Beyond the times: a conversation with Mason Hanson
After being featured in the New York Times nearly two weeks ago, junior Mason Hanson has received both positive comments as well as accusations of being a “member of the Hitler Youth.” The WSS caught up with Hanson to reflect on the article.
December 1, 2016
Ever since entering the halls of West High as a freshman, Mason Hanson ’18 has not shied away from sharing his political opinions. As an active member of Young Republicans club, Hanson has established himself as a strong conservative voice among the student body. However, he never thought his views would land him on the front page of the November 20th edition of the New York Times.
West Side Story: How would you describe the political climate at West during the election?
Mason Hanson: [Before the election] most people kept their political views to themselves or to their social groups and it wasn’t a big discussion topic, whereas now politics is more openly [talked about]. I definitely felt like a minority in Johnson County as soon as I became politically active, but I did not feel uncomfortable until after the 2016 election. I have a lot of people blaming me saying that “It’s my fault that Trump won” and if anything happens they are going to blame me for it. Now, I don’t wear [Trump shirts] because I don’t want to be lumped in with these people who are being discriminatory. It makes me uncomfortable that [people who] are supposedly on my side are saying these horrible things.
WSS: How did you get approached for the article?
MH: Mr. Henderson came and pulled me out of class, because my name came up in a conversation about how I was a pretty reasonable person with conviction. Right after lunch I went to the west wing office and had a conversation [with reporter Julie Bosman] that lasted a good hour and a half. It was kind of a roundtable discussion with other students.
WSS: You have received comments that are both supportive and critical due to your statements in the article. What was your reaction?
MH: The comments feel unfair and blatantly rude. Someone even called me a member of the Hitler Youth. There were some people saying that “I didn’t actually mean what I said” when I definitely did. These people don’t even know me. Someone private messaged me on Facebook saying, “Mason are you surprised? What did you expect when you decided to support a fascist?” Some people from my family responded to some of the comments. However, for some reason my account can’t respond to comments anymore.
Kurt Hanson (Mason’s Father): I was not impressed with the article. It portrayed far too many students as victims, and gave too much credit to liberals in general. The comments were laughable. It clearly shows the ineptitude and lack of common sense throughout our country.
WSS: Comments aside, did you feel like reporter Julie Bosman portrayed you accurately?
MH: I thought Julie was pretty fair to me, other than the fact that she choose to talk about the
“Hillary for Prison” shirt. She knew it would get a negative reaction. When she asked about my political shirts, I told her about my Trump shirt, Republican shirts, and [lastly] my “Hillary for Prison” shirt.
WSS: Where did your interest in politics arise from?
MH: I started watching the news when I was seven or eight with my grandparents. My dad is very into politics as is the majority of my family. Also, shooting is a huge part of my life. In order to defend what I do as my hobby, I had to take a political [stance].
WSS: What did you think about the protests both at school and nationally?
MH: I thought the sit-in at West had meaning, even though I don’t think people should leave class. I support their right to peacefully protest. The City High protest was just a lot of kids yelling “F*** Donald Trump.”
WSS: Donald Trump promised to “clear the swamp.” What are your thoughts on former Republican nominee Mitt Romney being rumored to be the potential secretary of state?
MH: I am completely anti-establishment, because the establishment is full of people who owe each other favors. I [initially] supported Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina because they are both people who did not have political experience but had experience in other sectors. So, I [hope] Trump will not pick Mitt Romney for secretary of state.
WSS: Trump also promised to “lock her up” and “build the wall.” Although inauguration day is weeks away, how do you think he is delivering so far?
MH: I don’t think it is really surprising that Trump is not trying to [prosecute Hillary Clinton]. I think that was one of those comments made to get support, even though I do think Hillary should be in prison. I do think that the FBI should bring an indictment for the Clinton Foundation allegations, but no I am not very surprised that he is no longer going to appoint a special prosecutor.
WSS: Final thoughts?
MH: I was super surprised that we made the front page of the New York Times. I think on the surface, the article appeared to be very fair. However, [it is obvious] that the person who wrote it is very liberal and is trying to get across that people like me are wrong and that Donald Trump should not have been elected.
KH: I’m super proud of Mason, and sincerely hope he continues to make wise choices and decisions.
Featured Image by Nick Pryor