Hanania's defense

In short: Don't worry, he's the good kind of racist now

Our friend is in the news:

A prominent conservative writer, lionized by Silicon Valley billionaires and a U.S. senator, used a pen name for years to write for white supremacist publications and was a formative voice during the rise of the racist “alt-right,” according to a new HuffPost investigation.

Richard Hanania, a visiting scholar at the University of Texas, used the pen name “Richard Hoste” in the early 2010s to write articles where he identified himself as a “race realist.” He expressed support for eugenics and the forced sterilization of “low IQ” people, who he argued were most often Black. He opposed “miscegenation” and “race-mixing.” And once, while arguing that Black people cannot govern themselves, he cited the neo-Nazi author of “The Turner Diaries,” the infamous novel that celebrates a future race war.

Now, if you are a reader of this newsletter (and if you aren’t yet, welcome), this did not come as a surprise. To anyone with a rudimentary understanding of racism — at least, an understanding that does not require the racist to put on a white hood and shout “I am a racist” — Hanania has been an open racist, on main, for years. To use yet another example, when Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is Black, indicted white subway rider Daniel Penny for the strangling death of Black subway passenger Jordan Neely, Hanania tweeted: “These people are animals, whether they’re harassing people in subways or walking around in suits.” That was this past May.

So you may ask yourself, how much worse could these older posts be? Oh, reader. Writing as “Hoste” in 2010, Hanania said: “There doesn’t seem to be a way to deal with low IQ breeding that doesn’t include coercion … In the same way we lock up criminals and the mentally ill in the interests of society at large, one could argue that we could on the exact same principle sterilize those who are bound to harm future generations through giving birth.” His proposal was to forcibly sterilize anyone with IQs of less than 90. In case there is any doubt about who he was referring to, a few years earlier Hanania called Black people “a race with an IQ of 85.” Latinos, he added, also don’t have “the requisite IQ to be a productive part of a first world nation.”

Oh, and did I mention Hanania wrote that for Richard Spencer’s website?

There is more. There’s Hanania on fat people (“their obesity reflects some ugly personality traits”). Hanania on “large-scale female involvement in politics” (a “bad thing”). Hanania also found time to weigh in on Haiti: In 2010, he recapped a speech by the neo-Nazi William Pierce — author of the aforementioned Turner Diaries — that in turn drew heavily on the wildly racist work of the nineteenth-century English writer Hesketh Prichard, whose 1902 travelogue Where Black Rules White has been a deep-cut favorite of National Socialists for decades. Hanania wrote: “The biggest enemies of the Black Man are not Klansmen or multinational corporations, but the liberals who have prevented an honest appraisal of his abilities and filled his head with myths about equality and national autarky.” Given the timing, that line was almost certainly Hanania’s reaction to the earthquake that had just killed 100,000 to 316,000 people. (He still thinks that about Haiti.)

This is all mortifying stuff for Hanania, an ambitious guy who has been steadily climbing the ranks of respectable conservatism for the last few years — not only in right-wing academic circles and media but also on the pages of the New York Times and Washington Post.1

More worrying for him, I’d suspect, was the potential reaction of his sponsors. Like many — if not most — right-wing influencers, Hanania’s position depends on the sponsorship of a handful of reactionary billionaires and other assorted rich guys. And I mean sponsored: As first reported in this newsletter, through his Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology — a three-man think tank apparently based out of his Los Angeles-area home — Hanania personally pocketed at least $297,500 in 2021 and 2022. There’s also the University of Texas at Austin gig, and a separate spot as a lecturer at Bari Weiss’ unaccredited, separate, venture capitalist-funded University of Austin. He also has a book coming out soon from Rupert Murdoch’s book imprint, HarperCollins. And he’s also been a regular on the right-wing speaking circuit, from the Yale Federalist Society (he spoke in May about “all these things [the] government did to discriminate against whites and men”) to Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business (where he is scheduled to teach a seminar in October), all of which likely pay handsomely.

