Heather MacDonald discusses her new book: The Diversity Delusion:
"America is in crisis, from the university to the workplace. Toxic ideas first spread by higher education have undermined humanistic values, fueled intolerance, and widened divisions in our larger culture. Chaucer, Shakespeare and Milton? Oppressive. American history? Tyranny. Professors correcting grammar and spelling, or employers hiring by merit? Racist and sexist. Students emerge into the working world believing that human beings are defined by their skin color, gender, and sexual preference, and that oppression based on these characteristics is the American experience. Speech that challenges these campus orthodoxies is silenced with brute force.
The Diversity Delusion argues that the root of this problem is the belief in America’s endemic racism and sexism, a belief that has engendered a metastasizing diversity bureaucracy in society and academia. Diversity commissars denounce meritocratic standards as discriminatory, enforce hiring quotas, and teach students and adults alike to think of themselves as perpetual victims. From #MeToo mania that blurs flirtations with criminal acts, to implicit bias and diversity compliance training that sees racism in every interaction, Heather Mac Donald argues that we are creating a nation of narrowed minds, primed for grievance, and that we are putting our competitive edge at risk.
But there is hope in the works of authors, composers, and artists who have long inspired the best in us. Compiling the author’s decades of research and writing on the subject, The Diversity Delusion calls for a return to the classical liberal pursuits of open-minded inquiry and expression, by which everyone can discover a common humanity."
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Operator: Welcome to The Federalist Society's Practice Group Podcast. The following podcast, hosted by The Federalist Society's Civil Rights Practice Group, was recorded on Friday, December 7, 2018, during a live teleforum conference call held exclusively for Federalist Society members.
Wesley Hodges: Welcome, everyone, to The Federalist Society's teleforum conference call. This afternoon's topic is a book review on The Diversity Delusion, a book by Heather Mac Donald. My name is Wesley Hodges, and I'm the Associate Director of Practice Groups at The Federalist Society.
As always, please note that all expressions of opinion are those of the expert on today's call.
Today, as I mentioned, we are very fortunate to have with us Heather Mac Donald, the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a contributing editor of the City Journal, a recipient of the 2005 Bradley Prize, and the author of today's book, The Diversity Delusion. Heather, I guess today you'll be able to give your remarks, discuss the book, and then we'll open for an audience Q&A at the end. Thank you very much for speaking with us today. Heather, the floor is yours for however you'd like to take this.
Heather Mac Donald: Well, thank you. The subject of my book is the poisonous academic identity politics that have destroyed humanistic learning within universities and that are rapidly transforming the world outside of them. We've lived through a moment showing we're all in Gender Studies 101 during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, where the mantra of "Believe Survivors" was accepted by a remarkably large percentage of both the Senate and, seemingly, the public at large. This "Believe Survivors" mantra was an extraordinary repudiation of Western civilization's hard-fought legacy of due process and concern for individual rights. But that repudiation of our legacy of independence and an empirical effort to determine the truth has been percolating for decades now within universities.
The core fallacies of what I call the diversity delusion is, number one, the idea that race, gender, sex, sexual orientation are the most important attributes of the self. Number two, that disparities based on those attributes are, by definition, the result of discrimination. Any explanation for why there is not, say, 50/50 gender parity within the science fields, the official diversity explanation must be that there is bias against females in sciences. An alternative explanation, which would look at both the average career predilections of males and females, their psychological orientation towards competition and risk taking, their orientation towards abstract work versus hands-on, people-based work, and most taboo, an examination of the distribution of both low-end, the dummy level math skills, and genius level math skills, and whether those distributions are equal among males and females. Hint: They are not. Those types of explanations are completely off limits.
And the final diversity delusion concept is that America and Western society in general are characterized most significantly by endemic racism and sexism. I reject all three of those propositions, but nevertheless, they have taken over the academic world.
Wesley Hodges: Thank you very much, Heather. We can open the floor to Q&A to ask questions throughout the call today. Would you be comfortable with doing that now?
