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Dr. Sarah Cody. That’s the name of a local government employee probably unknown to almost everyone reading this. Yet I think there’s a good chance that a million or more Americans will owe her their lives. And therein lies a tale…

Last Tuesday President Donald Trump announced that he expected to lift most health restrictions recently imposed due to the Coronavirus epidemic and send the country back to work by Easter, a possibility that shocked and horrified nearly all mainstream health professionals.

No need to worry, I said. I predicted that the exponentially-growing Coronavirus death toll in his home city of New York would have reached such horrifying levels by Easter that his Wall Street friends would persuade him to “pivot” away from such a foolhardy proposal.

At the time I made that prediction, Coronavirus deaths in New York were running at around 50 per day, and they soon jumped to 140 per day, then reached 209 in a 24-hour period by Saturday. Wall Street Wizards are quite familiar with exponential growth, the fundamental basis of compound-interest, and presumably they began to notice what was happening outside their own windows. So on Saturday, Trump announced that rather than any relaxation, he was instead considering an unprecedented federal quarantine of the entire State of New York as well as adjoining parts of of New Jersey and Connecticut, though he later backed down under fierce pressure. Just five days had made all the difference in the world.

The unimaginable human disaster now facing our country has several obvious roots. Our oceans had protected our home front from any attack during the two world wars while modern medicine had rendered disease epidemics a fading memory for three generations. Our arrogant and incompetent national leadership simply could not comprehend the possibility that their missteps might actually kill hundreds of thousands or millions of Americans. Moreover, our mainstream media was equally oblivious, and even if they had sounded the alarm, they had hysterically cried wolf so many times about so many ridiculous things that nobody would have taken them seriously.

But an important contributing factor is surely the inability of most individuals to grasp the unusual dynamics of an exponentially-growing process. In such a situation, seemingly insignificant delays can have enormous consequences.

Let us consider a very simple example in which two similar cities each happen to have 1,000 Coronavirus infections, with a doubling-period of 3 days.

Suppose that the first city immediately implements a complete lock-down, thereby drastically reducing the spread of the disease, and then uses that window of opportunity to track down and temporarily quarantine all the infected. Assuming a 1% death rate, 10 total fatalities will result.

Now suppose the second city takes exactly the same approach, but merely delays implementing the policy for a single week. During that lost week, the number of infected will grow to 5,000, and the resulting five-fold increase in cases requiring hospitalization may overwhelm the local health care system, thereby increasing the death rate to 5%. The result is 250 fatalities. So the delay of a single week has increased the death toll by a factor of 25.


I live in Palo Alto, and every now and then I see a squirrel wander into the middle of a street, then remain frozen in fear as an approaching car bears down upon him. Almost invariably, the squirrel leaps away to the nearby pavement at the last moment, saving its life. But occasionally I have noticed the remains of a youthful squirrel who did not react in time.

For a month or two, our national government and its top health officials seemed similarly paralyzed with horror as they began to recognize the oncoming locomotive of a deadly disease rapidly approaching them. But during this crucial period, they did little or nothing and vast numbers of Americans may die as a consequence.

The Coronavirus is extremely contagious and once it has significantly established itself within a community, the only effective means of halting the rapid spread is through a full social lock-down. This approach had been especially necessary in America, given our woeful lack of adequate testing capabilities.

China completely locked down and quarantined the city of Wuhan at a point when only 300 detected infections and 17 deaths had occurred, thereby strictly confining all 11 million residents to their homes. Not long afterward, similar measures were applied to the 60 million residents of the surrounding province of Hubei, and later extended to include some 700 million Chinese across the country, a medical quarantine perhaps a thousand times larger than any such previous effort in human history.

These remarkable Chinese actions shocked and astonished many observers around the world, certainly including myself. But they succeeded brilliantly, and China seems to have almost entirely stamped out the deadly disease at the final cost of just a few thousand deaths. Millions perhaps even tens of millions of Chinese owe their lives to the decisiveness of their bold and courageous national leadership.


China and America have different political systems, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. The ruling Chinese Communist Party can impose by immediate fiat national policies that are almost unimaginable under America’s Constitutional system, and order these implemented at speeds that seem impossible to us.

I was aware of no precedent in modern American history for locking down a major city for health reasons, an action that appeared completely contrary to our widespread notions of civil liberties and constitutional rights. Moreover, during January and February various anti-China pundits had had a field day attacking and vilifying “totalitarian China” for shutting down its entire economy and confining so many hundreds of millions of its citizens to their own homes, thus rendering it seemingly impossible for any American political leader to propose similar measures.

With so little testing and a three week lag-time between infection and death, only the tiniest sliver of the gigantic Coronavirus iceberg bearing down on the U.S.S. America was visible to the public, and our insouciant mainstream media paid almost no attention to this terrible oncoming danger. Therefore, I regarded it as almost inconceivable that America’s dysfunctional government would take such difficult steps quickly enough to halt the spread of the disease before it became fully endemic and uncontrollable.

My own Santa Clara County was then the national epicenter of the Coronavirus outbreak, and the local morning newspapers carried more and more indications of its rapid, almost invisible spread, with a couple of firefighters testing positive one day and a few TSA workers found infected the next. I assumed this pattern of reports would continue and grow exponentially until California was entirely submerged by the rapidly approaching tsunami wave of disease.

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The Coronavirus epidemic may soon produce the greatest American disaster since our Civil War over 150 years ago, and numbers reveal the possible magnitude.

For example, New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof on Sunday reported the disheartening analysis of Dr. Neil Ferguson of Britain, one of the world’s leading epidemiologists. According to Dr. Ferguson the “best case” scenario is that the Coronavirus will kill over a million Americans.

Other possible projections are far worse. Last week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued orders completely locking down his entire state in order to halt the spread of the disease. He justified this decision by explaining that experts had warned him that without drastic changes in behavior, over 25 million Californians would become infected over the following couple of months. Such a calamity would obviously have produced to a total collapse of the state’s health care system, probably resulting in more than a million deaths. A million dead Californians by early summer…

The key to understanding the terrible danger of the Coronavirus is that there is no existing immunity and the disease is highly contagious. Therefore, under ordinary circumstances, the number of infected individuals tends to double every 3-6 days. A doubling-time of 3 days would multiply the ranks of the infected a thousand-fold during the course of a single month.

Thus, in late February Italian political leaders hardly regarded the virus as a serious national threat, but within just a few weeks much of the Italian health care system had collapsed and many thousands of Italians were dead. Despite a full national lockdown, the number of deaths in Italy has continued to rise exponentially.

