Heather Mac Donald’s latest book is subtitled: How the Pursuit of Equity Sacrifices Excellence, Destroys Beauty, and Threatens Lives. It is such a tale of horrors that a number of alternate subtitles come to mind. Animal Farm Redux, How I Came to Love Big Brother, A Litany of Lunacy, 40 Years Before the Mast, Gone with the Wind (were it not taken and proscribed), A Confederacy of Dunces (also taken), How the West was Undone, All Daffy on the Western Front, The Descent of Man (it’s in the public domain), Vanity Fair (also beyond copyright), The Knocking at the Gate – you get the idea. Ms Mac Donald’s book is close to a long suicide note. Not for her, but for civilization. Like Gaul, it’s divided into three parts bookended by an Introduction and Overview at its start and a few pages of Conclusions at the end of the blood and gore that constitute the three parts.
I intend no negative implications to her work, which is outstanding, but to her subject matter which is a recitation of the cultural carnage littering society like aftermath of a magnitude 9 earthquake. And she’s only reciting part of the saga that the casually educated elite is inflicting on the first world. Her book is limited to reciting the disastrous effects that the remedies forcibly administered to cure disparate impact in science, the arts, and the law – the three parts of the book- have inflicted. She doesn’t touch on the other pathologies that are destroying children under the guise of gender affirmation, while also demolishing free speech about sex and gender in general, or the deconstruction of language such that it is no longer a means of communication, or the fiscal wantonness that pervades the planet like a miasma. If she had touched on these melancholy subjects, the reader would have joined Brünnhilde at the end of the Ring Cycle. So, take a double dose of Prozac and read Mac Donald’s detailed description of societal immolation.
Disparate impact refers to the disproportionate representation of “people of color” in the important positions of American life. These people, especially blacks, are thought to be underrepresented solely because of white privilege. No other explanation is tolerated.
That blacks are underrepresented in the arts and sciences despite three decades of preferential treatment might suggest that an explanation other than white privilege merits consideration. Offering such a suggestion in today’s toxic environment will result in the charge of racism, an accusation that will cause the typical recipient of the epithet to wilt like a potato vine after the first frost. This reaction will be followed by groveling and then a confession akin to those elicited at one of Stalin’s show trials.
Ms Mac Donald appears utterly fearless and untouched by the diversity arrows that cow ordinary people. She begins her declaration of reality by pointing out that despite all the preferential treatment granted to black students in STEM departments, there are still not enough such students or graduates to fill the self-imposed quotas embraced by universities and Silicon Valley companies. These entities declare a goal impossible to meet. But in today’s fabulous world reality has less substance than a sigh.
As blacks score lower on standardized tests, the response of academia is to eliminate these tests. When they can’t be eliminated, like the medical licensing exams, the test has been moved to pass/fail to remove any distinction of excellence which would fall unwantedly on whites or Asians. That one-third of black males have a felony conviction and that 75% of all black births are out of wedlock are forbidden data when considering the reason for black underrepresentation. Mac Donald’s book ends with 40 pages of references and notes which support her near heretical views.
Medical schools, journals, professional organizations, and granting agencies were poleaxed by the murder of George Floyd. They have abandoned merit as if it were a rabid skunk. Preferential admittance to medical school to black and Hispanic applicants is now the rule. Underperformance by black and Hispanic residents is explained away by bias on the part of the evaluators. The suggestion that minority resident physicians with low evaluations were less good at their job than white or Asians was meet with invective appropriate for Dr Mengle. Mac Donald notes with directed irony, “If preferences were not so key in engineering ‘diversity,’ academic gatekeepers would not defend them as the only mechanism capable of producing diversity.” Virtually every medical school, journal, professional organization, granting agency, and certifying group has jumped off the diversity bridge. Having a diversity requirement for cancer research, this is really happening, will not speed the fight against cancer.
Medicine is not an easy discipline. Doctors who are hurled at the public with little regard for their competence will have a predictable effect on medical care. Caveat emptor! The rest of science has gone equally berserk as their medical counterparts.
Education in the US is bad enough. Adding diversity to it rather than increasing better teaching or curing social pathologies will make it even worse. Half of American adults can’t read past the 6th grade level.
If the medical establishment has gone mad, the arts are even worse. Of course, a bad performance of a Beethoven symphony will not kill anyone. But the degradation of culture will have long term effects that are pernicious in the extreme. There is now a crusade against classical music and opera. While musical organizations are desperate for funding, they are hiring Diversity Officers with six figure salaries. That there aren’t many blacks in symphony orchestras causes panic in administrators. No one, not even Mac Donald, observes that American music is largely black. There’s no other field, outside of athletics, where blacks do so well. Could it be that black musicians are just not that interested in symphonic music? Regardless, diversity has metastasized so far that the standard blind audition behind a screen is under attack.
Beethoven is rewritten to accommodate today’s war on western civilization. The conservatories are just as mad as the medical schools. Almost no musician will speak on the record about the crazy stuff that permeates classical music and opera. The latter is by nature an insane art. But that was just part of the creative process. Today’s race madness could finish off an already vulnerable art form. Opera has been semi-blind in its casting. Blacks can be whites, but whites cannot be blacks. Porgy and Bess cannot be performed by white singers. Verdi’s Otello can only be black when he’s sung by a black tenor, otherwise he’s white. But now were headed for “color conscious casting practices” which equates to a black person playing a white character as a black one.
Ballet and museums are also on the chopping block. Ballet is gender confused to incoherence. Art is okay as long as it isn’t western. Read the book for the gruesome details.
The final section of the volume is devoted to crime and law enforcement. The average reader is probably up to speed on this issue as its on TV and in the newspapers on a daily basis. Blacks make up a disproportionate percentage of prisoners. The elites have held this to be the result of white privilege or even supremacy rather than the result of blacks committing a disproportionate number of criminal offenses. Reducing law enforcement has increased crime, especially in black neighborhoods. In 2020 74% of shooting victims were black while only 2% were white.
Crimes committed by whites on blacks will make the headlines, while the reverse is either not reported or relegated to the back of the book or dropped after a brief mention. That black males between the ages of 14 and 17 commit lethal gun violence at over 10 times the rate of white and Hispanic teens combined is a verboten topic. Many prosecutors tailor their charges to lessen disparate impact. Anti cop activists have controlled the public discourse to such an extent that 75% of blacks are convinced they are at greatest risk from white supremacy when they are most likely to be harmed by other blacks.
Mac Donald’s last pages are a plea for saving meritocracy and western civilization. She doesn’t offer a reassuring depiction of such a salvage job. Those who agree with her are afraid to speak out for fear of losing their jobs. One cancer researcher anonymously said: “The system will have to rot from within and be reinvented, which will take 50-100 years.”
A few interesting observations. This book was published by DW Books an imprint of the Daily Wire, a conservative website. I’m certain that none of the conventional publishers would touch this book for fear of riot and cancellation. The reaction of the antique media has been what is now routine when confronted with anything outside the narrow path of orthodoxy – silence. I can find no review of When Race Trumps Merit in any mainstream newspaper or magazine. Essential reading for those brave enough to engage its subject. But alas, I suspect those who need to consider the issue the most will avoid the volume.
The truth cannot be hidden forever. Sooner or later (often the latter) it will ooze out.