status update

U.S. diplomat with antisemitic, racist blog still employed by State Dept.

Fritz Berggren, a foreign service officer, operates a website that urges the creation of a Christian nation-state in the U.S.

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The Department of State in Washington, D.C.

Nearly a year and a half after a U.S. foreign service officer was revealed to be the author of a racist and antisemitic blog, he is still employed at the State Department — and he still posts on the website on a near-daily basis.

Fritz Berggren, who has worked with Afghan immigrants and in Bahrain, runs a website called BloodAndFaith.com that frequently assails the Jewish faith, members of the LGBTQ community and Black Americans, and argues that the United States should be a Christian nation-state. In February 2021, Politico first reported Berggren’s connection to the site, where his name is displayed prominently. (His State Department affiliation is not listed on the website.)

“Mr. Berggren is still a department employee,” a State Department spokesperson told Jewish Insider this month. “We cannot comment on individual personnel matters,” the spokesperson said, but added that “allegations that an employee has violated a law, regulation, or department policy are taken seriously.” 

A year ago, 70 Jewish State Department employees wrote a letter to Secretary of State Tony Blinken demanding that Berggren be fired. Blinken, who has sought to champion diversity within the department, responded by saying that employees who are investigated for discriminatory behavior could face disciplinary action “up to and including separation when warranted,” Foreign Policy reported

“We can’t build lasting diversity without first building an environment where all people are valued,” Blinken said in an April 2021 speech announcing the appointment of Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley as the department’s chief diversity and inclusion officer. “That’s the foundation. Laying it is going to be hard work, but I consider it one of my greatest responsibilities as secretary of state.”

The spokesperson would not say what Berggren’s current posting is, or whether he has been disciplined for his conduct. “The department does not take such [disciplinary] actions lightly and must comply with all required procedures before doing so,” the spokesperson said. 

Firing a foreign service officer is a difficult task: As commissioned officers, they have certain job protections, and the government’s burden of proof that misconduct is worthy of dismissal is high. Federal regulations allow the secretary of state to “separate” a member from the Foreign Service for any reason, as long as it relates to the “efficiency of the service.” 

“This, to me, is so egregious, and so blatantly hate language. But I don’t know if he’s claiming that it’s his freedom of speech, or that he hasn’t threatened anybody,” a retired senior foreign service officer, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive personnel matters, told JI. 

Officers who face disciplinary action from the department can formally challenge their punishments, and they often do. “I would suspect the State Department’s trying to avoid a lawsuit, because he will just say, ‘Those are my religious beliefs,’” the retired officer said. “It sounds like this guy is absolutely unrepentant, and then he just keeps going, which makes me think that he has figured out where the line is, that as long as he doesn’t do something or incite violence or call for an attack on … as long as [he says], ‘Well, this is just my religious belief.’”

Berggren, who earned a doctorate in history in 2001 from the University of Miami, often writes about religion. 

“This is a divide that may not be bridged. Who will stand with Christ? Who will stand with the Jews? You cannot stand with both,” he wrote in January. The next day, in a longer post lamenting Jews’ alleged ability to control “the narrative,” he wrote: “We continue that fight against the Jews, who fight against the Prince of God, Jesus Christ.”

The About page of his website, which he created in 2017, urges white Americans to form stronger racial bonds. “Europeans must reclaim their blood and faith, just as Blacks are proud and hispanics have very strong blood identity organizations,” argued Berggren

A swastika was discovered etched in a State Department elevator near the office of the special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism in July 2021. The department was unable to identify the person who carved the swastika, department spokesperson Ned Price said in May.