Similarly, New York reported its first death on March 14th. Yet just ten days later, deaths in that state were running at 50 per day, and rapidly accelerating.

Unfortunately, although numbers are absolutely crucial for our efforts to combat this dread disease, we lack accurate American data, especially with regard to the rate of infection.

The problem is that any program of massive, widespread testing is completely impossible given our lack of sufficient testing resources. Meanwhile, the Coronavirus has a substantial latency period during which victims experience no symptoms, and even afterward many cases are quite mild or even completely asymptomatic, leaving the infected unaware of their condition. So at present, testing has been confined to just a tiny sliver of the population, ensuring that the reported numbers of those infected represents a severe undercount. But we are left to guess just how severe.

However, the Coronavirus death statistics are certainly far more solid and reliable, and I soon noticed a simple and easy means of reasonably estimating Coronavirus infections from Coronavirus deaths. But although the methodology seemed obvious to me, after I described it on a comment-thread yesterday, I encountered quite a bit of initial confusion and disagreement, suggesting that the idea was not nearly as obvious as I had assumed. So on the off-chance that some people might be unfamiliar with the method, I’ve decided to outline it below.

Let us note three crucial Coronavirus parameters, which have already been estimated by medical experts although they are obviously dependent upon particular conditions.

  1. The infection doubling period – probably 3-6 days
  2. The mortality rate – perhaps 1% prior to the collapse of a the local health system.
  3. The typical mortality period (time between infection and death) – according to some estimates, around 3 weeks.

Now consider a Coronavirus death. If we assume a mortality rate of 1% and a three week interval between infection and death, we can therefore estimate that there had been 100 new infections three weeks earlier. Next, if we assume a doubling-period of 6 days, those 100 infections would have increased to 100 * 2^(21/6) = over 1000 infections by the time the death occurred.

Therefore, under these particular assumptions (along with a few simplifications), the true number of total infections can be estimated at over 1000x the number of deaths.

Let’s apply this methodology to a real-life situation. On 3/23/20, New York reported 53 new Coronavirus deaths, bringing the total to 210. This suggests that the true number of new infections that day may have been over 50,000, raising the total infected to more than 200,000. These estimates are eight to ten times larger than the officially-reported Coronavirus totals for New York, namely 4,750 and 25,665.

This estimate of New York infections relied upon a doubling period of six days, and it is quite possible that greater “social distancing” together with the recent lockdown imposed in that state may have considerably increased that parameter this figure, thereby reducing the correct number of infections. But I strongly suspect that the figures provided above are still far closer to the truth than those officially reported by the New York authorities. And there is obviously a huge practical difference between assuming 25,000 infected New Yorkers and believing the true figure is already closer to 200,000.

Here’s another example. The official estimate of Coronavirus infections in Louisiana is currently less than 1,400, but this estimation method suggests that the true total is nearly 50,000, a figure that has vastly different policy implications. While I would put little weight in the precise accuracy of that estimate, I strongly believe it’s much closer to reality than the tiny official total.

Summarizing things, the formula for estimating infections is:

  • Number of infected = Number of Deaths / Mortality_Rate *2^(Mortality_Period/Doubling_Period).

It’s important to recognize that the parameters used may need to be sharply readjusted based upon particular circumstances.

For example, once a health care system collapses, the death rate probably spikes to around 5%, greatly changing the calculation. Similarly, once government lockdowns or other similar measures are taken, the doubling-period of the infection becomes much longer.

Under other circumstances, if a substantial fraction of the deaths are the elderly residents of nursing homes (as was the case in Washington State), the assumed death-rate would be much higher and the doubling-period of the infections generated by the immobile residents lower, significantly altering the appropriate equation.

Finally, this analysis may carry an important policy implication. Suppose that our best and most accurate means of estimating infections is indeed based upon this methodology. We would therefore be using the current death rate to back into the infection rate that that occurred three weeks earlier, so that any analysis of the impact of government policies would necessarily be lagged by three weeks.

Under these circumstances, it would be extremely inadvisable for President Trump or other government officials to rescind any of their lockdown or quarantine decisions until at least three weeks had gone by and the impact of these policies upon the rate of infection became fully apparent.

• Category: Science • Tags: Coronavirus, Disease 
The JFK Assassination and the 9/11 Attacks?
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From the Peace of Westphalia to the Law of the Jungle

The January 2nd American assassination of Gen. Qassem Soleimani of Iran was an event of enormous moment.

Gen. Soleimani had been the highest-ranking military figure in his nation of 80 million, and with a storied career of 30 years, one of the most universally popular and highly regarded. Most analysts ranked him second in influence only to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s elderly Supreme Leader, and there were widespread reports that he was being urged to run for the presidency in the 2021 elections.

The circumstances of his peacetime death were also quite remarkable. His vehicle was incinerated by the missile of an American Reaper drone near Iraq’s Baghdad international airport just after he had arrived there on a regular commercial flight for peace negotiations originally suggested by the American government.

Our major media hardly ignored the gravity of this sudden, unexpected killing of so high-ranking a political and military figure, and gave it enormous attention. A day or so later, the front page of my morning New York Times was almost entirely filled with coverage of the event and its implications, along with several inside pages devoted to the same topic. Later that same week, America’s national newspaper of record allocated more than one-third of all the pages of its front section to the same shocking story.

But even such copious coverage by teams of veteran journalists failed to provide the incident with its proper context and implications. Last year, the Trump Administration had declared the Iranian Revolutionary Guard “a terrorist organization,” drawing widespread criticism and even ridicule from national security experts appalled at the notion of classifying a major branch of Iran’s armed forces as “terrorists.” Gen. Soleimani was a top commander in that body, and this apparently provided the legal figleaf for his assassination in broad daylight while on a diplomatic peace mission.

But note that Congress has been considering legislation declaring Russia an official state sponsor of terrorism, and Stephen Cohen, the eminent Russia scholar, has argued that no foreign leader since the end of World War II has been so massively demonized by the American media as Russian President Vladimir Putin. For years, numerous agitated pundits have denounced Putin as “the new Hitler,” and some prominent figures have even called for his overthrow or death. So we are now only a step or two removed from undertaking a public campaign to assassinate the leader of a country whose nuclear arsenal could quickly annihilate the bulk of the American population. Cohen has repeatedly warned that the current danger of global nuclear war may exceed what which we faced during the days of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and can we entirely dismiss his concerns?


