Heather Mac Donald, author of the new book, The Diversity Delusion, joins Ben Shapiro to discuss the #MeToo movement, identity politics, diversity, criminal justice reform, immigration, and the scary state of academia.
Heather Mac Donald: Simply by virtue of being on a college campus, you have, at your fingertips, the thing that Faust sold his soul for, which is knowledge, and yet students are encouraged to think of themselves as victims.
Ben Shapiro: Here we are on the Sunday special with Heather Mac Donald and I cannot wait to ask her about her new book "The Diversity Delusion." We're going to talk about the #metoo movement. We're going to talk about racial diversity on campus, the quest for diversity. We'll talk about policing and crime, all sorts of great topics with Heather Mac Donald.
Heather, thank you so much for stopping by.
Heather Mac Donald: Thank you. It's my honor.
Ben Shapiro: One of the rare female guests on the Sunday special. Get so much mail about it.
Heather Mac Donald: I wonder why that is.
Ben Shapiro: I know.
Heather Mac Donald: Could it be there's a difference between males and females?
Ben Shapiro: Or I'm a sexist. One of the two. So let's talk about your book, "The Diversity Delusion." So first of all, why should anybody care about college campuses? I mean, what I hear from a lot of conservatives is that basically college campuses are a place for the fringe, people get out of college and then they are ensconced in the real world. They have to pay taxes. They have to be integrated into society, and gradually they become more conservative. So why are we wasting all this breath worrying about race and gender pandering at the university level?
Heather Mac Donald: Because we're all in Gender Studies 101 now. It does not stay put. If anything should have told us this, it was the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. Where you had a direct transmission built from academic rape-culture nonsense into the Senate Judiciary Committee. This is very scary stuff. The whole "believe survivors" mantra that was put out there with a hashtag during Brett Kavanaugh, that is the identical travesty. Destroying due process, destroying the presumption of innocence that now reigns supreme on college campuses. White males, basically, are under a death sentence in this culture today. There's not a single mainstream institution that is not using radical race and gender quotas to hire. Again, this is something that comes out of the identity politics of the university. It is transforming our world. I'm very familiar with that argument that, "oh, the market will take care of it." And Michael Barone, a wonderful Washington journalist wrote a whole book about that that seemed plausible at the time that there's "soft America," which is the universities, and "hard America," which is the rigor of the marketplace, and that all these black studies majors and women's studies majors would just have to grow a backbone as soon as they got out. Unfortunately, that prediction has not hold true. It's the universities that are remaking the academic world in their image.
Ben Shapiro: Well, a lot of folks on the left would, would sort of counter to this by saying that not only does white privilege exists, not only do white people have a long history of dominating politics in the United States, but the statement that, for example, white men are under serious assaults in the culture, that that's overstated white men are still doing generally okay. White men still earn pretty well. And by the way, white men have long history of dominating a lot of institutions in the United States. So it isn't a time for them to take a back seat. How do you respond to that?
Heather Mac Donald: No, the only thing that should matter is merit. I don't care what happened in the past. There is no way that lowering your meritocratic standards in order to compensate for real or perceived and phantom racism or sexism in the past does us any good today. And it's simply not the case today that white males are dominant. There again, there's not a single mainstream institution, whether it's the media that is not twisting itself into knots for diversity, for running bylines, by diverse names, content publishing houses are scrutinizing their publishing lists to engineer diversity. You basically, as a white male, you have to be something that we heard about for blacks in the nineties. You have to be twice as good to get looked at. And this is quite explicit. You know, you have corporations signing on to these pledges to be 50/50 female by 2020. And they mean it. This is, this is something that is very real and is transforming our culture.
Ben Shapiro: Well, one of the complaints that you hear about the meritocracy, and this is not just a complaint, that I think exists on the left, its now, I think, infected parts of the populist right, is the argument that meritocracy is itself a sort of tracked system, that basically the society is going to break up into the people who have intellectual merit and it's going to leave everybody else behind. And the cure for that is sort of these forced diversity systems taking into account other, other factors other than merit in a particular field, because if we have a meritocracy then the people who are the best at things are the only people who are going to succeed. What do we do with the folks who are not succeeding in a meritocracy whatever their race and gender?
Heather Mac Donald: Well, how about we get rid of the ridiculous idea that everybody should go to college and that the only way you can have dignity in life is to have some white collar job that you've eked out after getting your communications or marketing major, which is a completely bogus goal for a university. They should be not involved in that type of very nuts and bolts vocational work. There is honor and virtue and accomplishment in working with your hands in keeping our society going and making things. But we have this insane idea where we only valorize jobs that purport to require a college degree. So I think, you know, there is some problem. I'm not necessarily a utopian when it comes to robots, I think there's a problem there. Leaving aside though whether technology will cause some major dislocation, where less cognitively demanding jobs are really moved into automation, I still think that there's plenty of things for people to do that don't require a google level, you know, intellect.
