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The Supreme Court just hobbled affirmative action — and an antisemitic conspiracy theorist helped

Ron Unz’s essay ‘The Myth of American Meritocracy,’ which makes dubious claims about Jews and college admissions, was cited in one successful complaint

An antisemitic conspiracy theorist who has denied the Holocaust is among the experts whose opinions were considered in the Supreme Court’s Thursday decision to effectively bar the explicit consideration of race in college admissions.

The complaint that initiated the case Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, filed in 2014, repeatedly cites an essay by Ron Unz, titled “The Myth of American Meritocracy.” Students for Fair Admissions argued in their complaint that Unz’s research demonstrates “rampant discrimination against Asian Americans by Ivy League universities generally and Harvard specifically.” 

To some, seeing Unz cited by the victorious side in a Supreme Court battle was jarring, because he’s known for spreading antisemitic conspiracy theories.

Unz, who was born to a Yiddish-speaking family in California, has long shared antisemitic conspiracy theories, including Holocaust denial: A 2018 Anti-Defamation League report stated that he “has denied the Holocaust, endorsed the claim that Jews consume the blood of non-Jews, and has claimed that Jews control the media, hate non-Jews, and worship Satan.” 

In a 2018 review of Henry Ford’s 1920 collection of articles The International Jew, a notorious antisemitic screed that a leader of the Hitler Youth cited as the reason for his antisemitism during the Nuremberg Trials, Unz concluded that the articles were “quite plausible and factually-oriented, even sometimes overly cautious in their presentation.” 

Writing for his site a month later, Unz argued that “in per capita terms Jews were the greatest mass-murderers of the twentieth century,” and that it was “far more likely than not that the standard Holocaust narrative is at least substantially false, and quite possibly, almost entirely so.”

Earlier this year, Unz appeared on Iranian TV claiming that a “Jewish-dominated” Hollywood is responsible for “Holocaust worship” in the United States, and that only “a couple of hundred thousand Jews died in the concentration camps.”

Unz, whose involvement in the complaint against Harvard was first reported by The Guardian a few weeks ago, also shared problematic views about Jews in “The Myth of American Meritocracy,” first published in The American Conservative in 2012.

In the essay, he criticizes universities for having a “massive apparent bias in favor of far less-qualified Jewish applicants.”

Numerous researchers have questioned Unz’s claims about Jews in “The Myth of American Meritocracy.” In 2013, Columbia statistician Andrew Gellman reviewed Unz’s research and concluded that there is “no evidence that Jews are admitted preferentially compared to other whites.”

In a statement to The Harvard Crimson last week, Edward J. Blum, the Student for Fair Admissions president, doubled down on the inclusion of Unz’s research in the complaint. “Unz’s recent writings have no bearing on the legality of racial classifications and preferences at Harvard and throughout higher education,” he said. 

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