Heather Mac Donald

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Heather Mac Donald
Heather Mac Donald (cropped).jpg
Heather Lynn MacDonald[1]

(1956-11-23) November 23, 1956 (age 64)
EducationYale University (BA)
University of Cambridge (MA)
Stanford Law School (JD)
OccupationEssayist, author, political commentator
Known forSecular conservatism

Heather Lynn Mac Donald (born November 23, 1956) is an American conservative political commentator, essayist, attorney, and author.[2][3][4][5] She is a Thomas W. Smith Fellow of the Manhattan Institute[6] and a contributing editor of the institute's City Journal.[7][8] She has written numerous editorials and is the author of several books.

She is known for her pro-police views[9] and her opposition to criminal justice reform,[10] as expressed in her book The War on Cops and columns such as "The Myth of the Racist Cop"[11] and "The Myth of Systemic Police Racism."[12]

Early life[edit]

Heather Mac Donald was born in Los Angeles, California,[13] the daughter of Robert (an attorney) and Elouise MacDonald.[citation needed] She added the space to her surname independently.[13] In 1978 she graduated from Yale University with a BA summa cum laude in English.[14] After receiving a Mellon Fellowship from Yale, she attended Clare College, Cambridge University, earning an MA in English.[2] While at Cambridge she also studied in Italy through a Cambridge study grant.[2] In 1985 she graduated with a Juris Doctor degree from Stanford University Law School.[15] After graduating from Stanford, Mac Donald clerked for Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and was subsequently an attorney-advisor in the Office of the General Counsel of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and a volunteer with the Natural Resources Defense Council.[2]


Mac Donald refers to herself as a secular conservative. She has argued that conservatism is superior to liberalism by virtue of the ideas alone, and that religion should not affect the argument and is unnecessary for conservatism.[3] Mac Donald maintains that conservative values like small government, self-reliance and liberty can be defended without "recourse to invisible deities or the religions that exalt them."[3]

She has testified on criminal justice and the deincarceration movement before the US Senate Judiciary Committee,[10] has testified before the Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights of the US House Committee on the Judiciary,[16] and has advocated positions on numerous subjects including victimization, philanthropy,[17] immigration reform,[18] crime prevention,[19][20][21] racism, racial profiling,[22] black incarceration,[23] rape, effect of two parents on crime,[23] politics,[24][13] welfare,[25][26] and matters pertaining to cities[13] and academia.

Mac Donald has criticized welfare and philanthropic institutions such as the Ford Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation for suggesting that welfare is a right; in particular, she has criticized welfare because "generations have grown up fatherless and dependent".[17] She has written that welfare programs serve as a "dysfunction enabler"[13] and that food stamps cause an "unhealthy dependence".[25][26] According to Mac Donald, under American immigration policies, the United States has been "importing another underclass", one with the "potential to expand indefinitely."[18]

In a 2019 op-ed titled, "Trump Isn’t the One Dividing Us by Race", she argued that Democrats and the media are at fault for racial divisions in the United States. She argued that it is those on the left who have emboldened white supremacists. She argued that Donald Trump is not racially divisive because he "rarely uses racial categories in his speech or his tweets."[27]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, she criticized March 2020 shelter-in-place policies as "unbridled panic".[28] She argued that COVID-19 would have a similar casualty rate as the flu.[28] Medical journals, the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have, however, estimated that COVID-19 is substantially deadlier.[29][30][31][32]

Policing and national security[edit]

Mac Donald has been described as "pro-police".[9] She rejects that police are systematically racist, calling it "false narrative."[33][9] She has called for a return to Terry stop and frisk tactics[33] and "zero-tolerance" policing.[33] She has argued that too much criticism of police brutality has made police fearful of engaging in proactive policing, and that this has caused more crime.[33][9][34] She has been a vocal critic of Black Lives Matter.[4] While talking to the conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, she accused President Barack Obama of "attacking the very foundation of civilization" by giving credibility to Black Lives Matter.[35]

