In his defense of bilingual education programs ("The Voters' Prerogatives and Bilingual Education," Lessons column, Oct. 23), Richard Rothstein implies that previous generations of European immigrants would have greatly benefited by spending the first five to seven years of their schooling in classes taught mostly in Italian, Yiddish or Greek, as is called for under... Read More
Re 'The Millionaire's Club; Why leave ballot initiatives to the rich?' Aug. 18 Perspective. I must respond to Daniel A. Smith's rather ignorant piece criticizing our initiative to dismantle bilingual education in Colorado. Mr. Smith disparages our measure by suggesting that there has been no public outcry on the issue. But this statement indicates either... Read More
In his Aug. 8 editorial page commentary, "The Real Value of Options," Harvey Golub, the former CEO of American Express, argued that the issuance of stock options should not be treated as an accounting expense because no outlay of corporate cash is required. Profits per share might fall, but total profits should not. This reasoning... Read More
I must take issue with the ignorant and rather insulting tone of Yvette Cabrera's column on the subject of bilingualism. Ms. Cabrera wrongly characterizes me as an "English-only" advocate, implying that I somehow fear the use of other languages. Instead, I'd told her during our long conversation that although knowing more languages is better than... Read More
In his review of William McGowan's fine book, Coloring the News (Dec. 31), John Corry claims that the media coverage of California's Proposition 227 was grossly unfair, and that the L.A. Times and other publications portrayed our 1998 measure to dismantle bilingual education as a nativist plot attacking Latino culture. Fortunately, this was not the... Read More
As someone whose grandparents helped to found the modern State of Israel, I experienced a feeling of immense sadness after reading Norman Podhoretz's powerful analysis of the current post-Oslo fighting in Israel (Commentary, October 2001). As the endless cycle of killings, assassinations, and suicide-bombings gradually infects Israel's Arab citizens and becomes part of daily life... Read More
Given the all-encompassing focus of TNR and every other major media outlet on the very real Terrorism War, I suppose I should be grateful that a recent column of mine on our initiative campaign to dismantle bilingual education in Massachusetts at least drew mention in your "Idiocy Watch" section. My piece, entitled "Rocks Falling Upward,"... Read More
Re: "Teaching decision for sale," Kevin Welner guest commentary July 15. Since Welner is employed as a professor of bilingual education, I found his defense of that failed doctrine hardly surprising. However, some of his central facts were in error. He alleges that I funded a massive advertising campaign to persuade the voters of California... Read More
I was absolutely appalled by your current cover story attacking the Darwinian theory of evolution. I am a conservative. I support traditional social values and maintaining the crucial role of organized religion in our society. On most issues, I would probably be characterized as a strong social conservative. But I am a scientist first and... Read More
I very much appreciated the excellent article by Howard Husock, describing the dreadful failure of our system of public housing vouchers. Mr. Husock convincingly suggests that an ideological fixation with naive "free market mechanisms" led conservatives to create a mammoth governmental program which has done little or nothing for the poor while seriously damaging portions... Read More
I agree with the general sentiments of "Repairing Bilingual Education" (editorial, Dec. 22), but you are wrong to recommend reforming the system in New York City rather than replacing it with English immersion. English immersion is not "sink or swim" — that would be submersion. Instead, sheltered English immersion provides special classes in which English... Read More
Congratulations to Tamar Jacoby for her excellent article, one of the best on Asian-Americans I have read in a number of years. I would add only two points. First, although the handful of Asian-American ethnic activists whom she interviewed receive considerable attention in the mainstream media, a far more significant phenomenon is the impact that... Read More
Samuel Francis (Principalities & Powers, April 2000) is correct in much of his analysis of the weaknesses of Gov. George W. Bush's political strategy for attracting Hispanic votes. He is also correct in debunking the endlessly repeated canard that Bush won 49 percent (rather than 39 percent) of the Texas Hispanic vote in his successful... Read More
Agustin Gurza accuses me ("Bilingual Ed: The Truth Behind Test Gains," July 22) of using "statistical sleight of hand" in suggesting that the early Stanford 9 test scores indicate the superiority of English immersion over bilingual education. Gurza is misrepresenting the facts. First, I had emphasized that until the mid-August release of all immigrant test... Read More
Your Sunday, Sept. 10 editorial, "A Rush to Judgment on Bilingual Education," claims that two years isn't long enough to judge the success of Proposition 227's dismantling of bilingual education. Actually, bilingual programs have been obvious failures for 30 years, and 30 years of failure is long enough. Oceanside Unified, near San Diego, which almost... Read More
