In When Race Trumps Merit: How the Pursuit of Equity Sacrifices Excellence, Destroys Beauty, and Threatens Lives, Heather Mac Donald addresses the causes of racial disparities in outcomes in education, culture, and other areas. She expertly and with exhaustive research makes the case that the true cause of outcome disparities is not what has become a conventional wisdom of racism, but rather, the gap in academic skills and educational opportunities between black and white Americans.
Mac Donald traces the beginning of the racism conventional wisdom to the 1971 opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court in Griggs v. Duke Power. Prior to Griggs, only deliberate and intentional discrimination stated a claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and similar statutes. In Griggs, the Court adopted a disparate impact theory, finding for the first time that measuring outcomes rather than intent could create liability for discrimination. As Mac Donald reports, disparate impact analysis now pervades not just the law, but all of culture. Indeed, she writes, “The concept of disparate impact is destroying America’s core institutions in the name of inviting invented racism.”
The second historical event that Mac Donald finds to be seminal is the death of George Floyd in 2020. Mac Donald chronicles a change where institutions began to claim themselves racist.
Part III of the book, titled “Law and Order” addresses issues familiar to the legal community, mainly the effect on the criminal justice system. In spectacular detail, Mac Donald chronicles the effects of Soros-funded, rogue prosecutors, defunding the police, and the acceptance of violence in urban America.
Perhaps the more eye-opening discussion is in Part II titled “Culture and the Arts.” Mac Donald holds a BA from Yale and an MA from Cambridge, and her cultural and artistic expertise is on full display in Part II. We learn of the cancelling of classical music and opera, of the intentional dismantling of the Art Institute of Chicago’s docent program, of the rewriting of history at the Metropolitan Museum, and the consequences for those in the artistic community who rebel against the conventional wisdom.
Mac Donald posits that much of this behavior from institutions is self-aggrandizing: “Individuals and institutions blame themselves for inequalities for which they have no responsibility in order to claim a current impact that they do not possess.”
In sum, Heather Mac Donald has methodically documented and eloquently described a cultural and legal revolution. It is an important read for anyone concerned about the direction in which the country is headed.
Heather Mac Donald will address RNLA's 2023 National Policy Conference on May 12th in Arlington, Virginia. Register here to hear from Mac Donald on this important topic in person!