JOHN DERBYSHIRE: Amy Wax, A Heroine For Our Time, Vs. The "Midwit Gynocrats"
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[Adapted from the latest Radio Derb, now available exclusively on]

I’m not sure what the etiquette is for a podcaster borrowing clips from another podcaster, but here’s where I shall find out.

The other podcaster I’m going to plagiarize here is Richard Hanania, whose book The Origins of Woke came out last year to much swooning and pearl-clutching from Establishment reviewers. One common complaint: Hanania posted a handful of pieces here at fourteen years ago under the pseudonym ”Richard Hoste.”

Hanania’s December 28th podcast was given over to an interview he did with Professor Amy Wax of the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Prof. Wax had reviewed Hanania’s book for the American Conservative, not unkindly [The Woke and the Asleep, December 11, 2023], and that’s what prompted the interview.

Followers of will be familiar with Prof. Wax. She has never posted at VDARE, but we have posted plenty of commentary on her: ”about 146 results” said Google when I did a site search on her name, but our internal search engine says 80. Some 44 of those posts about her were written by your genial host here, the longest I think a 2,000-worder I posted following some comments Prof. Wax made about immigration at the 2019 National Conservatism conference in Washington, D.C.

My acquaintance with Prof. Wax goes back further than that: nine years further back. In April 2010 we were both panelists in a discussion held at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, the subject of the discussion being a book she had just published. You can read all about that at my own website: Remarks at a Panel Discussion, University of Pennsylvania Law School, April 5, 2010. The subject of the panel was Revisiting Race and Remedies: Should the Government Play A Role in Eliminating Racial Disparities in Education and Employment?

So I’ve known Amy Wax for some years. The first thing to be said about her is that she is a very smart person indeed, IQ I would guess up around four standard deviations from the mean, perhaps 160.

She started her academic career with a master’s degree in philosophy from Oxford University at age 23. From there she switched to biology, getting a Doctor of Medicine degree from Harvard at age 28—cum laude. The final year of that degree she had also been studying at Harvard Law School, graduating J.D. at age 34, working as a consultant neurologist while completing her legal studies. In her late thirties she was arguing cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Smart? Oh yeah. And that, of course, is what you’d want in an Ivy League academic.

While it may be what you or I would want, though, it’s not what Ivy League administrators want in the 2020s. What they want today is someone who’ll sing along with the Diversity chorus, even if the singer’s IQ is only room temperature. They want Claudine Gay.

So Prof. Wax has been in trouble with the University of Pennsylvania administrators for speaking honestly and openly about race, culture, immigration, and related topics. They’ve been struggling mightily to get her fired. That’s not easy in the case of a tenured professor, but they’re determined.

They’ve been subjecting her to the same kind of expensive, time-consuming lawfare we here at VDARE have undergone at the hands of New York State Attorney General Letitia James, and for the same reasons. Prof. Wax holds heterodox opinions, opinions at odds with ruling class ideology, and voices them publicly, fearlessly. That cannot be permitted.

Here’s another striking thing about Prof. Wax: not only is she supernaturally smart, she’s also fearless.

Back in 2021 she invited our friend and occasional contributor Jared Taylor to be the featured guest speaker to her Law School class on ”Conservative and Political Legal Thought.” She also took him as a guest to lunch with her students at the law school cafeteria. The university authorities reacted by ramping up their lawfare against her and making it ever more plain that they were determined to fire her, tenure or no tenure.

In defiance of that, Prof. Wax last November invited Jared Taylor again to address her class. Here’s a quote from Jared’s account of the event.

The class itself—a one-hour-and-45-minute seminar—went smoothly. I explained race realism and white advocacy to an intelligent and sometimes critical group of students who, so far as I could tell, showed no signs of feeling ”debased” or ”unsafe.”

By the time the class was over, 70 or 80 people had gathered in the hall. They jeered and hooted as each student left the room. This was disgusting. Demonstrators were welcome to bellow at me or at Prof. Wax, but it is contemptible for students to try to humiliate fellow students for going to class.

Prof. Wax and I were the last to leave and were rewarded with a spirited chorus of banality: ”One, two, three, four, Amy Wax, there’s the door. Fix, six, seven, eight, Penn Law tolerates hate.”

Most people would have scurried down the corridor away from the crowd. Not Amy Wax. I wish I had a video of what happened next. She took out her cellphone camera, and walked right up to screaming protestor after screaming protester, taking pictures of their faces and the signs they were holding. She walked from one end of the group to the other and back again, no more than a foot or two away from people howling for her head. I smiled and waved at the crowd until Prof. Wax returned to my side and we walked back to her office.

Amy Wax: The Most Fearless Academic in America, American Renaissance, November 29, 2023

So: not only brilliant, but brave—fearless!

You may have gathered by this point that I regard Amy Wax with an attitude not far removed from hero worship. In fact I would say not removed at all: I regard Prof. Wax as a hero for our time… although I guess that should be ”heroine.” She is a true dissident, valiant for truth, in the mold of Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Liu Xiaobo.

That’s what got me listening to her interview at Richard Hanania’s podcast, the podcast I started off this article by mentioning.

The whole podcast is an hour and twenty minutes, so if you’re not as devout an Amy Wax groupie as I am you won’t want to listen all the way through. Here’s just a two-minute snippet I particularly liked. It starts at one hour, five minutes, fifty-eight seconds in.

[Clip] The one thing I will say though, is that in dealing with the Penn administration for the last couple of years with these charges against me, I cannot tell you what a clown car—and here I’m borrowing your expression—what a clown car Penn is, all right? It is run by a bunch of midwit gynocrats. These people are as intellectually mediocre and undistinguished as you could possibly imagine. All right? I mean, the notion that they care about consistency or coherence or, you know, objectivity, principles, that’s a joke. They don’t care. It’s all about spin. It’s all about PR.

Let me tell you a short anecdote that just sums it up. Okay?

When my lawyer, David, was dealing with the general counsel’s office trying to get a settlement in my case, which wasn’t going to happen because I wasn’t going to accept any penalty of any kind, David said: ”You know, we will take you to court and we will challenge any penalty and then we’ll have the subpoena power and we’ll be able to show that the dean lied about this and that you’ve been inconsistent about that and all that dirty laundry will come out.”

And the general counsel, the guy in the office said: ”You don’t understand, we don’t care about any of that stuff. We don’t. We could be shown to be hypocrites, liars, you know, fools. We will get past it. All we care about is the students apply and the money rolls in.”

And when they say the money rolls in, they mean federal money. That’s where they get most of their money. He said, and as long as those two things happen, we’re good. And that is the attitude of the Ivies. And if you think about it, it makes perfect sense.

Amy Wax Versus the “Midwit Gynocrats,”, December 28, 203

”Midwit gynocrats”—I love that! And of course, a great deal of what’s wrong with higher education in our country, and with the Ivies in particular—some of it illustrated by the Claudine Gay fiasco at Harvard—a great deal of it is encapsulated in that two-minute clip of Amy Wax speaking. ”Midwit gynocrats”: that’s who’s in charge.

Can these institutions be saved? I doubt it. If I were to attain total power in these United States, I would issue a notice to all personnel at Ivy League universities to evacuate their premises within 48 hours. That done, I would send in the U.S. Air Force to bomb those premises to rubble. That done, I would call in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to plough the rubble under and sow the ground with salt.

A completely fresh start, that’s what’s needed…

John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him.) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He has had two books published by com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013.

For years he’s been podcasting at Radio Derb, now available at for no charge. His writings are archived at

Readers who wish to donate (tax deductible) funds specifically earmarked for John Derbyshire’s writings at can do so here.

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