I appreciated John Maggs' thoughtful article on ballot initiatives ("Ballot Boxing," 7/1/2000, p. 2144) but have a few comments. First, Peter Schrag's book on the harmful consequences of Proposition 13 in California claims that by limiting property taxes, that landmark measure resulted in decades of "disinvestment" in California's public schools, and their consequent decline; and... Read More
Although I've always been a very strongly pro-immigrant conservative, I found that the underlying facts and figures in your "immigration" issue (June 16, 1997) were absolutely irrefutable, however much I might disagree with your ultimate conclusions. But then I noticed that if I changed "Asians" to "Jews," "Hispanics" to "blacks," and "immigrants" to "Jews and... Read More
I was shocked at the accusation of Nativo Lopez, a school board member from Orange County, that a hidden agenda of anti-Latino racism lay behind my proposed "English for the Children" initiative (La Opinion, 5/21/97). Mr. Lopez has never met me, but I do know that if he had spent any time at all investigating... Read More
It is astonishing that William McGowan's article on the roots of the bloody civil war in Sri Lanka ("Mythconceptions," June 7) nowhere mentions the words "affirmative action." Yet government "set-asides" to Sinhalese businessman, preferential promotions of Sinhalese in the government bureaucracy and the "race-norming" of test scores for university admissions between the "underrepresented" Sinhalese and... Read More
The May issue of COMMENTARY---containing the second round of your debate on American decline, and mostly attacking Edward N. Luttwak's thesis on the "third-worldization" of America---arrived simultaneously with the nationwide wave of riots, looting, and arson, which fully confirmed Mr. Luttwak's position. One must separate the two parts of his argument. America's relative economic decline,... Read More
As a long-time subscriber to your newsweekly I wish to bring to your attention an unfortunate skew in your coverage of world events, namely your overemphasis on Europe and your under-reporting of the Far East. Such an observation may seem curious since your newsweekly clearly contains the best and most comprehensive western coverage of the... Read More
In Tom Wicker’s Jan. 13 column, the Rev. Allan Boesak was characterized as a white South African champion of black rights, recently jailed for his efforts. This is incorrect. Mr. Boesak, a founder of the United Democratic Front, is actually a colored (mixed-race) South African. This is significant because it underscores the South African Government’s... Read More
Mr. Robert Dujarric (Letters, January 15th) believes that an increased Nato reliance on “smart” anti-tank weapons instead of tactical nuclear weapons is inadvisable. His analysis overlooks several important points. Many American tactical nuclear warheads are stored close to the East German border and might be quickly overrun during a Soviet attack. An American president would... Read More
Your otherwise fine article on the condition of blacks in California (August 1st) errs in pointing to racism as the root cause of opposition to forced busing in Los Angeles. The white parents who opposed having their children bused to black inner city schools (which were distant and high in violence and drug abuse) were... Read More
A theoretical physicist by training, Mr. Unz serves as founder and chairman of UNZ.org, a content-archiving website providing free access to many hundreds of thousands of articles from prominent periodicals of the last hundred and fifty years. From 2007 to 2013, he also served as publisher of The American Conservative, a small opinion magazine, and had previously served as chairman of Wall Street Analytics, Inc., a financial services software company which he founded in New York City in 1987. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Harvard University, Cambridge University, and Stanford University, and is a past first-place winner in the Intel/Westinghouse Science Talent Search. He was born in Los Angeles in 1961.
He has long been deeply interested in public policy issues, and his writings on issues of immigration, race, ethnicity, and social policy have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, The Nation, and numerous other publications.
In 1994, he launched a surprise Republican primary challenge to incumbent Gov. Pete Wilson of California, running on a conservative, pro-immigrant platform against the prevailing political sentiment, and received 34% of the vote. Later that year, he campaigned as a leading opponent of Prop. 187, the anti-immigration initiative, and was a top featured speaker at a 70,000 person pro-immigrant march in Los Angeles, the largest political rally in California history to that date.
In 1997, Mr. Unz began his “English for the Children” initiative campaign to dismantle bilingual education in California. He drafted Prop. 227 and led the campaign to qualify and pass the measure, culminating in a landslide 61% victory in June 1998, effectively eliminating over one-third of America’s bilingual programs. Within less than three years of the new English immersion curriculum, the mean percentile test scores of over a million immigrant students in California rose by an average of 70%. He later organized and led similar initiative campaigns in other states, winning with 63% in the 2000 Arizona vote and a remarkable 68% in the 2002 Massachusetts vote without spending a single dollar on advertising.
After spending most of the 2000s focused on software projects, he has recently become much more active in his public policy writings, most of which had appeared in his own magazine.