In the fifth episode of High Noon, Inez Stepman speaks with Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute, who almost certainly has more police community meetings under her belt than any reporter at The New York Times, about rising crime in America’s cities.
Stepman and Mac Donald discuss the reality of who is most often victimized by high crime rates, lay out a defense of meritocracy, and address critiques of the Enlightenment from the left and right.
High Noon is an intellectual download featuring conversations that make possible a free society. Inviting interesting thinkers from all parts of the political spectrum to discuss the most controversial subjects of the day in a way that hopes to advance our common American future.
Welcome to High Noon, where we discuss controversial subjects with interesting people. Today, our guest is Heather Mac Donald. Heather is a fellow with the Manhattan Institute, contributing editor to its magazine, City Journal, and a New York times best-selling author. Her most recent book is The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture. And her previous book is The War on Cops, which we’ll also be discussing today.
Her columns have appeared everywhere, including The Wall Street Journal and New York Times and all the other usual suspects. Heather is no stranger to speaking bluntly and engendering controversy, including in this high new conversation. I think one of her most admirable qualities is her total fearlessness to discuss anything and everything as long as it’s backed by sound data.
In this episode, we discuss the reasons for disparate police interactions with Black Americans, including whether the narrative about racial discrimination or bias in policing is born out by the underlying facts. Heather predicts that unfortunately I suspect she’s right, a violent upcoming summer for us all, especially those of us who live in urban areas with rising crime rates in most of American cities.
She also talks about her experiences at many, many high crime neighborhood police meetings and how the complaints she hears at those meetings differ wildly from what we read in the newspapers. My favorite description of Heather, it I came from a recent Manhattan Institute event, I believe where she was dubbed the freest woman in America. Heather, welcome to High Noon.
Heather Mac Donald:
Thanks. Who said that? That’s new to me. I don’t know-
It was reported back to me from somebody who attended, was one of the first live events, I guess and apparently somebody described you that way at that event. I was like, “That’s a really good description,” because you are just unafraid to say. If you see something in the data or you see something as true, you are totally unafraid to say it. But let’s get into it.
It’s taken as obviously true these days that Black Americans are justified in being afraid of police brutality. Do the data underlying justify the presumption that Black Americans are disproportionate danger from police violence when they walk out the door?
Heather Mac Donald:
No, it’s ridiculous. The whole key to the anti-cop rhetoric is they use the wrong benchmark that compare police activity to population data. That’s completely irrelevant; you have to look at crime data. When you take crime into account rents and violent crime Blacks are actually far less likely to be family shot by the police than whites. The raw numbers are these in as every year, the police shoot about 1,000 people. That’s been remarkably constant over the last five years when the Washington Post has been scouring media reports to try and come up with a complete number.
Whites make up about 50% of those 1,000 police fatal victims of police shootings each year. Blacks have averaged between 23 and 27% of fatal police shootings. Now, that is larger than the Black population, which is about 12%. Nevertheless, as I say, the population is always the wrong benchmark. Blacks, although they’re 12% of the population, 15% in the 75 largest counties commit about 60% nationwide of homicides, shootings and robberies.
And it is the chance which an officer is going to encounter an armed, violent resisting suspect that predicts his own use of fatal force. So when you take crime rates into account, Blacks are by no means at risk from the police. What they’re at risk for are these insane drive-by shootings, where you have kids rolling down the street, opening fire at houses, at parties, and people’s backyards.
Black children are getting mowed down by the dozens to not a peep of protest from the Black Lives Matter activists, or by the press, or by the democratic politicians. That is what is leading Blacks to have a 13 times higher death by homicide rate than whites when you look at the ages between 10 and 43. 13 times higher, they’re being killed by other Blacks at that 13 times higher rate.
You’ve heard personally a lot of these stories because you’ve probably spent a lot more time at these community policing events than most of us have. What are you hearing in some of those meetings that you’re not seeing in the media, that you’re not seeing politicians talk about? How do actual communities, whether they’re Black communities or just other high crime neighborhoods, how are they relating to the police in these community meetings versus how those relationships are portrayed in the media?
Heather Mac Donald:
I’ve never been to a police community meeting in a high crime area where I do not hear the good law abiding residents who show up to these meetings, beg for more police protection, they want more police activity. They want the police to do precisely the things that the ACLU says is racist. They want the police to get the drug dealers off the corners. They want them to get the kids that are fighting by the hundreds on corners off the streets.
