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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Ron Unz' "My Stasi File Published in the Harvard Crimson"

I was very unhappy with the unfair and inflammatory article that the Harvard Crimson ran regarding my political associations, and they suggested I submit an op-ed in response. I provided the piece below, which they requested be trimmed for length prior to publication, which I did.
They then notified me that after further consideration, they had decided that most of my points were irrelevant or unfair and should not be published: I could only make the arguments that they themselves approved. Perhaps they felt that the effectiveness of my response might risk “confusing” some of their readers.
Several individuals have emphasized to me that outrageous character assassination based on guilt-by-association must be answered quickly, so here’s the rebuttal that the Crimson refused to publish, and you can decide for yourself if their decision was appropriate.
I appreciate that the Crimson has afforded denied me an opportunity to reply to their highly misleading article of the 14th, featuring the particularly lurid headline “Overseers Candidate Donates to ‘Quasi-White Nationalist’ Group,” and supposedly documenting my links to various rightwing extremists. Coming at the peak of alumni voting, such unfair accusations have the potential to torpedo our Free Harvard/Fair Harvard slate of Overseer candidates.
Over the last dozen years I’ve certainly provided donations to a very wide range of political groups and individuals, including leftwingers, rightwingers, and libertarians. Many of these groups are on the political fringe and espouse controversial views on all sorts of different issues. I might agree with them on some things and disagree with them on others, but frequently find their ideas a useful counterpoint to the conventional wisdom presented in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, which I spend hours closely reading every morning.
Much of the Crimson article focused on my financial support to VDare, a rightwing and very hard-core anti-immigrant webzine, with the dollars representing less than 1% of my total donations over the last decade. Since immigration issues have always been one of my main interests, I read VDare quite regularly and am on friendly terms with their staff. But as everyone knows from the hundreds of thousands of words I have published on immigration-related topics, I’ve always been one of America’s leading pro-immigrant voices, hence almost invariably on the exact opposite side from VDare. I find it odd that the Crimson article left out that significant detail, which surely would have made their account of my donation seem even more shocking and newsworthy.
Sometimes headlines may be factually correct but highly misleading. For example, back in 1994 I was a top featured speaker at the gigantic 70,000 person march in Los Angeles against Prop. 187, the largest pro-immigrant political protest in American history but boycotted by virtually every other prominent non-Latino political figure in California. As it happens, many small Communist groups participated in that rally, waving their Communist flags. So the Crimson could have run the lurid headline “Overseer Candidate Marched with the Communists in Los Angeles.” Accurate, but perhaps a bit skewed and misleading.
Similarly, the Crimson alludes to individuals supporting the assassination of police officers. The reference was to a piece I ran a couple of months ago by Bob Trivers, a brilliant evolutionary biologist but also a completely unrepentant radical militant, who had once served as the only white member of the Black Panther Party. It’s absolutely correct that he has advocated the assassination of “racist” white police officers, a view I personally do not share and one which is probably more extreme than anything VDare or any of my rightwing columnists has ever proposed. But the column was drawn from his recent book, which was widely praised by some of the world’s most prominent public intellectuals, including Richard Dawkins and Harvard’s own Steven Pinker. So perhaps the Crimson should run a headline “Richard Dawkins Praises Book Advocating the Assassination of White Police Officers.”
I reject “guilt by association” and just because I am personally friendly with various people, publish their writings, or even provide them some financial assistance, that does not necessarily mean that I endorse everything they say. For example, I very strongly disagree with Sen. Bernie Sanders on a whole host of important topics, but since on balance I like his positions much better than those of his competitors, he is my favored presidential candidate, and the only one to which I have donated. Similarly, during the last couple of presidential elections I wrote in Ron Paul’s name at the top of the ticket, not because I agreed with him about everything, but because the other choices seemed so unsatisfactory.
I have a long record of closely associating with people of sharply different views is widely known. I am often identified as the former publisher (2006-2013) of The American Conservative (TAC), an opinion magazine that absorbed over 60% of my donations over the last decade. TAC was co-founded by Pat Buchanan and always had a strongly Buchananite stance on immigration, trade, and social issues, positions I did not share. However, I strongly supported their lonely opposition to the disastrous foreign wars of the Bush Administration, afterward continued by the Obama Administration.
Anyone who wishes to know my own views may easily examine my writings over the past twenty-five years, given that all 500,000 words are online and fully searchable. Furthermore, my most important articles are collected in a 700pp booktogether with a very comprehensive index. Just look in the index, read the text, and you’ll discover my opinions.
Over half my writing has dealt with matters of race, ethnicity, and social policy, including immigration, affirmative action, and bilingual education. Although often controversial, my articles have won praise from some eminent scholars and journalists, situated all across the ideological spectrum. If Crimson journalists wish to denounce me, they are free to do so, but they should focus on my own views rather than those of other people I happen to know.

