Ron Unz

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Ron Unz
Ron Keeva Unz

(1961-09-20) September 20, 1961 (age 58)
North Hollywood, California, United States
Alma materHarvard University
University of Cambridge
OccupationBusinessman, political activist, writer
Political partyRepublican

Ron Keeva Unz (born September 20, 1961) is a former American businessman. He is known for an unsuccessful race in the 1994 California gubernatorial election, and for promoting structured English immersion education. He was publisher of The American Conservative from March 2007 to August 2013. Unz left The American Conservative over an editorial dispute,[1] and in November 2013 he founded The Unz Review, a webzine for which he currently serves as editor-in-chief.

The Unz Review has been criticized for promoting anti-semitism, Holocaust denial, conspiracy theories, and white supremacist material.[2][3] In addition to Unz's own writings, the site has hosted pieces by white supremacist Jared Taylor, among others.[4]

Early life and career[edit]

Born in California, to a Ukrainian-Jewish immigrant, Unz was raised in a Yiddish-speaking household.[5] His mother, Esther-Laio Avrutin, met his father on an airplane heading for Israel. A professor from the Midwest, he later briefly became her lover when visiting her on a few occasions in Los Angeles. She unilaterally decided to have a child with him, but Unz's father was already married and his wife opened a letter from Avrutin telling him about her pregnancy. She was an anti-war activist,[6] who raised her son as a single mother, but Unz was given his father's surname and soon moved back to her family's home after her son's birth.

Unz has said that his childhood as a fatherless child in a single parent household which was on the dole, was a source of "embarrassment and discomfort".[6] He attended North Hollywood High School and, in his senior year, won first place in the 1979 Westinghouse Science Talent Search.[7] He attended Harvard University, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in physics and ancient history.[8] He then took graduate courses in physics at the University of Cambridge and Stanford University.[8]

Unz worked in the banking industry and wrote software for mortgage securities during his studies. He founded a company called Wall Street Analytics in Palo Alto, California. In 2006 his company was acquired by the ratings firm Moody's.[9]

Political career[edit]

Unz made an unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination in the California gubernatorial election, 1994. He received 707,431 votes (34.3 percent) in the primary race against the incumbent Pete Wilson, who won the primary with 1,266,832 votes (61.4 percent).[10] Newspapers referred to Unz's candidacy as a Revenge of the Nerds and often quoted his claim of a 214 IQ.[11][12][13][8]

In 1994, Unz opposed California Proposition 187, a 1994 ballot initiative to establish a state-run citizenship screening system and prohibit undocumented immigrants from using non-emergency health care, public education, and other services in the State of California.[14] During his gubernatorial campaign, Unz was a featured speaker at a 70,000-person rally against Proposition 187 held in Los Angeles, which he claims was "the largest pro-immigrant protest in American history." Unz helped organize this event with the assistance of future California Senate President Kevin de Leon.[15][better source needed]

In 1998, Unz sponsored California Proposition 227, which aimed to change the state's bilingual education to an opt-in structured English-language educational system ; it was approved by the voters[16] despite opposition from language education researchers.[17] Proposition 227 did not seek to end bilingual education since special exemptions were made for students to remain in an English immersion class if a parent so desires. However, there were limits (such as age restrictions) for the exemptions, and there were provisions to discipline teachers that refused to teach solely or predominantly in English.[18] Proposition 227 was approved in June 1998, but it was repealed by Proposition 58 in November 2016. In 2002, Unz backed a similar initiative, the Massachusetts English Language Education in Public Schools Initiative,[19] which was approved by 61% of the voters.[citation needed]

The book English for the Children: Mandated by the People, Skewed by Politicians and Special Interests by Johanna Haver (Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2013) recounts the controversies and political action resulting from Unz's California and subsequent ballot initiatives: Arizona Proposition 203, Colorado Amendment 31, and Massachusetts Question 2.

In 2012 and 2014, Unz worked on a ballot initiative to raise the Californian minimum wage from $10 to $12, but his campaign failed.[20][21] His proposal was supported by James K. Galbraith.[20]

An article by Unz for The American Conservative published in 2012 was entitled "The Myth of American Meritocracy". As well as suggesting that Jews are an "alien presence" in the United States, he wrote about the supposed over-representation of Jews at Ivy League institutions, which he claimed was caused by "Jewish bias" among administrators.[22] Unz's methodology in the article was disputed by a blogger on the Algemeiner Journal and he over-estimated the number of Jews enrolled at Harvard.[23] In 2016, Unz started the "Free Harvard, Fair Harvard" campaign, centered on the Harvard Board of Overseers. Its slate of candidates included Unz, Lee Cheng, Stuart Taylor, Jr., Stephen Hsu, and Ralph Nader. The campaign sought for tuition fees at Harvard to be abolished and for greater transparency in the admissions process.[24][25] Unz's writings on admissions to Ivy League institutions were praised by David Duke who said it confirmed Harvard was "now under powerful Jewish influence" and Kevin B. MacDonald who said it was similar to his own view that Jews are “at odds with the values of the great majority of non-Jewish White Americans.”[22]