During the 2016 presidential election, she described a speech by Donald Trump on criminal justice as "a radical, bold, and important change of course in the prevailing discourse about policing and crime."[36]

She is an outspoken critic of criminal justice reform, such as the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, which she testified against in October 2015.[10] She has spoken out against no-racial-profiling programs for the police, calling them a "politically correct ignoring" of what is known to be the "logical necessity of Islamic terrorisms." She has criticized efforts to instate no-racial-profiling policies, calling these efforts an "illogical tautology" because "you cannot be an Islamic terrorist unless you're a member of the Muslim faith".[22]

She has defended the Patriot Act and argued 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.[20] She stated that the interrogation techniques promulgated in the war on terror were "light years" from real torture and "hedged around" with bureaucratic safeguards.[19]

In her 2005 testimony to Congress, she claimed that 95% of outstanding homicide warrants in Los Angeles were for undocumented immigrants and that 75% of L.A.'s most wanted list comprised undocumented immigrants. Fact checks by PolitiFact and Snopes found no evidence for those assertions; Mac Donald told PolitiFact in 2020 that the figures were a "rough estimate" given to her by an unnamed member of the Los Angeles Police Department.[37][38]

In September 2019 congressional testimony, Mac Donald cited a July 2019 PNAS study on the races of police officers and civilians who are shot, which purported to show that there was no racial bias in police shootings.[39][40] However, the study that she cited has been corrected,[41] and the editors of the journal wrote that the study was unable to support any conclusions about racial bias in police shootings.[39] One of the study's authors, University of Maryland psychology professor David Johnson, told CityLab that he was "not happy" with the way Mac Donald has characterized the study.[40] The authors of the study later called for its retraction, saying that the study continued to be misused, with the authors specifically mentioning editorials by Mac Donald.[42]

Reviews of her books[edit]

Writing in The New York Times in 2000, Robin Finn described Mac Donald as an "influential institute thinker who risks being stereotyped as a right-leaning academic curmudgeon".[13] Columnist George F. Will wrote a blurb for Mac Donald's book The Burden of Bad Ideas (2000) that praised her thinking about urban problems.[13] In the New York Times, Allen D. Boyer wrote a positive brief review of The Burden of Bad Ideas, concluding that "among discussions of urban malaise, where so much hot air has been recycled, this book has the freshness of a stiff, changing breeze".[17]

Tim Lynch, director of the Cato Institute's project on criminal justice, gave her 2016 book The War on Cops a negative review in Reason magazine, concluding, "What Mac Donald calls a 'war on cops' is better described as a much-needed debate about crime, law enforcement tactics, and how to deal with systemic police misconduct," and adding, "Conservatives have some worthwhile ideas to offer in this debate, but Mac Donald's polemics add heat, not light."[43]

Steven Pinker, Charles Murray and Shelby Steele were featured in blurbs for Mac Donald's 2018 book The Diversity Delusion.[44] Pinker, professor of psychology at Harvard University, wrote that "with her spitfire writing and scorn for nonsense she is forcing universities to live up to their own principles." Murray, an American Enterprise Institute scholar, said the book was "crammed with facts and numbers that universities go to great lengths to hide." Steele, a conservative author, wrote, "Not since Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind has a book so thoroughly exposed the damage done to American institutions—particularly universities—by modern liberalism's glib commitment to diversity."[44]

2017 protest[edit]

In spring 2017, a protest group announced plans to "shut down" Mac Donald's speech on the Black Lives Matter movement at a college campus in California, calling her racist, fascist, and anti-black.[45] On April 7, around 250 protesters surrounded audience members and prevented them from entering the building where she was speaking at Claremont McKenna College, whose president, Hiram Chodosh, afterward said, "Based on the judgment of the Claremont Police Department, we jointly concluded that any forced interventions or arrests would have created unsafe conditions for students, faculty, staff, and guests." Mac Donald ultimately gave the talk to a small audience in the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum that was live-streamed on Claremont McKenna's website. Chodosh claimed that "the effort to silence her voice effectively amplified it to a much larger audience."[4] The college subsequently suspended seven students.[46]


