every other concern a society may have. She then somehow tries to argue that immigrants regardless of how integrated or successful they become in America are basically all hold and strive to express anti-American values when she provides only superficial and anecdotal examples that really don't hold up to scrutiny.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqBr4Dl1oBw Charles from Critical African Thinkers perceptively comments about this video:


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I would argue that China is not going to eclipse the United States because technological superiority over the long term requires innovation and creativity, neither of which can flourish in a totalitarian, censorious police state.

Professor Wax asserts that too much Asian immigration with harm American culture. This suggestion is worth considering. Are Asians more likely to think communally, rather than individualistically? If the answer is yes, maybe you could argue that our system, based on personal liberty, would be threatened by immigration of too many people who do not assimilate and adopt this value.

On the other hand, one could argue that our culture is breaking down because we have forgotten the responsibilities to community that make personal liberty possible. If this is the case, maybe an influx of communally-minded people could balance our arguably unbalanced commitment to personal liberty.

Wherever you land on this, her point is worth considering, and doing so advances our own self-awareness as a culture.

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Every time I hear one of these conversations, it's always missing something. As the audience, we hear "what is causing this?" from people that are immersed in elite academic institutions, and it can be difficult to take the perspective of someone outside, because the view from Glenn and Amy is from the inside.

What I believe is occurring, because I've watched formerly dead center or slightly left-of-center people that accrued occupational security and the ability to increase their quality of life (gaining some status and social capital from lower-middle to middle-upper) go from using common sense to being utterly psychologically obliterated like a Body Snatchers victim and willfully dismissing so much data and evidence (or more likely gravitating toward information sources that don't make this data available or readily accessible) as to make their position very religious in nature is this: A combination of humans getting soft (via the modern age and technology), coupled with the proliferation of everything Postmodern into the mainstream arteries of American popular culture.

By humans getting soft, what I mean is that the vast majority of Americans, despite the horrific stats emerging from urban centers that we in Rav Arora's work and elsewhere regarding a sharp uptick in violent crime (suspend for a moment that the right is much more willing to report on this than the left), don't really have to worry about physical danger. I think society has reached a point where we still have all the baked-in evolutionary biology that drives things like tribalism and vigilance for safety, but there really is no enemy anymore. There are no predators and the AVERAGE American can wake up, feed their kids, go to work, come home and not once really have to worry about imminent danger and not experience the fight or flight response. In our evolutionary history, most of it in fact, this was not the case. Technology has ushered in an era, at least in developed nations, a relatively (when compared to evolutionary history and human history from 150 years ago and older) safe existence. I'm skeptical of the notion that none of what we see is born from an inherent proclivity in humans to protect themselves against danger and conflict by defining an enemy, when there really is no immediate source to be identified. Sub-arguments can be made, sure, that's the case in any modern human society, a la freedom (speech, big brother, etc), taxes, pointing out second and third world nations and the woes of the people in them, etc. But for the sake of argument, I'm relegating my crude analysis to the United States.

Most of us don't have an awareness of potential physical danger in our daily thoughts, and if we do, the thoughts usually don't persist. Our brains that have developed over thousands upon thousands of years, in which the vast majority existed wars with other tribes, danger from predators and a need to be constantly vigilant, are now trying to fill that danger-shaped hole, and we see this manifest in a variety of ways. One of those ways is to subconsciously seek enemies or define people that are different than us as enemies.

If we combine this subconscious effort to create and/or define enemies, with the accelerated immersion of elite academia and the leaking of Postmodern philosophy out of elite academic containers into mainstream culture, we have hyper-vigilant swaths of society searching for power differentials where none exist, and where they do exist, the focus is disturbingly acute and vastly overstated. Examples: ALL police are out there hunting and killing black men as if it was in their job description. ALL white people are inherently racist because we exist in a "system" that was created where racism was prevalent and not countered, and so everything stems from that root source of evil and must be dismantled. The mere existence of white people is enough to deem them all racist, because they all enjoy a system that was designed for them, specifically based on race.

