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Heather Mac Donald

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♫ Old Mac Donald held a speech... ♫
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And a dirty dozen more

Heather Lynn Mac Donald (a space in "Mac Donald") (1956–) is an American conservative commentator and fellow at the Manhattan Institute think tank. She is an unusual breed — a conservative who is also an atheist and who has criticized the Christian instinct to credit God when something good happens to somekne but not hold him responsible when they experience misfortunes.[1] Her writing is distinctive in its reliance on misleading and distorted statistics and its very calm and straightforward presentation of outrageous and inflammatory statements.[2] For instance:

  • "Today, the consequences of that cultural revolution [i.e. the revolution of the 1960s] are all around us: lagging education levels, the lowest male workforce participation rate since the Great Depression, opioid abuse, and high illegitimacy rates."[3]
  • "The most cutting-edge research designs, computer algorithms, and statistical tools, such as Fisher’s exact tests, Cronbach’s alpha, and Kernel density estimates, are now deployed in the increasingly desperate hunt for crippling white racism, while a more pressing problem, inner-city dysfunction, gets minimal academic attention."[4] This quote is additionally noteworthy because it contains an excellent example of the misleading use of jargon as bullshit, to make someone seem like they understand something far better than they really do.
  • "Contrary to the Black Lives Matter narrative, the police have much more to fear from black males than black males have to fear from the police. In 2015, a police officer was 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male was to be killed by a police officer."[5]

Succinctly, Mother JonesWikipedia summarized her as "the thinking bigot's Ann Coulter".[6] Mac Donald generally writes in an emotional polemic style, one heavy on sweeping hyperbole and light on actual well-formed arguments.[7] Often her arguments are rooted in shallow racial and gender stereotypes; as an example, in the 9 October 2019 edition of the Daily Wire's Ben Shapiro Show, she argued against racial based socio-economic disparities by cherry-picking some random statistics to contrast a black brute stereotype with the "high academic achiever" stereotype of Asians.[8]

Mac Donald's articles tend to particularly focus on two topics in particular. The first is the bullshit notion that "anti-white racism" is a far more serious problem in America than racism against minorities.[9] The second is a police apologist stance, to the point where in her view, not only is criminal justice reform unnecessary, but there has actually been a "war on cops" going on for the last two decades led by pesky criminal justice reform activists like Al Sharpton.[7]

Ye olde battleaxe[edit]

Mac Donald is known for her hard-line right-wing stances on pretty much every issue in American politics: immigration,[10] police brutality and Black Lives Matter,[11] criminal justice reform,[12] racism in the criminal justice system,[13] and much, much more.

She is particularly well-known for being one of the first and most persistent pushers of the "Ferguson effect" narrative. She first argued for it in a May 2015 Wall Street Journal op-ed[14] and re-iterated it in her 2016 book The War on Cops.

Unsurprisingly, Mac Donald is against affirmative action, arguing (with her usual shallow understanding of statistics) that the reason colleges aren't proportionally diverse are due to "large racial differences in academic skills" alone.[15] Also unsurprisingly, her Horatio Alger-styleWikipedia "merit" based college based admission arguments gloss over the college admission preference that tends to favor the white and the wealthy: legacy admissions.Wikipedia[16] While she claims not to support legacy admissions, she spends far more ink on racial preferences. In one article (ironically as a red herring "argument" concerning the Varsity Blues scandal,Wikipedia where well-off college applicants spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to bribe their way in) she brushed aside the hypocrisy, claiming, without supporting data, that "legacies are better candidates on average than other students".[17]

Police brutality apologist[edit]

Heather Mac Donald is the US's premier promoter of racist justifications for police brutality, hand-waving away complaints of racial bias, and advocating that infamous un-Constitutional policing techniques like stop and frisk be brought back into practice.[7] Well-documented instances of police brutality are hand-waved away; for instance, in the killing of Eric Garner,Wikipedia Mac Donald expressed skepticism that the prohibited chokehold inflicted on Garner by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo actually caused Garner's death, and in the killing of Michael Brown,Wikipedia Mac Donald believed that Brown was shot by police officer Darren Wilson in self-defense, and thus believed that the whole Black Lives Matter movement was based on a myth.[7]

As with many think-tankers (including Christina Hoff Sommers), her affiliation with the Manhattan Institute and their donors might be the reason for this. Most police unions and private prison corporations donate to the right, and they need justifications for their heinous behavior.