Heather Mac Donald: Of course.
Wesley Hodges: Well, Heather, it does look like we do have one question out of the gates. Let's go ahead and move to the first caller.
Roger Clegg: Hi, Heather. This is Roger Clegg at the Center for Equal Opportunity. And I'm delighted that you're discussing your book. And I wanted to ask you to talk a little bit about the genesis of the book. You and I've been laboring in these vineyards for quite a while. Was the idea for this book something that was sort of long in its inception, or did it come to you in a flash, or what was sort of the precipitating event for when you decided I've got to write something book length on this topic?
Heather Mac Donald: Well, thanks for the question, Roger. Now, I've been agonizing and bleeding for the universities for decades. It is the issue that is closest to my heart because I believe that there is no greater calling than being a curator of the greatest works of civilization, and Western civilization in particular. I had aspired, myself, to be an academic. I had started a PhD in Comparative Literature when I became disillusioned with the field that I had been uncritically supportive of up to that point as an acolyte of deconstruction myself, something I now greatly regret since I wasted an enormous amount of undergraduate time pouring over Jacques Derrida instead of reading actual literature.
But I was fortunate in being in college in the 1970s, however much the deconstruction post-structuralism had taken over the study of literature and was a very attractive subject for somebody ignorant like myself but otherwise interested in language. I was, nevertheless, fortunate in that I was able to read the greatest authors of English literature – Chaucer, Milton, Wordsworth, Spencer – without anybody thinking of complaining about their gonads and melanin. Deconstruction was a mandarin science. It read the canon -- it read the most complicated authors in a perverse way, admittedly, but nevertheless, without this poisonous reduction of believing that you can reject a book based on something as utterly trivial as the race and gender of its authors.
In the 1980s, however, both radical feminism and multiculturalism became the dominant critical fields, giving an excuse to totally ignorant students for their ignorance that they could do such just appalling chants that became famous at Stanford in the 1980s, led by Jesse Jackson. "Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civ has got to go." And since then, I've been observing primarily, initially, what was happening to the canon and to the content of what was taught in colleges, and the replacement of the devoted, selfless, loving study of great works with a political agenda, the rise of narcissism, the substitution of the all-consuming desire to immerse yourself in the radical difference of the past with instead a form of navel gazing where students declared, with the encouragement of their professors, that they really only wanted to study themselves and to study their own oppression.
Contemporaneous with the rise of multiculturalism and feminism was the celebration of a victim identity. And in the 90s, and even more so since our turn of our last century, what I've started seeing as well was the metastasizing diversity bureaucracy, something that I pay a lot of attention to in the book, which are these preposterous vice chancellors of equity, diversity, and inclusion, the deans and provosts and assistant presidents scattered throughout universities that are devoted to cultivating in students a completely fantastical and delusional sense of their own oppression, paid enormous salaries. UCLA's vice chancellor for equity and diversity and inclusion averages about $400,000 a year in salary to do literally nothing because every college campus today is the most compassionate institution in human history when it comes to history's traditionally marginalized groups.
There is no bigotry and racism on American colleges today. There is no sexism. We can leave the case of conservatives aside, whether they may justly claim that they're discriminated against, and I would urge even conservatives not to start playing the victim card. But for sure when it comes to so-called underrepresented minorities, that is, Blacks and Hispanics -- Asians may yearn to be viewed as a person of color, but sadly, for those left-wing Asians who do and who want to pick up an oppositional identity, the bureaucracy—sorry, guys—views you as uber White because you are the most discriminated against and you are really screwing up the stats for getting in the underrepresented minorities.
But if you look at the favored victim groups, which is the Blacks, Hispanics, and females, not only is there no discrimination going on, there is discrimination in their favor on a daily basis. Every single faculty search is one desperate effort to find remotely qualified, underrepresented minorities and females to hire. And as many people on this call, I'm sure, deeply understand, there's not a single, selective college in the country that is not employing vast and extremely harmful racial preferences to admit as many underrepresented minorities as possible.
