Heather Mac Donald

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Heather Mac Donald
Heather Mac Donald.jpg
Born (1956-11-23) November 23, 1956 (age 62)
ResidenceNew York City, New York, U.S.
EducationYale University
University of Cambridge
Stanford Law School
OccupationEssayist, author, political commentator, journalist
Known forSecular conservatism

Heather Lynn Mac Donald (born November 23, 1956) is an American political commentator, essayist, attorney and journalist. She is described as a secular conservative.[1][2] She has advocated positions on numerous subjects including victimization, philanthropy,[3] immigration reform,[4] crime prevention,[5][6][7] racism, racial profiling,[8] rape, politics,[9][10] welfare,[11][12] and matters pertaining to cities[10] and academia. Mac Donald is a Thomas W. Smith Fellow of the Manhattan Institute[13] and a contributing editor of New York's City Journal.[14][15] She is a recipient of a 2005 Bradley Prize.[16][17] She has written numerous editorials and is the author of several books. Born in California,[10] she graduated from Yale University in 1978.[18] After Yale, she attended Cambridge University and later graduated from Stanford University Law School in 1985.


Mac Donald calls herself a secular conservative. She has 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 has criticized the treatment of boys as a victim group, and criticized universities for seeking to hire "diversity consultants" to help boys succeed.[19]

Mac Donald has criticized welfare and blamed 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".[3] She has written that welfare programs serve as a "dysfunction enabler"[10] and that food stamps cause an "unhealthy dependence".[11][12] She has criticized American immigration policy as "importing another underclass", referring to Hispanics, which has the "potential to expand indefinitely".[4]

Mac Donald has also argued that the reduction in crime in American cities since 1991 is 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.[7] 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.[6] She has advocated for religious profiling by the police on the grounds that "you cannot be an Islamic terrorist unless you're a member of the Muslim faith".[8] She has said that the Abu Ghraib prison scandal's 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 to more brutal atrocities, such as those of Pol Pot.[5] She has defended the necessity of torture as an interrogation technique in selected circumstances.[5]

In a break with some other conservatives, Mac Donald has criticized talk radio for fueling "heightened rhetoric" and argued that criticism of President Obama on talk radio programs was overdone.[9] She views Obama as a moderate or "standard-issue" liberal, not a radical.[9] She has also condemned conservative "hate gestures", such as an incident in which the doors and windows of Democrats who voted in favor of a health care bill were broken, as "cowardly and juvenile" acts.[9]

She has been a very vocal critic of the Black Lives Matter movement, and was among the first to suggest a "Ferguson effect".[20][21] She is also an outspoken critic of criminal justice reform, such as the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, which she testified against in October 2015.[22]

Reviews of her books[edit]

Critic Robin Finn of the New York Times has described Mac Donald as an "influential institute thinker".[10] Columnist George F. Will praised her thinking about urban problems.[10] New York Times critic Allen D. Boyer gave a positive review of her book The Burden of Bad Ideas (2000), writing that "among discussions of urban malaise, where so much hot air has been recycled, this book has the freshness of a stiff, changing breeze".[3] Tim Lynch, the director of the Cato Institute's project on criminal justice, gave her 2016 book The War on Cops a negative review in Reason, 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."[23]


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, on the grounds that she is racist, fascist, and anti-black.[24] 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 added, "In the end, the effort to silence her voice effectively amplified it to a much larger audience."[25]


  • 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[14]
  • The War on Cops: How the New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe. Perseus Distribution Services. 2016. ISBN 1594038759.
  • The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture. St. Martin's Press. 2018. ISBN 9781250200914.


  1. ^ a b Mark Oppenheimer (February 18, 2011). "A Place on the Right for a Few Godless Conservatives". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-02-19.
  2. ^ 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...."
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ a b George F. Will (May 24, 2007). "A Bill That Earned Its Doubters". Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-11-04.
  5. ^ a b c Lance Morrow (January 29, 2006). "Necessity or Atrocity?". The New York Times: Books. Retrieved 2010-11-04.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ a b Mike Pesca (August 3, 2005). "NYC Mulls Effectiveness of Racial Profiling". NPR. Retrieved 2010-11-04.
  9. ^ a b c d "Are Smashed Windows Signs Of Cultural Divide?". NPR. March 25, 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-04.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ a b Geofferey Campden (August 14, 1999). "Food-Stamp Decline Is a Real Concern". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-11-04.
  12. ^ a b Mary Ellen Burns (Aug 12, 1999). "Food-Stamp Decline Is a Real Concern". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-11-04.
  13. ^ "Heather Mac Donald". Manhattan Institute.
  14. ^ a b Morrow, Lance (2010-11-04). "Articles about Heather Mac Donald". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-11-04.
  15. ^ Manhattan Institute Scholar | Heather Mac Donald
  16. ^ Prizes, The Bradley Foundation. "The Bradley Foundation Prizes > Home". bradleyprizes.bradleyfdn.org. Retrieved 2018-12-03.
  17. ^ Prizes, The Bradley Foundation. "The Bradley Foundation Prizes > Winners". bradleyprizes.bradleyfdn.org. Retrieved 2018-12-03.
  18. ^ 1985 Yale Alumni Directory, p. 501.
  19. ^ Heather Mac Donald (2006-05-29). "Not another class of victims". USA Today. Retrieved 2010-11-04.
  20. ^ Russello, Gerald J. (8 July 2016). "The Dangerous War on Cops". National Review. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  21. ^ Mac Donald, Heather (24 October 2016). "The Myth of the Racist Cop". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  22. ^ Mac Donald, Heather (22 October 2015). "The Myth of Criminal-Justice Racism". City Journal. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  23. ^ Lynch, Tim (2016-07-16) [2016]. "There Is No War on Cops". Reason.
  24. ^ Breslow, Samuel (April 7, 2017). "Students Blockade Athenaeum to Protest Conservative Speaker". The Student Life.
  25. ^ 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.

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