When a small publication such as The American Conservative publishes a sharp attack against the mainstream media as I recently did in American Pravda, the ultimate result largely depends upon whether that selfsame media will take any notice. Many tens or even low hundreds of thousands may read a highly popular article online, but such... Read More
For years futurists have been regularly prophesizing that the power of the Internet will level the playing field between the mighty and the weak, and one more nugget of evidence that this day is finally dawning has now come to my attention. A few days ago my regular Google sweeps discovered that a website called... Read More
As I often tell people, there seems a totally unpredictable, even random aspect to major American media coverage. Whether a scandal explodes into the public eye or escapes without notice seems difficult to foretell. Consider the recent example of Dr. Jason Richwine, late of the Heritage Foundation, whose ideological travails became one of Washington’s major... Read More
The early reaction to my “American Pravda” article has been quite encouraging, with the piece attracting more traffic during its first week than nearly any of my others and with several websites discussing, excerpting, or even republishing it. Furthermore, the average time spent on the page by readers steadily rose to nearly a full hour... Read More
The notion of a Gay Germ---homosexuality transmitted as some sort of infection---probably horrifies many mainstream intellectuals unfamiliar with the details of modern evolutionary biology. Therefore, it is perhaps unsurprising that my recent column discussing that subject quickly provoked a striking example of Internet censorship. But the circumstances were different than people might naively expect. Most... Read More
With all eyes and all headlines fixed so intently upon Boston’s two Caucasian Bombers, hardly anyone has been paying attention to revelations of a far more devastating disaster that unfolded close nearby, but which were generally buried on the inside pages of our major newspapers. I refer, of course, to the Harvard Spreadsheet Glitch, the... Read More
The twists of intellectual fashion in our society are often quite peculiar, especially when “touchy” topics are involved. Consider, for example, the analysis of human behavior. Whatever most people may privately believe or say, the vocal academics and activists who control the commanding ideological heights of our media tend to claim that people act as... Read More
Given the unprecedented peace and prosperity currently enjoyed by nearly all Americans, it's hardly surprising that a symbolic issue such as Gay Marriage has now moved to the forefront of the public debate, not least among the contributors to my own magazine. Personally, it’s not the sort of issue that keeps me in a state... Read More
Developments of enormous consequence sometimes follow the most mundane of motives. During the mid-1990s, the giant Disney Corporation became concerned that its 1928 copyright on Mickey Mouse was close to expiration. Deploying heavy lobbying efforts, it persuaded Congress to pass and President Bill Clinton to sign what was officially entitled the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright... Read More
As an individual who often regrets his decades-old defection from the academic community, I was remarkably pleased to see anthropologist Peter Frost very generously discuss my recent China article under the rubric “the Clark-Unz Model.” The senior researcher identified is obviously economist Gregory Clark, whose influential 2007 book A Farewell to Alms had suggested a... Read More
In modern American society, few terms carry the negative and socially disreputable ring of “eugenics,” first coined by Darwin's cousin Francis Galton and later widely advocated by Margaret Sanger, America’s founding mother of birth control and abortion. Denouncing one’s opponents as eugenicists has become a mainstay of political rhetoric across both the Left and Right,... Read More
My Friday Aspen Institute panel in DC on raising the minimum wage went well, though the discussion underscored the somewhat insular thinking of many of the policy elites who dominate life in our capital city. As an example, although the audience and participants skewed heavily toward the “economic left,” several individuals mentioned how surprised they... Read More
As many may know, I have spent most of the last decade or more producing a content-archiving website that provides convenient, readable access to over 500,000 print articles from the 19th and 20th centuries, together with hundreds of thousands of books. Most of these articles are drawn from what were once America’s leading journals of... Read More
The front page of this morning’s New York Times carried a story highlighting the growing discontent of working-class Americans whose “wages have floundered” over the last few years despite the “record levels” of corporate profits. Although this discontent may seem somewhat mysterious to many American politicians, who spend their time closely cosseted with affluent lobbyists... Read More
Just before the Labor Day weekend, a front page New York Times story broke the news of the largest cheating scandal in Harvard University history, in which nearly half the students taking a Government course on the role of Congress had plagiarized or otherwise illegally collaborated on their final exam. Each year, Harvard admits just... Read More
The surprisingly wide national victory of President Barack Obama over his Republican challenger has occasioned quite a lot of political second-guessing, including among the GOP donors who contributed well over one billion dollars in cash to their candidate, only to be crushed on Election Day despite record-high national unemployment. To reverse JFK's famous phrase, it... Read More
In late September I attended a memorial service for William M. Fitz-Gibbon, a retired public school teacher who had passed away a few weeks earlier, just short of his 78th birthday. Without doubt Bill Fitz-Gibbon—“Fitz” to everyone—was the individual who had the greatest academic influence on my life, and my feelings were shared by many... Read More
Even as the front pages of America's top newspapers were debating the vital question of whether Obama's raised eyebrow had overcome Romney's clenched jaw, and which of our two ideologically-polar-opposite candidates was more sincere in his pledge of undying loyalty to Israel, a story of perhaps greater significance was reaching our shores from across the... Read More
The endless pace of change in our media landscape regularly plays tricks upon all of us. Many have seen the amusing web video in which a very young child repeatedly attempts to click or swipe the colorful pages of a magazine, before finally declaring it "broken" to his smiling father, who finally hands him an... Read More
I first encountered the strong case for global warming in the early 1970s in an Isaac Asimov science column. As an elementary school student, I merely nodded my head, assumed that America’s political leadership would address the danger, and moved on to an explanation of quarks. Even in those days, the subject was hardly new.... Read More
Although we hear endless complaints about the overly rich compensation of our corporate elite, the front page of this morning's New York Times Business Section provided a glowing portrait of an obvious exception to this pattern, namely Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, whose 2010 compensation of $84.5 million had outranked that of every other corporate executive... Read More
I first encountered the writing of Alexander Cockburn in the early 1990s on the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal, where he served as a regular columnist. Given that Alex was one of the premier radical-left journalists of our era, this highlights the unique background of the man. Being myself then a rather moderate... Read More
As people are probably aware, I've recently written a few articles and subsequently participated in various Internet discussions. But for most of the last decade, stretching back well into the 2000s, my time was largely absorbed by a major software project, namely the creation of the UNZ.org content-archiving system. This system, although somewhat crude and... 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.