So the claim that students of color, so-called, and females are discriminated against on a college campus is simply ludicrous, and yet, that is the proposition to which these fantastically overpaid diversity bureaucrats are dedicated to. So I also started observing that post 2000s, and so this book came out of both sorrow and rage; sorrow at the loss of what should be the academy's greatest mission, which is passing on an inheritance, and rage at the abuse of their privilege on the part of faculty to be able to immerse themselves in these great works and the cultivation in students of a very dangerous victim identity that is, as I say, is now infecting the world at large.
Roger Clegg: I mean, I agree with everything you say, and I share your despondent view of academia now. I think you and I -- I'm a little older than you are, maybe more than just a little older, but I think you and I were both fortunate to be doing our university educations in that golden age between the madness of the 60s and the madness of the 80s. And it was possible, it was still left-leaning academia, but it was at least possible to be a conservative and not be thrown out of school.
But let me -- given the bleak picture that you've painted, and given the intractability of changing the minds of somebody who's making $400,000 a year, what is the way out? I mean, my own view is that you can view the glass is half full if you look at what the American public generally thinks of this nonsense. And now, I think there's hope in the courts, when the Harvard affirmative action case gets to the Supreme Court or maybe some employment discrimination cases being brought by men, or Asians, or Whites against universities. But on the other hand, as you suggested in your opening remarks, politicians are no help at all in this arena. And of course, academics are -- they're not going to change their minds, so how is progress to be made?
Heather Mac Donald: Well, that's always the hardest question, Roger. And I'm -- it's a lot easier to diagnose the problem. I can tell you what needs to be done, and I don't know how to do that, necessarily. But none of this is going to go away. And we haven't mentioned yet the whole free speech crisis, which is something that -- the one advantage of the free speech assaults on college campuses is that they have finally gotten the public's attention to the travesty that is higher education today. I've been writing about the destruction of the canon; others more eloquent than myself have been for the last 30, 40 years. And sadly, it's hard to get any large segment of the American public very worked up over the fact that Shakespeare and Milton are defenestrated in favor of post-colonial studies and gender studies. But the public does have an intuitive understanding of the First Amendment, and so, fortunately, do federal judges, so far. They have been very good about overturning speech codes. They've also been pretty darn good on the due process enormities.
But the free speech problem -- I view it as an epiphenomenon of a much more serious problem which is this universally cultivated view that America is endemically racist and sexist. That is now the rallying cry of academia. And as long as the dominant explanation for any disparities in any institution is discrimination, whether it's in the STEM fields, or in reporting, in the media, in a corporation, in a foundation, in a scientific lab, as long as that remains the go-to explanation, it's going to be very hard to beat back this victim identity and the ongoing assault on meritocracy.
And so I can tell you what needs to happen is the purveying and acceptance of what I view as the far more powerful explanations for the lack of proportionality in all things, which is in the case of underrepresented minorities. We all know -- I mean, you and I, Roger, and probably other people on this call know the size of the academic skills gap, know the fact that the average Black 12th grader reads at the level of an average White 8th grader, that the number of Blacks, elementary school and K-12 students who are deemed college ready is in the very, very low teens compared to over half of Whites and Asians and two-thirds of Asians. But those facts are kept completely, hermetically off stage. I mean, any discussion of racial preferences in the main stream media by The New York Times makes it sound like we're still in the age of Ole Miss, and that there's some sort of equity problem going on that schools are blocking that are against diversity. So those facts have to get out there, the facts of culture, the facts of the anti-acting White stigma that remains extraordinarily pervasive, not just in underclass ghetto culture, but through a certain amount of middle-class Black culture as well.
And when it comes to females and their lack of proportional representation in certain of the STEM fields, I mean, now they're majority in medical schools, and they're certainly majority in education as undergraduates and as administrators in universities. We also have to start talking about the sorts of things that got James Damore fired from Google in August of 2017 that he put in a highly rational, reasonable, fact-based 10-page memo that looked at what psychology has known about males and females for decades, which is their very different average preferences for risk and competition, and again, that fact that at the highest level of math skills of the .01 percent of the highest math ability, you have a male/female ratio of 2.5 to 1 in the U.S.