Even if we focus solely upon Gen. Solemaini’s killing and entirely disregard its dangerous implications, there seem few modern precedents for the official public assassination of a top-ranking political figure by the forces of another major country. In groping for past examples, the only ones that come to mind occurred almost three generations ago during World War II, when Czech agents assisted by the Allies assassinated Reinhard Heydrich in Prague in 1941 and the US military later shot down the plane of Japanese admiral Isoroku Yamamoto in 1943. But these events occurred in the heat of a brutal global war, and the Allied leadership hardly portrayed them as official government assassinations. Historian David Irving reveals that when one of Adolf Hitler’s aides suggested that an attempt be made to assassinate Soviet leaders in that same conflict, the German Fuhrer immediately forbade such practices as obvious violations of the laws of war.

The 1914 terrorist assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, was certainly organized by fanatical elements of Serbian Intelligence, but the Serbian government fiercely denied its own complicity, and no major European power was ever directly implicated in the plot. The aftermath of the killing soon led to the outbreak of World War I, and although many millions died in the trenches over the next few years, it would have been completely unthinkable for one of the major belligerents to consider assassinating the leadership of another.

A century earlier, the Napoleonic Wars had raged across the entire continent of Europe for most of a generation, but I don’t recall reading of any governmental assassination plots during that era, let alone in the quite gentlemanly wars of the preceding 18th century when Frederick the Great and Maria Theresa disputed ownership of the wealthy province of Silesia by military means. I am hardly a specialist in modern European history, but after the 1648 Peace of Westphalia ended the Thirty Years War and regularized the rules of warfare, no assassination as high-profile as that of Gen. Soleimani comes to mind.

The bloody Wars of Religion during previous centuries did see their share of assassination schemes. For example, I think that Philip II of Spain supposedly encouraged various plots to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I of England on grounds that she was a murderous heretic, and their repeated failure helped persuade him to launch the ill-fated Spanish Armada; but being a pious Catholic, he probably would have balked at using the ruse of peace-negotiations to lure Elizabeth to her doom. In any event, that was more than four centuries ago, so America has now placed itself in rather uncharted waters.


Different peoples possess different political traditions, and this may play a major role in influencing the behavior of the countries they establish. Bolivia and Paraguay were created in the early 18th century as shards from the decaying Spanish Empire, and according to Wikipedia they have experienced nearly three dozen successful coups in their history, the bulk of these prior to 1950, while Mexico has had a half-dozen. By contrast, the U.S. and Canada were founded as Anglo-Saxon settler colonies, and neither history records even a failed attempt.

During our Revolutionary War, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and our other Founding Fathers fully recognized that if their effort failed, they would all be hanged as rebels by the British. However, I have never heard that they feared falling to an assassin’s blade, nor that King George III ever considered such an underhanded means of attack. During the first century and more of our nation’s history, nearly all our presidents and other top political leaders traced their ancestry back to the British Isles, and political assassinations were exceptionally rare, with Abraham Lincoln’s death being one of the very few that come to mind.

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Pat Buchanan and “the Unnecessary War”

In late 2006 I was approached by Scott McConnell, editor of The American Conservative (TAC), who told me that his small magazine was on the verge of closing without a large financial infusion. I’d been on friendly terms with McConnell since around 1999, and greatly appreciated that he and his TAC co-founders had been providing a focal point of opposition to America’s calamitous foreign policy of the early 2000s.

In the wake of 9/11, the Israel-centric Neocons had somehow managed to seize control of the Bush Administration while also gaining complete ascendancy over America’s leading media outlets, purging or intimidating most of their critics. Although Saddam Hussein clearly had no connection to the attacks, his status as a possible regional rival to Israel had established him as their top target, and they soon began beating the drums for war, with America finally launching its disastrous invasion in FebruaryMarch 2003.

Among print magazines, TAC stood almost alone in whole-hearted opposition to these policies, and had attracted considerable attention when Founding Editor Pat Buchanan published “Whose War?”, pointing the finger of blame directly at the Jewish Neocons responsible, a truth very widely recognized in political and media circles but almost never publicly voiced. David Frum, a leading promoter of the Iraq War, had almost simultaneously unleashed a National Review cover story denouncing as “unpatriotic”—and perhaps “anti-Semitic”—a very long list of conservative, liberal, and libertarian war critics, with Buchanan near the very top, and the controversy and name-calling continued for some time.

Given this recent history, I was concerned that TAC‘s disappearance might leave a dangerous political void, and being then in a relatively strong financial position, I agreed to rescue the magazine and become its new owner. Although I was much too preoccupied with my own software work to have any direct involvement, McConnell named me publisher, probably hoping to bind me to his magazine’s continuing survival and ensure future financial infusions. My title was purely a nominal one, and over the next few years, aside from writing additional checks my only involvement usually amounted to a five-minute phone call each Monday morning to see how things were going.

About a year after I began supporting the magazine, McConnell informed me that a major crisis was brewing. Although Pat Buchanan had severed his direct ties with the publication some years earlier, he was by far the best-known figure associated with TAC, so that it was still widely—if erroneously—known as “Pat Buchanan’s magazine.” But now McConnell had heard that Buchanan was planning to release a new book supposedly glorifying Adolf Hitler and denouncing America’s participation in the world war to defeat the Nazi menace. Promoting such bizarre beliefs would surely doom Buchanan’s career, but TAC was already under continuous attack by Jewish activists, and the resulting “Neo-Nazi” guilt by association might easily sink the magazine as well.

In desperation, McConnell had decided to protect his publication by soliciting a very hostile review by conservative historian John Lukacs, which would thereby insulate TAC from the looming disaster. Given my current role as TAC‘s funder and publisher, he naturally sought my approval in this harsh break with his own political mentor. I told him that the Buchanan book certainly sounded rather ridiculous and his own defensive strategy a pretty reasonable one, and I quickly returned to the problems I faced in my own all-consuming software project.

Although I’d been a little friendly with Buchanan for a dozen years or so, and greatly admired his courage in opposing the Neocons on foreign policy, I wasn’t too surprised to hear that he might be publishing a book promoting some rather strange ideas. Just a few years earlier, he’d released The Death of the West, which became an unexpected best-seller. After my friends at TAC had raved about its brilliance, I decided to read it for myself, and was greatly disappointed. Although Buchanan had generously quoted an excerpt from my own Commentary cover-story “California and the End of White America,” I felt that he’d completely misconstrued my meaning, and the book overall seemed a rather poorly-constructed and rhetorically right-wing treatment of the complex issues of immigration and race, topics upon which I’d been heavily focusing since the early 1990s. So under the circumstances, I was hardly surprised that the same author was now publishing some equally silly book about World War II, perhaps causing severe problems for his erstwhile TAC colleagues.

