An avalanche of criticism and even accusations of racism have greeted an essay co-authored by a University of San Diego law professor.
The editorial by the University of Pennsylvania’s Amy Wax and USD’s Larry Alexander, which appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, appropriately criticizes America’s embrace of birth control and divorce. That would be enough to stir opposition in a society that is quick to deem traditional morality “offensive.”
But the authors also defend America’s lost “bourgeois culture” for its embrace of “family values” and assert that “all cultures are not equal.” They decry the rise of children being born out of wedlock and immigrants resisting assimilation.
Abovethelaw.com has disparaged the piece as “laughable swill” and a “thinly veiled avatar for white male supremacy.”
According to Insider Higher Ed, a column signed by 54 UPenn students and alumni labeled the piece “steeped in anti-blackness and white hetero-patriarchal respectability, i.e. two-hetero-parent homes, divorce is a vice and the denouncement of all groups perceived as not acting white enough, i.e., black Americans, Latino communities and immigrants in particular.”
A group of Penn law professors wrote that the views expressed in the editorial cannot be “washed clean of their racist roots.”
“I reject emphatically any claim that a single cultural tradition is better than all others,” said Ted Ruger, dean of UPenn’s law school.
A USD spokeswoman said in response that the university is committed to “contributions from all religions, cultures and points of view” but gave no defense of the article’s consistency with Catholic moral values on family and sexuality.
Alexander strongly denies the charges of racism.
“There’s not a single racist claim in it,” he said. “I have a multiracial family. This is the kind of thing—when you don’t have an argument that deals with the claims made, you just make claims like it’s racist, it’s sexist, it’s homophobic. That’s a sure sign you don’t have an argument.”
“Offense is largely manufactured,” he continued. “This is another thing people can cite in order to claim power. …This is another way to arrogate power, by claiming you’ve been offended.”