  • The Burden of Bad Ideas: How Modern Intellectuals Misshape Our Society. Ivan R. Dee. 2000. ISBN 1-56663-337-0.
  • Are Cops Racist?. Ivan R. Dee. 2003. ISBN 1-56663-489-X.
  • The Illegal-Alien Crime Wave, "City Journal" Winter 2004
  • The Immigration Solution, by Heather Mac Donald, Victor Davis Hanson, and Steven Malanga. Ivan R. Dee. 2006.[7]
  • The War on Cops: How the New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe. Perseus Distribution Services. 2016. ISBN 978-1594038754.
  • The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture. St. Martin's Press. 2018. ISBN 9781250200914.


Personal life[edit]

Mac Donald is an atheist.[49] She lives in New York City.[50]


  1. ^ Finn, Robin (November 28, 2000). "Excoriating the Enablers, in 12 Chapters". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-11-04.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Biography Heather Mac Donald". manhatten-institute.org. Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
  3. ^ a b c Mark Oppenheimer (February 18, 2011). "A Place on the Right for a Few Godless Conservatives". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-02-19.
  4. ^ a b c Blume, Howard (April 8, 2017). "Protesters disrupt talk by pro-police author, sparking free-speech debate at Claremont McKenna College". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
  5. ^ Charles C. W. Cooke, February 26, 2014, National Review, Yes, Atheism and Conservatism are Possible: You needn’t believe in God to believe in the American constitutional order, Retrieved November 6, 2015, "...If atheism and conservatism are incompatible, then I am not a conservative. And nor, I am given to understand, are George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Anthony Daniels, Walter Olson, Heather Mac Donald, James Taranto, Allahpundit, or S. E. Cupp...."
  6. ^ "Heather Mac Donald". Manhattan Institute.
  7. ^ a b Morrow, Lance (2010-11-04). "Articles about Heather Mac Donald". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-11-04.
  8. ^ "Ignoring the Law". Manhattan Institute. August 24, 2015.
  9. ^ a b c d "She wanted to criticize Black Lives Matter in a college speech. A protest shut her down". The Washington Post. 2017.
  10. ^ a b c Mac Donald, Heather (22 October 2015). "The Myth of Criminal-Justice Racism". City Journal. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  11. ^ Mac Donald, Heather (24 October 2016). "The Myth of the Racist Cop". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  12. ^ Donald, Heather Mac (2020-06-02). "Opinion | The Myth of Systemic Police Racism". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2020-06-03.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g Finn, Robin (November 28, 2000). "Excoriating the Enablers, in 12 Chapters". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-11-04.
  14. ^ 1985 Yale Alumni Directory, p. 501.
  15. ^ https://www.manhattan-institute.org/expert/heather-mac-donald
  16. ^ "Heather MacDonald". ctforum.org. The Connecticut Forum. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ a b George F. Will (May 24, 2007). "A Bill That Earned Its Doubters". Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-11-04.
  19. ^ a b Lance Morrow (January 29, 2006). "Necessity or Atrocity?". The New York Times: Books. Retrieved 2010-11-04.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ a b Pesca, Mike (August 3, 2005). "NYC Mulls Effectiveness of Racial Profiling". NPR. Retrieved 2010-11-04.
  23. ^ a b Mac Donald, Heather. "For Black Children, Don't Discount the Value of a Mom and a Dad". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
  24. ^ "Are Smashed Windows Signs Of Cultural Divide?". NPR. March 25, 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-04.
  25. ^ a b Campden, Geofferey (August 14, 1999). "Food-Stamp Decline Is a Real Concern". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-11-04.
