Rights activists and anti-racism advocates decried news from the White House this week that President Donald Trump is appointing notorious white nationalist Sebastian Gorka to the National Security Education Board, calling the decision a "slap in the face" to Jewish Americans and other marginalized communities around the country.
"President Trump's decision to rehire Sebastian Gorka, who holds close ties to white nationalist and antisemitic groups, is yet another slap in the face to Jewish Americans," Bend the Arc: Jewish Action CEO Stosh Cotler said in a statement Wednesday responding to the appointment. "White nationalists and their allies should have no place in our government."
BREAKING: President Trump just announced he intends to appoint SEBASTIAN GORKA to be a member of the National Security Education Board.
Gorka has ties to the Vitézi Rend, a far-right Hungarian group aligned with Nazis.
He is a bigot & a white nationalist.
We must #StopGorka.
— Bend the Arc: Jewish Action (@jewishaction) July 14, 2020
"Gorka's reappointment continues a pattern of shameful behavior by Trump and his allies of claiming to defend Jewish people from antisemitism while actively putting our lives in danger," Cotler added. "From enabling a growing white nationalist movement, to governing with an agenda rooted in bigotry, to popularizing dangerous conspiracy theories, Trump and Gorka are spreading fear and division that leads to violence and harassment targeting Jews, Muslims, immigrants, Asian American Pacific Islanders, and all people of color."
Sebastian Gorka is a former Breitbart contributor and currently hosts a conservative radio show. His comments and articles at Breitbart claiming Islam is an inherently violent religion drew widespread criticism.https://t.co/trIFhA9oCb
— Jade Walker (@jadewalker) July 16, 2020
SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT
Never Miss a Beat.
Get our best delivered to your inbox.
A self-described national security expert, Gorka has a long history of inflammatory comments and alliances with white supremacist groups, including Vitézi Rend, an extreme-right Hungarian group that critics say is antisemitic and racist.
As CNN reported, Gorka's credentials are at best questionable:
In 2017, CNN interviewed a dozen international security and terrorism experts and scholars who said Gorka's experience in their field is limited. They pointed out that Gorka does not speak Arabic, has done very little traveling in Muslim countries and has never worked in any official leadership or management role in foreign policy, intelligence or the military.
Nonetheless, Gorka has remained close to the White House even after leaving the administration, where he previously served as a deputy assistant to the president, in August 2017. His appointment to the National Security Education Board will give the right-wing commentator power on a panel that delivers scholarships and aid to students in the national security field and has oversight over the National Security Education Program (NSEP).
“By placing Sebastian Gorka in a position that influences national security interests, President Trump has abandoned all public pretense and decided to openly embrace extremist views." - @splcenter https://t.co/J1TWDQRAWe
— The Bridge Initiative (@bridgeinit) July 16, 2020
The appointment of someone with Gorka's views to the board sends a message, Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund president and CEO Margaret Huang said in a statement.
"The NSEP is supposed to help provide a broad pool of civil servants who understand different cultures and speak critically needed languages to work for the United States government," said Huang. "By placing someone like Gorka on the board that oversees this critical program, President Trump is sanctioning discrimination and exclusion of individuals who hold these skills that are gravely needed."
On Tuesday, the Jewish Democratic Council of America tied the appointment to Trump's nationalist agenda and increasingly racist re-election campaign.
"In the past few weeks, Trump has amplified calls for 'white power,' advertised on Facebook using Nazi images, and sold campaign shirts with the Nazi Eagle," the group said. "Now, Trump is bringing a medal-donning Nazi-sympathizer back to the White House, where he'll be in good company alongside the team driving Trump's vile 'four more years of hate' re-election campaign."