Ben Shapiro: Okay. So let's talk a little bit about the ideas that are being pushed on campus. You talk about them at length and the diversity, delusion. Let's talk about some of the buzzwords. So the #metoo movement obviously has gained enormous amounts of steam, not just on the college campuses, but also in the broad mainstream culture. You talk in the book and more generally about the inherent contradictions of the #metoo movement. What's wrong with the #metoo movement?
Heather Mac Donald: Well, because it has now devolved into a quota system. If this would stay put to simply be, okay, we're going to take out the most egregious sexual harassers, that's perfectly legitimate because there are some guys that are exploiting their workplace power. That have lost any sense of male chivalry thanks to the sexual liberation. And you have absurdities like Louis CK masturbating in front of females. This is something that was really unthinkable, I think, in the 1950s. If that was its only goal, that would be fine, but it is immediately morphed into a system of spoils. So that again, you have Hollywood pledging for a certain amount of females in directing and writing, script writing, which I love, because, to the extent that Hollywood casts aside it's ruthless box office judgment for the sake of diversity, I love that Hollywood moguls are not going to be able to pull in the billion dollar bucks that allow them to fly across the world in their private jets, while proclaiming the need for climate change, you know, carbon taxes. But other, other areas that are also in the wake of the #metoo quota insanity that should worry us, are things like the science fields. The so called STEM fields, science, technology, engineering and math, which have now wedded themselves to the idea that the only allowable explanation for the lack of 50/50 gender parody in a theoretical physics lab or a computer engineering department is sexism and discrimination. And that is simply false.
Ben Shapiro: I mean, this is the one of the things that absolutely drives me up a wall, is the assumption on the part of folks who are on the left that if there is any sort of disparity, this is clearly due to discrimination. If there's a disparity between men and women in the STEM fields, it's due to discrimination. Even when you have countries in the Nordic states, where the amount of focus that's been put on gender disparity is enormous and the STEM disparities actually growing because it turns out that women don't want to join into STEM industries in the same way that men want to join into STEM industries. And this goes to a lot of the stuff that you talk about in your book and more generally, which is a cultural assumption that we've all made now that whenever there is a disparity, it is due to discrimination and therefore we have to do something about the discrimination by changing the underlying policy. And that, I don't want to preemptively get to your positions on crime, but this is sort of the argument that you've made in the past about criminal law disparities. And so I want to get broader take on criminal justice reform. Obviously it's become a hot issue on the right and the left. The Trump administration passed a form of criminal justice reform. I first wanted to get your general take on what that criminal justice reform system was, whether that was a good idea or bad idea.
Heather Mac Donald: Well, this recent law, you're talking about, the First Step Act? To be honest Ben, I'm agnostic about it because I think that all sentences are arbitrary. It's not as if there's a platonic ideal for dealing meth or dealing crack. And the fact of the matter is politically, it's very hard to ever ratchet down a sentence. You can ratchet them up, but if the penalties had been set at a lower level to begin with, which they've now been tweaked a little bit in the federal system, nobody would be raising a hue and cry. So unlike some of my fellow conservatives that did see this as the end of the world, I don't necessarily. What I object to the most about it is the narrative behind these criminal justice reform efforts, which is the meme of "mass incarceration," which is itself a stand-in for the idea that the fact, which is indisputable, that blacks are over represented in prison, is a result of racism rather than criminal offending. So to the extent that the whole recent criminal justice reform push served to somehow legitimate that narrative, I think it's worrisome. But the actual little changes that were made in the federal prison system, and I hope my good sources that are the former federal U.S. Attorneys aren't listening because they do think it's a big problem. I think we can probably live with it.
Ben Shapiro: Okay. So what do... the meme of mass incarceration, you've spent a lot of time debunking it. Why do you think that that's not true? It's become obviously a very popular talking point. There are so many millions of people who are in prison or have been in prison in the last 20 years. Proportionally speaking, more people in prison in the United States than in European countries. Why do you think it is that there are so many people in prison in the United States as opposed to other countries?
Heather Mac Donald: Because we have a lot of crime here. We're a very violent society. Our murder rate is about 22 times higher than in Germany. This is... we have violence that is unknown in the rest of the developing world. It's mostly gun violence, but now, you know, Britain is sort of trying to catch up with knife violence. But nevertheless, with the degree of family breakdown we have, we've always been a more violent society. As you say, I would say that the moral outrage for the progressive left at this point is any lack of proportionality and the flip side of that is the refusal to talk about behavior as well as preferences and skills and aptitudes. But when it comes to the criminal justice system, when it comes to policing, there is a complete taboo in talking about racial crime rates, which is the one thing that explains the disparities in the prison population.
Ben Shapiro: And when people ask you about this, typically it's guys in the form of "you're a racist for even mentioning any of this stuff."
