Professor Who Said U.S. 'Better Off With Fewer Asians' Faces Calls to Have Tenure Revoked

Several Pennsylvania lawmakers have now joined a growing outcry against a controversial University of Pennsylvania professor who recently wrote that the U.S. is "better off with fewer Asians and less Asian immigration."

State Senator Anthony H. Williams condemned the comments from Amy Wax on Thursday and called on the university to stop allowing the professor to "hide behind the veil of tenure to spew her hateful speech," The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

"We stand for tenure," Williams was quoted by the paper. "We do not stand for hate speech."

Wax was interviewed on economist Glenn Loury's podcast in December, where she described the immigration of "Asian elites" into the U.S. as problematic, the Inquirer reported. She also wrote a letter that was published on Loury's website in response to one podcast listener who wrote in after her interview was released to say that her immigration views "disturbed me."

In her response, Wax wrote that she views Asian people's support for policies pushed by Democrats, a party she described as a "pernicious influence and force in our country today," as "mystifying" because she cannot "see how they are in Asians' interest."

After describing some of her speculations, she said that maybe it could be "that Democrats love open borders, and Asians want more Asians here."

"I don't know the answer. But as long as most Asians support Democrats and help to advance their positions, I think the United States is better off with fewer Asians and less Asian immigration," Wax wrote in her response on Loury's site.

Penn Professor Backlash
Several Pennsylvania lawmakers have now joined a growing outcry against a controversial University of Pennsylvania professor who recently wrote that the U.S. is “better off with fewer Asians and less Asian immigration.” Above, the University of Pennsylvania is seen in Philadelphia on Wednesday, May 15, 2019. Matt Rourke/AP Photo

Penn law school Dean Ted Ruger issued a statement on January 3 denouncing Wax's comments as "anti-intellectual and racist" but said that she "makes these statements as a faculty member with tenure, a status that has done, and continues to do, important work in protecting the voices of scholars on a range of controversial topics."

Ruger wrote that Wax's comments are a reminder that issues like racism and xenophobia continue to be real and present, but he did not say whether the university planned to take any action or investigate her conduct.

State Senator Williams is not the only Pennsylvania lawmaker to question whether tenure can and should protect a professor such as Wax from disciplinary action.

"She does have a right to say that. The question is, does she have a right to say that as a professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania?" Philadelphia City Councilmember David Oh was quoted by the Inquirer.

Oh added that it's important to "challenge" officials at the university "to live up to what they claim is the basis of this law school and this entire institution of higher learning," the Inquirer reported.

State Senator Sharif Street, an alum of the University of Pennsylvania, has also chimed in on the issue. On Thursday, he wrote on Twitter that tenure "cannot be a barrier of protection for the tone and tenor of intolerance," calling on the school to "do all it can to address Anti-Asian hate speech and all hate speech."

Wax has been with Penn Law since 2001, and this is not the first time she has become the subject of outcry.

"I've been canceled so much that I feel like I've sort of gone through the tunnel to the other side of cancellation, which is pretty liberating in a lot of ways," she recently told Loury on his podcast.

She currently teaches one course called Remedies and another on Conservative Political and Legal Thought, the Inquirer reported.

Newsweek has reached out to Wax and the University of Pennsylvania for comment.