Communications Department


Contact: Katherine Ernst
212-599-7000, EXT. 313

Heather Mac Donald
Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute
Contributing Editor, City Journal

To discuss her new book

Are Cops Racist?
How the War Against the Police Harms Black Americans
(Ivan R. Dee, 2003)

The war on the police is hindering the war on terror, argues Heather Mac Donald in her new book, Are Cops Racist? As police officers are the nation’s first line of defense against terrorists, cops on the beat are likely to encounter sleeper agents casing targets, engaging in petty crime to support their terrorist activity, or breaking traffic laws. (Sept. 11 hijackers Mohammed Atta, Hani Hanjour, and Ziad Jarrah were all stopped for speeding in the weeks and days before 9/11.) But a cop who aggressively tracks down terror leads or acts on his reasonable suspicions is likely to face specious charges of “profiling” Arabs and Muslims. Why?

Over the past decade, cops have been routinely hit with charges of “racial profiling” in their day-to-day police work. These charges--based on faulty statistics and faulty reasoning--have distorted the debate over police tactics. The press, anti-cop groups, and politicians have charged that if the police have “too many” law enforcement interactions with minorities, it is because the police are racist, not because they are going where crime is. Cops have responded to this campaign of vilification by minimizing their stops and arrests, leading to dramatic increases in inner-city crime. Unless the anti-cop crusade is challenged cops will undoubtedly make a similar decision to shut down legitimate police work when it comes to police tactics in the war against terror. 

Evidence of the crippling effect of the anti-cop crusade on the war on terror is already clear:

  • In 1997, Vice President Al Gore put an airline passenger profiling system into place that deliberately ignored any notice of a passenger’s nationality, ethnicity, gender, or religion--major predictors of Anti-American Islamic terrorism. Had a more rational system been in place on 9/11, some for the terrorists may have been apprehended.
  • The FBI ignored an agent’s call to investigate Arabs training in American flight schools in the months before 9/11--not surprisingly, since such an investigation would have subjected the Bureau to a firestorm of criticism for “racial profiling.”
  • Some police departments have rejected the FBI’s request for assistance in locating expired visaholders for fear of being accused of singling out Arabs.

The war against the police shows no signs of abating. Every week, another state requires its officers to document their every interaction with citizens on the basis of race and ethnicity, on the specious assumption that cops, not criminals or terrorists, are the country’s main law enforcement problem. Are Cops Racist? sounds an urgent alarum to the country’s media and political elites: you cannot keep scapegoating the police for crime and terrorism not of their making and expect to remain safe.

Heather Mac Donald is a John M. Olin Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor to City Journal. Heather’s work at City Journal has canvassed a range of topics including policing and “racial” profiling, homelessness and homeless advocacy, educational policy, the New York courts, and business improvement districts.


Are Cops Racist?


















Manhattan Institute