So we have to start getting those facts out there. And I don't know how to do it, because I've been trying to do that, and others have been trying to do it without a whole lot of success. But that, as far as I am concerned, it is that narrative about why we don't have equal representation across society that has to be undone.
Roger Clegg: Well, let me -- again, I agree with all of that. And of course, it's not only the Google guy, but Larry Summers at Harvard got fired for saying the truth on these STEM disparities. And you and I have talked about this, too, but I just want to make the one point. Any discussion of racial disparities in the United States has to acknowledge what I think is the, by far, the most important reason for the persistence of those disparities. And that is the disparity in out of wedlock birthrates.
Heather Mac Donald: Oh, thank you. Absolutely.
Roger Clegg: You've got seven out of ten African Americans are born out of wedlock; more than six out of ten Native Americans are born out of wedlock; more than five out of ten Latinos are born out of wedlock, versus fewer than three out of ten non-Hispanic Whites, and fewer than two out of ten Asian Americans. So you have a huge range there, from less than two out of ten to seven out of ten. And of course, those disparities line up precisely not only with who's doing well educationally, but with all kinds of other things like crime, unemployment, poverty, you name it.
And there's actually a fair amount of consensus, even among liberal sociologists, that yeah, it's true that growing up in a home without a father, particularly for young males, is a bad thing and leads to these other disparities. But nobody wants to talk about that either. And yet, as long as those disparities are there, you can have all the affirmative action you want. They're not going to go away. And my own view is that this is not a problem that the government can pass a law about. It's a moral problem and a cultural problem, and the solution is probably going to have to come within those communities, and I think, through churches and revitalization of religious sight.
And by the way, those disparities are there not only between racial and ethnic groups, but within racial groups. So for example, among Whites, if you look at populations with high out-of-wedlock birth rates, they have the same problems in terms of education, and crime, and work ethic, and everything else that Whites who are born in wedlock don't share. So this is not something that can be ascribed to racism. It's all about family structure.
Heather Mac Donald: Well, I just agree with that completely. I mean, I have written -- this is the biggest civilizational catastrophe of our time is the breakdown of the family. And it just -- it grows out of such chaos. And I see these young, single mothers in New York on the subway, toting their baby carriage, and you just know we're seeing the tip of an iceberg of a culture that is disordered, living for the moment, unable to plan. And those kids are absolutely doomed. But it's, again, something that people have been talking about. And there's actually, as you say, more agreement across the political spectrum on the handicap that is placed on children that grow up -- it's not just a question of growing up in a single parent home, it's growing up in a community where the marriage norm has disappeared. And so boys are not given the primary lesson of male responsibility, which is being responsible for your child.
But even Obama during his first run for the White House did give a speech on Father's Day in Chicago that spent some time on the data that is widely known and accepted about the various odds that children growing up in single parent homes face as far as ending up in prison, dropping out of school, being mentally ill, you name it. But he concluded his speech with a harbinger of what was to come in administration which was a very quick pivot into the idea that, well, this is something that government -- the poverty that results is something that government can solve.
Roger Clegg: There was trouble soon after that. I think Jesse Jackson was caught saying on a live mike that he hates it when people like Obama talk down to African Americans like that and that he, Jesse Jackson, was going to cut off Barack Obama's nuts. I mean, that was the response that the civil rights establishment had to that kind of truth telling. Even of the limited degree to which Obama was willing to go out on a limb, that's the response he got.
