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 TeasersRon Unz Blogview

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I don’t use social media much myself, but I try to monitor the activity on my own articles. About ten days ago, my most recent Covid piece suddenly caught fire on Twitter, with many dozens of Tweets that day, almost all of them from Chinese people. Most of these Tweeters had relatively few Followers, suggesting that they were far more active on Weibo than any of our own social networks and therefore probably lived in China rather than were immigrants to the West.

Entitled American Pravda: George Orwell’s Virus Lab-Leak, this article had been published more than a month earlier and had gotten the usual handful of Tweets plus some Retweets of its release announcement, with the activity soon tailing off to almost nothing. But the new wave of Tweeters came in a flood and continued for many days, soon totaling around 200, many times more than any of my other recent pieces. Something was obviously stirring up the Chinese Internet.

The article itself might certainly interest the Chinese. It came as the latest installment in my fourteen month series strongly arguing that the worldwide Covid epidemic had been the unintended blowback of an American biowarfare attack against China (and Iran). With the mainstream American media these days so heavily vilifying China for the alleged Wuhan lab-leak that unleashed a virus killing millions, my own writings stood virtually alone in making the contrary case. My evidence seemed strong even overwhelming, but how had those Chinese citizens discovered my work?

I soon learned that China’s second largest official news agency had run a brief summary of my controversial views on its English-language website:

U.S. publisher rejects random lab-leak theory of COVID-19

The outbreak of COVID-19 is less likely to be the result of a lab leak than a biowarfare attack, a U.S. publisher has said in a recent article.

Existential evidence suggested the possibility of a coronavirus biowarfare attack launched by Washington more than the lab-leak theory, said Ron Unz in a review article published on the Unz Review website in late May.

China had been hit by various viruses right when the country was locked in a growing conflict with America for years, noted Unz, the website’s editor-in-chief and publisher.

Additionally, the outbreak of COVID-19 “appeared at the worst time and place for China,” referring to the Lunar New Year holiday with a travel rush, and the major transit hub of Wuhan in central China with a huge volume of passengers, said Unz, who believes the timing of the emergence of COVID-19 is “suspicious.”

“300 American military servicemen had just visited Wuhan as part of the Military World Games, providing a perfect opportunity for releasing a viral weapon,” he noted, calling the scenario “a strange coincidence.”

“The characteristics of COVID-19, including high communicability and low lethality, are absolutely ideal in an anti-economy bioweapon,” Unz said, adding it’s odd to speculate that a Chinese lab would release a virus perfectly designed to damage the Chinese economy.

Although just a small first step, this development might eventually have major consequences. My original April 2020 article making the case for an American biowarfare attack had quickly provoked an unprecendented amount of interest and engagement on Facebook, but this immediately came to a halt when that social media giant summarily banned our entire website one week later. That purge was soon followed by a complete deranking of all our web pages by Google.

With those two primary gatekeepers to the Western Internet having slammed shut their doors and all our material already totally boycotted by the mainstream media, getting others to take notice of subsequent analysis had become quite challenging. But if the Chinese began discussing it, Western journalists might be forced to do so as well, and they would soon discover astonishing information, facts that had been entirely ignored by our mainstream media but in most cases were very well documented.

 

Much of this remarkable material is summarized in my most recent Covid article, released just a few days after that flood of Chinese Tweets began and at 13,000 words by far the longest piece in the series. The article was intended to tie up many of the loose ends that had already been generated during this past year of heated debate, involving 7,500 comments totaling more than a million words.

As early as April 2020, I had noted the very strange fact that after the Covid outbreak in Wuhan came to world attention, the deadly disease next suddenly appeared in Iran’s Holy City of Qom, more than 3,000 miles away, a very unexpected development given the near-total absence of any significant local Chinese population which might have served as plausible vectors for the virus.

As the coronavirus gradually began to spread beyond China’s own borders, another development occurred that greatly multiplied my suspicions. Most of these early cases had occurred exactly where one might expect, among the East Asian countries bordering China. But by late February Iran had become the second epicenter of the global outbreak. Even more surprisingly, its political elites had been especially hard-hit, with a full 10% of the entire Iranian parliament soon infected and at least a dozen of its officials and politicians dying of the disease, including some who were quite senior. Indeed, Neocon activists on Twitter began gleefully noting that their hatred Iranian enemies were now dropping like flies.

Let us consider the implications of these facts. Across the entire world the only political elites that have yet suffered any significant human losses have been those of Iran, and they died at a very early stage, before significant outbreaks had even occurred almost anywhere else in the world outside China. Thus, we have America assassinating Iran’s top military commander on Jan. 2nd and then just a few weeks later large portions of the Iranian ruling elites became infected by a mysterious and deadly new virus, with many of them soon dying as a consequence. Could any rational individual possibly regard this as a mere coincidence?

 

The Alleged Wuhan Lab-Leak and Its Scientific Skeptics

During most of the last year theories regarding the origins of Covid, whether conspiratorial or otherwise, had disappeared from the public debate, pushed aside by the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests and the final stages of the heated presidential campaign.

In early January, prominent liberal author and public intellectual Nicholson Baker had tried to revive the issue with a 12,000 word cover story in New York magazine, only to see his Covid lab-leak theory swamped and forgotten when the DC Capitol was stormed by a mob of outraged Trumpists two days later.

  • The Lab-Leak Hypothesis
    For decades, scientists have been hot-wiring viruses in hopes of preventing a pandemic, not causing one. But what if …?
    Nicholson Baker • New York Magazine • January 4, 2021 • 12,000 Words

But then on May 2nd, a revolution occurred after former New York Times science journalist and editor Nicholas Wade published a lengthy article on Medium. His careful 11,000 word analysis mustered the strong evidence that the virus was the artificial product of a human lab, suggesting that it had probably leaked out of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, China’s most advanced viral research facility. That laboratory was known to have been working with those types of coronaviruses and was located in Wuhan, the site of the initial outbreak, raising all sorts of obvious suspicions.