Unz campaigned on a Republican ticket in California in the 2016 primaries for election to the US Senate intending to succeed Democrat Barbara Boxer.[26] Having previously supported immigration, he now proposed it "should be sharply reduced, probably by 50% or more."[27] Though not hoping to win the nomination, he put himself forward in an attempt to challenge the then proposed repeal of Proposition 227.[26] In the final result, he gained 64,698 votes (1.3%).[28]

An investor in The American Conservative, he was its publisher from 2007 to 2013.[3] In an email leaked to National Review magazine, editor Daniel McCarthy wrote that Unz was acting as if he was the editor of The American Conservative and threatened to resign if the publication's board did not support him over Unz.[1]

The Unz Review and other activities[edit]

In November 2013, Unz launched the website The Unz Review for which he serves as editor-in-chief and publisher.[22] Intended as an outlet for non-mainstream opinion formers, by 2016 Paul Craig Roberts and Norman Finkelstein had contributed to the site.[29]

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in 2014, the webzine is an "outlet for certain writers to attack Israel and Jews".[22] It has also been described as "an alternative conservative website",[30] and "a mix of far-right and far-left anti-Semitic crackpottery".[29]

In 2016 Unz self-publishedThe Myth of American Meritocracy and Other Essays, a hardcover collection of most of his writings, including nearly all of his print articles. It was #1,367,697 in Books on in August 2020.[31]

The Unz Foundation, of which he is president, has donated to individuals and organizations which are alleged by the ADL to have published or expressed opinions that are anti-Semitic or, in the case of Norman Finkelstein, are anti-Israel. In 2009, 2010 and 2011, it gave Paul Craig Roberts, $108,000, $74,000 to Philip Giraldi, $75,000 to Finkelstein, $80,000 to CounterPunch and $60,000 to Philip Weiss, co-editor of the Mondoweiss website.[22][23] In addition, the Unz Foundation has given grants to Alison Weir, founder of If Americans Knew.[22] He has donated tens of thousands of dollars to VDARE, which he admits is a "quasi-white nationalist" website, but has said "they write interesting things".[32][33] In 2017, he was a keynote speaker at VDARE's first national conference.[34]

In 2017, The Unz Review received public attention when former CIA operative Valerie Plame was criticized after tweeting an article by a columnist, counter-terrorism specialist Philip Giraldi, titled "America's Jews Are Driving America's Wars" published in the webzine.[30][35] As a result, Giraldi was fired from writing articles for The American Conservative.[36]

Since their 2014 article, the ADL commented in October 2018 that Unz "has embraced hardcore anti-Semitism" and "has denied the Holocaust."[2] In July 2018, in articles for The Unz Review, he wrote about the claims in the Czarist forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Henry Ford's The International Jew. Ford's work, a series of anti-Semitic pamphlets published in the 1920s, appeared to Unz to be "quite plausible and factually-oriented, even sometimes overly cautious in their presentation."[2] He partly accepted the standard consensus on the Protocols but believes they were assembled by "someone who was generally familiar with the secretive machinations of elite international Jews against the existing governments... who drafted the document to outline his view of their strategic plans."[2]

In August 2018, Unz made use of Holocaust denial arguments and wrote, "I think it far more likely than not that the standard Holocaust narrative is at least substantially false, and quite possibly, almost entirely so."[2] That same year, The Unz Review published material written by Holocaust denier Kevin Barrett,[3][37] while Unz himself defended David Irving, whose reputation was damaged in his failed libel case against Deborah Lipstadt. Unz also implied that Mossad was involved in the murders of President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert.[3]

Further reading[edit]

  • Ingall, Marjorie (February 2, 2018). "Alt-Right Publication Accuses Jews of Attempting to Indoctrinate America's Young Via Subversive Children's Books". Tablet Magazine. Retrieved November 30, 2018.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)