The entire purpose of Postmodern philosophy is to seek to define who holds power (not necessarily why) and to remove any system, structure, thought process, or any other source of augmentation or facilitation of that power. This is why the extreme poles of the political spectrum on the left see racism in everything and seek on one hand to "educate" everyone on one hand, and denounce and muzzle contrary ideas on the other with suppression of speech through various means, social pressure, occupational social pressure, education changes, etc. The right also has now adopted censorship as a means to combat the combatants, as it were, with no thought of what will occur once the ultimate power of censorship is granted, and their party is no longer in power. The Bill of Rights will, unfortunately, if extrapolated to a logical conclusion, be irrevocably amended in favor of more governmental control and erosion of what was once considered unassailable by most. Freedoms of Speech, Press, Assembly, and so on.

I was listening to Glenn's latest conversation with Nikita this morning, where he says ultimately he doesn't know what's causing it. I think this is because Glenn doesn't have the time to do a deep dive on the evolution of what we see occurring now, and my assessment isn't steeped in data either, it's just a strong hunch on what I've read since about 2014 when I first started to notice these ideas coming to the forefront in the media sources I was consuming. Glenn knows that the key to all of this is supporting data and deep research- though I wonder who's REALLY doing it other than perhaps James Lindsay- and I haven't followed his work in a while either.

I think what Amy has correct is that it will take collective action. But by whom? People on the left are scared to death to point to subculture as an explanation on the explosion of violent crime that is quickly reaching the "scary" levels of the late 80s and mid 90s. People on the right just want an authoritarian hammer, and they too are scared to point out the proclivities and predispositions of a dangerous subculture because it so closely relates to race (the same reason why it is verboten on the left). And it is indeed only one part of the equation. The other is the pandemic and the conditions and circumstances it created that are conducive to crimes going unanswered and unaddressed in many communities, and the push by the left regarding "defund the police" movements that we've seen in major left-controlled/governed urban centers. Like LA, like NY, like Minneapolis and the list goes on.

I don't think she has it right when she points out the tendencies of South Asian people to adopt "woke" culture. She's all over the place in this regard. First, she points to what she sees in elite academic settings and- my favorite: "on Twitter". This is not the real world. This is a cultural facsimile of the world, and only from elite media and academic perspectives. As Glenn correctly points out, the increase of the percentage of these folks in elite academia, coupled with the pervasiveness of the current ideology probably accounts for what she's seeing, but it's hard to see what color the outside of a house is when you're standing on the inside. I think we could replace any demographic with what Amy states is going on with South Asians in elite academia with regard to adopting part and parcel the "woke" ideology. If a certain demographic works harder than most to gain entrance into the elite academic institutions, and those same institutions are fervently enforcing a particular ideology, then OF COURSE there's going to be a widely manifested adoption of that ideology by the people most eager to gain entrance to and remain in those institutions. Seems like a no brainer to me, and it seems like she's incorrectly positing that it's unique to that demographic because... why exactly? She doesn't elaborate.

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Professor Loury knows Professor Amy Wax better than I. Perhaps Amy is a canary in the coal mine. I see Amy as a total of two halves. Person 1A is created by Amy Wax. Person 1B is created by Equity/CRT. 1A and 1B are added to comprise the complete Amy Wax. If Equity/CRT were not what it is, Amy Wax would be at a different location on her pathway.

I’m not an expert on immigration, but if the middle center and conservative right are timid on the alternative to Equity-inspired immigration policy or fail to responsibly address Equity immigration concerns, then there is a vacuum to the right of Equity/CRT. At some point, right-wing racism will step forward and tell Equity/CRT “you are fired as immigration policy maker.” And the Ethnic Studies people have been telling us for decades that “We have immigration covered, don’t worry”.

We moderates in the middle and our conservative brothers need to step forward and fire Equity/CRT from immigration policy so that we can implement a Centrist and non-racist immigration policy, before white supremacy(or adjacent to) does this. I really don’t have any preference as long as the southern border is secure. As much as I complain about BLM, at least they are often signaling messages to the public. I have no idea what the far-fight is thinking or doing.

The task for the middle majority is to inventory the entire Equity/CRT “immigration agenda/priorities” and then articulate an immigration policy statement that is non-CRT + prepare to address each Equity/CRT immigration concern.

