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My response to Ron Unz

Posted By Geoff Metcalf On 01/27/1998 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled

Considering it took Ron Unz 20 days to respond to my initial litany of concerns about his ‘English for the Children’ initiative, his rebuttal was disappointing. I won’t make him wait as long for my response.

Unz accuses L.A. attorney Allan Favish, Western Journalism Center founder Joseph Farah, and yours truly of writing “complete nonsense — a mix of blatant factual errors, misreadings, and misrepresentations.” I challenge him to back up his charges. Point by point. I also renew my open invitation to him to join me on the air on KSFO to discuss the initiative and try to change my mind. I have stated on the air and in writing, and told Sen. Richard Mountjoy and Assemblyman Tom McClintock, that if someone can offer compelling evidence that I am wrong, I will revise my analysis. To date, the more I learn, the more entrenched I have become that the Unz financed “bilingual” issue is a Trojan horse designed to undermine and/or abrogate Proposition 187.

Unz writes “… the authors seem not to have even bothered to read the initiative before preparing their denunciations.” Frankly, I was conspicuously silent about the proposal until I had read it with a highlighter in hand. Even my critics grudgingly acknowledge, “Metcalf does his homework.” Hell, I read the entire North American Free Trade Agreement before debating that issue.

Unz accuses me of claiming that “the initiative would actually expand the use of bilingual education in California schools, and this is clearly absurd.” I did not write or say that. What I DID write (see 1/3/98 calnews.com Troj-Unz Horse) was what the Unz initiative does:

“Creates legislation mandating native-language bilingual education where NO SUCH LAW CURRENT EXISTS in California — including illegal aliens at higher levels than American children regardless of English-language skills.” Unz writes, “bilingual education is legally required for … 98% of limited-English students in California, under REGULATIONS enforced” (not a law, Ron, a regulation).

Unz asks me to “explain why California’s billion-dollar bilingual education industry is desperately opposing our measure, which they believe will annihilate them.” Here ya go: I believe (and this is pure opinion) that those who at first stridently opposed English for the Children (like those who signed the petition to get it on the ballot) didn’t read it. They bought the headlines and never read the details. I believe (and I’m not the Lone Ranger) that once the presumed opposition realizes that they may indeed become the beneficiaries of this initiative they will temper their opposition and even vote for it. In fact, it has been noted that the rabid, unbridled opposition to Proposition 187 has not yet been seen.

The next point is hysterical. He says, “both Metcalf and Farah foolishly, claim that the initiative provides tens of millions of dollars to left-wing Latino activists groups.” OK, now stay with me on this. Unz writes, “This is utter nonsense.” Explain why Ron? OK, he continues “The initiative does allocate $50 million to local school districts” (he significantly omits that’s $50-million a year for TEN YEARS). BUT he assures us ” … these would operate under guidelines established by the state Board of Education. Since the state board is Republican, it is unlikely to eagerly fund leftists.” BULLFEATHERS! Delaine Eastin has already given MILLIONS of dollars to Hermandad Nacional Mexicana.

Unz challenges the legal opinion of Allan Favish, while acknowledging he is not qualified to judge Favish’s arguments. He says (for the first time in print), “I state categorically that I had no intention whatsoever of contradicting Prop 187 when I began my campaign to dismantle bilingual education in 1997.” Nice sentence … when did your intention change to undo Prop 187?

He writes “Since Dick Mountjoy — 187 co-chair and a strong supporter of “English for the Children” has requested a legal opinion from the legislative analyst, the issue should be resolved within a couple of weeks.” Maybe, maybe not. Mountjoy requested the legal opinion after I shared with him my concerns as outlined in my original commentary. Oddly, the senator’s comments to me were that he was a more passive observer of English for the Children, unless or until it threatens Prop 187.

Lastly, this guy (Ron Unz) who has been quoted as saying, “I won’t let anyone who was involved in fighting Prop 187 within ten feet of this,” and “… I would hope that passage of this measure would help to undo much of the social damage done to our state by passage of Prop 187.”

The same duplicitous manipulator who stood shoulder to shoulder in front of the Federal Building in L.A. in 1996 with the honchos from MALDEF, Hermandad and CABE dares to write: “Conservatives who publish articles containing wild, unsubstantiated charges and gross factual errors bring discredit upon themselves and conservatism in general.” Back at ya, pal! He concludes with “Conservatives such as Favish, Metcalf and Farah, who find themselves on the same side of the initiative barricades with Antonio Hernandez of MALDEF, Nativo Lopez of Hermandad, and Silvina Rubinstein of CABE cannot be entirely comfortable with their new allies.” The aforementioned are Unz allies as demonstrated by HIS actions in 1996 in L.A..

I can’t and won’t speak for my friends Favish and Farah, however, my mantra has been to focus on WHAT is right or wrong rather than WHO is right or wrong. During the great NAFTA debate, I opposed it, as did Ralph Nader, Jesse Jackson, Ross Perot, and a gaggle of liberals. My opposition of English for the Children remains as originally stated (unless or until presented with compelling arguments to the contrary). As written, it does NOT eliminate bilingual education, and (by Unz’s written acknowledgement) it DOES do what I questioned in my earlier commentary.


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