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Overseers Candidate Donates to ‘Quasi-White Nationalist’ Group

Ron K. Unz ’83 arrived in Cambridge in February to hand deliver petitions that would enable him and others on his slate to become candidates for the Board of Overseers.
Ron K. Unz ’83 arrived in Cambridge in February to hand deliver petitions that would enable him and others on his slate to become candidates for the Board of Overseers.
By Andrew M. Duehren and Daphne C. Thompson, Crimson Staff Writers

Over the course of his career as a conservative intellectual and political activist, Ron K. Unz ’83—now a candidate for Harvard’s Board of Overseers and U.S. Senate in the state of California—has donated tens of thousands of dollars to an organization he describes as “quasi-white nationalist.”

Unz’s public tax filings connect the Silicon Valley multimillionaire with VDARE, a group the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as an “anti-immigration hate website,” in addition to several writers who have published articles arguing that white people are genetically superior and homosexuality is a transmittable disease, among other extreme views.

“I support all these different people and groups because they’re mostly totally broke and they write interesting things,” Unz said of his donations. “That’s the left, the right, all over the ideological spectrum.”

Ron K. Unz '83 visited Cambridge in February.
Ron K. Unz '83 visited Cambridge in February. By Thomas W. Franck

Earlier this year, Unz and four other alumni launched an outsider campaign for Harvard’s Board of Overseers, the University’s second-highest governing body. Called “Free Harvard, Fair Harvard,” the longshot ticket had two main demands: abolish undergraduate tuition at Harvard and make more data public about the processes by which the College admits students. Unz, who also began a last-minute campaign for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in California this year, is critical of race-based affirmative action admissions at Harvard.

While Unz has certainly busied himself with advocacy over the course of 2016, he has for years financially supported a number of fringe causes through a set of foundations and funds. In 2010, The One Nation One California Research and Education Fund donated $36,000 to VDARE over the course of several months, according to the One Nation’s 990 tax filings. Though the organization does not officially list Unz as a staff member on the tax filing, Unz said that he created and funds the group.

VDARE was founded in 1999 by the Center for American Unity, an anti-immigration organization concerned with the “these emerging threats: mass immigration, multiculturalism, multilingualism, and affirmative action.”

“Diversity per se is not strength, but a vulnerability,” the VDARE website reads. “It is a luxury that we can only afford as long as we preserve our breadwinner, the American people. recognizes that mass immigration both legal and illegal has driven America to the verge of bankruptcy.” The website also states that “Human differences are not social constructs.”

Unz said he is well aware of VDARE’s ideology. “VDARE is probably one of the hardest core anti-immigrant webzines around, and I think it would be fair to characterize them as a quasi-white nationalist perspective,” he said. Peter Brimelow, the editor of VDARE, disagreed with the characterization of the site as white nationalist but conceded that it does publish white nationalist writers.

“So I don't regard us as a ‘white nationalist’ site although we certainly publish a few writers I would regard as ‘white nationalist’ in that they stand up for whites just as Zionists, Black Nationalists do for Jews, Blacks etc,” Brimelow wrote in an email. “We're certainly politically incorrect,” he added.

Beyond VDARE, Unz funds several individual writers and thinkers. The Unz Foundation, listed as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit, also funds a number of fellowships, providing each recipient with five- to six-figure unrestricted grants. Still, the grants come with some strings attached, as the “Unz Foundation does however take a strong interest in each of its grantees,” according to the fellowship contracts.

The Unz Foundation’s most heavily financed fellow in 2008 was Gregory M. Cochran, who received $600,000 to serve as an “Unz Independent Scholar.” Cochran, then an adjunct anthropology professor at the University of Utah, has written that homosexuality may be spread by a “germ” and tied Jewish intelligence to genetics.

Unz also gave $24,000 to VDARE writer Steven E. Sailer, who described his personal ideology in a blog post as “citizenism”— the belief that “Americans should be biased in favor of the welfare of our current fellow citizens over that of the six billion foreigners.” Sailer has also written about what he calls the “black-white IQ gap,” and argued that the devastation incurred by Hurricane Katrina indicated that African Americans “possess poorer native judgment” and “need stricter moral guidance from society.”

Thomas E. Woods ’94, another “Unz Research Fellow,” received $108,000 from the Unz Foundation over three years starting in 2008. Woods, a historian and writer, is a founding member of the League of the South, a self-defined “Southern Nationalist” group of “men and women who are not content to sit by and allow their land, liberty, and culture be destroyed by an alien regime and ideology.”

Unz said he has been public about his background and beliefs, publishing extensive political diatribes on his blogging platform “The Unz Review.” He added that he does not necessarily agree with the individuals and groups he funds, but likes to spend his money to support “controversial” viewpoints.

“I personally don’t support assassinating police officers, but I don’t have any problem with giving money or publishing people who have different views on that,” Unz said, referencing a recent article. “A lot of these people I financially support are those on the ideological fringe, and many of them say all sorts of outrageous things I don’t necessarily agree with.”

Other alumni have criticized Unz and the rest of the “Free Harvard, Fair Harvard” candidates, who include five-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader, for their views on Harvard’s admissions policies. One group, the Coalition for a Diverse Harvard, has decried the “Free Harvard, Fair Harvard” platform as antithetical to values of diversity on campus.

“We believe that Harvard should welcome a diversity of ideologies, but not those that promote racism or hate speech. We urge alumni to vote against the Unz-led slate and the hateful messages he funds,” the Coalition wrote in a statement.

—Staff writer Andrew M. Duehren can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @aduehren.

—Staff writer Daphne C. Thompson can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @daphnectho.

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