  • The Origin of Covid
    Did people or nature open Pandora’s box at Wuhan?
    Nicholas Wade • Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists • May 5, 2021 • 11,000 Words

The floodgates soon opened and over the next few weeks far more was written on that subject than had been produced during the previous twelve months combined. In just one example, Donald G. McNeil, Jr., the forty-five year veteran of the Times who had spearheaded his paper’s Covid coverage, published a striking mea culpa and embraced the lab-leak hypothesis, admitting that he and other Timesmen had previously dismissed the idea as “far right” lunacy, closely associated with “Pizzagate, the Plandemic, Kung Flu, Q-Anon, Stop the Steal, and the January 6 Capitol invasion.”

McNeil had already retired from the Times the previous December after an unrelated controversy, but others at his former newspaper had also experienced a similar change of heart. For more than a year, the editors had been fiercely critical of the lab-leak theory, heavily promoted by Donald Trump and his allies, but with Trump now safely gone, their perspective changed.

In late June, Zeynep Tufekci, one of their opinion columnists, published a 5,500 word article harshly criticizing China and arguing that the global epidemic had probably been the consequence of a Chinese lab-leak. Prof. Tufekci’s field of study was sociology rather than the biological sciences and her expertise lay in social media, but the appearance of her long piece surely reflected a seismic shift in the views of her top editors.

A far longer exposition of this emerging American media consensus had appeared at the beginning of that same month in Vanity Fair. The 12,000 word article strongly favored the lab-leak theory and focused upon the bureaucratic infighting regarding that issue within the national security apparatus of the Trump Administration. Based upon months of investigative reporting and numerous interviews, the piece seemed to heavily rely upon anonymous Trump intelligence sources, while generally taking our government claims at face value.

Moreover, although the suggestion was presented in a defensive, insinuating manner, the long article also raised serious suspicions that Covid had been developed as a Chinese bioweapon, with that particular word appearing nine times in the text. Millions had already died around the world, including many hundreds of thousands of Americans, so some might find it troubling that such inflammatory accusations had appeared in one of America’s most prestigious general interest magazines, especially considering the near-total lack of any supporting evidence. This article demonstrated the drastic shift in elite media sentiment, with theories previously confined to the extreme anti-China ideological fringe now occupying the center of American journalism.

This situation carried disturbing echoes of how those same mainstream media organs had played a similar role twenty years ago in fostering the hoax of Saddam’s WMD and promoting our disastrous Iraq War. Indeed, I found it rather ironic that one of the main Trump Administration Covid experts quoted in that article and others was David Feith, whose father Douglas Feith had been one of the leading Neocons involved in that notorious Bush Administration intelligence fraud. Moreover, the lead author of the front-page Wall Street Journal story that helped to revive the lab-leak theory in late May was Michael R. Gordon, who had previously shared a byline with Judith Miller on most of the fraudulent Iraqi WMD stories that had propelled us into war. And in early 2020, former Mossad agent Dany Shoham had been one of the earliest figures suggesting that Covid was a Chinese bioweapon leaked from the Wuhan lab, with few remembering that in 2001 he had falsely fingered Saddam’s regime as the source of the Anthrax mailings. It almost seemed that members of the old Iraqi WMD cast were reassembling for a revival.

 

“…..we are left with the strong likelihood that Covid came from a laboratory (and) was designed as a bioweapon… China was the intended target (and) America seems the likely source of the attack… The most likely suspects would be rogue elements of our national security establishment… The virus and its dispersal devices might have been obtained from Ft. Detrick and CIA operatives… would have been sent to Wuhan to release it.” Ron Unz, Editor of The Unz Review; from the text

Question 1– What makes your theory about the origins of SARS-CoV-2 so controversial, is not that it suggests that the pathogen was created in a lab, but that it is, in fact, a bioweapon that was deliberately released by US agents prosecuting a secret war on presumed enemies of the United States. Here’s the “money quote” from your article titled, “American Pravda: George Orwell’s Virus Lab-Leak”:

“…..we are left with the strong likelihood that Covid came from a laboratory along with a good possibility that it was designed as a bioweapon, yet we lack serious indications that any lab-leak occurred. So if the original Wuhan outbreak was due to the deployment of a powerful bioweapon but not one that had accidentally leaked from any lab, then surely China was the intended target, the victim rather than the perpetrator….

Given our ongoing military and geopolitical confrontation with China, America seems the likely source of the attack… The most likely suspects would be rogue elements of our national security establishment, probably some of the Deep State Neocons whom Trump had placed near the top of his administration.

This small handful of high-level plotters would have then drawn upon the resources of the American national security apparatus to actually carry out the operation. The virus and its dispersal devices might have been obtained from Ft. Detrick and CIA operatives or members of special forces would have been sent to Wuhan to release it…. In effect, what happened was a Dr. Strangelove-type scenario, but brought to real life.” (“American Pravda: George Orwell’s Virus Lab-Leak”, Ron Unz, The Unz Review)

So, here’s the question: Do you think recent developments lend credibility to your explosive theory or do you now believe that Covid-19 was merely “accidentally” leaked through human error?

Ron Unz– As everyone knows, over the last month the entire “mainstream narrative” of the Covid outbreak has been completely overturned. Just a few weeks ago, anyone suggesting the virus was artificial was denounced and ridiculed as a “conspiracy theorist” and any such statements were automatically banned by Facebook.