In South Bronx, somebody said, “They’re hanging there like birds, whatever happened to loitering laws, whatever happened to truancy laws.” I heard somebody complain about smelling weed in his hallway. So they want the cops to crack down on marijuana smoking, because those people that live in high crime neighborhoods understand that street disorder, public disorder is the seed bed for more serious forms of violence like knifings and shootings.
And they also understand that public is an end in itself. I’ve never heard people say, “We want less police.” I’ve always heard them say, “We want more police.”
That lines up with surveys and national polling that there was reported, if very quietly, reported about some of these issues. But what are the effects of law and order breakdown? Unfortunately, going into this summer of 2021, we are looking at rising crime rates in a lot of American cities. It’s looking like always the summer is usually worse for crime generally and this summer is probably going to be a bad one.
Are we moving towards a sort of Latin American style society where the rich simply essentially hire themselves private protection and the rest of us have to fend for ourselves in a environment of rising crime? What do we expect as people, I guess… I’m now in New York city, what should urban Americans expect in the coming summer in terms of crime rates and in terms of response from the police?
Heather Mac Donald:
They should expect anarchy. It’s going to get very, very bad. There will inevitably be a police shooting because the cops are confronting increasingly emboldened suspects, guns are being carried around without any fear of getting stopped because the cops are not getting out of their car. So at some point, the cops are going to confront an armed, resisting suspect. You’re shooting at him, they’ll shoot back, they’ll kill somebody. There will be riots. And the situation is already out of control.
The rise in crime we’ve seen since the George Floyd death and the riots over the summer is astounding. Last year we saw the largest percentage increase in homicides in this nation’s history and it’s gotten worse in 2021. The lie that the media says is that it’s all because of the pandemic and all of these poor kids who are out there shooting each other in their drive-bys because of their can’t eat because of pandemic, famine or something.
This is ridiculous, it has nothing to do with the pandemic. It’s all about deep policing. There has not been a comparable rise in homicides and shootings in Canada or in Europe, which have had even stricter lockdowns than we have. This is all about what happens when you demonize the cops, when cops go fetal as Rahm Emanuel, once said in 2015 during the first iteration of what I called the Ferguson effect, when officers also were backing off of proactive policing after the Michael Brown riots. And now it’s gotten even worse.
The thing that I find amazing though is that by and large, this crime increase has not impinged upon the national consciousness. The Democrats are still talking about the police. It’s extraordinary. The number of people killed by the police this year is minute compared to the Black children that have been gunned down by Black gang bangers. But the public turns its eyes away for several reasons.
One, because we feel guilty, we feel embarrassed by elevated rates of Black crime. We don’t want to just consider what the causes may be. Is it cultural? Is it something else? This is not how a white supremacist country acts by the way. A white supremacist country would not feel ashamed of itself for Black crime. It would be talking about it all the time. But nothing is going to change because it turns out the media for all of its pretenses of being woke and left wing, which it is, it doesn’t give a damn about Black lives.
It is been silent about the two children in Minneapolis, nine and a 10-year-old who were shot in the head over the last two weeks who are now on life support and a six-year-old who was shot most recently, who died. They’ve said nothing about that. The only thing that is going to change the public attention is when white kids start getting shot, that’s when the media will pay attention, and that’s when the bulk of America will pay attention.
As long as the crime remains concentrated in Black neighborhoods for a variety of reasons, America does not really care that much.
That’s definitely something that we… You’re right, the media doesn’t cover it. I would say, even on the right, there’s a certain reluctance to talk about that underlying reality and the fact that there are a lot of victims, Black victims of this crime that their voices are not represented largely in the media. I would condemn the right for this as well, in terms of cowardice, not wanting to talk about. Data isn’t racist, facts are not racist.
There could be any number of explanations for why we see those disparities in crime, and we can have the societal conversation about… I worked in education reform for many years, we are still assigning kids to schools based on their zip code. And a lot of schools in minority neighborhoods are appallingly bad. There’s all kinds of policy conversations we could have about this, but we can’t even start that conversation unless we acknowledge the underlying fact and reality, and then try to build from there.