  26. ^ a b Burns, Mary Ellen (August 14, 1999). "Food-Stamp Decline Is a Real Concern". The New York Times. Retrieved November 4, 2010.
  27. ^ Chait, Jonathan (2019-08-19). "Conservative Scholar: The Real Racists Are People Who Call Trump Racist". Intelligencer. Retrieved 2020-06-07.
  28. ^ a b Shepherd, Katie (March 25, 2020). "'I would rather die than kill the country': The conservative chorus pushing Trump to end social distancing". The Washington Post.
  29. ^ Faust, Jeremy Samuel; Rio, Carlos del (2020-05-14). "Assessment of Deaths From COVID-19 and From Seasonal Influenza". JAMA Internal Medicine. 180 (8): 1045–1046. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.2306. PMID 32407441.
  30. ^ "Coronavirus Disease 2019 vs. the Flu". www.hopkinsmedicine.org. Retrieved 2020-06-06.
  31. ^ Rettner, Rachael (May 14, 2020). "COVID-19 is killing 20 times more people per week than flu does, new paper says". livescience.com. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
  32. ^ Kertscher, Tom. "Fact-check: Is there a scientific basis for coronavirus death rate?". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved 2020-06-06.
  33. ^ a b c d Friedman, Barry (2016-06-27). "The Problem With Modern Policing, as Seen From the Right and From the Left". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-06-03.
  34. ^ Beckett, Lois (2016-05-13). "Is the 'Ferguson effect' real? Researcher has second thoughts". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-06-03.
  35. ^ Swaine, Jon; Dart, Tom (2016-07-09). "Dallas shooting: Obama to visit area as fresh protests deepen America's divides". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-06-03.
  36. ^ Beckett, Lois (2016-07-23). "Trump's 'vision of violence' may be off but city homicides are a troubling issue". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-06-03.
  37. ^ "PolitiFact - Fact-checking an immigration meme that's been circulating for more than a decade". @politifact. Retrieved 2020-06-03.
  38. ^ "Just One State - The Cost of 'Illegals' in Los Angeles". Snopes.com. Retrieved 2020-06-06.
  39. ^ a b pnas. "PREVIEW Editorial: Scientific versus Public Debates: A PNAS Case Study | National Academy of Sciences". Retrieved 2020-06-16.
  40. ^ a b Mock, Brentin. "The Problem With Research on Racial Bias and Police Shootings". CityLab. Retrieved 2020-06-16.
  41. ^ Sciences, National Academy of (2020-04-21). "Correction for Johnson et al., Officer characteristics and racial disparities in fatal officer-involved shootings". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 117 (16): 9127. doi:10.1073/pnas.2004734117. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 7183161. PMID 32284413.
  42. ^ Marcus, Author Adam (2020-07-06). "Authors of study on race and police killings ask for its retraction, citing "continued misuse" in the media". Retraction Watch. Retrieved 2020-07-07.
  43. ^ Lynch, Tim (2016-07-16) [2016]. "There Is No War on Cops". Reason.
  44. ^ a b "The Diversity Delusion | Heather Mac Donald". U.S. Macmillan.
  45. ^ Breslow, Samuel (April 7, 2017). "Students Blockade Athenaeum to Protest Conservative Speaker". The Student Life.
  46. ^ Friedersdorf, Conor (2017-07-19). "Suspensions for College Students Who Thwarted Free Speech". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2020-06-03.
  47. ^ Prizes, The Bradley Foundation. "The Bradley Foundation Prizes > Home". bradleyprizes.bradleyfdn.org. Retrieved 2018-12-03.
  48. ^ Prizes, The Bradley Foundation. "The Bradley Foundation Prizes > Winners". bradleyprizes.bradleyfdn.org. Retrieved 2018-12-03.
  49. ^ Oppenheimer, Mark (2011-02-18). "A Place on the Right for a Few Godless Conservatives". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-06-03.
  50. ^ The Scourge of ‘Diversity’ - A onetime liberal, Heather Mac Donald now believes identity politics threatens higher education and civilization itself. By Jillian Kay Melchior, Oct. 12, 2018 Wall Street Journal

External links[edit]