  1. ^ a b Woodruff, Betsy (August 1, 2013). "The American Conservative, Unfused?". The National Review. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e "California Entrepreneur Ron Unz Launches a Series of Rhetorical Attacks on Jews". Anti-Defamation League. October 4, 2018. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d Sixsmith, Ben (September 15, 2018). "The curious case of Ron Unz". The Spectator. Retrieved April 19, 2019. In June, Unz published an essay saluting the ‘remarkable’ historiography of David Irving. In his legal fight against the historian Deborah Lipstadt, Unz wrote, Irving’s work was analysed ‘line-by-line, footnote-by-footnote’ by historians who ‘came up empty’. Readers of expert witness Richard J. Evans’s report on Irving’s scholarship will know this to be false. Unz followed this essay with an approving appraisal of the Nazis’ treatment of France that never once mentioned their millions of murders in Central and Eastern Europe, long articles implicating Mossad in the killings of John and Robert Kennedy and a series of analyses of Jewish history which concluded that Judaism entails ‘the enslavement or execution of all non-Jews’, that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is ‘a classic of political thought’, that the Holocaust almost certainly did not take place in a recognisable form and that anti-Semitism has in general been well-founded.
  4. ^ Guilford, Gwynn (August 15, 2017). "The complete story of what happened in Charlottesville, according to the alt-right". Quartz. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  5. ^ Hornblower, Margot (June 8, 1998). "The Man Behind Prop. 227". CNN. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  6. ^ a b Matthew Miller, "This Man Controls California: Ron Unz's Improbable Assault on the Powers That Be in California", The New Republic, July 19, 1999.
  7. ^ Foster, Douglas (November 24, 1999). "Being Ron Unz". LA Weekly.
  8. ^ a b c Bruni, Frank (June 14, 1998). "The California Entrepreneur who Beat Bilingual Teaching". The New York Times.
  9. ^ "Moody's Corporation Acquires Wall Street Analytics". MWSA News. Moody's Corporation. December 18, 2006. Archived from the original on October 28, 2007. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
  10. ^ "1994 Statement of Vote". California Secretary of State. Archived from the original on December 22, 2008.
  11. ^ Phil Reeves, "'Nerds' seek revenge in Californian poll: Apathy marks the run up to the contest for governor", The Independent (Los Angeles), May 17, 1994
  12. ^ Amy Wallace, Unlikely Path Led to Wilson Foe's Far-Right Challenge – Politics: A computer 'genius' with a passion for Greek philosophy, Ron Unz has set out to jolt the GOP. May 8, 1994 Los Angeles Times
  13. ^ Margot Hornblower, "The Man Behind Prop. 227", By Frank Bruni,, June 8, 1998
  14. ^ Matthew Miller (July 19, 1999). "Ron Unz's Improbable Assault on the Powers That Be in California". New Republic. Retrieved April 9, 2009.
  15. ^ "Racial Politics in America and in California". The Unz Review.
  16. ^ Arguments in favor of 1998 California Ballot Proposition 227
  17. ^ "CMMR: Notes by Steve Krashen on the Unz Attack".
  18. ^ Crawford, James (2000). At War with Diversity. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. ISBN 1-85359-505-5.
  19. ^ Tench, Megan (November 3, 2002). "HEATED BATTLE OVER ENGLISH IMMERSION INTENSIFIES". Boston Globe. p. B.6. Retrieved March 10, 2018 – via
  20. ^ a b Patterson, Robert. "The Missing Plank of the GOP Platform:". The Natural Family. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  21. ^ Abramsky, Sasha (April 8, 2014). "What If the Minimum Wage Were $15 an Hour?". The Nation. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  22. ^ a b c d e f "Ron Unz: Controversial Writer and Funder of Anti-israel Activists". Anti-Defamation League. January 20, 2014. Retrieved June 13, 2018.
  23. ^ a b "New York Times, Others Praised Anti-Semitic and Slanderous Article". Algemeiner. December 12, 2013. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
  24. ^ Saul, Stephanie (January 14, 2016). "How Some Would Level the Playing Field: Free Harvard Degrees". The New York Times.
  25. ^ Adamczyk, Alicia (January 15, 2016). "Group Says Harvard Tuition Should Be Free for All Students". Time.
  26. ^ a b Wildermuth, John (April 17, 2016). "Ron Unz's U.S. Senate race raises concerns of splintered GOP vote". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  27. ^ Krikorian, Mark (May 27, 2016). "Ron Unz, Immigration Convert". National Review. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  28. ^ "California Primary Results, June 7". The New York Times. September 29, 2016. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  29. ^ a b Young, Cathy (April 14, 2016). "You Can't Whitewash The Alt-Right's Bigotry". The Federalist. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  30. ^ a b Tatum, Sophie (September 22, 2017). "Ex-CIA operative apologizes for tweet". CNN. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  31. ^ Retrieved August 4, 2020. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  32. ^ Duehren, Andrew M; Thompson, Daphne C (April 16, 2016). "Overseers Candidate Donates to 'Quasi-White Nationalist' Group". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  33. ^ Krantz, Laura (April 16, 2016). "Leader of bid to shake up Harvard board linked to white-supremacist writers". Boston Globe. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  34. ^ "White Nationalists To Gather This March for VDARE's First National Conference". Southern Poverty Law Center. January 23, 2017. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  35. ^ Kirchick, James (September 25, 2017). "Valerie Plame's Real Blunder". Tablet. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  36. ^ Elisberg, Robert J. (September 25, 2020). "Taking The Plame But Only Partial Responsibility". HuffPost. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  37. ^ Barrett, Kevin (April 1, 2011). "I Am a Holocaust Denier". Retrieved March 11, 2020.