In 2018, the Trump administration fired a White House speechwriter after he was revealed to have spoken at an annual far-right conference in 2016 attended by white supremacists, pseudoscientific quacks, contrarian academics, and other racists. This week, the White House nominated the same guy to a three-year term on a heritage commission that preserves Holocaust memorials.
As first flagged by Yahoo News, the White House sent out a press release on Tuesday evening naming the speechwriter in question, Darren Beattie, as a member of the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad. That commission was formed in the wake of World War II and identifies and helps preserve sites like buildings, monuments, and cemeteries of U.S. cultural heritage throughout Europe — especially those that have been destroyed, damaged, neglected, or otherwise threatened by events like the Nazi murder of more than 6 million Jews and millions of others during the Holocaust. It also helps establish memorialization projects.
Beattie, who identifies as Jewish, lost his original job at the White House after it came to light he had spoken at the 2016 H.L. Mencken Club Conference, named after the viciously racist writer whose work is popular with white supremacists. That conference was a major event in the development of the alt-right and featured a number of far-right personalities who style themselves intellectuals. That included John Derbyshire and Robert Weissberg, two writers fired from the National Review in 2012 for promoting racist viewpoints, and Peter Brimelow, the founder of the xenophobic, anti-immigrant hate site VDARE, which regularly publishes pseudoscientific articles smearing people of various ethnic or racial backgrounds as biological inferiors. (Brimelow is also a National Review alumni, and the H.L. Mencken Club’s leader, Paul Gottfried, was removed as a contributor to the magazine in the 1980s.)
At the time of his firing in August 2018, Beattie insisted to CNN he had only given a “stand-alone, academic talk titled ‘The Intelligentsia and the Right’” at the conference that contained “nothing objectionable.” But per Yahoo News, he’s also trafficked in conspiracy theories about George Soros and recently made an appearance on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show to suggest that Donald Trump is being forced out of office by a “colour revolution” orchestrated by shadowy deep state elites. (Trump subsequently lost his reelection bid.) Beattie has also written articles endorsing Trump’s Muslim ban, refused to denounce the “alt-right” as anti-Semitic, and said on a podcast in 2019 he had no regrets about his conference appearance, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Beattie’s three-year term on the commission means he could potentially retain the position long into the inbound Biden administration.
Jewish groups were furious on news of the announcement, per Yahoo News:
“It’s appalling that someone who was considered too close to xenophobic white nationalists to continue working in the Trump White House would now be appointed to a U.S. government body focused largely on the preservation of sites dedicated to the memory of Holocaust victims,” said Logan Boroff, communications director for J Street, a progressive Jewish lobbying organisation.
“It should be obvious that those who traffic in hatred of immigrants and refugees are the last people on earth who should be entrusted with honouring the victims of Nazis,” Boroff went on to say.
The Anti-Defamation League, which was founded to combat anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred, called on Trump to “immediately rescind” the appointment. “It is absolutely outrageous that someone who has consorted with racists would even be considered for a position on a commission devoted to preserving Holocaust memorials in Europe,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt in a statement.
Beattie is one of numerous individuals with close ties to the far right tapped by the White House (such as ghoulish adviser Stephen Miller) and he’s not alone in scoring a gig with the feds during Trump’s post-election lame duck period. ScienceInsider reported earlier this month that Jason Richwine, an ex-Heritage Foundation researcher with a long history of racist remarks and and advocate of a scientifically baseless IQ-ranking system for immigrants, had scored a deputy undersecretary role at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.