HuffPost's Story on Rising Right-Wing Star Richard Hanania is Really About Culture Rot
He didn't change; society did.
Last week, HuffPost's Christopher Mathias published an exposé on Richard Hanania, a rising star in right-wing circles, uncovering his past writings for white supremacist sites under the pseudonym 'Richard Hoste'. For those familiar with Hanania’s writing, Mathias’s report is fascinating, if unsurprising. For those who’ve had the good fortune to elude Hanania and his far-right ideology to this point, the HuffPost article is a good jumping-off point for understanding the direction of American culture, politics, and press.1
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This was not the story of someone who once held and pushed extreme white supremacist views and has since changed, but the story of a society that’s gotten significantly uglier over the past 15 years. Hanania hasn’t changed his views. In fact, he’s barely even moderated them for wider public consumption.
Mathias makes this point ten paragraphs in:
Richard Hanania’s story may hint at a concerning shift in mainstream American conservatism. A little over a decade ago, he felt compelled to hide his racist views behind a pseudonym. In 2023, Hanania is a right-wing star, championed by some of the country’s wealthiest men, even as he’s sounding more and more like his former white supremacist nom de plume: Richard Hoste.
The trajectory of Richard Hanania's career, from hidden extremist to celebrated conservative voice, mirrors a broader trend in American media and politics. As the boundaries of mainstream conservatism have become more dominated by extreme ideas, mainstream media institutions, in pursuit of “balance,” have felt compelled to shift rightward as well. This drive to avoid appearing biased in favor of liberal viewpoints has inadvertently opened the door to more radical ideologies, normalizing them within mainstream culture. In other words, it creates a right-wing bias. As the right becomes more extreme, media and society itself are pushed even more to the right.
Hanania claimed just last month that college African American Studies departments had been run by "street hustlers and illiterates.” In May, he tweeted that “we need more policing, incarceration, and surveillance of black people,” lamenting that “Blacks won’t appreciate it, whites don’t have the stomach for it,” in defense of a wildly misleading and racist chart about “interracial crime.” Also in May, he referred to Black people as “animals, whether they’re harassing people in subways or walking around in suits.” Also in May, Hanania published a blog post titled, “Why Do I Hate Pronouns More Than Genocide?” about why he treats the mere existence of trans people as worse than genocide (something others on the right have more-than-hinted they would be happy to carry out against trans people if given the opportunity), because he is “an individual concerned with truth.”2
In February, he wrote, “Maybe old people shouldn’t all commit seppuku,” referencing a form of ritualistic suicide, “but we need to think creatively about how they can have dignity in a world where many are only burdens. With technological change becoming more rapid, they no longer even have wisdom to offer young generations. Need new solutions.”