Heather Mac Donald: Right. I mean, the other problem here is not just sort of the Black civil rights leadership that has now completely given up on any kind of bourgeois -- cultivation of bourgeois norms in grotesque violation of the extraordinary civil rights leadership that this country was blessed with, starting from Frederic Douglas forward. But feminism also is in a very exerted effort to disappear males and to say that strong women can do it all. And one's also up against, well, you're dissing single mothers by saying that. Now we're also up against one can be completely in favor of gay marriage, but one has to notice empirically that it makes it also difficult to say that children need their biological mothers and fathers because you will be criticized for dissing the lesbian couple. So there's very hard headwinds to make, but I certainly agree that if we're going to close the racial achievement gap, the family -- it's going to be hard to do that as long as you have this chaos of single parents and the resulting challenges that those children have in homes and the lack of attention to schooling.
Roger Clegg: Thanks very much for your work, Heather, and God bless you.
Heather Mac Donald: Thank you, Roger.
Wesley Hodges: Thank you, Heather. And thank you for your questions, Roger. We really do appreciate them. We do have quite a few questions in the queue now. Heather, let's go ahead and go to our next caller.
Caller 2: I wondered how much of the diversity mania is fueled by risk management. Corporations and universities are afraid of being sued for their disparate statistics on faculty and managers and are maybe just merely beating the drums nonstop to give them insularity from lawsuits. Do you think some litigation reform could solve some of these problems?
Heather Mac Donald: I wish. I with there was a nice policy tweak that we could make. You may be right. My instinct is that this is purely -- it is fully, sincerely, ideological at this point. George Will was seduced by former-Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust into believing that Harvard's violations of basic fairness in its campus rape tribunals was all because of the Obama administration. Well, that's absurd because well before the infamous 2011 "Dear Colleague" letter, Harvard already had a massive campus rape bureaucracy, was already concertedly trying to get its numbers up to show that it somehow could brag about -- it's a logic that's very hard to fathom, but schools that have low reported sexual assaults are very much on the defensive about it. They want to be high.
So I think, at this point, we've had an ever more left-leaning faculty. And as a recent piece in The New York Times pointed out, to the danger of the author, the administration is even more left-leaning than the faculty. I think that -- and you see field after field in the humanities and the soft social sciences, with the exception of economics, have really been -- they're so dominated now by identity-based theorists that I think this is something that is a heartfelt crusade. And we will see.
My prediction is that assuming that the education department goes forward, despite what is probably going to be the majority opposing comments on its proposed campus rape tribunal rule, which is really a very, as far as I'm concerned, a little too fair because it allows double jeopardy against the male and grants far too much leeway to the campus rape narrative. My guess is that most colleges will choose to retain their very low preponderance of evidence standard and will make as little set of changes as possible to their highly anti-male climate and procedures.
Wesley Hodges: Thank you very much, caller. Let's go ahead and move to our next question.
Caller 3: Hi. Are you encouraged by the sort of development of the online discussion on these sorts of issues? Because it seems like the elite spaces, the universities, the elite media, have been taken over by the identity politics, the discussion has started to move online. And, like, Jordan Peterson has gotten millions of views, and sold books, and now actual event halls tickets. He's having thousands of people come to see him. So, I mean, do you think maybe as certain institutions get taken over that the discussion will start to move elsewhere, like on the internet, and that could be a useful vehicle in continuing serious discussions outside of the sort of mainstream identity politics that’s now taken over everything?
Heather Mac Donald: Yeah, that's a very, I think, a valid observation. And I'm always struck reading the comment section in newspapers, with the exception of The New York Times and perhaps The Washington Post, but the comment sections on sort of the typical resistance article or something that -- any piece that is pervaded by just liberal assumptions are extraordinarily skeptical, and common-sensical, and wise. And I always think, "Well, where are you people when we need you?" But whatever one thinks of Donald Trump -- and I am certainly no knee-jerk supporter and find him appalling as a personality, though I support his policies. And I do not think he's racist and sexist. I just think he's narcissistic, and juvenile, and thin skinned, and vindictive. Nevertheless, the vote for him also suggests that, even outside of the online communities, that there is a sense that people have of identity politics being a threat. Now I think the other reason that he was voted in was Americans being absolutely fed up with open borders policies.
