Surprise: Donald Trump appointees are having a bad month in the category of “associating with fascists.” In August, the White House fired speechwriter Darren Beattie after it came out that he appeared in a 2016 conference featuring British white nationalist Peter Brimelow, and the DHS accepted the resignation of Ian M. Smith, a policy analyst who was shown to be socializing with Neo-Nazis when his emails were published in The Atlantic. Although Trump chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow didn’t suffer any known professional consequences, it was certainly an embarrassment for the White House when the Washington Post reported that Kudlow hosted Brimelow as a guest at Kudlow’s birthday party. Especially since that report came on the heels of Beattie’s dismissal.
Earlier this month, CNN’s KFile reported that Beattie, a former Duke University professor, spoke at the 2016 H.L. Mencken Club Conference, a gathering that the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as “having hosted some of America’s most prominent white nationalist ideologues in the past, and serves as a safe space for professors to vent their racist views, something they clearly had to keep quiet during their time in academia.” Among the featured guests that year were an assortment of alt-right, far right, and hard-line anti-immigration activists, including Brimelow, who runs the white nationalist website Vdare, which provides a platform for writers with views too extreme for Breitbart.
“In 2016 I attended the Mencken conference in question and delivered a stand-alone, academic talk titled ‘The Intelligentsia and the Right.’ I said nothing objectionable and stand by my remarks completely,” Beattie told CNN. “It was the honor of my life to serve in the Trump Administration. I love President Trump, who is a fearless American hero, and continue to support him one hundred percent. I have no further comment.”
Even acknowledging Beattie’s claim that his speech contained “nothing objectionable,” we can all agree that attending a conference frequently attended by Richard Spencer is actually objectionable.
Just days after Beattie left the White House over merely attending the shady conference as Brimelow, the Washington Post reported that Kudlow and Brimelow are old buddies, the latter of which was a recent guest at Kudlow’s birthday party in his Connecticut home. From the Post:
Kudlow said Tuesday that Brimelow was a guest at his birthday party at his Connecticut home and is someone he has known “forever,” going back to their work in financial journalism. Kudlow expressed regret when he was described details of Brimelow’s promotion of white nationalists on Vdare.com.
“If I had known this, we would never have invited him,” Kudlow said. “I’m disappointed and saddened to hear about it.”
Kudlow went on to explain that he and Brimelow have been dinner party pals for years, but the fact that Brimelow hosted a site that regularly published alt-right goons and writers whose views on race and immigration are far too extreme for mainstream publications and was a prominent enough figure to be invited to conferences espousing those views somehow simply never came up:
Kudlow said that Brimelow’s views on immigration and race are “a side of Peter that I don’t know, and I totally, utterly disagree with that point of view and have my whole life. I’m a civil rights Republican.”
Kudlow remains Trump’s chief economic adviser.
Smith resigned from his position as a policy analyst working on immigration issues when The Atlantic dug up emails from 2014 to 2016 showing him being chummy with alt-right figures and white supremacists. Richard Spencer and racist think tank New Century Foundation founder Jared Taylor were looped into emails planning a dinner party gathering between their associates and Smith. In one exchange, Smith joked about Third Reich parlance when Marcus Epstein, a white nationalist who pleaded guilty to a 2007 charge of assaulting a black woman, had to bow out of plans. From The Atlantic:
Epstein replied to the thread saying he wasn’t going to NPI either but was planning to socialize with people who were, and that “I can’t speak for everyone, but this is probably not the best time.” Zapp responded, “It’s a dinner, not a party—thus the having to get out by 9:30 or 10 at the latest. I would imagine this would start on the early side, like 7:00 or even earlier. So it’s settled—we know my home shall remain judenfrei.” Judenfrei is a German word meaning “free of Jews,” which the Nazis used to describe areas from which Jews had been expelled or killed.
Smith responded to the group: “They don’t call it Freitag for nothing,” using the German word for “Friday,” and added, “I was planning to hit the bar during the dinner hours and talk to people like Matt Parrot [sic], etc. I should have time to pop by though.”
If Parrot’s name sounds familiar, it’s because the Charlotteville attendee made headlines earlier this year when his neo-Nazi Traditionalist Worker Party imploded amid an inter-family love quadrangle and trailer park fisticuffs.
“The Department of Homeland Security is committed to combating all forms of violent extremism, especially movements that espouse racial supremacy or bigotry,” DHS spokesman Tyler Q. Houlton told The Atlantic. “This type of radical ideology runs counter to the Department’s mission of keeping America safe.”
According to sources speaking to the Washington Post, Smith attended several White House meetings on immigration policy led by far right anti-immigration hardliner and sleepy ghoul, Stephen Miller. From the Post:
He joined the department as an immigration policy analyst in 2017 and focused on refugee issues and temporary worker visas, according to former colleagues. He also worked on an effort, led by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, to expand the “Public Charge” rule by penalizing more legal immigrants who use tax credits or accept government benefits.
Critics of that proposal say it is part of a concerted attempt to reduce the number of foreigners living in the United States, while forcing immigrants to choose between seeking help and jeopardizing their legal status.
Sounds about right.
In any case, it’s funny how this keeps happening to members of the Trump administration.