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amy-wax-and-penn-law-dean-ted-ruger

Amy Wax and Penn Law Dean Ted Ruger.

Credit: Julia Schorr

To the Editor:

Most conservatives could have predicted Dean Ted Ruger’s response to Professor Amy Wax’s comments at the Edmund Burke Foundation’s National Conservatism conference well in advance of publication. Ruger delivered the typical progressive sermon – he accused an individual he disagrees with of being bigoted and potentially racist (meanwhile conveniently refusing to engage with Wax’s arguments, similar to the 33 law professors who signed an open letter against her in 2017), he praised the Law School’s diversity by mentioning that more than half of the recent hires are women and people of color, and finally, he mentioned that her comments caused “pain” in the Penn community that he will help “heal.”

These views are dogmatically held in academia. Similarly, the love affair with diversity, accusations of conservatives being bigots, and the notion that words hurt, can be found on any given day in progressive newspapers. As Jonathan Haidt’s Heterodox Academy has extensively covered, academia is dominated by the progressive left. As one should expect, when a university’s professors are primarily left-leaning, the university will seek left-leaning leadership to perpetuate their worldview.

As the saying goes, if you know where someone sits, you know where they stand. Large organizations are risk-averse, and we should not expect Penn to be any different. While I will not speculate about the sincerity of Ruger’s article, I can imagine a set of circumstances in which an individual who is neutral about diversity or immigration policy would take the convenient route of acting out the ideology and expectations of his peers to appease them and save his job – or in other words, play the role of Pontius Pilate.

Ruger’s tip of the hat to progressive politics and worldviews serves as an example of why conservatives should consider studying at another university. According to Ruger, if you agree that some cultures are better than others, either practically or inherently, you are a bigot or a racist, an affront to Penn’s ethos, and seemingly unwelcome here.

The most perplexing part of Ruger’s views is that they implicitly assume cultural relativism is the only acceptable philosophical view to hold. Yet the history of philosophy has countless thinkers who argued in favor of objective ethics and standards, including individuals who influenced the American founding fathers, such as John Locke. Similarly, most religious people think their worldview reflects truth and that non-believers are living immorally. This is why individuals committed to religion, such as Orthodox Jews, typically marry within their group, because they do not want their child raised with the “wrong” worldview. Are these people racists and bigots too? Following the logic behind Ruger’s argument, it seems so. As someone who subscribes to the Christian ethic and disavows worldviews that support violence, I guess I ought to pack my bags! Perhaps those who shrug their shoulders at violence and say all worldviews are equal are more suitable for studies and employment at Penn. 

Sincerely,

MYLES DEAL is a Master of Liberal Arts student focusing on Healthcare Policy. He has a B.A. in Philosophy & Religion and will graduate in Fall 2019. His email address is mdeal@sas.upenn.edu.

All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.