Yesterday was Purim

It’s considered the most fun of the Jewish holidays — at least in my opinion — as observances call for delicious, jelly-filled cookies called Hamantaschen, carnivals and festivals, and costumed revelry. Also called the Festival of Lots, the holiday commemorates the salvation of the Jews from the clutches of Haman, the murderous vizier to King Ahasuerus of the Persian Achaemenid Empire (also referred to as Xerxes in other texts). The story is told in the Book of Esther in the Tanakh

In the story, Haman — a counselor to the king — tries to architect the extermination of the Jews in his land. However, the King’s bride Esther is a Jew — unbeknownst to the royal court — and flips the script on the evil Haman, surprising him with his own execution in the end. He wore a tri-corner hat, so we eat with triangular cookies filled with jams or poppyseed. 

At its heart, the story is one of courage. Of finding the strength to stand up for what is right. But also it’s a story about celebrating joy, about understanding we live in a world filled with moral ambiguities, and that with great power comes great responsibility (I may have borrowed that last line from another famous Jew named Stan Lee.).

In the last several years, we’ve seen a legion of would-be Hamans crawl out from the shadows in which they’ve been hiding, emboldened by a sweeping wave of white nationalism across the United States and far-right ideologies reestablishing footholds around the world. 

What’s most concerning is when they find their ways into positions of power—when these types of people crawl through a crack into a public service job or as an agent of a powerful authority. 

Let’s take Fritz William Berggren, for example. Berggren is the subject of a very thorough investigative piece published yesterday by Politico. The headline lays it out pretty clearly: “U.S. diplomat openly calls for Christian nation-states, rails against Jews.” 

The report says Berggren is a mid-level Foreign Service Officer for the State Department.

“According to a directory viewed by POLITICO,” the article states, “Berggren is currently assigned to a State Department unit that handles special immigrant visas for Afghans.” POLITICO noted he’s been on employee rolls at least since 2009. 

Make no mistake. This isn’t a hit piece — Berggren even shared the article on his own Facebook page along with this quote: “Thank you, Politico, truly, for spreading the word. Jesus Christ is Lord of every nation.”

Fritz Berggren’s Facebook post lauding the POLITICO article

In a nutshell: Berggren’s been publishing for years — blogs and videos as well as articles for Caprock Patriot, an über-far-right Christian Nationalist rag based in West Texas that announced it was closing down this month due to loss of advertising revenue (predictably spun into another “cancel culture” whinging). His editorial focus is deeply entrenched in Christian dogma with strong notes of white nationalism. It’s a cocktail of overtly racist, anti-Semitic, trans- and homophobic material, thousands of words deep. 

Fritz Berggren’s Facebook plea to protect white children from… something?

In a January post on his Facebook page, Berggren stated that he’s currently living overseas.

Colorado records show him as a still-active registered Republican who voted regularly in El Paso County from 2008 – 2018.

Unable to find a current phone number, I reached out via Facebook message to discuss his effusive, anti-Semitic, racist, and bigoted rhetoric; he hasn’t responded. For a detailed look into his hatred of the Jews, there’s this 5,200-word screed dated Oct. 4, 2020, on his personal blog “Blood and Faith,” titled “Jews are Not God’s Chosen People. Judeo-Christian is Anti-Christ.

Some key lines from that screed:

  • “Jesus Christ came to save the whole world from the Jews — the founders of the original Anti-Christ religion, they who are the seed of the Serpent, that brood of vipers. They invent traditions and precepts and elevate them over the word of God. They murdered Jesus Christ.”
  • “Jesus Christ identified clearly who the seed of the serpent is (the Jews) and He emphasized this in the Revelation.”
  • “The flag of the Jewish state hosts a demon star on it.”
  • “…The Jews remain anti-Christ, enemies of the Gospel, enemies of Christ, spreaders of falsehood, hypocrites, false jews, traitors, liars and children of Satan, the seed of the Serpent,  a brood of vipers.”

And, predictably, Jews aren’t the only people he hates:

Today the man-made religion has erected an entire set of moralities that are used to beat and humiliate men into obedience. And Christians have become partakers in these — it is as if the salvation of the blood of Jesus Christ is not good enough, so they supplement it with their own good works and then parade those good works in front of anti-Christ men to gain their approval.

What are these moralities? Don’t be “sexist,” “racist,” “homophobic,” “queerphobic,” “transphobic,” “anti-Semitic,” “intolerant,” “divisive,” or a “hater.” Any of the above are condemned as “Nazis,” and “Fascists,” are targeted for physical violence.

The Jews, most of all, ought to be ashamed of leading this program against people who dare to challenge their “traditions of men.” But they aren’t. They double down on it. They invent sins where there are no sins.

“Anti-Semitic,” is the sin of criticizing a Jew, or Judaism, or the current state of Israel. And that makes Jesus Christ and John the Baptist anti-Semites (never mind that the original meaning of the term “Semite” refers to all the sons of Shem, not just the Jews). When Jesus Christ taught about hell, the number one audience of those sermons was the leaders of the Jewish religion.

The Judaizers are those who would impose a burden of morality that men were never meant to carry and for which there is no justification in the Holy Scriptures.

One must mock Christians who have rejected the simple Gospel to earn the praise of men. No European man can unburden himself from the sins placed upon his back by the anti-Christs. These are meant to be unforgivable sins, and the White man is supposed to eternally do penance for the sins of existing as White people.  Penance is performed by crawling on one’s knees and kissing the feet of Blacks. Penance is done by ritual acts of self-abnegation, reparations, self-hatred, and the rejection of their own ancestors.

To say his writings are concerning would be an understatement. It’s even more concerning that his job appears to place him in an authoritative position over those he hates.

According to the POLITICO piece: 

“According to a former State Department attorney, if Berggren can show that he never used work time or U.S. government equipment to craft his writings and recordings, he might fall in a gray area in terms of whether or how the department could discipline him. The former attorney did not have direct knowledge of the case and requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. POLITICO found no examples of Berggren identifying himself as a State Department official in his online commentary.”

I have no doubt Berggren is only one of many Hamans working in the government at every level.

The greater question is—where are our Esthers?