I was pondering a question while reading the recent controversial and somewhat misrepresented Amy Wax interview that came out in The New Yorker. Who would Amy Wax want as a neighbor? A 20-year-old upper-middle-class white Antifa member from California, who spray-paints “hammer and sickles” on the gates of small business owners, and vandalizes and riots every weekend because in his drug-addled brain he thinks he is in the midst of a neo-Weimarian civil conflict? Or would she rather prefer living next to a center-right conservative Indian or Korean techie, who studied 12 hours a day, went to college on a scholarship before getting a job, and plans to get married and settle down? Given the somewhat gotcha-questions by Isaac Chotiner, and the increasingly vague and garbled answers by Wax, it is not fathomable what Wax would want.
It is important to note that I have met Amy Wax personally, most recently at the National Conservative Conference in Washington, DC, and in person she seemed to be genuinely affable and thoughtful. Which is why it was somewhat of a shock to hear her give a speech that was gratuitously cruel and sarcastic. The gravity of any subject that deals with race and immigration deserves nuance, something Amy Wax didn’t offer in her speech or interview, but which I intend to offer her now.
So what is the crux of this interminable, innuendo-laden dross? To distill Wax’s basic thesis, one can conclude she opposes mass migrations from the third world because she wants to preserve the character of the United States, which with Europe belongs to the first world. First world countries are, according to Wax, more conservative, have better values, and are cleaner. “So I would say our country’s culture is best preserved if most of the people in our country are of European origins because those are the people that created our system, but that certainly doesn’t exclude bringing in other people.” According to Wax, this is not racist or racialist at all. “I’m really not saying anything about biology. Nothing at all. I mean, this is not a race-realist question or point of view. It’s totally agnostic on that question.” Saying that she’s “committed to empiricism,” Wax insinuates that the points-based migration system in Australia and Canada have a “differential racial impact.” White French and German kids do not litter. And that, as one might conclude, is that.
It is hard to imagine where one might begin with those statements, but for the sake of nuance, one should start by saying she’s correct on two points. Replying to an idiotic question by Chotiner on whether colonialism led to the third world being poor, Wax states that the question of colonialism is now irrelevant. “Colonialism came very late on the scene. It took advantage of these discrepancies in sophistication and modernity, in advancement in technology, in science.” That is true, and colonialism does not explain why India, Singapore, and China advanced since the late ’40s, whereas some other parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America declined. Cultural aspects are important and somewhat ignored on a mass scale and need to be studied, simply for the sake of academic objectivity. Second, Wax rightly points out that sociology is a dead discipline, toxic and addled with leftist activists and ideologues. “Sociology now is so politically valenced that these topics just don’t get looked at.”
With that out of the way, everything else that Wax hinted at lacks empirical evidence. One wonders when was the last time she visited Japan or Singapore, and compared urban cleanliness there with any random street in her neighborhood. Singapore is also one of the most open city-states for migrants, and Japan is one of the most socially conservative countries. The idea that cleanliness and social conservatism are inherently Anglo-Saxon or white traits is laughable. If anyone thinks Taiwan is more defective than Ukraine or Belarus or even Sweden, his or her sanity should be questioned.
A more effective causal explanation of public disorder, broken societies, and overall lack of propriety and manners can be attributed to the absence of punitive deterrence in law and order enforcement, policies enacted mostly by left-liberal governments and supported by a predominantly white ethnic base. In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Tony Blair liberalized public consumption of alcohol and subsequently started policies that made law and order enforcement difficult for police, which resulted in British police more focused on policing Twitter than the streets in Tottenham. The state of British streets, with broken glass shards, urinated corners, and increasing crime, are a direct result of those policies. One is tempted to invite Wax for a walk in a debauched northern English city on any given Friday evening, and then do an ethnic headcount of the people rolling in their own vomit on a roadside in front of a club. Singapore would seem positively tranquil in comparison. Increases in crime and declines in public order are directly correlated with an unruly social class, coupled with lax law enforcement. Conservatives have always argued for strong law and order, regardless of the perpetrators’ race, class, or ethnicity.
The interesting thing is that Wax doesn’t sound different from the admissions board at Harvard University’s discriminating against Asians. The fundamental argument is the same: some people have different social values, and values are innate, unchangeable, and defined by the culture of birth; therefore, it is within the right of sensible people and organizations to discriminate. For far-right extremists armed with a page-and-a-half-depth of Wikipedia-level knowledge on IQ and an endless Dunning-Kruger complex, the discrimination is often overtly racial. For the liberal-left, it is usually garbed in ideology. You see, that shy, poor, and awkward Asian does not know how to rap or tango, or choose a Châteauneuf-du-Pape, so he is incompatible in these pristine surroundings.
The same logic can be applied to any and every migrant, or ethnicity or sex, and the argument of “innate values” was historically used against women, Jews, Irish, Italians, the first Indians in Cambridge, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Hispanic farmworkers. It is understandable that the left would be borderline racialist and Sanger-ian, and would prefer to see the world through the lens of values, rather than work ethics and merit. It is baffling for a supposed conservative like Wax. Values can be shaped. Ethics and merit are cultural and innate.
Often conservatives are called racists, and that is wrong. It is an attempt by the Western left, since the time of Herbart Marcuse and Theodore Adorno, to tar and paint everyone as racist while being either hypocritical or ignorant of their own side’s racism. But sometimes one needs to reflect on their own side of the playing field. To have a just, conservative society, there are indeed a certain set of bourgeoisie values that anyone can adopt, which often makes lives easier, smoother, grounded and stable; which were prevalent up until the 1960s. Namely, “Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.” Those are the guidance by a certain Amy Wax, from 2017.
She might be surprised to know that almost all Asian and Indian Americans and British and a majority of Hispanics and Afro-Caribbeans often cherish those same conservative values a whole lot more than a majority of white leftists. One would like to think the 2017 Amy Wax is there, somewhere having a second look at empirical data.