The pseudoscience of eugenics is making a comeback on the American right. In August, the HuffPost reporter Christopher Mathias unmasked the Substack writer and academic Richard Hanania as “Richard Hoste,” a pseudonym under which Hanania blogged for white-supremacist websites about the evils of “race mixing,” advocated for the sterilization of people with a “low IQ” and for the deportation of all “post-1965 non-White migrants from Latin America,” and declared that “women’s liberation = the end of human civilization.” He also wrote a tribute to Sarah Palin in 2009, gushing that her candidacy had made the “ugly, secular and barren White self-hating and Jewish elite absolutely mad.” (There’s a lot going on there.)
“White nationalism,” Hanania wrote as “Hoste,” is “the only hope that part of what made the American nation great will survive somewhere.”
Two days after Mathias’s story, Hanania responded, stating, “Over a decade ago I held many beliefs that, as my current writing makes clear, I now find repulsive.” He rejected Mathias’s characterization of his “creepy obsession with so-called race science” as “dishonest,” insisting that he does not believe that Black people are “inherently more prone to violent crime” than white people.
People can and do change, even those with extreme views like these, but there’s not much evidence that happened here. As the writer Jonathan Katz notes, Hanania recently wrote, “These people are animals, whether they’re harassing people in subways or walking around in suits,” in an angry tweet about the Black district attorney of Manhattan indicting a white man who strangled a homeless Black man on the subway.
It is understandable that Hanania prefers to present himself as a mainstream, respectable intellectual than as a creep interested in the attractiveness of cartoon characters and the genitalia of the Founding Fathers. The eagerness of some of his allies to accept his rather superficial apology—Katz notes that Substack CEO Chris Best praised him for “an honest post on a difficult subject”—is a little more puzzling. As Mathias writes, Hanania’s genetic determinism appears to be popular among wealthy Silicon Valley types, several of whom have blurbed his forthcoming book arguing that civil-rights laws should be dismantled.
Buried in Hanania’s statement responding to Mathias’s reporting is a crucial tell about his ideological project, and why his response is formatted like an apology even though it is not one. “The reason I’m the target of a cancellation effort is because left-wing journalists dislike anyone acknowledging statistical differences between races,” Hanania wrote.
As Hanania knows perfectly well, “acknowledging statistical differences between races” is not a controversial idea on the left. In fact, it’s central to the egalitarianism he opposes. He has elsewhere defined wokeness in part as the idea that “any disparities in outcomes favoring whites over non-whites or men over women are caused by discrimination.” The implication that his critics rightfully find abhorrent is that those statistical differences are biologically determined by race and therefore reflect an inferiority that is inherent and immutable to state interventions. Being coy about this, instead framing the conflict as a liberal reluctance to acknowledge uncomfortable facts, suggests that his views haven’t changed much at all, and that his vague repudiation of them is little more than an attempt to preserve the mainstream credibility he’s accumulated since his days railing against “race mixing” pseudonymously. [Continue reading…]