But I do wonder -- the people that are pushing back against this narrative of racism and sexism as the only allowable explanations for the shape of our world, how they will get mobilized. And I'm not a part of those communities myself on the web, but I have asked people, "Do you think this is a coalesce-able group, or are they always going to be marginalized by the mainstream elite discourse?" And I haven't gotten an answer to that, but it would be very interesting if you do have somebody who's sort of a political organizing genius and figures out a way to leverage those thoughts.
And this is true as well with the study of heritability, genetic explanations for things. That's a discussion that has been pretty much rendered off-limits, but it's going on both the research in China and there are people who are talking about it. Now, we're also up against the censorship of Google and other internet service providers, so it's kind of a cat-and-mouse game, perhaps.
Wesley Hodges: Thank you, caller. Appreciate your question. Do have several more in the queue, so let's go ahead and move to our next caller.
Chuck Michel: Hi. My name's Chuck Michel. I'm a lawyer in Long Beach, California. I thank everybody for this little mini education. I happen to be in a situation where I have a son in college who is facing a bias incident complaint. And I have more of a comment than a question because the interesting thing that I am now coming to learn is that while these schools bend over backwards to enact these policies, the bias incident policy is not typically something that's listed as a disciplinary -- something that you can be disciplined for. It seems there's a trend among these schools to not really work on the due process side. They don't really give students notice other than the handbook or whatever contract there may be between the student and the school.
And so I see this -- what might be a distressing trend, that not only are they making all these efforts to promote -- in the name of promoting diversity, but they're not making any effort -- they're making an effort, first of all, to now, essentially, criminalize or make it, a bias incident, a disciplinary action. So the hammer hangs over the student's heads if they are perceived to do something that's racist, but the schools don't do anything on the other side to try and give the students the due process protections like notice and an opportunity to be heard in that contract that they have with the students. So I just wondered if anybody had any thoughts on that.
Heather Mac Donald: Well, again, I just cannot -- without sounding like an absolute raving lunatic, I cannot stress enough how bad things are. Every time I go to a campus -- I've been looking at this and writing about it for 30 years. I still am stunned. I still am absolutely appalled by the complete destruction of serious learning outside of the STEM fields, and they are being rapidly colonized by diversity ideology as well.
But also the politicized nature of things and the fact that there are groups that -- to be a White male, heterosexual White male on a campus today is to be in a situation of absolute guilt until proven innocent. And they only way you can prove yourself innocent is by declaring yourself and working as a so-called ally, a nauseating term of sort of maudlin fake tears that to be a female and an underrepresented minority is to be in such a precarious state on an American campus that you need allies in order to survive. So yeah, I'm not surprised that this is all -- that you feel like your son is being handicapped by sort of ex post facto laws without notice of the laws that he's broken because it's just part of this entire thing, and the --
I would also add, just to throw out a thought here, that the other thing that's driving this hugely, and this is something that Gail Heriot said this summer when I was at the University of San Diego Law School, and she was absolutely right then, and I agreed with her, and I'm more and more convinced of it. One thing that's driving this is the use of racial preferences, that you bring students in who are so unable to compete because they've been catapulted into schools for which they are not qualified, which is not to say that Blacks shouldn't go to college. They should go to college like everybody else does, to a school where they meet the qualifications of their peers. They flounder. They feel troubled, out of place. They make demands for mental health resources. And it fuels the bureaucracy.
And we're in an absolute vicious cycle where for every phony race incident that gets ginned up, the solution often announced on the part of schools is, well, we need a larger critical mass of underrepresented minorities. And so those schools dip even further down into the pool of Black and Hispanic students who have even larger test score gaps than Whites and Asians, and that just produces even bigger problems. And then they say, "Okay, we need even more." It's just -- it's an absolutely perverse machine for keeping this whole corrupt and heartbreaking system going.
Wesley Hodges: Thank you, Heather. And thank you very much, caller, for your question. I do have a couple more questions in the queue before we finish today. Let's go ahead and move to our next caller.
