Darren Beattie received his Ph. D. from Duke University in 2016. Almost immediately upon completion of his degree, he signed a one-year contract to be an instructor in Duke’s political science department.
That same year, I met Beattie at a conference in Baltimore, Maryland sponsored by the H. L. Mencken Club. We had both been invited to present papers that spoke, whether directly or indirectly, to the theme of that year’s meeting: “The Right Revisited.”
Because of his appearance at this conference two years ago, Beattie was fired from his position as a policy aide and speechwriter in the Trump Administration.
To hear the leftist media account, Beattie lost his job because the conference that he addressed featured speakers who are proponents of “white nationalism” and “white supremacy.”
From beginning to end, this story is a Big, Obese Lie. It is an unadulterated smear campaign designed to sabotage not Beattie but his former boss, President Trump. Beattie, who was low on the administration’s food chain, was simply another means to this end.
There are several points that the peddlers of fake news, leftist and “conservative,” aren’t interested in hearing.
Let’s Begin Debunking a Few Myths
First and most fundamentally, the Mencken Club is most emphatically not “white nationalist,” “supremacist,” “racist,” or whatever other derogatory adjectives the fake news merchants employ to smear it. The club was created for the sake of providing a forum for “the independent right,” i.e. rightist thinkers who aspire to emancipate themselves from the constraints on public political discourse imposed by the hegemon of the Republican-Democratic, “conservative/liberal” paradigm.
Simply put, the club exists in order to distinguish itself from the popular conception of American “conservatism,” a conception that equates the latter with the rhetoric and policies of the Republican Party.
Second, the Mencken Club was founded by Paul Gottfried, a Ph. D. from Yale, professor emeritus of Elizabethtown College, and a preeminent veteran scholar of European and American intellectual history whose numerous books have been translated into various languages. Gottfried is an especially astute critic of the post-World War II conservative movement in America, it’s true. Yet far from being an external observer of his subject matter, Gottfried was very much a part of it for quite some time: he served on the editorial board of Modern Age, wrote for National Review, corresponded regularly with William F. Buckley and Russell Kirk, and served in the Reagan Administration (among other things).
Another detail that neither CNN nor the Southern Poverty Law Center would dare divulge is that the founder and president of this “white supremacist” organization is Jewish. Moreover, he is a Jew whose family had to flee Hitler and the Nazis.
Third, Gottfried isn’t the only Jew associated with the “white supremacist” Mencken Club. Others include, but are not limited to, Byron Roth, Carl Horowitz, and Robert Weissberg.
All-Purpose Smears, Guilt By Association
Fourth, while the subject of race has been addressed—how could it not be in a race-obsessed age?—from the time of the club’s formation 10 years ago, this subject has never been essential to any of the conference’s themes, each of which invariably speaks to the historical, philosophical, and political-moral dimensions of the Right in Europe and America.
In other words, not only does the Mencken Club have nothing to do with white nationalism (to say nothing of “white supremacy”), it’s inaccurate to associate it with nationalism of any type—even though at least one of its speakers, Peter Brimelow, who the media is falsely claiming to be a white nationalist, explicitly self-identifies as a “civic nationalist.”
Fifth, although it is true that Richard Spencer was once involved with the Mencken Club, and while it is true that he and Gottfried were once friendly, Spencer has neither attended nor been invited to attend a Mencken Club conference for at least five years—i.e., one-half of the time that the Mencken Club has existed. To put this in perspective, it was well before Hillary Clinton and her constituents in the media catapulted Spencer to national prominence and made his the face of “the alt-right” that he ceased to have any affiliation with the Mencken Club.
Sixth, the last point aside, Richard Spencer is irrelevant here. The media, in another patent attempt to follow Hillary Clinton’s lead and link President Trump to some sinister force which it maligns with the “alt-right” label, made its poster child Spencer—a man who, mind you, has expressly admitted to socialist sympathies, self-identifies as an atheist, and whose “identitarianism,” in substance, if not always in rhetoric, belongs to an intellectual tradition distinguished on account of its critical, left-center perspective on liberalism and commonly known among political philosophers as “communitarianism.”
The media, in other words, is relying upon guilt-by-association. Even if Spencer is the raving, maniacal, threatening “white supremacist” that leftists would have us think he is—and while there may be reasons for disliking him, there never has been any evidence to support the media’s cartoon caricature—this would not mean that he was always such a figure. That Paul Gottfried and the Mencken Club severed ties with Spencer suggests that changes in Spencer’s outlook have indeed transpired since he was “discovered” by an older generation of right-leaning thinkers and writers upon graduating from Duke some years back.