But you wrote The War on Cops in 2016, and you mentioned the Ferguson effect and all of that. It seems like it’s gotten a lot worse since then, since last summer, since the riots that happened after George Floyd’s death. I read a piece the other day that said that 20% of the Seattle police force has actually quit. And the guy in the department that was giving the statement for the department said, “That’s definitely underestimating it, not overestimating it because there’s a lot of people using up their vacation time, using up their sick days before they leave the force.”
And just on a personal level, a friend told me a story about his friends, so I guess this is a friend of a friend’s story. But his friend is a police officer and recently turned in his badge. And he did it the day after he received a call to a neighborhood where there was a knife fight between two Black men. And fortunately, when he pulled up, everybody’s scattered and he realized very easily in that situation, I could have appropriately had to use my gun.
And then my name would be in the papers and my life would be essentially over, even if I was acquitted, even if I completely appropriately did my job. And the next day he walked in and decided, I’m doing something else in my life, this is not worth it. How are we even going to find capable police officers to take this job in the future? Isn’t this going to make police violence worse if we have to basically desperately recruit people who may or may not be qualified or may or may not have the kind of training that is necessary for these kinds of extremely tense and dangerous situations?
Heather Mac Donald:
Yes. Recruiting has been over for a long time, and you’re absolutely right, lowering standards is not the solution, but of course that’s been the official policy of the Obama administration and it is as well under the Biden administration with this idea that police forces should be “diverse,” defined by skin color. When that push was underway, most strongly under the Obama administration, what that meant was junking criminal background, the requirement have a clean criminal background because that had a disparate impact on Blacks.
Of course, that’s not a good thing to have people come in to the force that have been involved in crime, above all, in drugs. Long time ago, a police commander who’d worked in the Soundview section of the Bronx, which is where Amadou Diallo was so infamously shot in 1999 in New York said that in his experience, Black and Hispanic rookies don’t break ties with their neighborhood the way traditionally generations ago, white officers would understand that when you become a police officer, you have to start a new life.
Any connections you’ve had in the past that may compromise you, those have to end. And now things are much more informal and police officers, especially Black and Hispanics may continue and hanging out with the people they did before that makes life difficult. There’s also been a push in order to diversify police forces to lower cognitive requirements, because any kind of reading or math test inevitably has a disparate impact on Blacks and Hispanics, so we’ve been junking those requirements.
All of this is unbelievably short-sighted. There’s no evidence that Blacks have a lower rate of using lethal force. In fact, a study done under the Obama administration in Philadelphia found that Blacks and Hispanics have a higher rate of what’s called threat misperception, which means an officer mistake somebody’s cell phone for a gun and shoots. So the push to diversify forces at the expense of higher standards of recruiting is insane.
But now, you’re up against the rhetoric of the defunding movement and the voluntary attrition on the part of officers. Officers are saying, anybody they know, don’t even think about going into this profession because you’re a racist from the moment you step on the job, the amount of hostility that officers are getting on the streets now is overwhelming. Yeah, I don’t know how you get out of it, whether we need the army or something to come in. It may come to that and we’ve seen that.
You had the militarized zone during the Derek Chauvin trial, not a good sign for the rule of law when a jury operates under such a real and completely valid perception that if they don’t convict, there will be riots happening across the country.
Since we’re talking about this and it’s hard to say, but I almost… When I was looking at the evidence for the Chauvin trial, I actually came to the conclusion that there was a pretty strong case for even second degree murder, I think you wrote somewhere, it was definitely not an open and shut case. There was definitely countervailing evidence in that case, but I was almost relieved to find that it wasn’t a crazy stretch of a verdict in my view, my review of the evidence.
It didn’t seem like it was a completely stretch of a verdict because I was worried exactly that it could be influenced in that way. And of course, we’ll never know if it were, but it’s like it’s never a good sign for the rule of law that I felt relieved reading the evidence that actually there might be a serious case for murder two here. That jurors probably felt the same way, that officers of the court probably felt the same way. That’s not good as you say, for, for the principles of due process and the rule of law.
Heather Mac Donald:
Right. Yeah. It’s going to be very hard going forward. The riot ideology, the threat of Black violence is always in the back of our minds at this point, and officers know that as well. That’s another disincentive from staying on the job or going onto the job in the first place.
How do we get away from… Because it seems like the underlying assumption, whether it’s tests applied to recruits or whether we’re talking about the disparate crime statistics. How do we get away from this underlying assumption that if there’s a disparity, that it’s due to discrimination? Because it’s not just in matters of crime and race that we see those kinds of underlying assumptions going completely unquestioned. It definitely go on question with regards to sex as well.
