Political Correctness Versus Western Values

Two law professors who advocated Western values face racism, sexism, and homophobia charges.

Were you planning to instruct your child about the value of hard work, civility and other Western values?

Not so fast!  According some at the University of Pennsylvania, advocacy of such bourgeois virtues is “hate speech.”

On August 9, University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax and University of San Diego law professor Larry Alexander published an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer calling for a revival of the bourgeois values.  Yes, those same values that characterized mid-century American life.  These include child-rearing within marriage, hard work, self-discipline on and off the job, and respect for authority.  In contrast, the late 1960s took aim at the bourgeois ethic, they say.  As a result, this encouraged an “antiauthoritarian, adolescent, wish-fulfillment ideal [of] sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll.  That was unworthy of, and unworkable for, a mature, prosperous adult society.”

Today, the consequences of that cultural revolution are all around us.  They are lagging education levels, the lowest male work-force participation rate since the Great Depression, opioid abuse, and high illegitimacy rates.

When pressed Professor Wax stuck by her thesis.  “I don’t shrink from the word, ‘superior’” with regard to Anglo-Protestant cultural norms.”  “Everyone wants to come to the countries that exemplify” these values. “Everyone wants to go to countries ruled by white Europeans.”  (Gasp!)  Western governments have undoubtedly committed crimes.  However, it would be a mistake to reject what is good in those countries because of their historical flaws.

Through all of the furor that followed the Wax-Alexander op-ed, there remains an unanswered question: were Wax and Alexander wrong?  Are the virtues of self-restraint, deferred gratification, and future orientation key for economic and personal progress.  Is an anti-achievement, anti-authority culture of drug use and a detachment from the work force inimical to advancement?

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