US President Donald Trump has nominated Darren Beattie, a former White House speechwriter who attended a white supremacist conference, to a government commission that monitors Holocaust sites.
Beattie, who identifies on Twitter as a “proud Jew,” attended a conference of the H.L. Mencken Club in 2016. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the conference “has hosted some of America’s most prominent white nationalist ideologues in the past [including al-right leader Richard Spencer], and serves as a safe space for professors to vent their racist views.”
Beattie appeared at the conference on a panel with Peter Brimelow, a white nationalist who runs the anti-immigrant website VDare. He worked as a White House speechwriter until shortly before CNN revealed his participation in the conference in 2018.
On Tuesday, Trump announced that he was appointing Beattie to the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad. The commission identifies and works to secure the preservation of historical sites in Europe, such as cemeteries, monuments and Holocaust killing sites, that are associated with the heritage of US citizens. It was established out of concern that European governments might neglect Jewish sites.
The Anti-Defamation League called on Trump to rescind Beattie’s appointment to the commission, which CEO Jonathan Greenblatt called “downright shocking.”
“There is no place in any presidential administration or government commission for an individual who would attend and participate in such well-known racist events,” Greenblatt said in a statement. “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.”
Beattie tweeted in response that “Greenblatt is a scam artist and no one serious respects his joke organization ADL.”
Asked for comment on his participation in the 2016 conference, Beattie referred to an op-ed he’d written in 2019. In it, he dismissed criticism for his participation at a forum once attended by neo-Nazi Richard Spencer, because the alt-right leader had not attended the conference in years and was “unwelcome” there. Moreover, Beattie said the speech he gave at the 2016 confab had not been about race.