Although the Crimson never revealed the source of their accusations, these almost exactly match the contents of a “dossier” someone forwarded to me around the same time, a file apparently prepared by some activist group and intended to cast me in an extremely unfavorable light, especially on racial issues.
I was stunned by the contents, since the Stasi-type researchers who compiled it were not only extremely malicious but also ignorant and incompetent, even getting wrong such simple factual details as the name of my webzine.
For example, they characterized my $600,000 grant to Gregory Cochran as secret, even though his University of Utah announced it at the time in a public press release, boasting that it was larger than a MacArthur Fellowship. Dr. Cochran is an extreme rightwinger, who has stubbornly disputed my own immigration writings and evenbanned me from his website when I demonstrated the logical flaws in his “Gay Germ” theory. However, he is also a brilliant evolutionary biologist whose Accelerationist theory is hugely important, very possibly worth a future Nobel Prize. His press release emphasized that theory, but the ignorant Stasi investigators have apparently never heard of it.
The dossier sought to tar me as a nasty “racist,” opening with mention of my supposedly sinister phrase “the End of White America.” Indeed, two of my longest and most important articles on America’s ongoing racial transformation have been “California and the End of White America” in 1999 and “Immigration, Republicans, and the End of White America” in 2011, and I would urge everyone interested in the topic to read them. The former caught the attention of CBS News, which invited me to discuss my ideas on their morning show, available on YouTube for anyone for anyone who wants a taste of my views without reading 20,000 words of text.

In another particularly egregious case, the Stasi researchers claimed that I had endorsed a particular “white nationalist” political strategy although one of my aforementioned articles had actually totally debunked that theory. Since my article was 12,000 words long and the Stasi agents so lazy, I can understand why they never bothered reading what I actually wrote.
Finally, here’s a last, telling point. As I’ve said, the entire corpus of my writings of the last 25 years is conveniently available on the web in fully searchable form. Yet although the Stasi researchers exhaustively worked to portray my racial views in an extremely negative light, they did not include a single sentence of my own in their malicious dossier. So if they failed to find a single “incriminating” sentence anywhere among my 500,000 words of articles and columns, what does that indicate about the accuracy of their conclusions?


Harvard Overseers Debate


3 comments: said...

Thanks Linh. I imagine most people will see the Harvard Crimson piece as a stunt.

Otherwise, Ron's points - transparent admissions - describing Harvard as a tax shelter, and a hedge fund, writing that they "surrender" 4% of their investment income for free tuition and the same thing happening at other elite schools - might be considered insurgent by some folks. Larry Summers doesn't think "free" tuition is a good idea for example, but he's also said he's for the poor when he has looted them 'round the world.

Nader, one of the candidates for Harvard Overseer, has called for free tuition everywhere, which sounds like it would end or prevent some real debt bondage across our country.

Linh Dinh said...


Speaking of Nader, here's Nader interviewing Unz recently.

Real men have dialogs. Assholes hit and run.


Linh Dinh said...


I know I'm outing myself here. However, I voted for the first time in the Harvard Overseer election in order to support the Free Harvard/Fair Harvard slate. I'll never give those Harvard elitists a dime of my diminishing savings or attend any of their events, however.

I wish I had the wisdom and experience that I have now when I was college aged. In retrospect, those years were probably some of my worst and largely wasted, other than learning, outside the classroom, the myth of meritocracy and the really dangerous, negative role of elite institutions.

This all reminds me of what David Crosby said to Bob Dylan, as described in Dylan's "Chronicles", while driving Dylan home after he had an awful experience speaking at a Princeton commencement.

"A bunch of dicks on auto stroke."

That was like 90% of my Harvard classmates, some of whom are now in positions of great power and (self) importance.

Killary Clinton is the epitome of a person of privilege, educated at elite institutions, serving and then becoming one of the utmost elites, portraying herself as liberal while being a murderous mobster.

Good luck to Unz, Nader, etc. I suspect that this will be the only time I vote in such an election.


About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), five of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). Blood and Soap was chosen by Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.