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Amy Wax’s Mexican problem

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Amy Wax, the Ivy League white supremacist law professor who was a featured speaker at last week’s No Racists Allowed Here National Conservatism conference, employs a classic bit of sophistry to defend herself against claims that she’s a racist.

Wax argues that immigration should be limited almost exclusively to people from “the West,” as opposed to denizens of what at the conference she referred to, quoting her master, as “shithole countries:”

These are “toxic topics that lie outside the Overton window in polite society — as evidenced by outraged reaction to [President] Trump’s profane and grating ‘why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?’ That needs to be regarded as a serious question and not just a rhetorical one,” she also said.

Speaking of rhetoric, Wax claims her comments have no racist content because it’s not her fault that the residents of “the West” are mostly white, while the residents of “shithole countries” mostly aren’t. And, she emphasizes, the latter countries aren’t shitholes because of the skin color of the majority of their residents, but because they have bad cultures, unlike the good cultures that mark the West:

Wariness towards arbitrary power, a penchant for self-governance, respect for human rights, and the habits necessary to the restrained and constructive uses of individual liberty—including most essentially in the economic sphere of democratic capitalism, free markets and cooperative wealth creation—are key elements of the culture that is ours.

Also important are the enlightenment traditions of science, reason, logic, and empirical investigation, which promote innovation, rational analysis and problem solving, and scientific progress. In all these respects, cultural nationalists draw a stark distinction between “The West,” or the First World, where these practices are indigenous and have flourished over a long period, and the Third World, where they have been largely imported from the West, haltingly and imperfectly adopted, and in some cases actively resisted.

There’s a lot that could be said about this — and I plan to be saying it in a longer form eventually — but here I want to focus on just one feature of this framing.

Nowhere in her 12,000-word essay does Wax define “the West,” or “the Third World.” The latter term’s original meaning is now anachronistic, but it continues to be used by white supremacists as a synonym for “shithole countries.” So we have to make do with the specific examples she provides. Such as:

[Various authors, including such “right of center” types as Jared Taylor, John Derbyshire, and Steve Sailer] are alarmed by the effects of mass Muslim and non-Western migration to Great Britain and the Continent. Their concerns are not irrelevant to the debate about immigration in the context of the United States, which has also received a large influx from non-Western, Third World nations, especially Mexico and Middle and South America.

Now in what sense is Mexico a non-Western nation, as opposed to its North American cousins Canada and the United States? (Stepped Pyramids asked exactly this question in the comments to this thread).

All three nations are former European colonies, in which European powers conquered the indigenous peoples, and in which the colonial regime was eventually replaced by an independent country whose government was both explicitly modeled along European lines, and completely dominated by descendants of the European conquerers.

In the context of Wax’s argument, the differences between the United States and Mexico are primarily two: the United States is what she calls an “Anglo-Protestant” nation, while Mexico is a Spanish Catholic country. This difference should be of no significance to her thesis, assuming she considers southern European countries to be part of “the West.” (Of course when dealing with white supremacists this is often a shaky assumption).

But the really significant difference is something else: the population of Mexico is overwhelmingly non-white. That’s what makes Mexico a “shithole country” in Amy Wax’s analysis. That’s why Mexico has a bad, “non-Western” culture, even though its historical relationship to Europe is strikingly similar to the United States’. That’s why immigrants from Mexico are so inferior to the Americans they are taking jobs from . . . hey wait a minute:

Jason Richwine and I add to the case for restriction by arguing that low-skill immigration has fueled dysfunctional decline in native workforce participation and facilitated a reduction, noted by many business managers and supervisors, in native workforce discipline and quality. Drawing on legal, demographic, and ethnographic materials, we show that employers prefer to hire new unskilled immigrants, especially Hispanics and Asians, because managers regard them as better workers than comparably-educated, native-born Americans. Employers claim that immigrants perform “jobs Americans won’t do,” and many native workers do seem to avoid the kinds of agricultural, construction, and service work that immigrants perform. The situation is not helped by the elite propensity to denigrate “dead end jobs” and the general reluctance to talk about uneducated Americans’ deteriorating work ethic and deficient skills. Other factors such as rampant drug use, lax entitlement standard (including for food stamps, Medicaid, and disability benefits), workers’ expectations for “good jobs” despite insufficient qualifications, and the dubious notion advanced by some economists that low skill immigrants push Americans up the ladder into better jobs (despite less educated Americans’ severe lack of skills), contribute to the dysfunction.

Oh that’s pretty clever of me, quoting another article by Wax that features a thesis — Mexicans (the vast majority of “Hispanics” in this country are of Mexican descent) are outcompeting Americans for jobs, because the native working class is subjected to massive cultural dysfunction in contemporary America — that is literally the inverse of what she’s arguing here.

Nope, it’s the same article!

Speaking of dysfunctional Third World cultures that don’t manage to inculcate the Anglo-Protestant virtues of hard work and self-reliance, here are some U.S. census stats on household income and ethnic background (All numbers are from 2016. Note that India was the paradigmatic Third World country when this phrase was still in wide circulation):

Indian-American: $122,026

Taiwanese-American: $90,221

Filipino-American: $88,745

Lebanese-American: $75,337

Sri Lankan-American: $73,856

Chinese-American: $73,788

Iranian-American: $72,733

Vietnamese-American: $67,800

Ghanaian-American: $66,571

Palestinian-American: $65,170

Pakistani-American: $62,848

Nigerian-American: $60,732

National average: $57,617

People who describe their ethnic background as “American” (such people are almost all conservative whites): $51,601

Anyway, this article is the sort of “brilliant” work that Steve Sailer is now praising to the skies, as Amy Wax, Robert Mundheim Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania, brings Race Realism to the national immigration debate.

If Amy Wax were, say, a Maoist, or a proponent of the divine right of kings, I wouldn’t pay any attention to her. One of the costs of tenure is that sometimes people will use their academic positions to push intellectually bankrupt, morally noxious, off-the-grid points of view.

The problem of course is that Wax’s views, while intellectually bankrupt and morally noxious, are the opposite of off the grid. White supremacy is at the center of the contemporary American right wing, which is why such desperate efforts are being made both to deny this, and to cover it up with the thinnest of pseudo-academic gloss. This is why Wax was given a starring role at the National Conservatism conference, despite the organizers’ valiant attempts to try to ensure that the intellectual defense of contemporary American conservatism would get back to saying the loud parts quietly again.

Amy Wax’s name is legion, although most of her fellow travelers do a better job of keeping their real views a bit more on the down-low. She is a symptom of how depraved American conservatism has become in the age of Trump, and the fact that she is such florid symptom of the underlying disease should be acknowledged and studied by students of that disease.

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