Heather Mac Donald

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This article is about the conservative political writer. For the entertainer, see Heather McDonald.
Heather Mac Donald
Born 1956 (age 58–59)
Residence New York City
Nationality American
Citizenship American
Education Andover,
Yale (1978),
Stanford Law School (1985)
Occupation Essayist, author
Known for Conservative advocacy
Religion None (Atheist)

Heather Lynn Mac Donald (born 1956) is an American political commentator and journalist described as a secular conservative.[1] She has advocated positions on numerous subjects including victimization, philanthropy,[2] immigration reform,[3] crime prevention,[4][5][6] racism, racial profiling,[7] rape, politics,[8][9] welfare,[10][11] and matters pertaining to cities[9] and academia. She is a John M. Olin Fellow of the Manhattan Institute.[12] In addition, she is a contributing editor to New York's City Journal,[12] and a lawyer by training.[13] She has written numerous editorials and is the author of several books. She was born in California,[9] graduated from Phillips Academy in Andover in 1974 and graduated from Yale's Berkeley College in 1978,[14] then attended Cambridge, and graduated from Stanford law school in 1985.


Mac Donald identifies herself as a secular conservative. She argued that conservative thinking is superior to liberalism by virtue of the ideas alone, and that religion should not affect the argument and is unnecessary for conservatism.[1] She criticized the notion of treating boys as a new victim group, and criticized universities for seeking to hire so-called diversity consultants to help boys succeed.[15] She criticized welfare, and blamed philanthropic institutions such as the Ford Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation for suggesting that welfare is a right; she criticized welfare as having a negative impact in the sense that "generations have grown up fatherless and dependent".[2] She wrote that welfare programs served as a "dysfunction enabler"[9] and that food stamps caused an "unhealthy dependence".[10][11] She criticized American immigration policy as "importing another underclass", referring to Hispanics, which has the "potential to expand indefinitely".[3] She argued that successful crime prevention efforts from 2008–2009 were a result of efficient policing, high incarceration rates, more police officers working, data–driven approaches such as CompStat in which police efforts target high–crime areas, and holding precinct commanders accountable for results.[6] On the subject of terrorism prevention, Mac Donald defended the Patriot Act and argued a case for secrecy and speed in handling problems as well as the sharing of information between departments within the intelligence community, and advocated that the benefits of government power be balanced against the risks of abuse.[5] She advocated for racial profiling by the police on the grounds that "you cannot be an Islamic terrorist unless you're a member of the Muslim faith".[7] She said that the Abu Ghraib fallout was overblown and that opponents of then President Bush used it to construct an exaggerated "master narrative"; she said that Abu Ghraib was "torture lite" compared with more brutal atrocities such as those of Pol Pot.[4] She defended using torture as an interrogation technique as being necessary in selected circumstances.[4] She criticized talk radio for fueling "heightened rhetoric" and argued that criticism of President Obama on talk radio programs was overdone.[8] She viewed Obama as a moderate or "standard-issue" liberal, not a radical.[8] She deplored hate gestures, in which the doors and windows of Democrats who voted in favor of a health care bill were broken, as "cowardly and juvenile" acts.[8]

Reviews of her books[edit]

Critic Robin Finn of the New York Times described her as an "influential institute thinker".[9] Columnist George F. Will praised her thinking about urban problems.[9] New York Times critic Allen D. Boyer gave a positive review of her book, The Burden of Bad Ideas (2000), and wrote that "among discussions of urban malaise, where so much hot air has been recycled, this book has the freshness of a stiff, changing breeze".[2]



  1. ^ a b Mark Oppenheimer (February 18, 2011). accessdate= 2011-02-19 "A Place on the Right for a Few Godless Conservatives". New York Times. 
  2. ^ a b c Allen D. Boyer, reviewing Mac Donald's The Burden of Bad Ideas (December 24, 2000). "Books in Brief: Nonfiction". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-11-04. 
  3. ^ a b George F. Will (May 24, 2007). "A Bill That Earned Its Doubters". Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-11-04. 
  4. ^ a b c Lance Morrow (January 29, 2006). "Necessity or Atrocity?". The New York Times: Books. Retrieved 2010-11-04. 
  5. ^ a b Julian Sanchez (September 10, 2003). "PATRIOTism Debated: Heather Mac Donald and Julian Sanchez discuss government power in the War On Terror". Reason Magazine. Retrieved 2010-11-04. 
  6. ^ a b A transcript of the weekend's program on FOX News channel -- Paul Gigot, Heather Mac Donald (February 8, 2010). "Hey, Big Spender". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2010-11-04. 
  7. ^ a b Mike Pesca (August 3, 2005). "NYC Mulls Effectiveness of Racial Profiling". NPR. Retrieved 2010-11-04. 
  8. ^ a b c d "Are Smashed Windows Signs Of Cultural Divide?". NPR. March 25, 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-04. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f ROBIN FINN (November 28, 2000). "Excoriating the Enablers, in 12 Chapters". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-11-04. 
  10. ^ a b Geofferey Campden (August 14, 1999). "Food-Stamp Decline Is a Real Concern". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-11-04. 
  11. ^ a b Mary Ellen Burns (Aug 12, 1999). "Food-Stamp Decline Is a Real Concern". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-11-04. 
  12. ^ a b c Morrow, Lance (2010-11-04). "Articles about Heather Mac Donald". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-11-04. 
  13. ^ Manhattan Institute Scholar | Heather Mac Donald
  14. ^ 1985 Yale Alumni Directory, p. 501.
  15. ^ Heather Mac Donald (2006-05-29). "Not another class of victims". USA Today. Retrieved 2010-11-04. 

External links[edit]