The Unzism Debate – Around the Web

Ron Unz, the neoliberal publisher of The American Conservative since the departure of  Patrick J. Buchanan and Taki Theodoracopulos, wrote an article in the March issue of TAC entitled “His-Panic” (copying the title of Geraldo Rivera’s recent pro-immigration book).   Unz argues that conservatives have “accepted the myth that Hispanic immigrants and their children have high crime rates” and even goes so far as to put the word ‘gang’ in scare quotes when discussing Hispanic gangs.

The initial reaction to his article was predictable.  Many on the open-borders left championed Unz’s article, noting that it was published in a “conservative magazine,” implicitly bolstering the case for continued mass immigration into the United States.  More sober minds were not so optimistic.

Here’s an overview of some recent responses:

Roger McGrath, at Chronicles, writes a response, noting that Unz manipulates the data to produce desired results.  McGrath adds:

Please, Ron, you’re torturing me with the most convoluted arguments imaginable; simply admit that you love the cheap labor that illegal aliens provide to employers—but costs taxpayers billions of dollars.  Let me also guess that you love the H-1B visa program.  This piece by Unz is nothing new.  I’ve seen various versions of his theme—that despite all appearances to the contrary illegal aliens are actually a benefit to us—for the last 35 years in California.  Forty or fifty years ago, for example, the San Fernando Valley was a paradise for the middle-class white family.  Houses were relatively inexpensive, schools were good, and crime was so low that cops stationed at one or the other of the valley divisions called it retirement on the job.  Today, most whites have fled the valley floor and live on the foothill fringes.  The schools are abysmal, trash and graffiti mark most neighborhoods, and Mexican and Salvadorian gangs roam the streets.  The blessings of an illegal-alien invasion!

Steve Burton and I write a two-part piece a Chronicles, “Unzism, A Dangerous Doctrine.”  The first part demonstrates that Unz largely cherry picks data to minimize the phenomenon of Hispanic Crime.  The second part discusses the ideology of “Unzism”: Unz’s support of mass immigration into the United States and the motivation for his opposition to bilingual education.  We write:

[Unz’s] real reason for opposing affirmative action, as well as bilingual education, seems to be so that “opposition to immigration among Republicans dwindles to insignificance.”  In other words, Unz is a mass-immigration addict, and he sees bilingual education and affirmative action as obstacles to even more immigration.

Unz provided a response attempting to justify his manipulation of the data.  He also (comically) adds that “Unzism” is as American as apple pie.  (I think one would be hard pressed to find traditional Americans who supported costly assimilation programs [ESL program costs in Texas add up to more than $1 billion a year!] so that mass immigration into the United States could continue at unprecedented levels.)

Edwin S. Rubenstein criticizes Unz’s article, showing that in recent years the number of Hispanics serving time has increased while the number of whites has decreased.  He writes:

The number of Hispanics serving time for violent crimes increased by 63% in just six years, 2000 to 2006. Over the same period the number of whites incarcerated for such offenses rose by only 7.1%, while the corresponding number of Blacks actually fell by 2%.

Unz then attempts to readjust Rubenstein’s data to minimize Hispanic incarceration, while others at VDare add commentary.

Austin Bramwell argues that, on immigration, the “Precautionary Principle must govern.”  Because immigration is irreversible and we do not know the real effects of Hispanic crime, it would be more sensible to hold off on mass immigration.

Steve Burton provides his own response, at What’s Wrong With the World, arguing that Unz, “playing fast and loose with the facts,” fails statistically to minimize Hispanic crime. He suggests  the result of Unz’s procedure is not a “age-adjusted incarceration rate” but a “completely meaningless number.”  Burton then compares urban crime comparisons, noting that Unz’s comparison says little about the “relative average criminality of Hispanics compared to non-Hispanic whites.” Burton adds:

Unz wants to talk about Santa Ana (53.3% first generation immigrants) while ignoring cities like Tucson and Phoenix and Albuquerque with their large and long-established Hispanic populations – and appallingly high crime rates. And he wants to talk about El Paso (26.1% first generation immigrants) as if it existed in a void, and not as a sort of relatively upscale suburb of its big cross-border brother, Ciudad Juárez, teeming cess-pit of crime. He seems blissfully unaware of the possibility that, for those who are into the cherry-picking game, there are much bigger and juicier cherries to be picked on the other side of the argumentative fence.

Jason Richwine points out, at AltRight, that Unz’s conclusion is “contrary to most of the technical literature…that Hispanics in the U.S. do not commit crimes at higher rates than white Americans.”   Richwine writes:

Overall, immigrant Hispanics are institutionalized at a slightly higher rate than whites, while the rate for U.S.-born Hispanics is roughly two and a half times higher than whites. Combine the generations together and we get an HDW of about 1.8, which can be expected to go up as more Hispanics are born in the U.S…. Unz is wrong when he says that Hispanics are no more criminal than whites. Hispanics are, in fact, substantially more likely than whites to commit serious crimes, and U.S.-born Hispanics in particular are about two and a half times more likely. These findings are not due to age differences or immigration violations or other statistical artifacts. The reality of Hispanic crime should be one of the many factors we consider when setting immigration policy.


Richard Spencer, looking at a recent Pew Center study, notes that the third-generation Hispanics are often more unruly than first-generation Hispanics.

Peter Brimelow writes that Rubenstein is working on a response.

Unsurprisingly, the Spanish-speaking open-borders crowd seems favorably disposed to Unz’s TAC article.   Translation from article: “Latins  are victims of many myths so it is refreshing that a conservative publication  contributes to the debunking of one of them.” (Thanks for the translation, JG.)

John Derbyshire’s advice: Everyone writing on this topic should note that EVEN IF it were the case that Hispanics commit crime at white or sub-white levels, Huntington’s case against continuing mass Hispanic immigration would stand unscathed.

Ron Unz has provided another response, addressing the arguments of Jason Richwine, Steve Burton, Richard Spencer, Austin Bramwell, and generously linking to this (admittedly biased) summary of the debate. Although I disagree with nearly every aspect of Unzism, credit must be given to Unz for his timely responses to ever growing criticism.

Jason Richwine briefly responds to Unz, intending to write a longer reply.

Filmer responds to Unz’s article noting that support of mass immigration is the antithesis of any true conservatism.

John Derbsyshire calls attention to Jason Richwine’s recent piece.

Jason Richwine, in another response, finds a new flaw in Unz’s analysis.  Unz uses a Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) report for incarceration data and then readjusts it for age.  Richwine, however, has discovered that the report already controls for age.

Like many others on the open-borders left, Matthew Yglesias applauds Unz’s initial article.  Alexander Cockburn gleefully celebrates Unz’s article (failing to link to any criticism thereof).

Richard spencer calls attention to Richwine’s recent finding.

Steve Burton fires back at Unz, frustrated that Unz ignores the more substantive points in his previous reply.

Unz responds regarding Richwine’s discovery about the PPIC data.  Unz finally admits his original analysis is flawed (although it is more flawed than he admits, especially when one considers his exclusion of federal data).

Jason Richwine corrects Unz and shows that Unz’s (flawed) age-adjusted Hispanic to white incarceration ratio (HDW) should be raised by 35%, not 10%.  Unz responds.

[Updates will be added when future responses are written.  If something is not listed here, email the CHT editors: editors[at]]

delicious | digg | reddit | facebook | technorati | stumbleupon | chatintamil