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Ron Unz, a trojan horse for the neo conservative movement (english)
by Bryan G. Pfeifer
Email: bgp (nospam) uwm.edu
03 Nov 2002
Ron Unz has come to Massachusetts to push his racist "Unz initiative" which will be on a statewide ballot Nov. 5 in the form of Question 2. Largely portrayed in the mainstream media as a wealthy pioneer advocating "English Only," Unz is in fact a golden boy of the neo conservative movement disseminating its racist, privatization schemes nationwide. Read more below.
Ron Unz, a trojan horse for the neo conservative movement
By Bryan G. Pfeifer
Over the past few months Massachusetts residents have become familiar with Ron Unz, a Silicon Valley multi-millionaire and his anti-bilingual education campaign currently being waged here.
Flush with victories in California in 1998 and Arizona in 2000, Unz, thorough a slick, well-publicized, xenophobic and hysterical campaign, has managed to get Question 2 on the Massachusetts ballot and Amendment 31 on the ballot in Colorado for Tuesday's voting.
A virtual replica of California's Proposition 227, Question 2 would replace the state's existing bilingual education law with a one-year English "immersion" program thereby wiping out successful bilingual education in Massachusetts' public schools.
Furthermore, the measure contains a provision that those educators who continue teaching students in their native language can be held liable and anyone sued under the provision must pay damages out of their own funds that cannot be covered by insurance or a union. Teachers could be fired and banned from teaching for five years for defying the measure.
An Unz counter campaign is currently underway, lead by scores of Massachusetts unions, civil rights organizations, students, parents, and anti-racist community organizations among others, to defeat the reactionary Question 2. Their arguments are many but all agree that English "immersion" "initiatives," have been a complete failure in California and elsewhere and that the majority of "English only" supporters like Unz have never been in an educator's seat. Because of this many bilingual supporters suspect Unz is just a trojan horse for more conservative forces.
Thus far, the mainstream media covering this struggle and the ones before it, has largely ignored this latter question regarding Unz and his connections instead portraying him as a lone Horatio Alger pioneer fighting a lonely but costly battle against "big labor unions" etc.
After scouring various types of mainstream media coverage of Unz and "his" "Initiative," this is the picture one gleans. But if one does a small bit of independent research it is obvious Unz, like Ward Connerly, Linda Chazez, and David Horowitz, are the annointed spokespersons of the far right-wing neo-conservative movement disseminating its policies worldwide.
El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X) once said: "History is best qualified to reward our research." Let's follow his lead.
Unz and the right-wing
Who is Ronald Unz?
According to a May 8, 1994 Los Angeles Times profile published a month before Unz opposed incumbent Governor Pete Wilson in the 1994 Republican primary, Unz was born in the San Fernando Valley in 1961 to a single mother. He grew up a democrat becoming politically active at 11 by helping his mom deliver George McGovern campaign material door-to-door. Growing up Unz resided at his grandparents home with his mother after she stopped working after becoming ill and had to rely on public assistance.
Unz attended public schools and was a top student especially in math and debating. As a senior in high school he became the third Californian ever to win first place in the national Westinghouse talent search competition. Due to his academic success, he was accepted at Stanford graduating in 1983 with a double major in theoretical physics and ancient history. From there he went to England on a Churchill Science Fellowship to study quantum gravitation with Stephen Hawking.
Dabbling a bit in public policy he became disillusioned so he continued school at Harvard in 1986 eventually receiving a Ph.D. and moving on to a Wall Street Firm. He left there to start his own computer business, Wall Street Analytics Inc., writing code for major corporations eventually making enough money to start giving donations to conservative foundations like the Manhattan Institute.
By the late 1980s Unz had made enough connections and money to be courted by the neo conservative movement eventually being named to the Board of Directors at the mis-named Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO).
The CEO is directed by president Linda Chavez, a former Reagan/Bush Sr. appointee for various posts, an author, a syndicated columnist and political analyst for Fox News Channel. Ms. Chavez' most recent book is "An unlikely conservative, the transformation of an ex liberal: Or how I became the most hated Hispanic in America."