Because equity enforcement at institutions is non-transparent, non-direct and non-Due Process, people directly under attack such as Amy Wax - and sympathizers become terrified rightly so, but then in a mental panic can latch onto random life-rafts even if not well thought out, nor evidence-based. Equity is playing fire with the minds of 300 million people.

Equity transforms the factory assembly line in every institution from “electric can opener production” to “machine guns”. Any unauthorized institution employee (which is everyone except Equity directors) who approaches assembly line to ask questions is instantly vaporized. It will get much worse until Equity is stopped.

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Glenn, as a parent with kids in SF public middle schools, the Asian immigration stories that you are commenting on are of great interest. The dynamics here seem similar to those you have commented on. Wesley Yang was great, but I have to add my voice to the chorus here that Amy Wax is really not reaching your high standard of quality. I'd vote not to bring her back.

If you can find a good commentator from the SF area, that might be a fruitful direction. I'm not sure who that person would be, but many of the issues that you have been touching on, esp with regards to Asian immigration, AAPI hate, progressive governance, and so forth are swirling around SF right now. Unfortunately, most around here seemingly have adopted one of the prevailing narratives, so it can be hard to get an unbiased account.

If you aren't worried about an unbiased approach, then it might be interesting to talk to someone involved in one of the various recall campaigns - School Board Recall (set for Feb 4th), Lowell Admissions legal campaign, etc.

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Dec 22, 2021·edited Dec 22, 2021

Dr. Loury, this is a respectful criticism from a fan. My fandom, though, stems from the overarching theme of several recent comments of yours that we need to be more conscientious about upholding standards, and less conscientious about making race the basis of discussion on topics where it might not be relevant. Keeping the focus on culture and behavior. I'll raise this question, and I don't claim to know the answer: Is focusing on race in immigration potentially damaging, when you are perhaps trying to highlight cultural and behavioral traits? Be mindful that it may only be a certain substrata of people that are emigrating from Asia.

We have had lots of immigration from India, for example, that has probably drawn a far more educated pool of Indian immigrants than the Indian population at large. I've been honored to work with a number of these talented individuals during my career in software. This contrasts greatly with Indian immigration to countries closer to India, where the Indian immigrant population is less educated, often manual labor. And a population I've gathered from personal travels that has a reputation for criminality in those neighboring countries. Is it worth the effort to try to dissect that? Does trying to dissect that perpetuate some of the problems we're having trying to deal with race in our own country? Is it falling into the trap of wokeness in trying to ascribe that people who are doing well on the whole are a "good race", when it may be that it's just that the best work of their overall population is being done by the elites that are here?

Personally, I think the bigger lesson is about whether our immigration policy is based on skills and needs. Because it isn't right now. We have a large population of unskilled, marginally-employed native born, but prioritize bringing in immigrants who compete with people in that lane. Those Indian immigrant colleagues I mentioned have had to endure years of paperwork to be here properly, and that rigor is not applied to the immigrants competing with our lowest-paid citizens. My suggestion would be to keep the focus on the skills, standards, and behavior. There are brilliant people the world over, not just in Asia, and I'd rather the discussion be centered on how we attract them to come here. Hyper-race-consciousness is probably not going to be the welcome mat that we want to lay out.

Again, I don't claim to know the answer. And I know that academic discussions have to be able to veer somewhat into these territories, and not feel attacked for doing so. This is not an attack. It's simply an observation from one person who's inspired by the values and standards you're speaking to, just as much as by the minutiae and technicalities of economics that are brought into those discussions.

Yours truly,

Silent Bob

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I am as anti woke as anyone on substack, and people yelling "racist" at every opinion they disagree with is a pathetically weak debating style. But boy is this Amy Wax person a racist! Does she know any Asians? That garbage about only this tiny fraction of a percent of the elite coming here shows she knows nothing. Asia is littered with billionaires, and they're not flocking over here. She should try talking to a few if she can hold her nose long enough and she'd see they come from all walks of life, and they are extremely far from the elite. And that part where she somehow tried to blame Asian defects on their being Asian while somehow those same defects are shared by Jews but somehow not part of their Jewishness-comedy gold!

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Glenn, your patience with this woman is beyond anything I could ever muster. Jesus.