Heather Mac Donald: Of course.
Ben Shapiro: If you suggest that the crime rate in the black community is higher than it is in other communities in the United States, particularly violent crime, then that obviously is an indicator that you're racist because you agree with the racist cops or rounding up black people sort of randomly. You got a lot of that during the Obama Administration. Have you been getting a lot or the same amount of that under the Trump administration.
Heather Mac Donald: No, because we're all in the resistance, the media is in resistance mode. And so the black lives matter narrative has had less purchase. It's just the media has all of its attention now on impeachment and trying to take Trump down. So the Obama years were different, you know, you had somebody in the White House who was a very forceful and repetitive exponent of the Black Lives Matter narrative of systemic criminal justice racism. That has been removed. Fortunately, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions was quite explicit about his support for the cops. So it hasn't been as much. I also haven't been writing about policing quite as much. I've been focusing on the universities, but in any case, we've sort of moved on. You know, what I would say to people that say "it's racist to talk about the black homicide rate," which is about eight times higher than whites and Hispanics combined. If you were to take Hispanics out of that, you get about 11 to 12 to rate disparity between blacks and whites. Well, let's talk about the criminal victimization rate. This is the civil rights violation of our time: that blacks die of homicide at six times the rate of whites and Hispanics combined. I don't see any Black Lives Matter activists protesting that, but that is a major, major disparity. The whole phenomenon of getting gunned down in a drive by shooting, that does not happen to white kids. If it did, there would be a revolution in this country. In 2016, there were 4,300 people shot in Chicago. That's one person every two hours. They were all black. Can you imagine if 4,300 white people had been shot? It's unthinkable. The media doesn't give a damn about black bodies unless they're shot by a cop. They do give a damn about white bodies. We see what happens if there's a school shooting, you know, and white kids are taken out. "It's the end of the world." There is a school shooting type experience every couple of months in the black community and nobody gives a damn about it except the police and the families of those kids that are shot.
Ben Shapiro: So in a second, I want to ask you to mythbust a little bit all of the focus on drug crime. Because one of the ideas that has been put out there about crime is that the disproportionate number of people in prison is specifically because of the war on drugs and if we got rid of the war on drugs then it would alleviate this problem.
Okay, so let's talk a little bit about drug decriminalization. Yeah, I'm in favor of decriminalization of marijuana. I've heard arguments on both sides of that particular issue, but I'm in favor of that because it seems to me that the war on drugs has been a giant fail in a lot of ways, particularly with regard to marijuana. When I was in middle school, people were dealing marijuana on the playground and it wasn't hard to get. So it seems to me that the law enforcement community just has been unable to control the problem. There's just too much of a market for it. Where do you come down on drug criminalization and also where do you come down on the argument that the vast disparity with regard to people in prison, the so called problem with mass incarceration, that that's the result of the war on drugs specifically?
Heather Mac Donald: Well, let me take the second question first, which is something that I've got empirical evidence for. The other is really a hypothesis and an experiment that we're living through right now, which is what would happen if we decriminalized or legalized completely. As far as the argument that the prison population in the US is driven by the so called war on drugs, it's preposterous. It's BS. It's a way of getting people all riled up against incarceration. If I can run some numbers by you. The state prison population is our largest prison system. It's 88 percent of all prisoners. Sixteen percent of all state prisoners are there for a drug crime of which 12 percent are for possession, I'm sorry, 12 percent are for trafficking. Four percent for possession. Those possession, four percent of the entire state prison population have virtually all been pled down from trafficking. Nobody, virtually zero, of our prison population is there for smoking a joint or even possessing joint amount of marijuana. The reason people are in prison overwhelmingly is violent crime and property crime. In the federal system about 50 percent are there for drug crimes, but it's again, 12 percent of the population. Generally, there's about 116 federal prisoners who were there for marijuana trafficking. And the other typical chestnut that we get from the Black Lives Matter, anti mass incarceration movement is the federal crack penalties. That these are also responsible for the blacks in federal prison. Well, guess who wanted very high stiff penalties on crack. It was the congressional black caucus who said that the crack epidemic was the worst depression that their community had experienced in slavery. These are people like Charles Rangel, Alton Maddox in Brooklyn. The federal crack penalties, before they were revised, are identical to the federal meth penalties. Identical mandatory five year sentence for an x amount of meth or crack. Well, meth is dealt overwhelmingly by whites. About two percent of meth traffickers are black. So if the crack penalties are anti-black then the meth penalties are anti-white, but nobody complains about those.
Ben Shapiro: So I want to get back to the college campuses in just a minute. First, I need to ask you a little bit about illegal immigration because you've written pretty extensively about illegal immigration and one of the things that you've said, for example, is that the illegal immigration problem isn't going to stop until employers stop the illegal immigration problem. That basically E-verifies the solution to illegal immigration. I was wondering if you could expand on that because we may have a slight disagreements on that actually.