The identities of Hanania’s backers are a closely held secret. Some — including internet sex mogul Andrew Conru and the Mercatus Center, the right-wing Koch brothers-funded think tank at George Mason University — were uncovered by this newsletter. Hanania also has the apparent support of Marc Andreessen, both through Substack (whose executives have gone out of their way to promote Hanania’s work, most recently yesterday) and personally (Andreessen has been a guest on Hanania’s podcast at least three times). In his Huffington Post piece, Christopher Mathias uncovered another: Harlan Crow — collector of Supreme Court justices and Hitler memorabilia — is a major sponsor of both the Salem Center, provider of Hanania’s sinecure at UT-Austin, and Weiss’ fake university. The names of the biggest donor(s) to Hanania’s sketchy non-profit is/are still unknown. But one of the suspects, Peter Thiel, blurbed Hanania’s upcoming book.

With the hopes, perhaps, of saving those sinecures, Hanania grabbed his keyboard and started typing for his life. The piece — written on his Substack and republished on Quillette, because of course it was — is structured like an apology. And many, including the CEO of this here newsletter hosting service, are trying their best to portray it as such:

Chris Best @cjgbest An honest post on a difficult subject, and the kind of genuine self-critique and that is necessary to move past bad ideas.

David Frum (yes, the former George W. Bush speechwriter) called Hanania’s post “a writer's reckoning with his own recently exposed record of racist and antidemocratic extremism,” and asked:

But it isn’t a self-critique or reckoning, and it isn’t honest. Let’s dig in.

As I said, Hanania’s latest post starts off like an apology. “Recently,” he writes, “it’s been revealed that over a decade ago I held many beliefs that, as my current writing makes clear, I now find repulsive.” He goes on:

My posts and blog comments in my early twenties encouraged racism, misogyny, misanthropy, trolling, and overall bad faith. Phrases like “racism” and “misogyny” get thrown around too easily, but I don’t believe there’s any doubt many of my previous comments crossed the line, regardless of where one thinks that line should be.

Right off the bat, we’re being bullshitted. Putting a pin in the question of whether his “current writing” indicates that he finds his older ideas “repulsive,” he can’t even be honest about the timeline. He describes the “Hoste” posts as having been written in his “early twenties.” But the most recent cited — the one in which he endorsed the literal Nazi (and American!) policy of forced sterilization of the mentally disabled (and, implied, racial minorities) — was written in 2011, when he would have been 26. He further claims these posts were from “fifteen years” ago (it was no more than twelve). Then he explains that is “long enough” to go from “junior high” to getting “a third of the way towards being a tenured professor.”2

These are little lies and misdirections but telling ones: It’s an attempt to push these posts as far back into the past as possible, and to appeal to the reader’s ingrained sense of recognition and sympathy. After all, who didn’t say dumb things in their “early twenties” — not to mention “junior high.” Or had a reaction, as he notes, to the 2008 election that doesn’t look ideal in hindsight. Of course, Hanania’s reaction was that he was rooting for Sarah Palin to run as the GOP candidate in 2012, because “the attractive, religious and fertile White woman drove the ugly, secular and barren White self-hating and Jewish elite absolutely mad” — which is, you know, unadulterated Nazi shit — but he now claims to think that’s “repulsive” so let’s move on for now.

We don’t get even get two paragraphs into the so-called “self-critique” before Hanania starts attacking the reporter who broke the story of the “Richard Hoste” posts. He calls Mathias a “supporter of antifa,” and lambasts him for “reach[ing] out to everyone he could think of to try and get them to cut ties with me” (a.k.a., thoroughly reporting and asking colleagues for comment). He also, naturally, invokes the image of a social-media mob and the specter of “cancel culture” — tactics pioneered in many cases and still used by the alt-right, of which we now know Hanania was a formative part. He also claims to offer “some insight into how these people operate,” without clarifying which people those are.