Months later, Buchanan’s history and the hostile TAC review both appeared, and as expected, a storm of controversy erupted. Mainstream publications had largely ignored the book, but it seemed to receive enormous praise from alternative writers, some of whom fiercely denounced TAC for having attacked it. Indeed, the response was so extremely one-sided that when McConnell discovered that a totally obscure blogger somewhere had agreed with his own negative appraisal, he immediately circulated those remarks in a desperate attempt at vindication. Longtime TAC contributors whose knowledge of history I much respected, including Eric Margolis and William Lind, had praised the book, so my curiosity finally got the better of me and I decided to order a copy and read it for myself.


I was quite surprised to discover a work very different from what I had expected. I had never paid much attention to twentieth century American history and my knowledge of European history in that same era was only slightly better, so my views were then mostly rather conventional, having been shaped by my History 101 courses and what I’d picked up in decades of reading my various newspapers and magazines. But within that framework, Buchanan’s history seemed to fit quite comfortably.

The first part of his volume provided what I had always considered the standard view of the First World War. In his account of events, Buchanan explained how the complex network of interlocking alliances had led to a giant conflagration even though none of the existing leaders had actually sought that outcome: a huge European powder-keg had been ignited by the spark of an assassination in Sarajevo.

Our Reigning Political Puppets, Dancing to Invisible Strings
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The death of Sen. John McCain last August revealed some important truths about the nature of our establishment media.

McCain’s family had released word of his incurable brain cancer many months earlier and his passing at age 84 was long expected, so media outlets great and small had possessed all the time necessary for producing and polishing the packages they eventually published, and that was readily apparent from the voluminous nature of the tributes that they ran. The New York Times, still our national newspaper of record, allocated more than three full pages of its printed edition to the primary obituary, and this was supplemented by a considerable number of other articles and sidebars. I cannot recall any political figure other than an American president whose passing had ever received such an enormous wealth of coverage, and perhaps even some former residents of the Oval Office might have fallen short of that standard. Although I certainly didn’t bother reading all of the tens of thousands of words in the Times or my other newspapers, the coverage of McCain’s life and career seemed exceptionally laudatory across the mainstream media, liberal and conservative alike, with scarcely a negative word appearing anywhere outside the political fringe.

On the face of it, such undiluted political love for McCain might seem a bit odd to those who have followed his activities over the last couple of decades. After all, the Times and most of the other leading lights of our media firmament are purportedly liberal and claim to have become vehement critics of our disastrous Iraq War and other military adventures, let alone the calamitous possibility of an attack upon Iran. Meanwhile, McCain was universally regarded as the leading figure in America’s “War Party,” eagerly supporting all prospective and retrospective military endeavors with gleeful fury, and even making his chant of “Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran” the most widely remembered detail of his unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign. So either our major media outlets somehow overlooked such striking differences on an absolutely central issue, or perhaps their true positions on certain matters are not exactly what they seem to be, and merely constitute elements of a Kabuki-performance aimed at deceiving their more naive readers.

Even more remarkable were the discordant facts airbrushed out of McCain’s history.

As the winner of the Pulitzer Prize and two George Polk awards, the late Sydney Schanberg was widely regarded as one of the greatest American war correspondents of the twentieth century. His exploits during our ill-fated Indo-Chinese War had become the basis of the Oscar-winning film The Killing Fields, which probably established him as the most famous journalist in America after Woodward and Bernstein of Watergate fame, and he had also served as a top editor at The New York Times. A decade ago, he published his greatest expose, providing a mountain of evidence that America had deliberately left behind hundreds of POWs in Vietnam and he fingered then-presidential candidate John McCain as the central figure in the later official cover-up of that monstrous betrayal. The Arizona senator had traded on his national reputation as our best-known former POW to bury the story of those abandoned prisoners, permitting America’s political establishment to escape serious embarrassment. As a result, Sen. McCain earned the lush rewards of our generous ruling elites, much like his own father Admiral John S. McCain, Sr., who had led the cover-up of the deliberate 1967 Israeli attack on the U.S.S. Liberty, which killed or wounded over 200 American servicemen.

As publisher of The American Conservative, I ran Schanberg’s remarkable piece as a cover story, and across several websites over the years it has surely been read many hundreds of thousands of times, including a huge spike around the time of McCain’s death. I therefore find it rather difficult to believe that the many journalists investigating McCain’s background might have remained unaware of this material. Yet no hints of these facts were provided in any of the articles appearing in any remotely prominent media outlets as can be seen by searching for web pages containing “McCain and Schanberg” dated around the time of the Senator’s passing.

Schanberg’s journalistic stature had hardly been forgotten by his former colleagues. Upon his death a couple of years ago, the Times ran a very long and glowing obituary, and a few months later I attended the memorial tribute to his life and career held at the New York Times headquarters building, which more than two hundred prominent journalists mostly from his own generation, including those of the highest rank. Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. gave a speech describing how as a young man he had always so greatly admired Schanberg and had been mortified by the unfortunate circumstances of his departure from the family’s newspaper. Former Executive Editor Joseph Lelyveld recounted the many years he had worked closely with the man he had long considered his closest friend and colleague, someone whom he almost seemed to regard as his older brother. But during the two hours of praise and remembrance scarcely a single word was uttered in public about the gigantic story that had occupied the last two decades of Schanberg’s celebrated career.

This same blanket of media silence also enveloped the very serious accusations regarding McCain’s own Vietnam War record. A few years ago, I drew upon the Times and other fully mainstream sources to strongly suggest that McCain’s stories of his torture as a POW were probably fictional, invented to serve as a cover and an excuse for the very real record of his wartime collaboration with his Communist captors. Indeed, at the time our American media reported his activities as one of the leading propagandists of our North Vietnamese foes, but these facts were later flushed down the memory-hole. McCain’s father then ranked as one of America’s top military officers, and it seems likely that his personal political intervention ensured that the official narrative of his son’s wartime record was transmuted from traitor to war-hero, thereby allowing the younger McCain to later embark upon his celebrated political career.


The story of the abandoned Vietnam POWs and McCain’s own Communist propaganda broadcasts hardly exhaust the catalog of the major skeletons in the late Senator’s closet. McCain was regularly described by reporters as being remarkably hot-headed and having a violent temper, but the national press left it to the alternative media to investigate the real-life implications of those rather suggestive phrases.

How a Young Syndicate Lawyer from Chicago Earned a Fortune Looting the Property of the Japanese-Americans, then Lived...
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As I was growing up in the suburban San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles during the 1960s and 1970s, organized crime seemed like a very distant thing, confined to the densely-populated cities of the East Coast or to America’s past, much like the corrupt political machines with which it was usually associated.

