Jan 18, 2022 • 1HR 19M

Heather Mac Donald – Which Black Lives Matter?

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Glenn Loury
Weekly conversations on race, inequality, and more, with Glenn Loury. Bi-weekly appearances by John McWhorter.
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This week we’ve got Heather Mac Donald on The Glenn Show. Heather is a fellow of the Manhattan Institute, a contributing editor to City Journal, and author of several books, including The Diversity Delusion, The War on Cops, and The Burden of Bad Ideas. Heather’s writing combines meticulous research and sharp, uncompromising prose. Her positions on crime and policing have led some on the left to regard her as a bit of a boogeyman. But while she is a fierce critic of failing progressive policies, she’s also a deep and surprising thinker, as you’ll see here.

We begin by exploring Heather’s recent readings in African American literature, and her reflections on the behavior of white people in this country through the mid-twentieth century. We then move into one of Heather’s area of expertise: crime and policing in American cities. She points out that those who blame rising violent crime rates on the Covid pandemic are neglecting data from other countries. The virus hit Peru, for example, much worse than it hit us, but they saw their violent crime rates drop. Why? Heather goes on to ask, if progressive activists, politicians, and media figures are so concerned with “black lives,” why do we see so little coverage of black children harmed or even killed by violent crime? You can be sure we’d hear about it if they were white. We then get into the difficult matter of family structure in black communities. Out-of-wedlock births and fatherless households are often extremely detrimental to child development. These phenomena are particularly pronounced in black communities, but they’re a problem everywhere. In fact, it’s such a problem that it seems like virtually no one has the moral authority to try to fix it. We go on to discuss the civilizational threat posed by the dissolution of academic and professional standards, the lack of responsible black leadership in the U.S., and the oft-forgotten fact that the loudest advocates for harsh drug penalties during the crack epidemic were black leaders and voters.

Hope you enjoy!

Note: When we discuss the work of my friend Alice Goffman, I mistakenly say that she attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin. She actually went to Princeton.


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0:00 Heather’s deep dive into African American literature

14:23 The impact of George Floyd on violent crime rates

22:26 Heather: Why doesn’t the mainstream media cover the violent deaths of black children?

28:07 The difficulty of addressing black out-of-wedlock birth rates

39:44 Who has the moral authority to advocate for traditional family structures?

46:17 Heather: Giuliani was one of America’s greatest mayors

51:39 Glenn: Lowering academic standards threatens the foundation of our civilization

1:00:21 Looking for black leadership

1:08:54 Was the reaction to the crack epidemic a “moral panic”?


Links and Readings

Video of Glenn’s National Conservatism Convention keynote, “The Case for Black Patriotism”

The text of “The Case for Black Patriotism” in First Things

Gene Dattle’s Reckoning with Race: America’s Failure

Frederick Douglass’s 1852 speech, “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”

Alice Goffman’s On the Run: Fugitive Life in America


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