“His four major groups consisted of native-born whites, total whites, foreign-born whites, and Negroes,” explains the historian Nell Irvin Painter in “The History of White People.” “Within these groups, Brigham differentiated between the above-average foreigners and the below-average foreigners. Turks and Greeks just barely improved on the foreign-born average, while men from Russia, Italy, and Poland ranked at the bottom with the ‘Negro draft.’ Northwestern Europeans topped the chart.”
It was the traditional Anglo-American race hierarchy, illustrated with the charts, graphs and calculations that elevated the claim from everyday, casual prejudice to an objective account of society. And it served its intended purpose: to naturalize inequality of status and resources in an era defined by its yawning gaps between haves and have-nots.
It should come as no surprise to learn, as Adam Cohen notes in “Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck,” that “John D. Rockefeller Jr., the world’s wealthiest man, funded scientific research into how what he called the ‘defective human’ could be bred out of the population.” Or that, as Edwin Black explains in “War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race,” eugenicists drew from “almost unlimited corporate philanthropy to establish the biological rationales for persecution” of the so-called unfit.
I mention all of this as context for Richard Hanania, a rising star among conservative writers and intellectuals. For years before appearing in the pages of newspapers and publications like this one, Hanania wrote articles for white supremacist publications under a pseudonym. According to a recent investigation by Christopher Mathias of The Huffington Post:
[Hanania] 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.
Hanania no longer writes for those publications. And though he may claim otherwise, it doesn’t appear that his views have changed much. He still makes explicitly racist statements and arguments, now under his own name. “I don’t have much hope that we’ll solve crime in any meaningful way,” he wrote on the platform formerly known as Twitter earlier this year. “It would require a revolution in our culture or form of government. We need more policing, incarceration, and surveillance of black people. Blacks won’t appreciate it, whites don’t have the stomach for it.” Responding to the killing of a homeless Black man on the New York City subway, Hanania wrote, “These people are animals, whether they’re harassing people in subways or walking around in suits.”
Hanania sees his claims as uncomfortable truths. “The reason I’m the target of a cancellation effort is because left-wing journalists dislike anyone acknowledging statistical differences between races,” he recently wrote. But his supposedly transgressive views are little more than the warmed-over dogmas of the long-dead ideologues who believed in the scientific truth of race hierarchy. Of course, those men, their peers and their followers lost their appetite for that talk in the wake of the Holocaust, when the world got a firsthand look at the catastrophic consequences of state-sponsored racism, eugenicism and antisemitism.