One of the most prevalent criticisms of the Trump White House, particularly from people of color, has been the president espouses racist worldviews and has invited people who promote white supremacy into the highest levels of government.
But while Trump and his staff continue to publicly reject such allegations and express outrage when they are made — think calling for “SportsCenter” host Jemele Hill to be fired — it is difficult for some Americans not to connect this presidency with the discriminatory worldview of white supremacy. The difficulty is compounded when staffers are unapologetic about working alongside those who align with white supremacists.
That was the case with former White House speechwriter Darren Beattie, who was fired last week after CNN reported he had spoken at a 2016 conference alongside a well-known white nationalist.
Beattie gave The Washington Post a statement about his talk at that gathering:
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 said in the statement. “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.
We haven’t yet seen any recordings or transcript of his speech, so we do not know whether Beattie’s words were “objectionable” or not. But he seems to see nothing wrong with having participated on a panel with Peter Brimelow, whom The Post’s Robert Costa described as subscribing to “racial nationalism” and who sees the future of the United States “precipitating out on racial lines.” That Beattie would appear with Brimelow and go on to a taxpayer-funded job in the White House is a matter of concern to a significant number of Americans.
After white nationalists organized the Unite the Right rally last year in Charlottesville, in defense of Confederate monuments, Trump called them “very fine people.” A few months later, most Americans said they believed Trump is racist, according to the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
While the president has said he did not “need” the endorsement of former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke, it appears that white supremacists such as Duke certainly think they need Trump to fulfill their vision of America.
“Voting against Donald Trump at this point is really treason to your heritage,” Duke said during the presidential campaign on his radio program. “I’m not saying I endorse everything about Trump, in fact I haven’t formally endorsed him. But I do support his candidacy, and I support voting for him as a strategic action. I hope he does everything we hope he will do.”
Comments like Duke’s — and the KKK’s official endorsement of Trump — presumably help explain why nearly 60 percent of Americans who responded to a Quinnipiac poll in the aftermath of the Charlottesville clashes said they believe Trump’s decisions and behavior have encouraged white supremacist groups.
The revelations about Beattie — coming the same week Omarosa Manigault Newman, once the White House’s only black senior staffer, made the rounds on cable news repeatedly claiming her former boss was a racist who used slurs against black people — have served to reinforce many Americans' belief that the Trump administration is not interested in making America great for people who are not white.
Although some Trump supporters, including some black Americans, dismiss that perception as absurd, as long as reports continue to drip out from the White House suggesting otherwise, it is one that will linger.