But exactly these same prohibited ideas are now widely accepted and promoted by leading figures in the media and political establishments. The 45-year veteran of the New York Times who spearheaded its Covid coverage has now admitted that he was completely mistaken, and that the virus probably came from a lab. The three billion Facebook users can now openly discuss this possibility.

The total collapse of this “natural virus” propaganda-bubble was produced by a self-published 11,000 word article by longtime science journalist Nicholas Wade. Yet the astonishing thing is that almost none of the crucial facts he cited in his article were new. Nearly all of Wade’s important evidence had been publicly available for a full year, but was simply ignored by our entire political and media establishment, partly because Trump took that position and they all hated Trump.

So the virus probably came from a lab. But the question now becomes “which lab?” Just as the MSM had promoted the totally unsubstantiated belief that Covid was natural, the MSM has now begun promoting the equally unsubstantiated belief that Covid accidentally leaked from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology. However, the evidence of any such Wuhan lab-leak is so thin as to be almost invisible.

It’s true that Chinese researchers at that lab were experimenting with related bat viruses, but many American researchers were doing very similar experiments, and for decades bat viruses have also been the central focus of America’s huge biowarfare program.

Wuhan is an enormously large metropolis of 11 million, much larger than New York City, and the Wuhan lab is located 20 miles(!) from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, which was the earliest epicenter of the Wuhan outbreak. A distance of 20 miles seems pretty far for an accidental lab-leak.

Immediately after the initial Wuhan outbreak, the virus began infecting Iran’s top political elites, and killing a number of them. Isn’t it implausible that a random lab-leak in Wuhan would so quickly jump to the Holy City of Qom on the other side of the world?

There are many other aspects of the timing of the outbreak that seem very inconsistent with a random, accidental lab-leak.

Until a few weeks ago, the MSM and Facebook shut down anyone who disagreed with the “natural virus” theory, even though the evidence for an artificial virus had always been much stronger. They’ve now said “Oops! We were wrong. The virus probably came from a lab.” So I think they’ll now have a much harder time shutting down any debate about which lab.

Once people became aware of the basic facts of the virus, belief that it was artificial natural quickly collapsed. And once people become aware of the basic facts of the initial Covid outbreak, I think that belief in an accidental lab-leak will also begin to collapse.

Question 2–You seem to have anticipated my next question, but I’ll go ahead and ask it anyway. In another one of your articles, you say this:

“As the coronavirus gradually began to spread beyond China’s own borders, another development occurred that greatly multiplied my suspicions. Most of these early cases had occurred exactly where one might expect, among the East Asian countries bordering China. But by late February Iran had become the second epicenter of the global outbreak. Even more surprisingly, its political elites had been especially hard-hit, with a full 10% of the entire Iranian parliament soon infected and at least a dozen of its officials and politicians dying of the disease, including some who were quite senior. Indeed, Neocon activists on Twitter began gleefully noting that their hatred Iranian enemies were now dropping like flies.

Let us consider the implications of these facts. Across the entire world the only political elites that have yet suffered any significant human losses have been those of Iran, and they died at a very early stage, before significant outbreaks had even occurred almost anywhere else in the world outside China. Thus, we have America assassinating Iran’s top military commander on Jan. 2nd and then just a few weeks later large portions of the Iranian ruling elites became infected by a mysterious and deadly new virus, with many of them soon dying as a consequence. Could any rational individual possibly regard this as a mere coincidence?”

My question is this: Is this the smoking gun? In other words, do these two “attacks” on enemies of the United States strongly suggest Washington’s involvement?

Ron Unz– Well, it’s certainly an *extremely* odd coincidence for those who claim the global Covid outbreak was caused by an accidental, random lab-leak of a virus in Wuhan, China.

 

An Orwellian Reversal on the Origins of Covid

It’s been decades since I last read George Orwell’s 1984, but portions of that classic dystopian novel have become part of our common political culture.

There’s that famous scene in which an orator is giving a lengthy wartime speech at a political rally, praising the heroic ally of Eurasia and denouncing the arch-foe of Eastasia, but then is quietly handed a note partway through and completely reverses himself, vilifying the former and hailing the latter. “We have always been at war with Eurasia.”

Over the last couple of weeks, we have witnessed in real time this sort of stark and sudden reversal in long-held positions with regard to the origins of the global Covid epidemic, which has devastated much of the world. From early 2020 onward, the mainstream narrative had been that the virus was completely natural, and anyone who suggested that it might be the man-made product of a laboratory was denounced as a “conspiracy theorist,” closely akin to the QAnon activists endlessly ridiculed in the media. This official party-line was often harshly enforced by our leading social media monopolies, with Facebook summarily banning all posts suggesting otherwise.

But this situation has now entirely changed, and in recent days the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and our leading electronic media outlets have carried top stories treating that former heresy in a very respectful manner, and even suggesting that the weight of evidence might favor it. The Senate has voted in favor of immediately declassifying all our intelligence documents related to the origin of the virus, and massive political pressure upon President Joe Biden has forced him to order that a full intelligence review be produced and released within 90 days. It appears that an emerging elite consensus may soon favor theories that had previously been consigned to odd corners of the Internet.

The triggering event for this remarkable reversal in American elite sentiment was a closely reasoned and persuasive 11,000 word article by journalist Nicholas Wade. Although the author had spent more than four decades as a top science reporter at the New York Times and other leading outlets, his work was quietly released May 2nd on the Medium blogging site, lacking any endorsements or prestigious imprimatur, then republished on May 5th by the low-traffic website of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

Despite such extremely inauspicious beginnings and the cautious and subdued tone of his text, the consequences were dramatic. Although nearly all the facts and evidence that Wade discussed had already been publicly available for most of the past year, his careful analysis and considerable journalistic credibility quickly transformed the intellectual landscape. He began his long article by explaining that from February 2020 onward a huge ideological bubble had been inflated by political propaganda masquerading as science, a bubble that was afterwards maintained through a combination of journalistic cowardice and incompetence. President Donald Trump had proclaimed that the virus was artificial, so our media therefore insisted that it must be natural, even if all the evidence seemed to suggest otherwise.

