The constant mantra that racism defines America and is deeply embedded in all of the nation’s institutions is leading to policies and practices that are slowly destroying the country from within, writes Heather Mac Donald in her new book “When Race Trumps Merit: How the Pursuit of Equity Sacrifices Excellence, Destroys Beauty, and Threatens Lives.”
The book weaves together hundreds of stats and anecdotes to illustrate how the left’s obsession with racial disparities, which became turbo-charged after the death of George Floyd in May 2020, has infected courtrooms, universities, law and medical schools, STEM research, and art and cultural institutions such as museums and concert halls.
These vital institutions have placed racial quotas and equity benchmarks above meritocratic achievement even though crime and the underrepresentation of blacks in many professions has nothing to do with racism and bias and far more to do with “the unequal distribution of skills.”
“The concept of disparate impact is destroying America’s core institutions in the name of fighting invented racism,” wrote Mac Donald, who is on The College Fix’s advisory board.
“It is putting future scientific advances at risk by substituting racial quotas for meritocracy. It is unwinding decades of progress in fighting urban crime by declaring color-blind law enforcement racist,” she wrote, describing it as a sort of “cultural self-cancellation.”
The conservative scholar describes the “rejection of objective standards” as “nihilistic.”
“America’s elites have apparently decided that if, after five decades of massive financial outlays on inner-city education, income transfers, and social services, the academic skills gap has still not closed, it is time to break up objective yardsticks that measure it,” Mac Donald wrote.
The pursuit of equity is sacrificing excellence, destroying beauty, and threatening lives.
My new book makes the case that abandoning meritocracy isn’t just unfair, it’s unsafe–and is destroying society.
— Heather Mac Donald (@HMDatMI) April 24, 2023
The 319-page book is stuffed with details on how those charged with protecting American’s lives — scientists, scholars, doctors and police — are now operating under this “disparate impact orthodoxy.”
Racial quotas are now more important than finding a cure for cancer, as Mac Donald spelled out how the National Cancer Institute expanded its Outstanding Investigator Awards because its former winners were not sufficiently diverse: “The deputy director did not clarify which aspects of scientific merit were to be discarded in order to achieve this broader pool of nominees.”
One top cancer researcher told Mac Donald the trend is now unstoppable, because very few are willing to risk their job to speak out: “The system will have to rot from within and be reinvented, which will take 50-100 years.”
A section of the book focused on law and order includes five straight pages of headlines regarding mostly young children murdered by gun violence in urban cities as the homicide rate in major cities skyrocketed after Floyd’s death.
“These drive-by shootings happened virtually exclusively in black neighborhoods,” Mac Donald wrote. “… [S]ince the black children’s assailants are overwhelmingly black themselves, the country changes the subject, lest it be accused of a taboo attention to black crime.”
Yet the false narrative remains that racist cops are the problem. Mac Donald debunks that: “In 2021, eight unarmed black people were slain by police officers, according to the Washington Post. Those eight unarmed black people represent .00001 percent of the nation’s nearly 47 million self-identified blacks, or 1/100th of one person killed by a cop per 100,000 blacks.”
In addition to addressing the attack on excellence and objective science, medicine, and law enforcement, Mac Donald spends time chronicling the demise of culture and the arts as well.
For example, the “attack against classical music is worth examining in some detail, for it reveals the logic that has been turned against nearly every aspect of Western culture over the last few years,” she wrote. “That logic displays a hatred of beauty, a brittle intolerance of the past, and a self-righteous certainty that the orthodoxies of the present are uniquely just.”
Mac Donald has the receipts, providing a parade of anecdotes illustrating how the tear down of cultural excellence extends from Beethoven and Swan Lake to operas to museums.
The end result “impoverishes the imagination, stunts the capacity for wonder and joy, and strips the future of everything that gives human life meaning: beauty, sublimity, and wit.”
“We are in uncharted territory.”