According to its website, the CEO's mission is to "counter the divisive impact of race conscious public policies," focusing on "three areas in particular: racial preferences, immigration and assimilation and multicultural education."
Mediatransparency.org, a watchdog website that tracks right-wing funding, documents that the CEO received 39 grants totaling over $2.4 million from 1988-2000 from right-wing foundations including Earhart, Lynde and Harry Bradley, John M. Olin, and Sarah Scaife. In 1997 the CEO received $15,000 from the Earhart Foundation for the publication, "The New Paternalism: How Uncle Sam Replaces Mr. Right in Women's Lives." The CEO has also published a Parents Guide to Bilingual Education that educates parents to "learn how to remove their children from harmful [bilingual education] programs."
Unz' own organization, One Nation/One California Research and Education fund, which runs the "English for Children" program that conducted the California Prop 227 campaign, received six grants from 1998-2000 totaling $330, 000 from the Cartage, Sarah Scaife and Bradley Foundations. English for the Children is also conducting the Massachusetts Question 2 campaign-it has contributed $123,000 towards this effort.
By far the majority of contributions for CEO and One Nation have come from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, as its popularly known, which has over $800 million in assets. This premier, most influential right-wing foundation in the U.S. gives away over $30 million annually to conservative individuals, and organizations as well as cultural, educational, and faith-based entities.
Bradley is perhaps best known for giving over $1 million to Charles Murray and Richard Hernstein to write the book, "The Bell Curve…" which posited African Americans and other people of color are genetically inferiors to whites. Bradley has also given millions to David Horowitz' Center for the Study of Popular Culture (CSPC), Ward Connerly's American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI), the Institute for Justice, a legal firm responsible for helping abolish affirmative action in various states and universities, the National Association of Scholars (NAS) and the Hudson Institute which created the initial plans to abolish the federal entitlement program Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).
"The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation illustrates the power of a well-financed foundation with a clearly articulated political and ideological vision. ... it is one of the nation's largest supporters of conservative thought and activity," stresses the watchdog organization People for the American Way in its book Buying a Movement: Right-Wing Foundations and American Politics.
Journalist Phil Wilayto, who has written extensively on Bradley and the neo conservative movement, says, that to further its objectives, "Bradley supports the organizations and individuals that promote the abolishment of affirmative action, deregulation of business, the rollback of virtually all social welfare programs, school vouchers, and the privitization of government services."
"The overall objective of the Bradley Foundation, however," adds Wilayto, "is to return the U.S. - and the world- to the days before governments began to regulate Big Business, before corporations were forced to make concessions to an organized labor force. In other words, laissez-faire capitalism: capitalism with the gloves off."
Back to Unz and Massachusetts
So what, then, are the goals of the neo conservative movement's demagogic and racist campaign in relation to Question 2?
In using willing shock troopers like Unz, they hope to use previously "successful" conservative blueprints to pit the white working class against different nationalities. By focusing on Latino/a's, they even hope to divide the African American community, and other nationally oppressed people's from its allies. Furthermore, by abolishing bilingual education, the neo conservative movement hopes to erase the culture that leads to national identity because this in turn leads to political struggle and unity against a common oppressor.
And, of course the racist and privatization schemes pushed by the neo conservative movement divert the debate from where it needs to be: the under funding of public education from the federal level on down which has resulted in a growing chasm in educational opportunities. In light of severe budget cuts in this state and across the nation that are gutting social service spending and an impending U.S. war on Iraq that the U.S. stands to spend between $50-200 billion dollars on, the right's motives become clear.
Voting down Question 2 won't only be a refutation of "The Unz Inititive," it will send a clear message to Unz and the entire neo conservative movement that the working-class and all progressive forces in Massachusetts won't be diverted into a fear-mongering racist campaign against our allies.
We can then focus on the real issues and solutions to the economic, social and political plight the state and nation is currently in.
In the meantime we should send all racist neo conservative trojan horses packing.
Bryan G. Pfeifer is a former Editor-in-Chief of The UWM Post at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a graduate student in the Labor Studies Department at University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
© 2002 Bryan G. Pfeifer. Article may be reprinted in whole or in part with full attribution given to author.