Wade’s careful presentation immediately punctured that bubble, and upended the public discussion of an epidemic that had killed millions around the world. By May 28th, the Wall Street Journal carried the headline “Facebook Ends Ban on Posts Asserting Covid-19 Was Man-Made,” so that in less than one month a self-published article had already changed what nearly three billion individuals around the world were allowed to read and write. This illustrates the totalitarian control of information on the Internet held by American’s huge Tech monopolies, which determine the limits of permitted discussion worldwide at the flip of a switch. Can there be any better example of the ridiculous, Stalinesque climate of intellectual censorship currently enforced by those corporate giants?

Although Wade’s article served as the crucial catalyst, something similar had almost happened in early January, when prestigious New York magazine published a 12,000 cover-story by prominent liberal public intellectual Nicholson Baker, which reached very similar conclusions and might have produced the same impact. But Baker’s article ran on January 4th, and two days later our DC Capitol was suddenly stormed by a mob of outraged Trumpists, ensuring that all other matters were quickly forgotten for the next couple of months:

  • The Lab-Leak Hypothesis
    For decades, scientists have been hot-wiring viruses in hopes of preventing a pandemic, not causing one. But what if …?
    Nicholson Baker • New York Magazine • January 4, 2021 • 12,000 Words

I think a strong case may be made that the Covid epidemic has been the most important global event since World War II, and so sweeping and rapid a journalistic about-face seems almost unprecedented. Leading members of the Fourth Estate have fully recognized the magnitude of this reversal and the dire implications for their profession, registering their reactions, whether with delight or resigned embarrassment.

As a leading critic of our media establishment, famed investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald Tweeted out his own harsh verdict:

His frequent ally Matt Taibbi made similar remarks:

When the Wall Street Journal came out with a story that a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report detailed how three Wuhan researchers became sick enough to be hospitalized in November of 2019, the toothpaste was fully out of the tube: there was no longer any way to say the “lab origin” hypothesis was too silly to be reported upon.

That’s not to say the “lab origin” theory is correct, at all. However, that’s irrelevant to issue at hand.

 

For more than a year now, I’ve been publishing a series of articles and columns discussing the origins of the global Covid-19 epidemic and strongly arguing that the outbreak represented an American biowarfare attack against China (and Iran). Here are links to the three major articles, with the last appearing a week ago:

Days after my original April 2020 article ran, our website was suddenly banned from Facebook and all our pages were “disappeared” by Google. Despite these severe handicaps, my pieces have still attracted hundreds of thousands of pageviews and nearly 900,000 words of comments. Over the last year, a number of reasonably notable journalists and public intellectuals have sent me supportive or congratulatory private notes on this series, sometimes even saying that my analysis seemed quite persuasive. But given the extremely “touchy” nature of the accusation that the worldwide deaths of millions including many hundreds of thousands of Americans was probably due to the reckless and criminal actions of elements of our own government, virtually no mention of my analysis had ever appeared anywhere in either the mainstream or even the alternative media. My articles have obviously been very widely read, but almost no one has been willing to acknowledge their existence.

Even the one significant exception to this remarkable blackout underscores its existence. Kevin Barrett, host of the Truth Jihad podcast and a longtime promoter of numerous “conspiracy theories” wrote a column last year discussing my claims, which he generally endorsed. As a consequence of that advocacy, Barrett was attacked and vilified in a lengthy Atlantic Council report and a concurrent Associated Press article, which denounced him as a leading “super-spreader” of dangerous Covid-19 conspiracy-lunacy. The theory that Barrett was denounced for spreading was largely my own, so he had reasonably urged the journalist interviewing him to contact me directly, but that did not occur. No hint of my existence or writings may be found in either the massive 17,000 word, 54 page report or the corresponding news coverage, presumably because even merely ridiculing or attacking my analysis would bring it to wider attention, with potentially serious consequences if many readers noticed its persuasiveness. In the last few weeks, Barrett has interviewed me a couple of times on his podcast, with the shows conveniently available on our own website:

 

There are considerable ironies in this strange pattern of almost universal silence. Under my reconstruction, the biowarfare attack was very likely a rogue operation unauthorized by President Donald Trump, but probably orchestrated by some of the Deep State Neocons whom he had placed in charge of our national security policy, individuals associated with Secretary of State and former CIA Director Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton.

Over the last few years, liberals, leftists, and many moderates have vilified Trump and his appointees to an unprecedented extent, denouncing them as perhaps the worst and most dangerous American administration in our entire modern history. Yet while one of Trump’s crude or misogynist Tweets might provoke a paroxysm of intense outrage, all these critics have scrupulously averted their eyes from the very real evidence that the illegal actions of his underlings have now killed far more Americans than had died in all our foreign wars combined, while severely damaging our society.

Meanwhile, most of the rightwingers or populists who strongly supported Trump have always been deeply hostile to Pompeo, Bolton, and the numerous other Neocons whom he had elevated to top positions. These latter individuals would certainly be the prime suspects behind the biowarfare attack, and the subsequent domestic blowback, including our own local epidemic and the resulting lockdowns, helped ensure Trump’s reelection defeat. Therefore, one might expect that my accusations would strongly resonate in those pro-Trump, anti-Neocon circles, but instead the topic has been entirely ignored.