Heather Mac Donald: Well, I don't think it's the only solution. I'm actually not against a wall, but I do think that you do have to try and dry up the jobs magnet, that's a mixed metaphor, but end the fact that a lot of people do come into the country illegally because they think they can get work. They are driving wages down in this country. Mass low skilled immigration, whether it's legal or illegal, hurts low skilled Americans, most of all it drags their wages down. So I think it's perfectly reasonable to ask employers to make sure that they are verifying that the documents that are presented to them are actually valid. I'm curious why you're against.
Ben Shapiro: Yeah, so I abide by the law when it comes to this sort of stuff. I remember there was... we went through an agency to try and find our current nanny and before they, and we said this person needs to be a citizen, they brought us a person who was pretty good. We asked for her social security number. She wasn't a citizen. We paid her for her time and coming to see us, but then we said we can't hire you, obviously. I mean, number one, I'm not a feelings guy, but it didn't feel great to tell somebody that they couldn't be hired because of all this. But put aside the feelings. As I say, I don't really care very much about that. My basic problem is the idea that employers are supposed to enforce the law when the feds won't, meaning that if I were to find an illegal immigrant in our community and drive that person over to ICE, I would be arrested for kidnapping, right, but I am supposed to enforce the law when it comes to immigration in a way that the federal government and state government of the state of California will not. The state government of California will not even report it to the feds if somebody is arrested and is an illegal immigrants in the state system. So we don't even have good statistics on that and yet I, as an employer, will be arrested if I, not imprison an illegal immigrant, if I put in an illegal immigrant on my payroll, then I as an employer will be penalized for this. It seems to me that there's nothing deeply moral about me hiring a person who wants to work for a wage, but there is something immoral about the federal government forcing me to enforce the law in a way the federal government will not itself enforced the law.
Heather Mac Donald: Well, yeah. Number one: E-Verify has a safe harbor provision so that if you use the system and it turns out that somehow somebody got through you are not going to jail, so I just don't think that it's either-or. I think it's both-and. I think that you do have to make sure that people cannot get through the system and get a job, but obviously sanctuary cities are an absolute abomination. I don't know of any other area of law enforcement where you have different aspects of it refusing to cooperate. Otherwise it's sort of a seamless web. It should be that way. I mean, we learned after 9/11 that one of the problems was this wall between the CIA and FBI and local law enforcement. We've got rid of that. For local law enforcement to thumb their nose at federal immigration enforcement officers say "you're not allowed into my" jail is a travesty. So obviously we need to get rid of sanctuary cities and Jeff Sessions was trying to do so and was getting blocked, of course, by every federal judge that this came up against, except maybe in Texas. But, I don't think it's not burdensome. It's an instantaneous thing to be able to check an employees' documents
Ben Shapiro: I also say openly, I am libertarian when it comes to the free flow of labor. So I don't have any problem with people coming as guest workers into the country and working. I don't have a problem with H1-B visas. I have no problem with people coming in and filling jobs that employers want to pay them for. Businesses will offshore if they are not allowed to do this and prices's lower because of lower wages. So while there's no question that a higher supply of labor lowers wages in particular areas of the economy, but frankly, "so?" is sort of my answer to that. And that is the libertarian answer not to be callous.
Heather Mac Donald: No borders, absolutely.
Ben Shapiro: When it comes to labor. When it comes to safety, when it comes to welfare, yes borders, right? So I want to make sure that people who are coming in the country, this is why I'm for a wall, this is why I am for criminal background checks on people coming into the country. This is why I don't believe that people should be given citizenship unless they are found to be of net benefit to the United States, but people who are coming in to work and then leaving again are sending the money home or something and not on welfare. I don't really have any problem with that whatsoever. It's an interesting kind of difference between what I would term sort of the the more populist wing of the Republican Party and Libertarian Wing. I've had this conversation with Ann Coulter actually about her book because she was deeply concerned about undercutting the wage base with regard to immigration. I was concerned more about crime and welfare dependency among people who are coming into the country. I'm not sure where you stand on that.
Heather Mac Donald: Well, first of all, I don't think the idea that, well, you're all for importing labor but not for other things is a valid distinction because you don't just import a worker, you import a culture, you import a family, you import as an entire way of being in the world. And I think what I see, I've spent a lot of time in high Hispanic neighborhoods in California around Santa Ana and Orange County, East LA, and yes, on the one hand they've had an incredible effect, on say South-Central Los Angeles, because there's more entrepreneurship in those areas than there was before. On the other hand, what I've seen is a migration of many second and third generation Hispanics into creating a second underclass. You have the highest school dropout rate in the country, the highest teen pregnancy rate among Hispanics. And so, there's wonderful success stories of people moving up, but it is happening very slowly. And there is high welfare use. Obviously, you would say, well, let's enforce the rule against becoming a public charge. Yes, let's do that, but so far that's been very hard to do. So I guess I think that immigration simply should be in the interests of a country, but that is not excluded exclusively about the cheapest wages, but what sort of culture do we want to be.