Bill Bonner: Yes, this is Bill Bonner. I'm an attorney outside Philadelphia. About three, four, five hundred years ago in the university, being human, seeking virtue was an ideal of the university process and was intended to create leaders who could manage authority and responsibility of it. That, in my mind, has been so secularized that it's naked and gone. And so that the secularization of virtue and the segregation from religion seems to me to be the ultimate problem. And so what is someone left with if there's nothing offered in the way of the humanitas of discovering true humanity? What's left except oneself? And one identifies oneself either sexually or racially, or some other way, which is totally objective and having no subjective content or value, and so the person is stuck with a cheap education that's not worth having.
And that's what I see as the problem with a university. And I don't think it's solvable until people recognize that university education is a rip-off, and it doesn't teach people how to be human, especially for those that pursue the sciences which are intrinsically value neutral. So that only intensifies the whole problem. Would you comment on the secularization of the human?
Heather Mac Donald: Well, I think that it is absolutely possible to develop a human ethics without reference to an allegedly loving, personal God, that as Kant said, the rule of reason, the Golden Rule are fully adequate bases for determining an ethics that takes human value and dignity into account. I also think that Renaissance humanism was an outpouring of vast appetite and hunger for Classical learning. Now, these were not the humanists, Petrarch and his colleagues, were not necessarily secularists themselves, but the works they were reading were not, certainly, written within a Christian mode. But they had a passion to be human, to understand what the Classics had told us, whether it's the Greek tragedians or the philosophers of Athens, about what it means to be human.
So I don't think that religion, religious belief is a necessary component of the due respect for human expression. Whether it's Shakespeare, or Tiepolo, that we owe the --- or Mark Twain -- that we owe the people who've come before us, the geniuses that have used language in ways that create a nobility of expression and thought, that that can be approached without reference to an allegedly personal, loving God. But I do think that what is required for that is a desire to lose yourself in greatness. The impulse of narcissism -- Montaigne was also looking at himself, and from a secular perspective, but he was not doing so out of some sort of naval gazing. He was using himself as an example for how the human mind works, works with its own past, works with the past of civilization. So for me, the major flaw here is not that education is secular. It's that it is narcissistic and based on a fundamental lie which is the idea that Western Civilization is pervasively and uniquely biased.
Wesley Hodges: Thank you, caller, for your question. Thank you very much, Heather. Let's go ahead and move to our next caller.
Curt Levey: Hi, this is Curt Levey with the Committee for Justice. Heather, you said that we shouldn't -- conservatives should resist the temptation to play victims. And I guess my question would be why? I mean, I guess I don't know any other way of forcing the left to see how foolish this all is than to throw it in their faces. And I guess my question reflects a larger frustration that conservatives generally fight the diversity delusion by being defensive rather than offensive. Conservatives are likely to say, "No, no, we're not racist. We're not sexist," whatever, rather than, again, throwing it in their face and pointing out how they're racist and sexist or like I said, sort of showing them how foolish it is by giving them examples.
I'll use an example from the other day where just coincidentally, I was debating Jerry Kang, the guy you mentioned who makes $400K, him and a couple of other people about the Harvard law suit case. And we were, again, talking about what conclusions you can draw from disparities. And I pointed out, I said, "Can we conclude that since more than 90 percent of the prison population is male that the prison system and law enforcement, etc., are biased against males?" And they had no answer to that. And I find that, in general, when you throw examples like that at the left, they don't really have good answers. So why not be more offensive? Why not charge them with racism and sexism, again, just to help them see that it's foolish logic?
Heather Mac Donald: Well, I may not have expressed myself. And I agree with everything you said, Curt. I guess when I say don't play the victim card -- I've been charged with playing the victim card when I haven't even done it. I mean, I was a subject of one of these -- a blockade at Claremont McKenna College that prevented anybody from hearing me speak. I've been charged with playing a victim card when I haven't even -- I don't even bring it up all that much, but if you, if anybody, if a conservative ever does say, "Well, I've been the victim of X, Y, and Z," the left is going to seize on that and say, "Oh, you know, it's conservatives who think as themselves as victims." So I would by no means disagree with your strategy of pointing out the factual basis for why they're simply wrong in their diagnosis of the world.