This situation recalls the complete media silence that had previously greeted the astonishing revelations of Pulitzer Prize winner Sydney Schanberg, a former top editor at the New York Times. His remarkable expose of our abandoned Vietnam War POWs and the subsequent cover-up orchestrated by the late Sen. John McCain has been ignored for decades by nearly our entire American media.

  • American Pravda: Was Rambo Right?
    Ron Unz • The American Conservative • May 25, 2010 • 1,300 Words
  • Silent Treatment
    My Four-Decade Fight to Report the Truth
    Sydney Schanberg • The American Conservative • May 25, 2010 • 1,700 Words
  • John McCain and the POW Cover-Up
    The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam
    Sydney Schanberg • The American Conservative • May 25, 2010 • 8,200 Words

 

 


As every fan of the old Perry Mason show remembers, courtroom witnesses swear “to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

There’s a reason for that particular choice of words. A pattern of selective omissions in an otherwise entirely truthful presentation can easily mislead us as much as any outright lie. And under certain circumstances, such omissions may be made necessary by powerful outside forces, so that even the most well-intentioned writer is faced with the difficult choice of either excluding certain elements from his analysis or having his important work denied a proper audience. I have sometimes faced this dilemma myself, but over the last few years, my lengthy American Pravda series has charted those gaping lacunae in our received accounts of modern world history, as I have sought to provide a historical counter-narrative of the last one hundred years.

Careful reexaminations of events from fifty or sixty years ago may be interesting, but those of the present day have far greater importance, and this is particularly true with regard to the Covid-19 epidemic that has engulfed the world since early 2020. Millions have already died, including many hundreds of thousands of Americans, with a newly released research study by the University of Washington’s authoritative Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) now suggesting that our domestic death-toll has already exceeded 900,000. This global outbreak first began in Wuhan, and the nature of its origin has become a major flashpoint in the new Cold War between China and America, with the trajectory of that conflict having only slightly changed as Trump Neocons have been replaced by Biden Neocons at the helm of our foreign policy.

Two months ago I published a lengthy article summarizing much of the information from the first year of the outbreak and focusing upon the heated debate regarding the origins of the virus. Aside from the reports of the teams of investigative journalists at the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Associated Press, several very long articles by independent journalists and researchers have constituted my main sources of information, including:

This compendium of crucial research has now received a major addition, a 11,000 word analysis of the likely origins of Covid-19 by Nicholas Wade, a distinguished former science reporter and editor, who had spent more than four decades at the New York Times, Science, and Nature, and the author of several excellent books dealing with anthropology and evolutionary biology.

Suppressing Possible Artificial Origins as “a Conspiracy Theory”

The central focus of both Baker and Wade is indicated by their closely-related titles, namely the origins of the virus and whether it was the product of a laboratory, presumably the Wuhan Institute of Virology, then later released in a tragic accident. Both these authors strongly lean toward that latter possibility, but take somewhat different approaches. While Baker, a prominent novelist and liberal public intellectual, must rely upon general arguments or merely reports the opinions of the experts that he interviewed, Wade deploys his strong scientific background to build a persuasive case for that same conclusion.

From nearly the beginning of the epidemic, the position taken by the mainstream media had been that Covid-19 was very likely natural in origin, and although President Trump and some of his political allies soon loudly claimed otherwise, the perceived scientific consensus remained unchanged.

But as Wade demonstrates, that supposed consensus was largely illusory, having been shaped by two early items that appeared in prestigious scientific publications. On February 19, 2020, the Lancet had published a statement signed by 27 virologists and other noted scientists that declared: “We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin,” and that “[scientists] overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife.” Then the following month Nature Medicine published an analysis by five virologists providing some theoretical arguments against any artificial origin, stating that: “Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus.”

 
As We Rapidly Approach a Million American Deaths

More Than a Million Dead Americans?

Winston Churchill famously observed that in wartime the truth must be surrounded by a bodyguard of lies. Many of my own long and most controversial articles have followed a somewhat analogous presentation, with the opening sections that sometimes run hundreds of words or longer often being rather innocuous or even somewhat off-topic. These are intended to serve as a bland or sugar-coated introduction to the far more dangerous material that then follows, which might otherwise tend to alarm and deter the casual reader if introduced too quickly.

Although I think this approach has its benefits, there are disadvantages as well. An unknown number of casual or busy readers may abandon the piece at that early stage, finding it too uninteresting to continue through to the more explosive elements. So there is probably value in extracting and highlighting some of the latter for a different sort of audience, and this may be especially true with regard to the current Covid-19 outbreak in America, which recently marked its first anniversary.

Almost exactly one year ago on March 16th, 2020, the local public health officers of the San Francisco Bay region, including Dr. Sarah Cody of my own Santa Clara County, suddenly imposed a sweeping lockdown order upon their nearly seven million residents, a government action unprecedented in American history. At that point, our country had suffered perhaps a dozen recorded deaths, and relatively little public attention had been focused on the growing danger. But experts believed that the virus was rapidly and invisibly spreading, and this dramatic Bay Area decision was quickly copied elsewhere, first in Los Angeles, then throughout the entire state of California, and soon afterward in other large states such as New York and Illinois. A temporary lockdown of three weeks was gradually extended to several months, with masking and social-distancing suddenly becoming a major part of everyday life throughout much of our country.

Not long afterward, federal health officials released a shocking warning that the new disease might eventually claim as many as 100,000 to 240,000 American lives. For over a century, nothing like that had ever happened in our country and with existing deaths still merely numbering in the dozens, these gigantic “worst case” estimates were ridiculed by various ideological camps and disbelieving individuals as absurdly inflated and alarmist. Yet today the official Covid-19 death toll stands at around 550,000, a figure more than twice as high as the upper bound of that supposedly exaggerated projection.