Ben Shapiro: I mean, I generally agree with that contention. I think that a better example of, maybe a more clarifying example, is where you are on, for example, H1-B visa. So I know that both Ann and people like Tom Cotton, Jeff Sessions very much against the use of H1-B visas because they feel that that's depressing wages even in high wage industries, the use of H1-B visas. There, I don't have much of a problem. I don't really have any problem at all. Frankly, I have a personal stake in the matter. My father-in-law was here on an H1-B visa before becoming a citizen of the United States. And, obviously, my wife is a citizen of the United States. Where are you on H1-Bs?
Heather Mac Donald: Yeah. Frankly, I'm going to punt on that because I haven't really... I'm, I'm influenced by people like Mark Krikorian of the Center of Immigration Studies, who I respect enormously, who do say that it's, without your father... I don't know a thing about your father-in-law...
Ben Shapiro: Yeah, yeah. No, its fine. It's unfair of me and I am breaking my own rule, i don't like to invoke personal stories
Heather Mac Donald: Right, no personalizing. But, you know, that this is in fact, they just are going for the lowest common denominator and that there is no shortage of American labor for, you know, low level computer inputting jobs or something. So, I don't know. On the other hand, I'm also very open to the argument that I've heard from my libertarian friends, who were former business owners that it's not about low wages, we want work skills. And that I'm completely sympathetic to. It is undeniably the case, that a lot of Americans have lost a really reliable work ethic and a lot of immigrants do have that. So, you know, and we all are bargain hunters, we seemed to be wired for wanting the cheapest thing. And so a lot of us are complicit in this of wanting cheaper goods, cheaper services. So it's a very tough problem. But I guess I would say on the whole, I think that we need to slow down the rate of demographic change and I know this is getting a lot of conservative media hosts in a lot of trouble for saying things like that, but I think that a pause is necessary for assimilation, and just to see, you know, how things are playing out. Because, we've had some very, very radical, massive population flows recently and it's not clear to me when you combine this with our ethic of anti-assimilation, how this is gonna work out or is working out because I think we're already seeing some problems of that where you have even very high skilled immigrants like Asians adopting the oppositional mentality of a victim ideology, which is incredibly perverse.
Ben Shapiro: Right. Let's talk a little bit about the demographic change argument before we get ourselves boycotted because I think that what you mean by that is actually not what some folks on the left would suggest what you mean by that? What they think you mean by that is that we need more white people and fewer brown people, right? That was the way they would put it on MSNBC.
Heather Mac Donald: Right.
Ben Shapiro: Is that when you say demographic change, what you're deeply worried about is too many black and brown people and not enough white people. And it seems to me that the argument, whether it's made by Tucker Carlson or by you or by Ann Coulter, for that matter, with regard to this particular issue, has not really been a color based argument. It's been a culture based argument.
Heather Mac Donald: Right, absolutely.
Ben Shapiro: Meaning that if somebody wants to come in and assimilate to American values, I don't care what color they are, I don't really care what religion they are, what shul or mosque or church they go to. What I care about is them assimilating to basic American values, including values of community, including values of free speech and free enterprise and non dependency. And if you're willing to assimilate and learn English the way that everybody else's great grandparents did three generations ago, my great grandparents did, then that's totally fine, then come on in. But the problem is that we have had this multicultural ethos that has really helped fragment and destroy the culture overall.
Heather Mac Donald: Right! We are teaching people to hate. I completely agree. Culture's what matters. Bourgeois habits of deferred gratification, self control, a sense of public space, not littering, you know, cleaning up around your house. Those things really matter. I think Americans in the sense, you know, I've been criticized for being incredibly naive, we are so ready to be post racial. If only the damn diversity bureaucrats would get out of the K through 12 schools, get out of the pre-K schools, where they are trying to... It's amazing. I mean, I was talking to somebody who has a child in a gifted and talented school here in LA up in Mulholland drive. They are now starting to do affinity group training for the youngest elementary school so that kids can start developing their tribal group identity as early a possible age. And so if people came with a sense of, my goal here is to become American, nobody would give a damn. But you also see still cultural habits that are not the same forward looking entrepreneurship in some of the groups we're bringing in. And that's a problem.
Ben Shapiro: Okay. So let's talk in a second about this multicultural ethos, the diversity ethos that you talk about in your book.
Okay, so let's talk a little about the multicultural ethos because that really is at the heart of the diversity delusion. It is the title of the book. What are colleges getting wrong about diversity?