I’m sure that in all the other identity categories that are endlessly being multiplied by one section let’s say, of the left, I’m sure that’s also true with regard to those categories. I’ll give you the most clear encapsulation of that side’s argument that I’ve ever heard. It was a policy colleague not at IWF, not working alongside me, but just in the same field. And she said that we would have equity, because I was trying to push her on, what is equity? What does it mean to have a fair world?
And she said that we will achieve equity when your background, your immutable characteristics or your family have. All of those things have zero predictive statistical power over your outcomes. That doesn’t just sound like impossible to me, that sounds tyrannical. How do we get away from this idea that if there are any differences in outcomes between massive categories, that it’s always discrimination that is to blame and not any variety of… The factors involved here are almost endless.
Heather Mac Donald:
Yeah. I guess I just think we have to be able to look at behavior and talk about behavior, and notice that there are huge behavioral differences say, between Black students and their families and their attitudes towards schooling, and Asian students and their families and their attitudes start schooling. So race is predictive of that, but is that because of racism or is it because there are cultural differences that predict the massive academic skills gap?
I just am not willing to turn away from behavior. I would say that’s the big dividing line between liberal or progressive or left-wing way of understanding the world in a more conservative one that the liberal or the left-winger is always going to see large structural forces at play, and the individual is basically helpless. Individual choices don’t matter, behavioral choices don’t matter.
Whereas the conservative is more likely to talk about personal responsibility, the famous success sequence for avoiding poverty, which is graduate from high school, work full time at any job, and don’t have children until you’re married. 75% of the people who follow that formula regardless of their family background will not end up poor. And so, I refuse to abide by the taboo that you cannot talk about the fact that inner city classrooms are chaos.
And yes, we can blame the teachers’ unions all we want, and I would say teachers’ unions have shown themselves to be positively evil during the coronavirus shutdowns and there for hysteria about their own vulnerability with children who are not susceptible to the virus. Nevertheless, for all, you can talk about the lousy schools and whatnot, the parents in those lousy classrooms are not insisting that their children learn.
They’re not insisting that they take their textbooks home, that they pay attention in class, that they respect their. The other end of the spectrum again is Asians where the parents are utterly fanatically involved in their children’s upbringing. They are making sure that they do their homework, that there’s quiet in the home for them to learn two instruments, the violin and the piano, and those behavioral differences matter.
I proposed as thought experiment in the Diversity Delusion, which is that if Blacks acted like Asians for 10 years in all things that bear on success, whether it’s school behavior, not getting involved in drugs, gangs, not having out of wedlock child-bearing and we still saw the socioeconomic disparities that we do, even though the behaviors were equal. At that point, I’m going to join you in talking about systemic racism.
But when the behavioral gaps are so yawning, it is way premature to talk about systemic racism as the only allowable explanation for disparate socioeconomic outcomes.
We’d have a whole conversation about education, but it’s… I worked for the past 10 years alongside a lot of people who run or teach in high performing charter schools, in urban environment’s oftentimes teaching a population of students that’s not only majority Black and Hispanic, but also majority single parent homes, majority low socioeconomic status. And they say that the first few years of the child being in the school, they’re primarily dealing with exactly what you might call bourgeois values.
They’re primarily saying, “Okay, you need to learn how to show up on time. You need to learn how to be prepared to learn in the classroom,” and that’s before. They can then, after months or sometimes years of essentially instilling a very, very strict school culture, then we find that these students within that culture are finally able to academically succeed, so they have some… I’ll probably have one of them on at some point to talk about how difficult that process is, but it is possible.
But it requires an enormous investment in terms of exactly providing that bourgeois success sequence, kind of culture in an environment where it has largely dissipated and disappeared. But some people would tell us that we should not have this conversation. That you and I are two white ladies and we should not be talking about race, or culture, or critiquing in any way differences between cultures and in different groups of people.
We don’t have, I hate this phrase, the lived experience in order to have this conversation. What’s your response to that?
Heather Mac Donald:
I reject that idea completely. Race should have no bearing on the ideas that any individual is allowed to broach on the investigations into human reality. And the fact of the matter is, is that there’s absolutely no inhibition on calling whites white supremacists, the white privilege, white fragility, whites is the source of endless oppression and mental and emotional exhaustion for Blacks. And whites turn the other cheek and say how unifying this rhetoric is when it comes from President Biden, it’s quite remarkable.