From the very beginning, “Covid Skeptics” have fiercely disputed such official totals. They have noted the considerable confusion between “dying from Covid-19” and “dying with Covid-19,” plausibly arguing that such postmortem diagnoses are often ambiguous, with many deaths of infected individuals having primarily been due to other factors. But it also seems quite likely that many Covid-19 deaths may not have been officially recorded as such. Given such problems of both over-counting and under-counting, the most reliable metric would be the total number of “excess deaths,” those above and beyond the normal figure for a given period. But considering these much more solid estimates for the actual death toll suffered during our current epidemic actually reveals a picture far worse than those official numbers.

Two months ago a large team of nearly a dozen Wall Street Journal reporters published a 2,000 word article entitled “The Covid-19 Death Toll Is Even Worse Than It Looks” which carefully analyzed the worldwide losses, finding that the CDC figures for total deaths during the first 11 months of 2020 suggested some grim conclusions:

In the U.S. alone, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show more than 475,000 excess deaths through early December, a time frame that also included about 281,000 deaths linked to Covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The pandemic led U.S. deaths to climb at least 10% last year. Typically U.S. deaths grow about 1.6% a year as the population grows and ages.

Since that date, our official count of Covid-19 fatalities has nearly doubled, so if the same ratio of “excess” deaths has remained unchanged, well over 900,000 Americans have now died as a consequence of the epidemic. I have seen other estimates that are significantly lower, but even these still indicate that we have suffered nearly 800,000 additional deaths during the first twelve months of the disease outbreak, amounting to the greatest loss of life in American national history, far surpassing the combined total of all our foreign wars, and even exceeding the four bloody years of our Civil War, though admittedly relative to a much larger population base.

Moreover, the sluggish implementation of our national vaccination program ensures that these totals will continue to climb throughout much of the remaining year and are almost certain to break the million mark. Last spring, predictions that more than a million Americans would die despite our unprecedented disease control efforts might have been dismissed as total lunacy, but such numbers are now on the verge of becoming our actual reality. We should hardly be surprised that the CDC has estimated that by mid-2020 American life-expectancies had already dropped by a full year, their greatest decline since World War II.

A leading data website provides a convenient graph of the monthly mortality figures:

The public health measures implemented to control this severe epidemic have remained controversial in various political quarters, and I have become somewhat agnostic regarding the relative impact of the different policies such as lockdowns, masking, and social-distancing. Indeed, a very long and comprehensive recent analysis argues that lockdowns—at least the rather intermittent and half-hearted ones used throughout the West—have had little impact upon ultimate deaths. But it seems almost undeniable that without some combination of these various approaches, our national death toll would have been far worse.

 

At the beginning of this month, I’d released eBook versions of my American Pravda and Meritocracy article collections, each running a hefty 300,000 words or more, and together containing nearly all my published writings of the last thirty years, with the bulk of the material having been produced in the last few. The response was quite positive, and the eBooks have already been downloaded nearly 10,000 times, quite an improvement from the 15 or 20 copies that I’d sold in hardcover on Amazon over the last twelve months. Although I personally prefer reading lengthy works in hard copy, it’s clear than many others feel differently, especially if the price is free.

However, a couple of commenters claimed that the ancient art of reading itself was quickly falling into disuse among the younger generation, at least if the length of the text is greater than a few Tweets. Therefore, they strongly urged me to consider producing audio versions of my articles, arguing that this format might have far greater reach than the printed word, as demonstrated by the growing popularity of podcasts. While I think the looming disappearance of reading may be somewhat exaggerated, the suggestion seemed a very reasonable one. After all, including time spent on reading, research, and writing, the body of work had probably absorbed well over 15,000 hours of my time to produce, and adding just a sliver more effort to bring it to an additional audience would probably be extremely cost-effective.

One problem I faced is that so much of my article content is complex, highly specialized, and quite controversial, so I can’t imagine recruiting someone else to produce professionally-read versions would work. Even if I took that approach, the time I’d need to spend supervising, reviewing, and correcting the output would almost certainly exceed the time required to do the job myself, so the latter choice seemed the only realistic option. Twenty years ago when I was doing political campaigns, I would work with a crew of professionals at local studios doing endless takes to get the sixty-second radio spots exactly right, but comparable hardware and software is now available for any personal computer. And given the huge volume of material, I was aiming at “good enough” rather than professional perfection, while the content of my articles was anyway far more important than the stylistic delivery.

I recorded and posted a couple of short sample audio articles, and most of the listeners seemed to think that they fell into the “good enough” category. So gritting my teeth, I went ahead and diligently spent the last three weeks producing audio versions of nearly 100 of my articles, including all the longer and more substantial ones. Amazingly enough, my voice held out in reading, reviewing, and correcting those 500,000 words of text, which I did my best to keep in the “good enough” category. And since the project probably absorbed less than 1% of the original writing effort, it certainly seemed a worthwhile effort.

All the audio files are in the standard mp3 format and I’ll soon be making them available in standard venues such as SoundCloud and YouTube, but for now here’s the complete listing, including the time-length of each item. Just click the Speaker icon, listen to the output, and see what you think. The audio versions of several of my longest articles run two or three hours, so I’ve also provided these broken into multiple parts.

All the works are grouped in categories: my American Pravda series, mostly produced in the last few years; my articles on race, ethnicity, and social policy, which had been the main focus of my writing during the previous two decades from the early 1990s onward; my Economics articles, mostly connected with raising the Minimum Wage; and my other writings. Also, all individual article pages with available audio versions now provide that just above the text itself.

Just below these new audio file links, I’ve also grouped several of my podcast interviews from the last couple of years, most of which run an hour or longer.

Each of my two major eBook collections are enormously long, and contain numerous lengthy and important individual articles, some of which themselves run 20,000 words or longer. Therefore, I’ve also decided to release about a dozen of these as stand-alone eBooks, which are listed below, together with the two full collections.