Jared Taylor and American Renaissance is White Nationalism--period. He/They may not be the most virulent example of it, but of course they're White nationalists. What's up with her tapdancing? "They [AmRen] 'say' they're for White interests..." Huh?

Who believes Jared Taylor wants a "return" to "colorblind standards"? LOL

And this madness is all the left's fault? Really? How many White nationalists--today or yesterday--have ever labeled themselves liberals or progressives?

They're not in the majority. You can bet that.

I continue to be a proud subscriber to this channel. But there's a reason why more than a few prominent conservative thinkers (like George Will and Jonah Goldberg) have been loud critics of current-day rightist/GOP "thought". Based on this interview, Wax is emblematic of a lot of the things they find so troubling.

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As a practical matter Asian immigration is likely to increase in the future. With our economy defined as Consumption + Investment + Government spending (ignoring exports less imports) a reasonable guess is that we will need to import even more educated immigrants and their investments in the years ahead. That we are all created equal is a powerful statement and I see no problem in it assimilating another wave.

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Honestly? This felt like Glenn had to talk down to Wax, kind of like the venerable uncle.

I left with even less respect for this woman.

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Dec 22, 2021·edited Dec 22, 2021

Glenn, I've listened to this particular segment and most of your talk with Amy Wax and I have to say that I loved how you called her out on her penchant for painting with a broad brush. This was a very excellent discussion.

First and foremost, I have no problem with Amy Wax and her position that America is essentially a white European nation with a certain cultural heritage, although obviously that narrative oversimplifies the assimilation of various Eastern and Southern European groups during the late 19th and early 20th centuries after the earlier waves of primarily British/Germanic/Scandinavian immigrants. I don't believe she places much weight on the sorts of utilitarian arguments you make about the good of elite Asian immigration far outweighing the bad. But I respect her view nonetheless that race and culture are what matter first and foremost to the essence of a country, far more so than how many patents or elite research papers a country produces. I'm sure these kinds of views are fairly mainstream in racially insular countries like Japan, so I can hardly fault her for espousing similar views.

I do find her argument about Asians being disproportionately woke to be unconvincing though. I don't claim particular expertise in these matters, but my impression has always been that by far the most woke people in America are whites, whether Jewish or non-Jewish, i.e. the individuals who are at the vanguard of the DEI movement and those arguing over what pronouns we should use. I remember reading a couple of articles a while back by Matthew Yglesias and Zach Goldberg discussing the phenomenon of the Great Awokening whereby white liberals over the course of the decade of the 2010s moved so far left that they were oftentimes even to the left of Blacks and Hispanics on issues related to immigration, policing or affirmative action.

The empirical argument is that white liberals used to be much closer to white conservatives on these kinds of social issues, but that they moved significantly further to the left over the past 10 years or so, while white conservatives remained relatively constant in their views. Thus while Blacks and Hispanics tend to be to the left of white conservatives, they're actually oftentimes to the right of white liberals on the hot-button cultural issues of the day. Thus you might say that overall as a group whites exhibit greater variability of opinion than do other ethnic groups in America and are more over-represented among both the extreme left and the extreme right.



I especially enjoyed you mentioning the wokeness of Jewish Americans in academia in response to Amy Wax singling out South Asian immigrants because I've always wondered what Amy's views were precisely. She often speaks very broadly about America's European heritage or of the West more generally, but I recall in a past conversation you had pointed out corruption in Eastern Europe in many of the former Soviet republics as an argument against painting with an excessively broad brush. It's never been quite clear to me if Amy espouses specifically Nordicist views that privilege Northwestern Europeans over Southern and Eastern Europeans or if she was more of a pan-white nationalist type. For instance, many of America's leading racialists like Lothrop Stoddard writing in the early 20th century warned against opening the floodgates to masses of immigrants from Southern or Eastern Europe and of the menace of hyphenated Americans. Even today, there are marked differences between countries in Northwestern Europe versus those in Southern and Eastern Europe and I wonder if these are the kinds of differences Amy notices.