I never heard any stories of ballot-box stuffing or political precinct captains controlling a swath of no-show city jobs or traffic tickets being “fixed” by a friend at City Hall. The notion of local grocery stores paying protection money or taking numbers bets from their clientele on behalf of bookies would have seemed quite outlandish to me.

All these personal impressions were strongly reinforced by the electronic media that so heavily shapes our perceptions of reality. A couple of the popular shows I sometimes watched in reruns were the police procedural dramas Dragnet and Adam-12, both set in Southern California, and although each episode focused on one or more serious crimes, these were almost never of the “organized” variety. The same was true for Perry Mason episodes, although those longer courtroom dramas would have been naturally suited to the plotting of Syndicate members. The popular Rockford Files of the late 1970s did sometimes feature mobsters, but these individuals were almost always temporary visitors to LA from New York or Chicago or Las Vegas, with the plotlines sometimes humorously treating these gangsters as struggling fish out of water in the very different world of sunny Southern California. By contrast, a contemporaneous detective show set in New York like Kojak seemed to feature mafioso characters in every third or fourth episode.

The offerings of the Silver Screen generally followed the same pattern. Gangster films, ranging from the crudest B-flick to the Academy Award-winning Godfather masterpieces, were almost never set on the West Coast. And although a film like Roman Polanski’s Chinatown might be focused on the deadly criminal intrigues of the 1930s Los Angeles financial elitess, the villain was just a ruthless businessman, employing a couple of murderous hired thugs.

Children soon become aware that the dramatic concoctions of Hollywood are not necessarily accurate, but when everything we see on screens big and small so closely matches our direct personal experience, that amalgamation of images and daily life produces a very firm sense of reality.

Even the occasional exception seemed to support the general rule. In the 1970s, I remember once watching a local television news crew interview an elderly Jewish man named Mickey Cohen on a local park bench, breathlessly describing him as having once been the reigning mobster king of Los Angeles. While I didn’t doubt that in bygone days the crotchety little fellow had once been a hardened criminal, I remained somewhat skeptical that LA had ever contained enough gangsters to warrant having a king, let alone that such a figure would have been drawn from our notoriously law-abiding Jewish community.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s crime became a steadily rising problem in the once-quiet suburbs of Los Angeles, but virtually none of those incidents seemed much like a Francis Ford Coppola epic. The Crips and Bloods of South-Central regularly killed each other and innocent bystanders, while burglaries and robberies—as well as occasional rapes and murders—sometimes spilled over the Hollywood Hills into the Valley. Terrifying serial killers like the Hillside Strangler provoked widespread fear as did the horrible deeds of the Manson Family, while the fiery final shootout of the Symbionese Liberation Army near Inglewood drew national headlines; but none of this seemed much like activities of the Gambinos or Columbos of NYC. Indeed, I and my friends would sometimes joke that since the Mafia was supposedly so effective at keeping street crime away from its New York neighborhoods, perhaps LA would have been better off if it had had a sizeable Sicilian population.

When I sometimes gave the matter a little thought, the utter lack of any organized crime in California seemed fairly easy to explain. East Coast cities had been settled by waves of foreign immigrants, impoverished newcomers who spoke no English, and their total ignorance of American ways left them quite vulnerable to criminal exploitation. Such situations were an ideal breeding ground for corruption, political machines, and crime syndicates, with the centuries-old secret societies of Sicily and Southern Italy providing the obvious seeds for the last of those. Meanwhile, most of California had been settled by longstanding American citizens, often relocating from the placid Midwest, with Iowans who spoke perfect English and whose families had been voting in U.S. elections for six generations being far less vulnerable to political intimidation or criminal exploitation.


Since organized crime obviously did not exist in California, I was never quite sure how much to believe about its supposed size and power elsewhere in the country. Al Capone had been imprisoned and died decades before I was born and with the end of Roaring Twenties, violent gangsterism seemed to have mostly disappeared as well. Every now and then the newspapers might carry the story of an Eastern Mafia chieftain killed by his rivals, but those occasional events provided little indication about the power those individuals had wielded while alive. In 1977, teenage members of an obscure Chinese immigrant street gang in San Francisco used automatic weapons to attack their rivals at a local restaurant, leaving sixteen dead or wounded, a body-count that seemed comparable to the total number of traditional Mafia killings nationwide over a period of several years.

During the 1970s I also starting hearing lurid tales that the Mafia had stolen the 1960 election for President John F. Kennedy and might even have been involved in his subsequent assassination, but the respectable media seemed to treat those claims with enormous scorn, so I tended to regard them as National Enquirer type nonsense, not much different than ridiculous UFO stories. Growing up when I did, the Kennedys had seemed like America’s own royal family, and I was very skeptical that control of the White House at the absolute height of the American Century had been swung by Mafia bosses. There were stories that Old Joe Kennedy, the family patriarch, had dabbled in bootlegging during the 1920s, but that had been during Prohibition, a very different era than the aftermath of the quiet and prosperous Eisenhower years of the 1950s.


Twentieth century American history had never been of much interest to me, so I am not entirely sure at what point my understanding of these issues began to change. I think it may have been just a few years ago, when I was absolutely shocked to discover that there was overwhelming evidence that the JFK Assassination had indeed been part of a large conspiracy, a revelation absolutely contrary to what I had always been led to believe by the media throughout my life. But when a highly-regarded national journalist such as David Talbot gathered the copious evidence in his book Brothers, and his conclusions were endorsed by an eminent presidential historian such as Alan Brinkley writing in the pages of the august New York Times, such a shift became unavoidable. And it seemed clear that elements of organized crime had been heavily involved in that presidential assassination.

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Some may remember that in 2005 a major media controversy engulfed Harvard President Larry Summers over his remarks at an academic conference. Casually speaking off-the-record at the private gathering, Summers had gingerly raised the hypothetical possibility that on average men might be a bit better at mathematics than women, perhaps partially explaining the far larger number of males holding faculty positions in the math, science, and engineering departments.

These controversial speculations were soon leaked to the press, and an enormous firestorm of protest erupted, with MIT professor Nancy Hopkins claiming that merely hearing Summers’ words at the event had left her physically ill, forcing her to quickly exit the room lest she suffer a blackout and collapse.

Harvard students and faculty members soon launched an organized campaign to have Summers removed from the summit of our academic world, with noted evolutionary-psychologist Steven Pinker being one of the very few professors willing to publicly defend him. Eventually, an unprecedented “no confidence” vote by the entire faculty and growing loss of confidence by the Board of Trustees forced Summers to resign, becoming the first Harvard President to suffer that fate in the university’s 350 year history, thus apparently demonstrating the astonishing power of feminist “political correctness” on college campuses.