Last year, Facebook banned our website and Google deranked all our pages, substantially reducing our ability to bring our content to the attention of a broader audience. Since all these mp3 audio files or eBooks are being made freely available without cost, please consider widely redistributing these files on other websites or content distribution channels, thereby making the material available to many additional individuals.

Audio Versions of Articles

AMERICAN PRAVDA SERIES

The Life and Legacy of Lt. Gen. William Odom
The American Conservative • September 8, 2008 • 2,500 Words • 19m
Was Rambo Right?
The American Conservative • May 25, 2010 • 1,300 Words • 9m
China’s Rise, America’s Fall
The American Conservative • April 17, 2012 • 6,600 Words • 54m
Chinese Melamine and American Vioxx: A Comparison
The American Conservative 13m • April 17, 2012 • 1,800 Words • 14m
The Myth of American Meritocracy
The American Conservative • November 28, 2012 • 26,200 Words • 2h45m
Audio Segments: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6
Our American Pravda
The American Conservative • April 29, 2013 • 4,500 Words • 33m
John McCain: When “Tokyo Rose” Ran for President
The Unz Review • March 9, 2015 • 4,200 Words • 31m
The Legacy of Sydney Schanberg
The Unz Review • July 13, 2016 • 3,500 Words • 23m

 

Several years ago I published a hardcover collection of my more substantial articles, entitled The Myth of American Meritocracy and Other Essays.

More recently, various people had suggested that I produce a similar collection of my American Pravda articles, so I’ve now done so in an eBook format. The full title is Our American Pravda and Other Essays in a Historical Counter-Narrative of the Last One Hundred Years.

I also decided to produce an eBook version of my previous Meritocracy collection, now updated to include my more recent articles that fell outside the American Pravda category.

Given the very low Amazon royalties for eBooks, I’ve decided to make both these books freely available for downloading in both the Mobi/Kindle and standard ePub formats. Just click on the appropriate links below:

Meritocracy Collection (Mobi, ePub) and American Pravda (Mobi, ePub)


Each of these books runs well over 300,000 words, and they together contain nearly 200 of my articles from The Unz Review and a wide variety of other publications.

These eBook versions are convenient for reading without use of the Internet, sometimes an important issue in these troubled times, and feel free to redistribute the copies to whomever might find the information of interest. If you consider the material valuable, then donate whatever you consider fair via PayPal or other systems.

I’m providing below a listing of the total contents of each volume, preceded by some of the very generous cover quotes that my Meritocracy collection had attracted back in 2016.

Meritocracy Collection Cover Quotes

With high intelligence, common sense, and advanced statistical skills, presented transparently and accessibly, Ron Unz has for decades been addressing key issues in a rapidly changing America, enlightening us on the implications and effects of bilingual programs in American schools, clarifying the issues around crime and immigration so often distorted in political and popular discussion, placing the question of an increased minimum wage effectively on the national agenda, and addressing most provocatively the issue of affirmative action and admission to selective colleges and universities, revealing some aspects of this ever disputed question that have never been noted or discussed publicly before. He is one of our most valuable discussants and analysts of public issues.—Nathan Glazer, Professor Emeritus of Education and Sociology, Harvard University, and author of Beyond the Melting Pot.

Few people on the planet are smarter than Ron Unz or have more intellectual curiosity. This fascinating and provocative collection of essays explores a remarkable range of topics, many of them high profile, some of them arcane. Unz’s analysis is always serious and invariably challenges prevailing wisdoms, which is to say there are a lot of controversial arguments in this book. No one is likely to agree with every one of his conclusions, but we would be better off if there were more people like Ron Unz among us. —John J. Mearsheimer, the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, and author of The Israel Lobby.

Ron Unz is a brilliant essayist. His interests run from ancient history and black holes to contemporary issues like racial quotas and the minimum wage. He moves swiftly to the heart of a subject with cogent analysis and limpid argument. This collection of essays sparkles with unexpected gems ranging from critiques of the mainstream press to appreciation of dissenters from common wisdom such as General Bill Odom and Alexander Cockburn. In every paragraph of these essays the reader enjoys a penetrating intelligence at work. —Nicholas Wade, former writer and editor for The New York Times, and author of Before the Dawn, The Faith Instinct, and A Troublesome Inheritance.

Over the past two decades as an original thinker and writer Ron Unz has tackled complex and significant subjects such as immigration, education, economics, race, and the press, pushing aside common assumptions. This book brings together in one volume these pieces from a variety of publications. Unlike other essayists on culture and politics, Unz shreds ideology and relies on statistical data to support his often groundbreaking ideas, such as his 2010 essay on “The Myth of Hispanic Crime.” And his 2014 efforts to put a $12 an hour minimum wage bill before California voters is an example of how the action of an individual can draw public attention to an issue he believes is necessary for the economic health of the Republic. Anyone reading this book will learn a great deal about America from an incisive writer and scholar who has peeled back layers of conventional wisdom to expose the truth on issues of prime importance today. —Sydney Schanberg, Pulitzer-Prize winning former reporter and editor for The New York Times, whose story inspired the 1984 film The Killing Fields.

Provocative and fearless, sometimes infuriating, and quite often, persuasive. And when American’s low-wage workers get their coming big raise, the apostate conservative Ron Unz will deserve a decent share of the credit. —Prof. James K. Galbraith, author of The End of Normal and Welcome to the Poisoned Chalice: The Destruction of Greece and the Future of Europe.