In any case, I’m not going to suppress what I know to be the case. Far from being a white supremacist country, there isn’t a single mainstream institution in the land, whether it’s a corporation, a law firm, a big tech company, a government, a university that is not twisting itself into knots to hire and promote as many Black and Hispanic candidates or students as it can. Managers are being promoted, given bonuses based on their rate of promoting Blacks.
There’s not a single university that’s minimally selective in this country, where being Black does not confer enormous privilege. The idea of white privilege is ludicrous in the face of this. Blacks are admitted to selective colleges with test scores and GPAs that would be automatically disqualifying, if they were presented by a white or Asian student. So if a Black activist tells me that I cannot describe aspects of the world that contradict the narrative of white supremacy being the only allowable explanation for socioeconomic disparities, I’m just not going to accept that because there are too many empirical facts that are crying out to be noticed.
There’s somebody on Twitter, Zayid Julani, I’m hoping I’m saying that right. He tweeted out this really fascinating study. Unfortunately, it was a very small study, but I hope that it’ll just replicate it at a larger scale because I think it’s really interesting with regard to what you’re saying here. He said that, “A sense of victimization and supremacy are linked. When you think of yourself as a victim, make that your entire identity, you can’t think about other people’s welfare, or their feelings, or your responsibility to others.”
There’s a huge psychological element and here, I think this conversation is way, way broader than race. For sure, there’s an aspect of this that touches on sex and sex differences, and virtually any aspect of our identity. There seems to be such a huge psychological pull in our discourse and in our society these days towards the kind of cache of victimization, that seeing oneself as a victim.
I was actually reading Frederick Douglass earlier today in preparation for something else and It contrasts so strongly somebody who actually undeniably was subjected to some of the worst forms of brutality that the human race has ever conceived. This is somebody who was born in slavery, had to teach himself how to read and write on the basis of… And was against the law when he did that. He could have been punished very harshly for that and was able to come out of that circumstance and still see the beauty of the American system.
Initially he did not. Initially, he agreed to with the Nikole Hannah-Jones of the world, which is to say that the institutions of the United States, the constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the ideas contained in it, he came from essentially the Nikole Hannah-Jones” position, which is, these things are themselves white supremacy and a cover for white power to believing that the constitution was the greatest anti-slavery document ever created and seeing the truth and universality of those ideas.
How is this psychological element of… I think it’s two aspects. One is there’s a clear ignorance aspect of how things were and still are throughout the world, sort of utopian baseline, like we’re working backwards from perfect equity versus, I don’t know. As a conservative, I look at it from the ground up and I’m like, “There’s been a lot of night. Life is nasty, brutish and short for most of human history.”
And we were able to build a multiethnic, a diverse free republic in the United States that undoubtedly has its Black marks, but those aren’t the remarkable bit to me. How do we talk people out of this psychological mindset, where they see themselves as Americans? I would say, we all have American privilege here and instead of looking at that through that lens at their lives in America, they’re looking through a lens of, I would say, almost invented victimization at this point.
And again, this is way broader than race, right? It’s almost like people are inventing categories to then place themselves into a victimhood position. What is so appealing about victimhood and how do we talk people or how do we convince people that coming out of that kind of mentality is both good for them and good for society at large?
Heather Mac Donald:
It’s power, and as long as a society confers power on victims, and this is sort of a chicken and egg question, it’s hard to know where you break the link. But you’re in a situation where both sides are enabling each other. Where the victim groups are asserting power against this phantom white supremacist majority, the white supremacist majority is chest beating and saying, “Oh, you’re absolutely right. You are sanctified by your victimhood, we are guilty,” and the cycle continues.
As long as the establishment kowtows to this and says, “Yes, we’re responsible for all the problems in this country or in the world,” then why would anybody give up that power of victimhood? It’s an amazing thing. You just get to, being female is an accomplishment, being female is your power, being Black is your power. There’s people in academia, they specialize in being Black. That is their accomplishments and they go around informing everybody else about how awful it is to be Black.