On the topic of the Jews though, I give you credit Glenn for mentioning disproportionate Jewish wokeness in academia and I give Amy even more credit for being consistent in publicly condemning it because I was always curious what her thoughts were regarding the work of someone like Kevin MacDonald. I read his controversial Culture of Critique some time ago where he basically argues that as a collectivist race molded by their unique history of market minority middleman dominance and oppression, Jews ended up adopting a so called group evolutionary strategy whereby they exploit individualistic and open societies created by Northwestern Europeans and promote far left ideologies like mass immigration fundamentally for the benefit of the Jewish in-group. Based on Amy's comments in your discussion I'd be willing to wager that she would probably publicly endorse a large portion of that sort of ideology and if so I give her credit for that.

I found it interesting that she singled out South Asians specifically as being at the vanguard of wokeness because I do think that to paint with an even narrower brush there are differences between South Asians and East Asians in that the former have been likened more closely to Jews than has the latter, in part because both Jews and South Asians are racially Caucasoid but also because South Asians skew more towards the kind of verbal proficiency that Jews embody, which leads to outsized representation in the arenas of business and politics and such. I remember MacDonald arguing in Culture of Critique for instance that one major difference between the Jews and the Chinese was that the latter was skewed more towards mathematical aptitude, i.e. in America Chinese Americans are over-represented in STEM but far less so in the arenas of business, politics and culture. Even as market dominant minorities in Southeast Asia the Chinese have often been at the mercy of the political majority in countries like the Philippines and Malaysia, resorting to crony capitalism to survive, whereas Jewish Americans at merely 2% of the American population have exerted a vastly greater influence upon the American body politic and in general have a significant impact upon American politics and culture. MacDonald also links Jewish verbal precocity to the sorts of self-contained radical left-wing ideologies espoused by people like Sigmund Freud or the Frankfurt School. Fundamentally someone like MacDonald sees Jewish Americans as a far more malign influence upon the traditional racial and cultural fabric of America than Chinese Americans, who I get the impression that MacDonald sees as being mostly apolitical STEM types. I'm curious what Amy would make of that sort of argument given that I get the sense that she considers Jews to be white.

Amy mentioned that Asians tend to conform more to the prevailing opinions of whatever the dominant majority happens to be and while I wouldn't be surprised to find Chinese Americans on average to be to the left of mainland Chinese on these sorts of issues, what I think Amy fails to realize is how un-woke and politically incorrect China and Chinese people generally tend to be. The sorts of controversial opinions about race and gender that automatically get people cancelled here in America are often held to be self evident truths in China. There was even the phenomenon of people in mainland China coining the phrase "bai zuo" or white left to mock the excesses of white American wokeism. My general impression has been that Chinese Americans are far more likely to be at the vanguard of defending meritocratic admissions to elite high schools and universities than they are to be at the vanguard of DEI or the proper use of pronouns.

In general I respect Amy Wax for her racial tribalism and don't hold it against her in the least bit. But I find many of her arguments to be as you say Glenn painting with an overly broad brush. I feel like she also lacks the actual nuanced perspective of many of the groups she complains about. For instance, I mentioned above the phenomenon of Chinese mocking white Westerners as being part of the "bai zuo". I guess personally I find it amusing that Amy is actually complaining about East Asian immigrants being woke given that I've always had the opposite impression, that white Americans tended to be significantly more to the left on these sorts of issues than say Chinese or Korean Americans.

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I’m just going leave this here and see if anyone else can make something of it. Best place for trans people to get the surgery is Thailand, that’s a true stereotype. Gender plurality is something more culturally South Asian than American, unless we are talking the tribes. Trans people have always been around, but now they are more culturally prevalent. Does the rise of immigration somehow connect to the gender stuff? It wouldn’t appear that way from the families who move here. Perhaps it’s the nonimmigrant response to a new culture? Something like the spiritualism of the 70s, Americans that know more about Buddhism than actual Buddhists in the old country because the tradition is a routine and not some specialized knowledge as a result of study.

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Amy Wax is truly a fearless thinker and a breath of fresh air in our time of stifling orthodoxy.

It is hard not to notice that there seem to be many American (and British) politicians and professors from immigrant backgrounds who make their names denouncing the West as a bigoted Moloch while they seem to have gold-plated lives and careers. (It all seems both very ungrateful and dishonest).

And if she sends a professional fool like Nathan Robinson into a sputtering "That's Racist!" tantrum, well, that's just the cherry on top.

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