The heart of this allegation is that Mathias was trying to “simply silence a person” rather than “engage with ideas.” But this is another tell. Which of Hanania’s “ideas” was Mathias supposed to “engage” with? That Black people are a “race with an IQ of 85?” That people from Latin America “don’t have the requisite IQ to be a productive part of a first world nation?” That “Jewish elites” hate fertile white women? That “the ultimate goal should be to get all the post-1965 non-White migrants from Latin America to leave?” If Hanania truly believes his ideas from that time “repugnant” and “repulsive,” then why would he think anyone should engage with them? Unless, of course, his real goal is to inject genocidal racism and antisemitism into the discourse under the cover of pseudo-intellectualism and inquiry, which happens to have been the project Richard Spencer recruited him into not so long ago.

Then we get more excuses: He was lonely. He didn’t have “romantic successes.” And above all, it was the liberals’ fault. Those damn liberals “lied a lot about race.” They “denied the overwhelming evidence in favor of heredity being important for individual outcomes.” They “required PC-speak.” After taking a second to notice what he’s doing here — smuggling in yet another round of eugenicist arguments — we can note that he says his reaction to this perceived liberal wrongness was “stupid.” But stupid how? He isn’t saying he was wrong for being racist or believing in eugenics. Rather, he says his mistake was being as “dogmatic” as his “political enemies,” and that this led him to his “quasi-fascist ideology.”

This brings us to Hanania’s supposed “intellectual journey” since. The meat of Hanania’s defense is this: Yes, he was a quasi-fascist before — and a genocidal one, who wanted to forcibly prevent anyone who lacked the “requisite IQ,” including Black people and Latinos from reproducing. But now he is a “small-l liberal,” whose reading of Francis Fukuyama and Steven Pinker3 has convinced him that reactionary reforms, not a fascist revolution, are the best way forward for the “modern West.” This is what David Frum was referring to when he tweeted that Hanania was a model for others who might take “a road back from extremism to normality.”

What does this “normality” look like? Well, first we should note what the “sensible reform” Hanania is advocating here, in this piece: dismantling civil rights law. He has been very clear about this. In his appearance on the flagship Substack podcast, the Active Voice, Hanania blamed the 1964 Civil Rights Act for society’s ills, specifically citing Titles VI and VII, which ban discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin in federally-funded programs and private-sector employment. He also wants to get “rid of the concept of [the] hostile work environment” in order to protect bosses’ right to harass and abuse employees on the bases listed above. In other words, he wants a return to the federal legal regime that permitted Jim Crow.

That also appears to be the argument of his upcoming book from HarperCollins, which occasioned this pre-publication blurb:

“DEI will never d-i-e from words alone — Hanania shows we need the sticks and stones of government violence to exorcise the diversity demon.” — Peter Thiel

Government violence! Guess Thiel didn’t get the memo about toning it down.

So why does Hanania think that allowing more discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, etc., would improve American society? That’s easy: It’s because he thinks that different races and ethnicities are not equal in fundamental respects. He says this, straight out in the essay:

The reason I’m the target of a cancellation effort is because left-wing journalists dislike anyone acknowledging statistical differences between races. My mistake in a previous life was assigning collective guilt based on certain undeniable facts.

And what are these “undeniable facts” — these “statistical differences between races”? Here’s a quote from another one of Hanania’s recent pro-immigration posts — one that he links to as proof of his conversion and newfound habit of supposedly attacking illiberal beliefs:

Many restrictionists seem to be operating under the assumption that the US has the same demographics it did in the 1960s. But today, only around 52% of births are white, 23% are Hispanic, 15% are black, and 7% are Asian. Let’s peg white IQ at 100, Hispanics at 92, blacks at 85, and Asians at 105. We still have 3% for other, and let’s just give them an IQ of 95.

This alone means that the average IQ of newborns in the US is already around 95. It’s actually probably lower than that due to dysgenic fertility, which seems to be knocking at least 1 IQ point off each generation. We can therefore estimate the IQ of American newborns to be 94.

Oh okay, yeah, let’s “peg white IQ at 100” and assign an average IQ to newborns that’s probably lower due to “dysgenic fertility” — and, I’m sorry, what the fuck? This is the guy who had a come-to-Jesus moment with his “repugnant” racist past?