Heather Mac Donald: Well, they define it by the trivialities of gonads and melanin. And now all the various gender identities that are being rapidly crafted by desperate students who are finding it's getting harder and harder to be transgressive and get your own personal bureaucracy to cater to your delusions about being oppressed. Frankly, I think diversity comes naturally. I don't think any individual is diverse, but I don't even think it should be a goal in any sense. Even intellectual diversity, if we didn't have such a monolithic... I think I would excise the word completely. I would not put in good diversity versus the preposterous narrow, narcissistic diversity is currently defined. I think the goal of university should be knowledge, pure and simple, and a gratitude for the greatness of the past, for the works of sublime creation that it is our privilege to have inherited. But now diversity is just a code word for a whole set of things. Primarily what you mentioned before, Ben, which is this idea that any lack of proportional representation is by definition a signal that somewhere, someplace or everywhere is lethal discrimination. And, it is also the diversity ideology is giving students a ground to be completely out of touch with reality. It's just, it's remarkable. The reigning view is that to be a female or a so called student of color on an American college campus today is to be at literal threat to your life from circumambient racism and sexism. This is not hyperbole. Students really believe it. You know, the students occupied the president's office at Brown complaining about the fact that they had to follow such quotidian academic expectations as going to class or studying for exams because they said they were focused so hard on quote, "staying alive at Brown."
Now there is no more privileged place in human history than a college campus. I don't care if you're purple, green or blue, or if you come from a family of $25,000 a year or $2,000,000 a year simply by virtue of being on a college campus, you have at your fingertips, the thing that Faust sold his soul for, which is knowledge. Every intellectual resource is open to you without regards to your color or your gender. Every book that has ever been written, you can read. This is something that would have driven the renaissance humanist mad with envy and desire, and yet students are encouraged by their presidents, by the metastasizing, sprawling, multimillion dollar diversity bureaucracy to think of themselves as victims.
Ben Shapiro: Where'd all this gets started? Because if you look at the history of the university, supposedly it was supposed to be what you're talking about, you know, bringing knowledge, trying to study eternal truths, looking at the universe around you and now it's a competitive Olympics of victimhood. How did that get started and who's interested in promulgating this?
Heather Mac Donald: Well, I think it started in the sixties when you had civil rights movements morphing into black power and schools that for completely understandable reasons, said, boy, we've got to quickly jumpstart a black student body and employed the same technique that they're employing today, which is incredibly self destructive and counterproductive, which is vast racial preferences. Bringing students in who do not share the average academic skills of their peers in order to fulfill a racial quota. And, students that are brought in under any type of preference, it could be a gender preference, whatever, who are not competitively qualified are going to struggle. So you had the creation of black studies majors, ethnic studies majors to try and give something to these preference beneficiaries that they could succeed at. And then you had the rise of high theory, which is something initially quite remote.
This was deconstruction, poststructuralism, which were very arcane and very bizarre theories about language that I unfortunately wasted my college years absorbing uncritically, without any sense of skepticism towards them. But they still read the Canon. And so even though I was reading Jaques Derrida to my eternal regret, I was also reading Wordsworth and Edmund Spenser and John Milton, and wallowing in language of just exquisite beauty. In the eighties, some of the core ideas of deconstruction took a 180 degree turn. Deconstruction denied that there was such a thing as a human self. A completely counterfactual proposition, but nevertheless one that lured in stupid students like me. The weird thing is that deconstruction in the eighties, some of their ideas turned into this roaring revival of the self. So now it's all about me. Narcissism. As a female, I'm supposed to only want to study female writers or I want to read books to get a sense of how oppressed females were in the past. This is just a travesty of what education should be, which is about taking our own petty selves out of ourselves into a world that is so much larger than our minds could ever have encompassed. And instead, students only want to study their sexuality, their sexual preferences. And again, they're being encouraged in this, by their faculty.
Ben Shapiro: So let me give you the counterargument. The counterargument, for the sake of playing devil's advocate, for a lot of folks on the left is that the prevailing theory of America and of the West had been that it is a great and glorious place filled with great discoveries and freedoms and prosperity, but that prosperity and freedom has been built on the backs of a lot of different various victimized subgroups over the course of history and their plates have been ignored and that it is incumbent on us now that we have reached beyond the point of Western Civilization alone to look at all these various subgroups and recognize that they have been intersectionally victimized and we can judge them by their intersexual categories. If you're a member of several categories, then you have been victimized in a variety of ways. This means that you have an experience that no one else can understand because you yourself have been a member of these particular groups and your subjective membership in any of these groups means that we all have to judge you that way. And if we fail to judge you that way, then we are simply standing in for the patriarchal oppressive system above. Is that completely wrong? Seventy percent wrong? What percentage wrong is that when it comes to building a better world?
