A few days ago, Business Insider published an article explaining how “complicated” the situation is for Amy Chua of Yale Law School.
Which it isn’t really, but whatever.
New York Magazine followed with another Chua draft – which is fantastic because it offers plenty of room to investigate the Rubenfeld allegations, which are glossed over by many Chua conversations – followed by the New York Times profile. A stressful week!
But the best part about reading the results of three different interviews – all, admittedly, a product of a conscious strategy of speaking out in their own defense – is reverse engineering the professor’s strategy through the similarities to each article. Though you don’t even have to dig deep into each to find the roadmap for the folly it chose to go with. Just look at the beginnings of each of these stories.
Amanda FitzSimons started the article with this picture:
Amy Chua opened the door of her New Haven home in yoga pants and a Myrtle Beach t-shirt that had laced bachelorette party font that was now considered cheugy.
Irin Carmon’s piece for New York began:
“It’s supposed to be haunted,” says Amy Chua cheerfully as she leads me into the cavernous anteroom of the New Haven house she shares with her colleague from Yale Law School, Jed Rubenfeld.
The New York Times article never says anything about going to Chua’s New Haven house, but the picture in the middle of the article is captioned, “Prof. Amy Chua at her home in New Haven, Conn. Credit… Christopher Capozziello for the New York Times, “so a trip was definitely in.
Business Insider, New York and the Times in a row? It’s like they’re running Disgraced OCI up there. Are they all on the 15-minute window too?
But it’s such a demonstration of her lack of self-esteem.
Professor Chua, haunted by allegations that she uses invitations to her home as a means of building loyalty among a group of Yale Law students, seeks to take control of the narration of her by following … journalists to her Home invites. It’s presented as a bit of color in these stories, but it’s so important because you read all three together – when her daughter tells her she has to defend herself publicly, her approach is to “bring people into the house.” Yes, this is an interesting choice if you are trying to convince the school that you are not obsessively courting your house!
It doesn’t end with the home visit approach. Each writer takes a slightly different point of view, but again, it’s the similarities in all the stories that stand out because it’s the similarities that come straight from Chua. She is the common denominator and her consistent play is reflected in all three.
She never threw “parties”, she only had a few people for “advice”: The contemporary texts make this seem very suspicious, but it is also completely irrelevant. The whole point of this controversy is not the extent of her parties, but that she has apparently agreed not to continue using her home as a social hub and then … use her home as a social hub. The school doesn’t take care of parties or meetings, they take care of the alleged breach of contract that could have been avoided completely by saying, “Yeah, let’s get coffee and sit in the park.”
She is a likable outsider: There’s a lot of background to how Rubenfeld was the science star and Chua the brave outsider who rose to fame under his shadow. Oh, so much talk about Rubenfeld’s outstanding references! Almost as if Chua was trying to piggyback the Rubenfeld Redemption Tour from that incident. But it also highlights how little she understands why Yale had a problem with the idea of taking students into their home.
She went out of her way to help people … which school wouldn’t: It is probably no coincidence that your self-portrayal as an underdog forms a thematic bridge to another pillar of your defense: your work focuses on helping disadvantaged students. As I said earlier, no one is claiming that this was not a good or even important job of driving back institutional elitism. But good intentions aren’t really the point here – she’s trying to sell “her good, Yale bad” for obvious reasons.
There is no due process here: She was “blind” and was treated as a “lie as a criminal”, the stories tell. However, to make the criminal analogy to its logical conclusion, this is much more like a suspended sentence. When her husband was suspended for two years for sexual harassment, there was a full, independent investigation. We are now getting evidence that this investigation was the source of Chua also being grounded as a social host. The due process has passed, here people who have already broken the law are held to higher standards.
This is all in retaliation for standing up for Brett Kavanaugh!: All three pieces allude to the idea that Chua will be “canceled” because of her support by Brett Kavanaugh. There are quotes from Chua in the plays suggesting that the outrage over her came from Justice McKeggerton’s public defense. Celebrating Megyn Kelly’s support flirts with the sweeping “national demolition culture martyrdom” – to quote New York history – but let’s not sign Chua for Substack just yet. She seems to want the advantage of blaming everyone but her for her suffering without having to rely on Naomi Wolf as her only follower. Rubenfeld, on the flip side, uses his downtime to advance anti-Vaxxer matters, so maybe the couple is targeting that demographics.
Coupled with her insistence on getting everyone to Castle Grayskull to bask in their power, Chua paints a pretty clear picture of how she got here. She can’t give up the idea that influencing people is all about courting, she doesn’t understand the problem the school has with their sociability, nor the severity of the effects of Rubenfeld’s situation, and so are everyone else blame for being a “flashy” item.
Controversy can sometimes happen to people by chance. And sometimes controversies meet people who just can’t help themselves.
How “Tiger Mom” Amy Chua became Yale Law’s pariah. A complicated story about alcohol, misbehaving men, and the Supreme Court. [Business Insider]The tiger mother and the hornets nest [New York]Amy Chua Controversy Reveals Divisions at Yale Law [New York Times]
Joe Patrice is Senior Editor at Above the Law and co-moderator of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter for all the law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe is also a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.