It’s the same with being female or being gay. These are not accomplishments. I do not view being female as an accomplishment. It is, as far as I’m concerned, probably the most trivial aspect of myself. What is important is what one knows, what one has learned, what one’s intellectual curiosity is. But you’re right, people are inventing phantom ways of being victims. I just finished a piece about the drama division in the Juilliard School in New York, which is most famous for its music conservatory, but it also has a drama section and a dance section. And the Black students there are on the warpath claiming they’re victims.
There was a Black professor, gave a workshop in the roots of the American spiritual and the influence of Black music on American culture, that had a auditory recreation of a slave auction in Africa. The Black students claim they have been tortured unto death by hearing this audio recreation and the school is kowtowing before them. This was preceded by a whole set of demands about how awful it is to be a Black student at Juilliard in the drama division, even though Juilliard’s student body for drama is 50% Black.
That is only accomplished due to massive racial preferences. Given the 12% Black population in the United States at large, these are not victimized people. These are extraordinarily privileged people and yet they have the administration on the run, kowtowing to them. As long as mainstream institutions continue to take this line, we’re not going to get out of it. People have to stop saying, “I apologize. You’re right, I’m a racist,” and defend the institutions of American civilization and Western civilization against the phony charges.
You’re absolutely right, Inez, the rest of the world would be in much worse shape, if not for European civilization. It would be still racked by slavery. There’s still slavery in many parts of the world. There would be no female rights anywhere, there would be no religious toleration. These are all products of the secular enlightenment tradition. And frankly, as grotesque betrayal of the nation’s founding ideals that slavery and decades of Jim Crow were unquestionably, unquestionably blind on American’s part, callous on American’s part, cruel, hypocritical on Americans’ part.
We were founded on ideals that were unique, and we have by now virtually lived up to them. We are the anti-racist country, we are so ready to be post-racial. At this point, for our current situation, we have nothing to apologize for.
You mentioned the enlightenment. The enlightenment is coming under critique now from both ends, so both parts of the political spectrum. You have the left critique that you just laid out, let’s call it the critical race theory critique. The stamp from the beginning critique from Ibram Kendi that says, “Enlightenment ideas are mere,” not even mere covers, but they themselves are the genesis of racism.
And then you have on the right, a totally different critique of the enlightenment, which is to say that, the individualizing or atomizing forces within rationalism or an enlightenment thought about, let’s say liberalism, small L liberalism, liberal systems. That it has eroded some of these foundational structures within society like churches, like families. That that individualization has of turned into atomization and that’s where a lot of our modern problems originate.
What do you think about the critiques? There’s a person rejecting the critiques from the left with regard to the enlightenment, do you think there’s any validity to the critiques from the right about the enlightenment?
Heather Mac Donald:
I just still have to say about Kendi that this is just insane. Africa is tribal, there’s tribal genocide, there’s mutilation of females. There is absolute brutal warfare. The idea of a nation state or of a universal humanity is not tribal. That is again, those ideas of equal rights, the idea of rights itself is a uniquely Western concept of protecting the individual against either the tribe, which is a primitive form of social organization or against a central government.
So, the idea that somehow reason is responsible for tribal genocide or cultural genocide is completely absurd. As far as the right-wing critique, yes, it’s very much based on a revolt against secularism, against toleration. And I would just say that try going back into the 16th, and 15th, and 17th century with religious wars. We now live in a world formed by enlightenment ideas of toleration and secularism.
And so we think of religion as an unmitigated good. Because religion has been told to mind its manners and sit quietly in the corner and you do not have Catholics and Protestants clubbing each other. You do not have pogroms against Jews. And the extraordinary hatreds that were engendered in the pre-enlightenment world, where religion was viewed as a truth that nobody dared question.
So within its constraints of toleration for different faiths, yes, religion can be very positive. But again, toleration is not a religious value, it is an enlightenment secular value. Religion is necessarily triumphalist. It believes it has the single answer. It is truth. It is not relativistic and it does not necessarily, except now, maybe we’ve got lots of kissy wissy between Jews and Christians. That’s wonderful, thank God for it.
But that is not the history of the relationship between Jews and Christians until very recently. Now we talk about the Judeo-Christian tradition. That’s not the way they thought about it. Jews were viewed with hatred by Christians, all of the blood libel, extraordinary hatred. So I would not be willing to go back to a pre-enlightenment world, as far as whether the breakdown of the family is a result of the enlightenment possibly, possibly the celebration of the individual.