The true story for those who followed it was actually quite a bit more complex. Summers, a former Clinton Administration Treasury Secretary, had a long record of very doubtful behavior, which had outraged many faculty members for entirely different reasons. As I wrote a few years ago:

Now I am hardly someone willing to defend Summers from a whole host of very serious and legitimate charges. He seems to have played a major role in transmuting Harvard from a renowned university to an aggressive hedge fund, policies that subsequently brought my beloved alma mater to the very brink of bankruptcy during the 2008 financial crisis. Under his presidency, Harvard paid out $26 million dollars to help settle international insider-trading charges against Andrei Shleifer, one of his closest personal friends, who avoided prison as a consequence. And after such stellar financial and ethical achievements, he was naturally appointed as one of President Obama’s top economic advisors, a position from which he strongly supported the massive bailout of Wall Street and the rest of our elite financial services sector, while ignoring Main Street suffering. Perhaps coincidentally, wealthy hedge funds had paid him many millions of dollars for providing a few hours a week of part-time consulting advice during the twelve months prior to his appointment.

Moreover, Summers had previously denounced anti-Israel activism by Harvard students and faculty members as “anti-Semitic,” an accusation that provoked fierce opposition. A few years later, it also came out that Summers may have played a crucial role in favoring Mark Zuckerberg over the Winkelvoss brothers in their early battle for ownership of Facebook, while Summers’ former assistant Sheryl Sandberg later became Facebook president, making her a multi-billionaire.

Although Summers’ impolitic remarks regarding female math ability had certainly sparked his ouster, the underlying cause was probably his many years of extremely unbecoming behavior. Indeed, I think a reasonable case can be made that Summers was the worst and most disreputable president in all of Harvard’s long history.

Still, even a broken or crooked clock is right twice a day, and I doubt that Larry Summers is the only person in the world who suspects that men might be a bit better at math than women. But some strongly disagree with this assessment, and in the wake of the Summers controversy one of his fiercest academic opponents was a certain Janet Mertz, who specializes in cancer research at the University of Wisconsin.

In order to effectively refute Summers’ odious speculations, she and her co-authors decided to carefully examine the total roster of participants in the International Math Olympiads for the years 1988-2007. These 3200-odd individuals represent the world’s highest-performing math students drawn from the secondary schools of dozens of countries, and the gender distribution across so many different cultures and years would surely constitute powerful quantitative evidence of whether males and females significantly differed in their average aptitudes. Since most of these thousands of Math Olympians are drawn from non-Western countries, determining the genders of each and every one is hardly a trivial undertaking, and we should greatly commend the diligent research that Mertz and her colleagues undertook to accomplish this task.

They published their important results in a 10,000 word academic journal article, whose “first and foremost” conclusion, provided in bold-italics, was that “the myth that females cannot excel in mathematics must be put to rest.” And in her subsequent press interviews, she proclaimed that her research had demonstrated that men and women had equal innate ability in mathematics, and that any current differences in performance were due to culture or bias, a result which our media gleefully promoted far and wide.

But strangely enough, when I actually bothered to read the text and tables of her eye-glazingly long and dull academic study, I noticed something quite intriguing, especially in the quantitative results conveniently summarized in Tables 6 and 7 (pp. 1252-53), and mentioned it in a column of my own:

The first of these shows the gender-distribution of the 3200-odd Math Olympians of the leading 34 countries for the years 1988-2007, and a few minutes with a spreadsheet reveals that the skew is 95% male and 5% female. Furthermore, almost every single country, whether in Europe, Asia, or elsewhere, seems to follow this same pattern, with the female share ranging between 0% and 12% but mostly close to 5%; Serbia/Montenegro is the only major outlier at 20% female. Similarly, Table 7 provides a gender distribution of results for just the United States, and we find that just 5 of our 126 Math Olympians—or 4%—have been female. Various other prestigious math competitions seem to follow a roughly similar gender skew.

These remarkable findings are even more easily grasped when we summarize the male percentages of top math students aggregated across 1988-2008 for each individual country:

China, 96% male
India, 97% male
Iran, 98% male
Israel, 98% male

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A couple of years ago I happened to be reading the World War II memoirs of Sisley Huddleston, an American journalist living in France. Although long since forgotten, Huddleston had spent decades as one of our most prominent foreign correspondents, and dozens of his major articles had appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, and Harpers, while he had authored some nineteen books. Given such eminence, his personal relationships reached far into elite circles, with one of his oldest and closest friends being William Bullitt, the American ambassador to France, who had previously opened our first Soviet embassy under FDR.

Huddleston’s credibility seemed impeccable, which is why I was so shocked at his firsthand account of wartime Vichy, totally contrary to what I had absorbed from my introductory history textbooks. While I had always had the impression that Petain’s collaborationist regime possessed little legitimacy, this was not at all the case. Near unanimous majorities of both houses of the duly-elected French parliament had voted the elderly field marshal into office despite his own deep personal misgivings, regarding him as France’s only hope of a unifying national savior following the country’s crushing 1940 defeat at Hitler’s hands.


Although Huddleston’s sympathies were hardly with the Germans, he noted the scrupulous correctness they exhibited following their overwhelming victory, policies that continued throughout the early years of the Occupation. And although he had on a couple of occasions performed minor services for the nascent Resistance movement, when the 1944 Normandy landings and the subsequent German withdrawal suddenly opened the doors of power to the anti-Petain forces, they engaged in an orgy of ideological bloodletting probably without precedent in French history, far surpassing the infamous Reign of Terror of the French Revolution, with perhaps 100,000 or more civilians being summarily butchered on the basis of little or no evidence, often just to settle personal scores. Some of the worst of the bloodshed came at the hands of the Communist exiles of the Spanish Civil War, who had found shelter in France after their defeat and now eagerly took an opportunity to turn the tables and massacre the same sort of “bourgeois” class-enemies who had defeated them in that previous conflict just a few years earlier.

As I sought to weigh Huddleston’s testimony against the traditional narrative of wartime France I had always fully accepted, most of the factors seemed to point in his favor. After all, his journalistic credentials were impeccable and as a very well-connected direct observer of the events he reported, his statements surely counted for a great deal. Meanwhile, it appeared that most of the standard narrative dominating our history books had been constructed a generation or so later by writers living on the other side of the Atlantic ocean, whose conclusions may have been substantially influenced by the black-and-white ideological framework that had become rigidly enshrined at elite American universities.

However, I couldn’t help noticing one huge, gaping flaw in Huddleston’s account, an error so serious that it cast grave doubts upon his entire credibility as a journalist. Towards the beginning of his book, he devotes a page or so to casually mentioning that in the early months of 1940, the French and British were preparing to launch an attack against the neutral Soviet Union, using their bases in Syria and Iraq for a strategic bombing offensive meant to destroy Stalin’s Baku oil fields of the Caucasus, one of the world’s leading sources of that vital commodity.

