Interview with Heather Mac Donald

John Derbyshire wrote in 2006 for National Review’s The Corner:

This is 3 years old but I hadn’t seen it before. It’s an interview that blogger Luke Ford had with one of my favorite conservatives, and one of the most interesting people around, Heather Mac Donald. Samples:

[On being a California girl]

Luke: “Did you like Los Angeles growing up?”

Heather: “I loved it. I spent a lot of time in the Santa Monica Mountains. The smell of the dry chaparral in the summer time and the eucalyptus and the wild mustard plants and the light… There are so many smells that I associate with the land around here, from both the natural Southern California environment and the urban forest that has been brought in over the century.”

[On being an automobile-phobe]

Heather: “Here the car culture is a big challenge for me.”

Luke: “Did you ever find your right-hand view mirror?”

Heather: “Yes, the Captain of the Ramparts Division adjusted it for me. I realized that part of the reason I haven’t been able to use it was that I had completely maladjusted it. I would look in it and see the side of my car…”

[On Hollywood]

Luke: “How has the dream factory, Hollywood, affected you?”

Heather: “Not at all. A lot of Hollywood kids went to my grammar school growing up. I’m completely unmoved by it. I don’t have a fondness for movies, which leaves me stranded when it comes to cocktail party chat, but I prefer language and books. Growing up in LA inoculated me against any sense that it is glamorous or special.”

[On being a Gentile in the world of American letters]

Luke: “Has anyone called you a shicksa and has it offended you?”

Heather: “It hasn’t offended me. I assume it was said affectionately.”

[On being irreligious]

“I don’t understand how people of intelligence can reconcile what I see as constant proof of divine indifference to human outcomes with a reverence for God. To me it’s a mystery.”

[On liberalism]

“Unless you think hard about political questions in our culture, you are liberal by default. You have to think your way out of liberalism.”

[On her explorations in the underclass]

“I was in Watts the other night at an outreach by various ministers, lay people and police who were trying to create a political backlash against gang violence. … We went to recent homicide sites. The people I were with were chanting and preaching and trying to get people to join them. I walked around the housing project talking to people. They were very hostile. Obviously some white girl coming up to talk to them, I don’t expect them to greet me with open arms, or even welcoming. They seemed untouched by civilization. It was disturbing.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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