• • •

Meritocracy Collection

Cover Quotes
Preface to 2016 Edition

RACE, ETHNICITY, AND SOCIAL POLICY

America’s Decline
Commentary (Letters) • August 1992 • 600 Words
How to Grab the Immigration Issue
The Wall Street Journal • May 24, 1994 • 1,100 Words
Immigration or the Welfare State
Policy Review • September 1994 • 4,100 Words

 


Although hardly suggested by our mainstream media, the officially-reported results demonstrated that our 2020 presidential election was extraordinarily close.

All the regular pre-election polls had shown the Democratic candidate with a comfortable lead, but just as had been the case four years earlier, the actual votes tabulated revealed an entirely contrary outcome. According to the official vote-count, the Biden/Harris ticket ended up millions of votes ahead, having racked up huge leads in overwhelmingly Democratic states such as my own California, and also won by a very comfortable 306 to 232 margin in Electoral Votes. But control of the White House depends upon the state-by-state tallies, and these told a very different story.

Incumbent Donald Trump lost Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin by such extremely narrow margins that a swing of less than 22,000 votes in those crucial states would have gotten him reelected. With a record 158 million votes cast, this amounted to a victory margin of around 0.01%. So if just one American voter in 7,000 had changed his mind, Trump might have received another four years in office. One American voter in 7,000.

Such an exceptionally narrow victory is extremely unusual in modern American history. For decades, the very tight Kennedy-Nixon race of 1960 had been a byword for close races, but Biden’s margin of victory was much smaller. More recently, George W. Bush won a narrow reelection over Sen. John F. Kerry in 2004, but Kerry would have required a voter swing nearly five times greater than Trump’s in order to claim victory. Indeed, with the sole exception of the notorious “dangling chads” Florida decision of the 2000 Bush-Gore election, no American presidential candidate in over 100 years had lost by so narrow a voter margin as Donald J. Trump.

If our incompetent or dishonest media had correctly reported these simple facts, perhaps Democratic partisans would have been somewhat more understanding of the outrage expressed by so many of their Republican counterparts, who believed they had been cheated of their election victory. Admittedly, Trump backers seem equally unaware of the historically slender margin of their candidate’s defeat.

The emotions on both sides of the Trump reelection campaign were among the strongest in modern American history, and the outcome was determined by the tiniest sliver of voters in a few states. So under these circumstances, last week’s controversial events in DC were perhaps not so entirely unexpected. Indeed, during the weeks before the election, I’d half-predicted such a scenario, speculating about possible claims of a stolen election and the resulting civil unrest. For example, the following was my response to a question from a longtime commenter:

Many Trump supporters are alleging that there could be massive voting fraud in the 2020 election. Some believe that if Trump is ahead on election night, Democratic machines will manufacture ballots to give a victory to Biden. Do you think this is possible or do you see this as improbable?

Well, I suppose it’s possible…

Frankly, both sides are so totally agitated and extreme, the Trumpists would be saying and believing it, even if it were entirely false and impossible. It’s hard to figure out what’s happening when everyone involved is so dishonest and corrupt. Trump has always seemed like an ignorant buffoon to me, but I think the Democrats and liberals have almost gone insane in their opposition to him.

As I’ve been telling people for weeks, the whole political situation certainly seems very bizarre and I’ve seen some pretty plausible arguments that we might end up with a “disputed” election if the numbers are fairly close in key states. Apparently, the Republicans are overwhelmingly going to be voting in person, while the Democrats will be voting by mail, meaning their ballots will be much slower to come in and be counted.

So Trump could be ahead by wide margins on Election Night and declare victory to the cheers of his partisans. And then as the mail ballots come in, the numbers turn against him, but he and his die-hard supporters cry “Fraud!” and refuse to recognize the result. Hard to say what would happen, but I’m glad I live in California which is generally quiet and peaceful these days.

Obviously, Bush/Gore was “disputed” in 2000, but only party loyalists much cared at the time, while today the country is filled with Trumpists and Trump-haters, both very suspicious and angry.

 

Although I think my speculative scenario turned out to be reasonably correct, the actual post-election developments were far greater in magnitude than I had expected, and may have dire consequences for maintaining American civil liberties.

I haven’t investigated the matter, but there does seem to be considerable circumstantial evidence of widespread ballot fraud by Democratic Party forces, hardly surprising given the apocalyptic manner in which so many of their leaders had characterized the threat of a Trump reelection. After all, if they sincerely believed that a Trump victory would be catastrophic for America why would they not use every possible means, fair and foul alike, to save our country from that dire fate?

In particular, several of the major swing-states contain large cities—Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Atlanta—that are both totally controlled by the Democratic Party and also notoriously corrupt, and various eye-witnesses have suggested that the huge anti-Trump margins they provided may have been heavily “padded” to ensure the candidate’s defeat.

Even leaving aside some of these plausible claims, the case for a stolen election seems almost airtight. I don’t know or care anything about Dominion voting machines, whether they are controlled by Venezuelan Marxists, Chinese Communists, or Martians. But the most blatant election-theft was accomplished in absolutely plain sight.

Not long before the election, the hard drive of an abandoned laptop owned by Joe Biden’s son Hunter revealed a gigantic international corruption scheme, quite possibility involving the candidate himself. But the facts of this enormous political scandal were entirely ignored and boycotted by virtually every mainstream media outlet. And once they story was finally published in the pages of the New York Post, America’s oldest newspaper, all links to the Post article and its website were suddenly banned by Twitter, Facebook, and other social media outlets to ensure that the voters remained ignorant until after they had cast their ballots.

Renowned international journalist Glenn Greenwald was hardly a Trump partisan, but he became outraged that the editors of the Intercept, the $100 million publication he himself had co-founded, refused to allow him to cover that massive media scandal, and he angrily resigned in protest. In effect, America’s media and tech giants formed a united front to steal the election and somehow drag the crippled Biden/Harris ticket across the finish line.

 
RonUnz1
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.