Heather Mac Donald: Well, we have not been at risk for a sort of a nationalist, self-glorifying narrative about our past for quite some time now. I don't think there's any dearth of our history books or our history courses papering over the very real, very unfathonamble hypocrisies that dominated America, for instance, for nearly 200 years with our stunning blindness to the fact that both slavery and de jure segregation were just blatant violations of what this nation proported to stand for. And it's always just amazing to see the patience, the patriotism, the courage with which the civil rights pioneers were willing to keep fighting to get America to live up to its ideals. But the idea that now we're still living in this world that is blind to the failures of the West, I think is completely counterfactual and it is the case, I would also say what's empirically demonstrably wrong is the idea that the West is today the font of all evil.
If you want to see a patriarchy, you know, go to rural Nepal, where girls who are having their periods are forced to stay in a hut because they're so impure, or if you want to see homophobia, try and sponsor a gay pride march in Uganda. Egypt recently imprisoned people at a rock concert who had unfurled a rainbow banner in solidarity with the lead singer of a rock band who was gay, and they're considering criminalizing homosexuality. The rest of the world, the non Western world, every single day is trying to come to the West, whether legally or illegally. Why are they deluded? Are they deluded about the fact that coming to this place of a vicious racism and sexism will oppress them? Or do they realize that at this point, there has never been a freer, more tolerant opportunity filled society in human history. And this is a cliche among conservatives, but I guess it bears repeating, that there's hardly a culture in the world that has not practiced slavery, including Africa. But the West was the society that developed the abstract ideals of a humanity that transcended tribal identities. That paved the way for outlawing slavery. It didn't happen elsewhere. It happened in the West, because of the enlightenment and the evolution of ideas of fairness due process and a universal humanity.
Ben Shapiro: Now for saying all this stuff obviously you are very threatening person. I mean, I know that you sound very threatening, you're a very scary human.
Heather Mac Donald: I try to be scary, yes.
Ben Shapiro: Both of us have been protested at college campuses. I feel sort of bad. I always mention your name when people talk about protests on college campus, because I get all sorts of attention for going to Berkeley with 600 police officers, but you've been physically accosted at places like Claremont Mckenna. Can you talk a little bit about your experiences on college campuses?
Heather Mac Donald: Well, Claremont was definitely the nadir of yahoo students, that were out there to try and feel like they had some, you know, social justice mission to feel important. I was there to speak about my previous book, "The War on Cops," and to bring the message that there are many law abiding residents of high crime neighborhoods who love the police. You know, I cannot go to a police community meeting in South LA or East Harlem where I don't hear "we want the cops, please get the drug dealers off the street" with all apologies to the war on drugs. But people feel this is an oppression. And so for that, for saying that there are people who support the cops in inner city communities and that there's no government agency more dedicated to the proposition that Black Lives Matter than the police, because they saved tens of thousands of minority lives starting in the 1990s through proactive policing.
I was declared a homophobe, racist, classist, anti female, you know, a colonialist, you name it, by the students at the colleges around Claremont Mckenna, which is a small liberal arts college in East of Los Angeles. They blockaded the auditorium where I was supposed to speak so that no students could come and hear me enter. I was taken in with a police escort through a secret passageway and spoke to an empty room. Outside the students were pounding on the windows and chanting and drumming, and the police eventually decided, and these were large plate glass windows, that they couldn't guarantee my safety. So I was escorted out. But, you know, these are students that have never had to live with real high crime. They don't know a thing. And it was something, you know, one can hear about the free speech crisis from afar. But to be at the center of a mob is a sobering experience because you don't know what they're gonna do next. And to just feel that feral confidence in their own rectitude and their willingness to exercise the tool of every oppressive fascist government in human history, which is to be the arbiters of acceptable expression is really something.
Ben Shapiro: So let's talk a little bit about the perceived threats on campus. So you're perceived as a threat. I'm perceived as a threat. We both get, I'm sure, all sorts of posters about how threatening and terrible we are. So this is where the buzzwords come in, right? The buzzwords come in when people feel threatened. So rape culture, right? You've been accused of promoting rape culture. I've been accused of promoting rape culture. What the hell is rape culture? I'm just, I honestly, I do not even have a good definition for what people mean when they say rape culture because I'm unaware of the constituency that is radically in favor of rape in the United States. What exactly am I missing here? What do they mean by this? And why are they wrong?
Heather Mac Donald: Well, I guess they would say the very fact that we have rape at all means that we're in a rape culture that somehow we are indifferent to or tolerant of or even encouraging of female's getting raped or that, maybe to be a little less hyperbolic, they would say that the patriarchy is so strong, we so devalue females lives that it results in a acceptance towards male violence. But you're right. I mean I've never really tried to pin it down myself and I'm struggling here a little bit, Ben, because it is an extraordinarily broad term, but I guess to just sort of give them the benefit of the doubt, it's shorthand for 'we still live in a culture that devalues females lives and sees them as sex objects.'
Ben Shapiro: Yeah, and the contention is that by even talking about the fact that women are free in the United States, the freest women in human history actually, and the most prosperous women in human history. That this is actually a threat to women. That if you talk about the prosperity of women and how women ought to do well, that this is a threat to women because we need to recognize their inherent victim status. Otherwise we are ignoring their cruel plight.