And by the way, “dysgenic fertility” happens to be a dog whistle to the works of Richard Lynn, probably the world’s leading self-described “scientific racist” and neo-eugenicist who “uses his authority as professor (emeritus) of psychology at the University of Ulster to argue for the genetic inferiority of non-white people,” as the Southern Poverty Law Center puts it. When Lynn died, Hanania tweeted this:

That was less than three weeks ago.

It is thus hilarious when Hanania, in his defense, blasts HuffPost for saying he still has “a creepy obsession with so-called race science.” He objectively, clearly does! Hanania also insists that he was slandered by the accusation that he talks about “blacks being inherently more prone to crime.”

Oh hmm what’s this then:

And this, from his Substack post the same day:

Maybe Hanania is saying that he doesn’t believe that “blacks” have a specific crime location in their “racial genome,” and that it’s some other modality that makes it similar to “sex comparisons of grip strength” or whatever niche eugenicist argument he’s referencing. It really doesn’t make a difference. And you can accuse me of refusing to “engage” with his white supremacist ideas, but he’s the one shutting off inquiry on the question of race and crime statistics. In the new post says: “I …. ultimately believe that what the sources of such disparities are doesn’t matter.” Which is very convenient, because that means he doesn’t have to think about the role of white supremacy in areas like housing, education, or police practices of Chicago, not to mention the public perceptions he cites, or the collection of crime statistics themselves.

So in summary, what we have is a racist admitting he is still extremely, definitionally racist: that he believes some races are superior to others in ways that are critical to the proper organization of society, and that ignoring or subverting those hierarchies leads to ruin. But he will no longer publicly say that the “lesser” races should be destroyed. Maybe that’s because he has indeed been convinced “that even if groups differ in skills or cognitive abilities, we can all still benefit from the division of labor.” (Which was, it should be noted, a justification used throughout the first half of the nineteenth century for slavery.) Then again, he was never willing to call for genocide under his real name, so maybe nothing has really changed with him in that respect at all.

Will the non-apology apology work? Hard to say. Bari Weiss’ fake university quickly distanced itself from the guy, proving once again that there is no such thing as a free speech absolutist. The Salem Center at UT-Austin, which like Bari U depends on the largess of Harlan Crow, has taken down Hanania’s faculty page. The prize for most creative distancing goes to the conservative Washington Free Beacon, which tried to paint Hanania as a creature of the left by noting his four contributions to the anti-interventionist Quincy Institute — a gambit that would have been more convincing had the Free Beacon not cited Hanania as a source on “wokeness” nearly as many times.

Substack CEO Chris Best on the other hand, as noted, fell hook, line, and sinker for Hanania’s gambit. (No word from him or co-founder Hamish McKenzie, who are still impressively ignoring all requests for comment, from anyone.) Bryan Caplan, of the Hanania-funding Mercatus Center at George Mason, tweeted, “I stand by my friends.” Andreessen made a sarcastic comment about a Matt Yglesias meta-tweet about the whole thing, but avoided commenting on Hanania directly. Elon Musk sent Hanania $737.

The question here, for those who have made it this far, is not whether Hanania or anyone who thinks like him should be silenced. There have been white supremacist and neo-Nazi websites since the start of the internet (Hanania should know — he wrote for a lot of them), and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Nor is it a question of whether someone who advocated for genocidal fascism at any point in their lives can ever be “redeemed.” Of course, they can — so long as they put in the work. It isn’t even really a question about Hanania or his personal grift. As I’m sure he suspects, he is just a cog in the reactionary machine, and one who any number of Groypers and assorted fascist shitheels with a modicum of academic training could easily replace.

The question is exactly how much influence we as a society want unreconstructed racists and eugenicists to have, and whether we should spend our time and money listening to and enriching people who think they have anything useful to say. Hanania duped a lot of supposedly intelligent people into thinking there is such a thing as a good racist — someone who can just ask tough questions about things like “racial IQ” without falling headlong into the horrors of history. The unmasking of “Richard Hoste” should put that kind of thinking to rest, for good.

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