Unsurprisingly, she was also an apologist for the torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay during the Gulf War. In articles written in the Manhattan Institute's City Journal, she defended the polices of the George W. Bush administration, dismissing the notion that they could have contributed to the horrific scenes at Abu Ghraib in particular. She also supported George W. Bush's assertion that those captured were "terrorists" and therefore did not qualify for Geneva protections, and she defended some of the torture tactics such as "stress techniques".[18][19]

Rape apologist[edit]

Mac Donald has been dismissive of any rape culture claims. For instance, in a February 2008 Los Angeles Times editorial, using her usual shallow analysis of cherry-picked statistics, Mac Donald hand-waved away the notion prominent at the time that college campuses had a rape problem. In the article, she claimed that rape culture actually represented a "booze-fueled hookup culture of one-night, or sometimes just partial-night, stands" that catered to "libidinal impulses released in the 1960s". She then blamed the victim by suggesting that rapes happen on campus because of the way women dress.[20] As guest speaker at Emory UniversityWikipedia in January 2020, Mac Donald claimed that "the vast majority of what is called campus rape are voluntary hook-ups", sparking outrage.[21]

Mac Donald has also used her rape apologist stance as a bizarre way to argue that women shouldn't serve in combat. In this case, Mac Donald was responding to a New York Times story concerning how the military was failing to help military members who were raped while on their tour of duty. Not only did she blame the victim again ("Some of these women come from environments that made their descent into street life overdetermined"), she also insinuated that the fact that women could be traumatized by a rape in the military was reason enough to not put women in combat..[22][23]


  1. A Place on the Right for a Few Godless Conservatives
  2. "Know Your Enemy: Heather Mac Donald" by Debra J. Dickerson, Mother Jones, 2008 May 6
  3. Scandal Erupts over the Promotion of ‘Bourgeois’ Behavior
  4. Conjuring Disrespect
  5. All that kneeling ignores the real cause of soaring black homicides
  6. "Heather Mac Donald: The Thinking Bigot’s Ann Coulter" by Debra J. Dickerson, Mother Jones, 2008 July 10
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 "There Is No War on Cops: A new book from a prominent right-wing commentator fails to make the case." by Tim Lynch, Reason, September 2016
  8. "Frequent Fox guest Heather Mac Donald says Black people need to act more like Asians before we know if economic racism exists" by Media Matters, 2019 October 9
  9. "Conservative Scholar: The Real Racists Are People Who Call Trump Racist" by Jonathan Chait, NY Mag, 2019 August 19
  10. Seeing Today’s Immigrants Straight: Advocates of “comprehensive immigration reform” let ideology blind them to the dispiriting facts on the ground. by Heather Mac Donald (Summer 2006) City Journal. One of many examples: "Poverty and other grounds for victim status do not, in the conservative worldview, create a license for lawbreaking."
  11. Assessing Heather Mac Donald's counter-narrative about blacks and police
  12. Telling the Truth About Crime and Policing
  13. The Myth of Criminal-Justice Racism
  14. The New Nationwide Crime Wave
  15. "Merit Over Identity" by Heather Mac Donald, City Journal, 2023 April 11
  16. "Affirmative action for white people? Legacy college admissions come under renewed scrutiny" by Collin Binkley, AP News, 2023 July 1
  17. "Unmasking the College-Admissions Fraud" by Heather Mac Donald, City Journal, 2019 March 14
  18. "Heather Mac Donald responds to Marty Lederman on Abu Ghraib and U.S. interrogation policies:" by Heather Mac Donald, City Journal, 2005 January 13
  19. "Too Nice for Our Own Good" by Heather Mac Donald, Manhattan Institute, 2005 January 6
  20. "What campus rape crisis?" by Heather Mac Donald, Los Angeles Times, 2008 February 24
  21. "Emory guest speaker sparks controversy over diversity and rape comment" by Natisha Lance, 11Alive, 2020 January 30
  22. "The Worst Argument Against Women in Combat Yet: They're Sad Rape Victims" by Elspeth Reeve, Atlantic, 2013 February 28
  23. "Military-Sexual-Trauma Syndrome" by Heather Mac Donald, National Review, 2013 February 28