Heather Mac Donald: Yeah. Well, it's ridiculous. Everybody wants to be a victim today. I've recently learned that white males in their desperate, sort of affinity group circles, where everybody's going to trade victim points and see where they end up on the intersectional totem pole, have taken to saying, well, I think I'm on the spectrum because, you know, this gives them some opportunity to themselves not be strong. It's a very weird civilizational development because for centuries, for like all of human history, cultures wanted to celebrate strength and accomplishment and success. And now we celebrate alleged victim hood and oppression. It's a bizarre reversal of how societies used to run themselves. And you know, one explanation is possibly, Nietzche said that Christianity was a major sort of betrayal of classical ideals and that it celebrated the original victim, and whether that's going on, that somehow in a secular way, that idea of a skepticism towards strength and a glorification of weakness is going on, but for females today to think of themselves as oppressed is ridiculous.
Again, we don't want to personalize this and one needs a balance between anecdotes and data. But I can just tell you that I have never been discriminated against in my life. I was in college in the seventies. My school had recently gone co-ed. If ever there would have been a time when the faculty was hostile towards females, "why do they bring them in?" you know, "they are destroying standards," or whatever it would have been then. I had enormous support from my professors. And ever since then I have without a doubt been the alleged beneficiary of gender quotas constantly, constantly. I mean every panel, every media experience is desperate for females. So for any especially, you know, well I don't want to get intersexual myself, but for a white female to claim that she's oppressed is particularly ludicrous. And that doesn't mean that I'm granting any legitimacy to the 'well speaking as a black female' meme, because I think that just all of these, all of these little identity markers are irrelevant, but nevertheless, the female narcissistic whining is particularly nauseating to me.
Ben Shapiro: Well, it seems like the combination of the death of the notion of objective truth, the death of the notion of the idea of eternal truths combined with the need for victimhood in a society where victimhood is actually kind of hard to come by, has led people to the bizarre notion that you are victimized if people disagree with you. That your politics, your views are wrapped up in your subjective self definition. And thus, if people disagree with you, they have attacked your identity. You have erased them as human beings. This obviously comes up most commonly in the context of transgenderism and the discussion of transgender pronouns. If you suggest that there is such a thing as a biological male and a biological femle and that a male cannot become a female, then you are a member of the oppressive class. How would you argue with that sort of thing?
Heather Mac Donald: Transgender specifically? or just...
Ben Shapiro: That seems to be the hot topic, not just, not to argue with transgender folks specifically, but the idea that it is oppression of high order and serious consequence if somebody says that males are males and females are females, for example.
Heather Mac Donald: Yeah, that's a hard one to unpack. I have been sort of on the margins of the transgender wars and I've not had that direct experience that people like you or Jordan Peterson have had. It's so complicated because they are making so radical a claim about the irrelevancy of biology and their right to choose their own sexual identity, that in refusing to use their favorite pronouns, you are in some sense striking at their definition of themselves. And you're relying on your understanding of science. So it's a tough one. That's sort of the toughest one that's out there. I am much more confident in being able to say that empirically we are not, mainstream institutions are not discriminating against females or people of color. How to navigate that bizarre act of power that is going on now with transgendered people, in trying to put other people in their linguistic, under their linguistic thrall, is a challenge. But in some sense when they're saying it's a threat to their own identity, given that that is how they're choosing to define their identity, there is something at least semantically plausible about that.
Ben Shapiro: Okay, so in a second, I want to ask you one final question and I want ask you specifically, as a policy expert who's focused on campuses and on crime, how the Trump administration is doing across the board on some of these issues. But if you want to hear Heather Macdonald's answer, you have to be a Daily Wire subscriber. To subscribe, just go over to DailyWire.com, click subscribe, and you can hear the end of our conversation there. Well, Heather Macdonald, thank you so much for stopping by. Her book is the "Diversity Delusion." If you haven't checked it out, you absolutely should. All of her books are great. "War on Cops" is great. "Diversity Delusion" is great. I mean, I'll be honest with you, when I have a policy wonk issue I don't know the answer to, Heather is one of the people that I turn to.
Heather Mac Donald: And I never answered, but I try.
Ben Shapiro: Well, thank you so much for stopping by.
Heather Mac Donald: Thank you Ben. It's a pleasure.
Ben Shapiro: The Ben Shapir Show Sunday Special is produced by Jonathan Hay. Executive Producer, Jeremy Boreing. Associate Producer, Mathis Glover. Edited by Donovan Fowler. Audio was mixed by Dylan Case. Hair and makeup is by Jesua Olvera. Title graphics by Cynthia Angulo. The Ben Shapiro Show Sunday special is a Daily Wire Production. Copyright Daily Wire 2019.