Dozens of State Department employees have called upon Secretary of State Antony Blinken to dismiss one of their colleagues who they describe as “openly antisemitic”.
The letter from more than 70 officials, which was first reported by Foreign Policy magazine Tuesday, says the continued employment of foreign service official Fritz Berggren “is an affront to all of us and the values we share.”
Berggren operates a website called bloodandfaith.com. On it, he calls for the creation of “Christian Nation-States”, which he says is “required for the advancement of Truth.” Other posts on the website exhort Jewish people to convert to Christianity, while others attack the LGBTQ community.
“Fathers: If you have endorsed your child’s change of genders, mark my words: In twenty years, they will curse you and spit on your grave; for you have turned them over to obliteration,” one post reads, in part. “They will hate you forever. And they will be right.”
“While there may be HR processes underway, they do not appear to be having an impact and are apparently proceeding very slowly as Berggren has been posting this content since at least 2017,” reads the letter, which was reportedly organized by the Jewish Americans and Friends in Foreign Affairs employee group at the department. “Not only is his propagation of antisemitic [sic] ideas highly disturbing and offensive to Jewish and non-Jewish employees alike, but as Jewish employees, we feel his presence at the Department is threatening.
“The connection between beliefs and action sis [sic] real and has been proven time and again, and someone who spews such vile thoughts may soon act on them,” the letter goes on.
While Politico reported on Berggren’s affiliation with the State Department back in February, the impetus for the recent letter appears to have been the discovery of a swastika carved in the wall of an elevator at the department’s Foggy Bottom headquarters on July 26. Foreign Policy reported that the letter was sent to Blinken two days later.
“While there is no evidence that Berggren is behind the swastika carved into the Department elevator, his continued employment with seemingly no consequences sends a message of impunity that has undoubtedly contributed to the atmosphere in which someone would dare to do such a thing,” the letter reads. ” … We do not believe it is possible to foster a culture of inclusion until there is accountability for those who preach hate among our ranks.”
Foreign Policy reported that Blinken responded to the letter on Aug. 9 by writing that “the Department treats reports of alleged misconduct with the utmost seriousness,” before adding that he could not comment on specific cases out of privacy concerns.
Berggren himself published a response on bloodandfaith.com, writing: “I feel like I’m in junior high school again listening to prissy girls whining about the boy who said bad words … And the teacher has to satisfy their demands for punishment.
“I’m the naughty-words boy. I say things that are ‘sexist, racist, homophobic, queerphobic, transphobic, intolerant, divisive, and anti-semitic.’The girls can’t believe someone like me exists,” he continued. “Their pony tails unravel, they stutter, their fancy shoes fall off. I’ve violated their high-minded moralities. ‘What is to be done!’ they shriek … This generation owes an apology to the Puritans.”
Berggren insisted that the website presented his own personal views and “no one would even remotely suspect they would be attached to any employer, associate, friend, or even enemy.”
He concluded his post by writing that “Americans have to stop being afraid. One can sense the delicate change of tide in the country. We are finding our voice again. From military officers to policemen, atheists to Neo-pagans, Christians to Jews, homosexuals, teachers, doctors, and moms, Blacks, Hispanics, Whites … we are sick of being told what we can say and can’t say.”
It’s not clear whether Breggren can be fired, or even disciplined, given the protection federal employees enjoy under the First Amendment.