Obviously, all military organizations produce a wealth of hypothetical contingency plans covering all possible situations and opponents, but Huddleston had somehow misunderstood such possibilities or rumors as outright fact. According to him, the Allied bombing of the Soviet Union had been scheduled to begin March 15th, but was initially delayed and rescheduled for various political reasons. Then a few weeks later, the German panzer divisions swept through the Ardennes forest, surrounded the French armies, and captured Paris, aborting the planned Allied bombardment of Russia.

Given that the USSR played the leading role in Germany’s eventual defeat, an early Allied attack upon the Soviet homeland would surely have changed the outcome of the war. Although Huddleston’s bizarre fantasies had somehow gotten the best of him, he was hardly incorrect in exclaiming “What a narrow escape!”

The notion that the Allies were preparing to launch a major bombing offensive against the Soviet Union just a few months after the outbreak of World War II was obviously absurd, so ridiculous a notion that not a hint of that long-debunked rumor had ever gotten into the standard history texts I had read on the European conflict. But for Huddleston to have still clung to such nonsensical beliefs even several years after the end of the war raised large questions about his gullibility or even his sanity. I wondered whether I could trust even a single word he said about anything else.

However, not long afterward I encountered quite a surprise in a 2017 article published in The National Interest, an eminently respectable periodical. The short piece carried the descriptive headline “In the Early Days of World War II, Britain and France Planned to Bomb Russia.” The contents absolutely flabbergasted me, and with Huddleston’s credibility now fully established—and the credibility of my standard history textbooks equally demolished—I went ahead and substantially drew upon his account for my long article “American Pravda: Post-War France and Post-War Germany.”


I hardly regard myself as a specialist on the history of World War II, but I initially felt deeply embarrassed to have spent my entire life completely ignorant of that crucial early turning-point in the huge conflict. However, once I had carefully read that National Interest article, my shame quickly dissipated, for the it was obvious that the author, Michael Peck, along with his editors and readers had been equally unaware of those long-buried facts. Indeed, the article had originally run in 2015, but was republished a couple of years later due to enormous reader demand. As near as I can tell, that single 1100 word essay constituted the first and only time the momentous events described had received significant public attention in the seventy years since the end of the war.

Peck’s discussion greatly fleshed out Huddleston’s brief, offhand remarks. The French and British high commands had prepared their enormous bomber offensive, Operation Pike, in hopes of destroying Russia’s oil resources, and their unmarked reconnaissance flights had already overflown Baku, photographing the locations of the intended targets. The Allies were convinced that the best strategy for defeating Germany was to eliminate its sources of oil and other vital raw materials, and with Russia being Hitler’s leading supplier, they decided that destroying the Soviet oil fields seemed a logical strategy.

Banning Black Historiography During Black History Month
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As most are surely aware, the last year or two has seen a growing crackdown on free speech and free thought across the Internet, with our constitutionally-protected First Amendment rights being circumvented through the agency of monopolistic private sector corporations such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google. Although as yet our government has not gained the power to ban discordant views nor punish their advocates, anonymous tech company censors regularly take these steps, seemingly based upon entirely opaque and arbitrary standards which lack any power of appeal. No one really knows why some individuals are banned or “de-platformed” and others are not, and surely this looming uncertainty has imposed self-censorship upon hundreds of individuals for every publicized victim who receives an exemplary punishment.


Some critics have attacked this policy as a new form of “McCarthyism,” but this characterization seems based upon historical ignorance. Although the notorious junior senator from Wisconsin was an alcoholic prone to making reckless, unsubstantiated charges and therefore served as an extremely poor vessel for the movement he eventually came to symbolize, his accusations of massive Communist political subversion were absolutely correct and indeed somewhat understated. Over the last quarter-century, the public release of the Venona Decrypts has demonstrated that throughout most of the Franklin Roosevelt Administration and even afterward, the top levels of our national government were honeycombed with numerous spies and traitors deeply loyal to the Soviet Union rather than the United States. Today’s ritualistic denunciations of McCarthyism are made by ignorant journalists who derive their understanding of the past from misleading Hollywood dramas rather than the meticulously researched volumes produced by leading academic scholars such as John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr.

In fact, just a few years before Sen. McCarthy burst upon the national scene, control of our federal government was nearly seized by agents of Stalin. From 1941 to 1944 FDR’s Vice President was Henry Wallace, who would have succeeded to the presidency if Roosevelt had renominated him in that latter year or had died prior to early 1945. And although Wallace himself was not disloyal, his top advisors were mostly Communist agents. Indeed, he later stated that a Wallace Administration would have included Laurence Duggan as Secretary of State and Harry Dexter White as Secretary of the Treasury, thereby installing Stalinist henchmen at the top of the Cabinet, presumably supported by numerous lower-level officials of a similar political ilk. One might jokingly speculate whether the Rosenbergs—later executed for treason—would have been placed in charge of our nuclear weapons development program.

That America’s national government of the early 1940s actually came within a hair’s breadth—or rather a heart-beat—of falling under Communist control is a very uncomfortable truth. And our history books and popular media have maintained such total silence about this remarkable episode that even among today’s well-educated Americans I suspect that fewer than five in one hundred are aware of this grim reality. Surely this should cause all sensible people to become quite cautious about blithely accepting the standard narrative of other important historical events promoted by those same sources of obfuscation.


Even leaving aside this total whitewash of Communist infiltration during the 1930s and 1940s, the measures imposed upon the supposed martyrs of that era utterly differ in degree from those visited upon today’s ideological dissenters. In the best-known cases, a few of Hollywood’s most highly-paid screenwriters saw their income dry up due to their Communist affiliations and were forced to cut back on their lavish lifestyles, a personal suffering treated with utmost sympathy in recent mainstream films produced by their spiritual descendants. Meanwhile, today’s targets of social wrath are almost always just working-stiffs, powerless nobodies fearfully voicing their controversial online opinions under a pseudonym before having their identities “doxxed” and then sometimes getting fired from their merely hum-drum jobs.

And even that gross disparity drastically understates the difference between then and now. During the 1950s, any proposal to ban suspected Communists from making telephone calls, watching television, renting cars, or having bank accounts surely would have been universally ridiculed as utter lunacy. But in today’s America, entirely equivalent measures are steadily growing more frequent and more severe, with very little public opposition.