The “Logic” of the Left
Now, back to Darren Beattie. If Beattie deserves to be fired because he appeared at a conference with which, say, Richard Spencer was once involved, then a whole lot of other folks deserve to be condemned similarly for the same offense. This, at any rate, is the reasoning at play here, reasoning that, though painfully unsound, is impeccably valid. Though the smearers have neither the will nor, doubtless, even the analytical prowess to recognize that argument for what it is, the truth of the matter is that the reasoning that indicts Darren Beattie of “white nationalism” or “white supremacy” boils down to this:
1) If a person holds a belief, then anyone with even the most oblique connection with that person must also hold the same belief.
2) Richard Spencer is a person who (let’s just assume, against his protestations to the contrary) holds a belief in “white nationalism” and “white supremacy.”
3) Spencer had a connection with the H. L. Mencken Club.
By way of 1-3 we get:
4) The Mencken Club must believe in “white nationalism” and “white supremacy.”
5) Darren Beattie addressed the Mencken Club.
Via 1, 4, and 5, it follows that:
6) Darren Beattie believes in “white nationalism” and “white supremacy.”
It should be obvious that the logic of this reasoning is relentless. But since the obvious seems to be lost upon an ever-growing number of folks these days, let’s state it:
7) Darren Beattie was a Claremont Institute Publius fellow and a contributor to American Greatness, a publication associated with Claremont by virtue of its editors’ prior employment there.
From 1, 6, and 7, we arrive at:
8) The Claremont Institute and American Greatness believe in “white nationalism” and “white supremacy.”
Of course, if Beattie is the “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” that the media is now implying, then, by this reasoning, it follows inescapably that Duke University is also guilty on these grounds for enrolling Beattie as a student and for allowing him to teach its students when he completed his doctorate.
If Beattie is a “white nationalist” and “white supremacist,” then so too is every single one of the 125 or so people who lent their signatures to “Scholars and Writers for America,” a statement in support of then-candidate Donald J. Trump for the presidency. So if Beattie is a “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” for having appeared at a conference that the leftist media (dishonestly) assures us featured speakers who were “white nationalist” and “white supremacist,” then so, too, are the following figures similarly guilty for having featured their signatures alongside that of Beattie’s:
Newt and Callista Gingrich;
Timothy Caspar of Hillsdale College;
Thomas G. West, also of Hillsdale College;
Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.;
Ralph A. Rossum, of Claremont McKenna College;
Deroy Murdock, black columnist for The Wall Street Journal and Fox News contributor;
Thomas Lifson of American Thinker;
Charles Kesler, editor of the Claremont Review of Books;
Roger Kimball, editor and publisher of The New Criterion and Encounter Books;
Carol Iannone, editor of Academic Questions, of the National Association of Scholars;
Frank Buckley, of George Mason University and writer for The New York Post;
and William J. Bennett.
There are plenty of others, including yours truly, who must be guilty of “white nationalism” and “white supremacy” according to the reasoning that has been used to convict both Beattie and the Mencken Club of these charges.
Of course, Beattie also has written at least one article for National Review. The editorial board and everyone who has ever contributed to this magazine, we must conclude, are also “white nationalist” and “white supremacist.”
Good Men Doing Nothing
But all of this is an exercise in nonsense. The truth is that Beattie is entirely innocent of the bogus accusations that have been brought against him. The paper he presented to the Mencken Club not only had nothing to do with “white nationalism” and “white supremacy,” it had nothing whatsoever to do with race. It was a philosophically heavy presentation with the title, “Intelligentsia and The Right.”
The truth is, as I was at pains to note above, the Mencken Club is not “white nationalist” or “white supremacist.” Given the Jewishness of its founder and president, the active and regular participation of Jewish scholars and blacks (including one man, a military veteran who never misses a meeting), it would be a strange sort of “racist” organization that accommodated such demographics.
A final point: The source of the accusations against Beattie and the Mencken Club is the same dubious, indeed, discredited source: the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC consists of militant, profiteering leftists who vilify such mainstream Republicans as Dennis Prager, for example, in the same terms they use to demonize the “independent right” of the Mencken Club.
And yet, neither Beattie nor the Mencken Club has received much in the way of moral support from those with the resources to supply it, those who either are already in the crosshairs of the smear merchants like the SPLC or who will be soon enough.
It is especially upsetting to see what Beattie has been made to endure. He’s small fish and so was disposed of in short order (unlike Larry Kudlow against whom the same perpetrators tried using the very same tactic, with some of the same players, the day after they succeeded in ruining Beattie’s reputation). And many of his friends, those in the Conservatism, Inc. and who know that Beattie has been cranked through the ringer unjustly, have left him out to dry.
I don’t know Beattie well, and certainly not nearly as well as many of those who can come to his defense but refuse to do so. Moreover, unlike those within Conservatism, Inc. who are nearing the twilight of their careers or who are financially well-off, some of us are younger, and much more vulnerable professionally and economically. Yet as Burke famously remarked, the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.
Darren Beattie has been treated wickedly because he held a position in the Trump Administration. It’s time for good people to do something.
Photo Credit: Family Research Council