But I guess I'm, frankly, I'm going to be very honest with all of our callers and listeners today. Even when the Jewish students make the charge that they're unsafe on college campuses because of the very pervasive anti-Israel sentiment, I'm not a big fan of that because, again, on average, Jews are succeeding magnificently. And so to start using that rhetoric of safety, which I think is largely maudlin and crocodile tears, I'm not a big fan of it.
Now, on the other hand, it is absolutely demonstrably the case that conservatives are not represented on the faculty, but in my ideal world, one wouldn't even know. It wouldn't be relevant. Now that we're so far beyond that that maybe one has to start demanding equality, but the fact of the matter is I recently was talking with somebody who teaches at a small Midwestern evangelical school, but it's a respected school -- he's an archeologist -- and he said that his department, the departments in his school will not even admit White males to graduate study because they know that they will have such a hard time getting a job once they've got their PhD. And those departments, out of pure self-interest, don't want to harm their placement statistics.
When you have something like that going on, it's a very scary situation. It's hard to know how we're ever going to restore any kind of ideological balance. I'm obviously generalizing here that White males are going to be more likely to be identity neutral in their scholarship than other groups, but I think that's a pretty fair assumption. But it's going to get hard to even propose a critical mass of candidates for hiring when you have now a system where, again, we're in another vicious cycle.
So I may have spoken too bluntly, Curt, but it just comes from a certain gut sense of to the extent possible, we should avoid using the same safety, unsafe, and victim rhetoric as the left does. But I'm sure you're right that there's certain objective facts that need to be driven home again and again.
Curt Levey: By the way, are they actually on record as saying they don't admit White males because they have less chance of getting a job? Because that strikes me as very much like the reasoning the courts have rejected under Title VII, for example, the idea that, well, it's not that we're racist, but our customers don't like Black employees so that's why we don't hire them.
Heather Mac Donald: No. There's no way they'd be on the record. This is just somebody telling me what goes on in the hiring committees -- not the hiring committees, the admissions committees for PhDs.
Curt Levey: Okay, got it. Gotcha. But I, by the way, I agree with you. We shouldn't go overboard and use words like safety, so some middle ground is probably best.
Heather Mac Donald: Right.
Wesley Hodges: Excellent. Well, thank you so much, Curt, for your question --
Curt Levey: Thank you.
Wesley Hodges: -- and for everyone for the discussion today. Heather, it looks like we are at the top of our hour. Well, we just want to say that we really appreciate you taking the time to share about your book and to receive questions from FedSoc audience. Heather, do you have any final comments for us before we close today?
Heather Mac Donald: No. It's been a useful conversation for me. And again, we need to preserve our culture and these books. We should be down on our knees in gratitude before them. But the thing that I say needs to be taken on, and anybody who has any kind of platform, is the idea of racism and sexism as the explanation for our world. It's not as if people haven't been trying to get the facts out there. None of what I'm saying has not been tried. And I'm not a strategist, and I don't have any novel ideas for how to get the narrative changed, but until it is, things are just going to get worse and worse.
Wesley Hodges: Well, thank you, Heather. On behalf of The Federalist Society, I'd like to thank you for the benefit of your valuable time and expertise today. Everyone, if you've enjoyed this conversation, we invite you to check out the book, and perhaps buy it, or buy a couple. You can find it on the FedSoc website. It takes a link to the Amazon page. Again, the name of the book is The Diversity Delusion, and again, very much thankful for your time today, Heather. Thank you all for joining --
Heather Mac Donald: Thank you, Wesley.
Wesley Hodges: Of course. Thank you for joining. This call is adjourned.
Operator: Thank you for listening. We hope you enjoyed this practice group podcast. For materials related to this podcast and other Federalist Society multimedia, please visit The Federalist Society's website at fedsoc.org/multimedia.