Social media platforms have become the new electronic town square, and just a few weeks ago our own Israel Shamir’s recounted how he was “Banned by Facebook for Telling the Truth.” He described the absurd levels of censorship that he and so many others have suffered on that platform, sometimes even being punished with a lengthy ban merely for posting a link to his own writings.

I don’t much use Social Media myself since my long-form writings are hardly suitable for Facebook let alone the tiny character budget of Twitter. And although the latter seems effective as a means of promoting articles or distributing images or videos, the strict limits of a few dozen words surely render it much more appropriate for slogans or insults than anything more thoughtful or substantive. I find it difficult to believe that too many intelligent people have ever had their minds changed on anything significant by a few Tweets.

Amazon, however, is something else entirely. Its unmatched collection of available books comes close to fulfilling one of the original utopian goals of the very early days of the Computer Age. Over the last twenty years I’ve surely ordered many hundreds of volumes from that source, and reading them has played a huge role in transforming my beliefs on numerous important issues. For this reason, the growing wave of Amazon book-bannings carries very ominous overtones.

On February 19th, an article in Quartz denounced Amazon for continuing to carry “neo-Nazi and White Supremacist” books, and the following week most of the books in question were suddenly “disappeared” after many years of availability, in some cases apparently even vanishing from personal Kindle devices. An article published in American Renaissance provided one of the earliest accounts, and Counter-Currents has attempted to put together a comprehensive list of the dozens of vanished volumes.

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Back in November I published a long column discussing the results of the 2018 midterm elections and then a couple of weeks ago I also released a private letter I’d distributed to prominent figures in the Alt-Right movement back in 2017, suggesting some of the ways that their public positions had severely damaged their credibility and injured their nascent political movement.

Immigration and the closely-related issue of Hispanic crime were important elements of both my pieces, so perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised that I provoked such an enormous outpouring of (mostly hostile) responses, now totaling well over 3,000 comments and nearly 500,000(!) words. The bitter immigration dispute between President Donald Trump and the new Democratic Congress has already produced the longest federal government shut-down in American history, so this controversial subject has certainly reached the absolute center of the American political stage.

Unfortunately, I believe that there are few other topics in which such severe misinformation, often of an emotionally charged nature, has so totally contaminated the political debate, sometimes on both sides of the controversy. Given this situation, I’ve decided to provide a general summary of what I see as some of the crucial facts together with my analysis.


The dismal state of factual misinformation widespread within the anti-immigration community is best illustrated by a single striking example. Among such individuals, no piece of American legislation is as fiercely condemned as the 1965 Hart-Celler Immigration Act, routinely denounced as the law that destroyed our country by opening the floodgates to the influx of countless millions of non-white Third Worlders, thereby dooming America to eventual white-minority status. These critics often single out Ted Kennedy as the particular villain behind this policy, even though he had only just reached the Senate a couple of years earlier, and as a very junior member played only a relatively minor role in enacting this statute.

This supposed impact of the 1965 Act certainly possesses superficial plausibility. The measure was widely advertised as a loosening of our strict immigration quotas of the 1920s and non-white immigration did enormously increase in the decades that followed. Largely as a consequence of the latter, America’s white population declined from 84% to just 62% between 1965 and 2015, with our rapidly-growing Latino population now reaching 18% of the total. Today more than half of young American children are non-white, and within a couple of decades whites will have become a minority of our entire population, a situation that would have been absolutely unimaginable back in 1965. Indeed, the careful demographers of the Pew Research Center have determined that the overwhelming majority of these racial changes have been due to post-1965 immigration, without which America would still be 75% white today. Since 1965 our non-white population has grown by 86 million, but 60 million of that increase has been due to immigration, overwhelmingly from Latin America and the Caribbean.


Given these undeniable statistics, I would guess that 99% of anti-immigration activists currently believe that the 1965 Immigration Act was responsible for opening our borders and thereby destroying white-majority America. Ann Coulter’s best-selling screed Adios America! is filled with ferocious attacks against the 1965 Act and Sen. Ted Kennedy on exactly these grounds.

Unfortunately, all these individuals have the facts exactly backwards and upside-down. The 1965 Act didn’t OPEN America’s borders, instead it largely CLOSED America’s borders.

The history is very simple. Prior to the 1920s, America allowed unlimited immigration from Europe and Latin America. Then the 1924 Immigration Act sharply restricted European immigration, but retained an “open borders” policy toward Latin America and the rest of the Western Hemisphere, largely because Southwestern business interests desired an unrestricted supply of Mexican labor. This only changed with the 1965 Act, which for the first time imposed strict quotas upon immigration from Latin America and the Caribbean even as it loosened restrictions upon European and Asian immigration. Prior to 1965, any Latin American who paid a small fee at the border, generally in the range of $18, could legally immigrate to America with almost no waiting period. Immigration had remained low merely because Mexico and most of Latin America had traditionally been under-populated.

The huge rise in Latin American immigration after 1965 was due to the enormous population growth in that region and came in spite of the 1965 Act rather because of it.

If Congress had never passed the 1965 Act, illegal immigration would never have become an issue because legal immigration from Latin America would have remained entirely unlimited. I suspect that the influx of legal Hispanics might have reached 5 million per year by the 1990s, and perhaps the entire impoverished population of Haiti would have relocated to our shores. Immigration over the last fifty years has increased our non-white population by some 60 million, but without the sharp restrictions of the 1965 Act, the figure would surely have been 120 million or perhaps even 180 million. Such a scenario can hardly be viewed with favor by racially-focused immigration-restrictionists.

This gigantic factual error at the core of the anti-immigration movement was almost certainly unintentional. Presumably, some early activist 25 or 30 years ago was careless and made an honest mistake regarding the legal details of the 1965 Act, a mistake that soon got into widespread circulation. Since that time, many thousands of other immigration-activists have quoted and requoted that initial blunder across the Internet, until almost everyone in this insular ideological community has come to believe it.

Anyone can make a mistake, but the fact that this misinformation has remained so widespread for so many years suggests the rather unreliable quality of most anti-immigration sources across the Internet.

Indeed, for the last dozen years or so, I’ve periodically brought this serious error to the attention of various anti-immigration websites. They’ve checked the facts, said Oops!, and immediately discontinued their incessant attacks against the 1965 Act and Teddy Kennedy. But they obviously couldn’t take down the hundreds of pieces they had already published on the subject, nor could they publicly admit their longstanding error without looking ridiculous, so almost none of their readers or peers become aware of the correction, and the denunciations of the 1965 Act in their community continue almost unabated. Sometimes after a few years, these websites even return to attacking the 1965 Act themselves, as less well-informed contributors join or the peer-pressure simply becomes too strong.


About Ron Unz

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.

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