I would also say that capitalist affluence plays some role in the empowerment of teenagers, of adolescents. And the fact that we are so wealthy that we can afford to subsidize single mothers, rather than cast them out from the village because the village is a subsistence level and can’t afford to support a single mother and her child. So there’s a lot at play, but I would say we should hold on to the enlightenment values that we have and then try to support through empirical evidence, more traditional values like the two-parent family, which is again, not inherently at odds with enlightenment values.
For this last question, obviously, the ideology that you’re describing in terms of being unwilling to look at data or disparities without assuming that it’s a result of discrimination, whatever… It’s funny, there’s so many words for these, but each time that we try to nail down a word for what is now, I guess known as the woke or as John McWhorter calls it, the elect.
Before that they were social justice warriors, which is something they came up with for themselves just like woke, but they became negative terms. And then they got stretched beyond their usefulness, I think. But let’s call them woke for the sake of the conversation. We’ve seen this push from the woke left move very aggressively into institutions. You mentioned that there isn’t a single tech company, there isn’t an agency, government agency, there’s not a school, there’s not a major media outlet. Those on the right are accepted, but it’s like, let’s say legacy traditional media like the New York Times or any of the major channels like CNN or MSBC.
It seems like this has happened quite quickly in terms of the takeover from what might be called maybe more traditional Democrats or the previous left to this kind of woke ideology. But in the last year, we’ve also seen the formation of a much more vigorous movement pushing back against that. Especially we see that with regard to critical race theory in schools. We’re seeing parents form organizations, come to PTA meetings, come talk to their school boards.
We’re seeing a huge push for school choice, I think related both to the pandemic and to the radical stuff that’s being pushed into schools. Given the balance of those two things, are you an optimist or are you a pessimist about the American future, given that we agree on the difficulty of the project?
Heather Mac Donald:
I’m torn between what the narrative or performative convention is here and my gut instinct. In such a setting, one is supposed to be optimistic. Viewers want to come away with hope, and for the sake of your podcast I should be such. And you’re absolutely right to point to these instances of people fighting back. There’s been times over the last couple of months when the white bashing has gotten so extreme and so constant, and so loud, that I’ve thought that maybe it will finally rouse people to say, “We’re not taking this anymore. We’re not accepting this narrative that whites are to blame for everything.”
And I’m sorry to use the white word. I know it’s a taboo word, but it’s one that’s wielded by the left, so I’m not going to banish it from my lips because that is their category, not mine. So I’m just going to use their category and say that at some point, the idea that whites are the root of all evil should provoke a backlash in some form or another. Maybe you’re right, this is going to happen.
It is a race against time though, because every year that colleges are still up and running and too bad the pandemic didn’t completely knock them back on the ropes as many of us were hoping at the start of this, would have been the only silver lining. It turns out that the elites are coming out stronger than ever with higher than ever numbers of people applying, which is just absolutely nauseating.
So the dynamos, the engines of this hatred for Western civilization continue pumping out every single year, new classes, new graduates that are bringing this ideology into corporations throughout mainstream and mainstream America. So it’s a race against time, and I’ve been observing this for four decades now and it has only gotten worse. It’s not the case that this is a recent phenomenon, it’s been going on for many years.
Nobody paid attention to it, they called it the snowflakes. These are silliness in college. People laughed it off, they thought it was cute. It was never cute. These people were pathetic, but they were being empowered by the adults around them and they were clearly going to bring that into the world at large. So I don’t know. The past four decades have given me no grounds for hope, but maybe there will be finally the long awaited uprising, where people take their history back and take their civilization back.
Whether the growing crime will cause that to change, I don’t know, but I can only hope. I admit that I am not hopeful, but that is part of my nature not to be helpful. So I’m not a completely neutral judge on this. But I hope you’re right, Inez that there’s a growing momentum that can withstand the silencing by big tech and by big media.
This was a safe space. This podcast is a safe space for pessimism. Heather, thank you so much for-
Heather Mac Donald:
… joining High Noon today. It’s been a pleasure to have you.
Heather Mac Donald:
Thank you, Inez. I appreciate it.
And thank you to our listeners as well. High Noon with Inez Stepman is a production of the Independent Women’s Forum. As always, you can send comments, questions, anything you’d like to [email protected] Please help us out by hitting the Subscribe button and leaving us a comment or a review on Apple Podcasts, Acast, Google Play, YouTube, or iwf.org. Be brave and we’ll see you next time on High Noon.