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White House adviser storms out of panel after he’s asked about ties to Nazi sympathizers

Sebastian Gorka also accused a student of “cultural appropriation and arrogance.”

Sebastian Gorka (left) walks out from panel at Georgetown University. CREDIT: Screengrab
Sebastian Gorka (left) walks out from panel at Georgetown University. CREDIT: Screengrab

White House adviser Sebastian Gorka walked out of a panel Monday after Georgetown students asked him explain his controversial past and affiliation with Nazi sympathizers.

In a roughly six-minute exchange with students at the Georgetown University cybersecurity conference — entitled “News, Alternative Facts, and Propaganda: The Role of Cyber in Influence Operations” — Gorka was asked to explain his past anti-Muslim rhetoric as well as his affiliation with Vitezi Rend, a group founded by a Nazi collaborator. It has been reported that Gorka, who lived in Hungary for years, is a member of the group, which has deep ties to anti-Semites and neo-fascists. He also reportedly co-founded a far-right political party that’s often described as fascist.

As some students looked on and quietly held protest signs, Gorka dismissed allegations he belongs to Vitezi Rend as a “fake news propaganda campaign.” He raised his voice when defending his father’s medal from the “anti-Communist organization,” claiming the recognition was for his father’s “resistance to fascist and Communist dictatorship.”

Video of the exchange was later posted to Twitter by Georgetown student and event organizer Sarah Clements.

Hungarian scholars point out the knightly order was founded by Miklos Horthy, “who oversaw the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust,” Talking Points memo previously reported.

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Gorka also got into a heated exchange with Georgetown student Roey Hadar who asked whether a piece Gorka wrote for the right-wing website Breitbart using “anti-Muslim rhetoric” may “legitimize groups like Daesh and Al-Qaeda.”

“Could you quote for me exactly what I said,” Gorka responded.

Hadar said he was referring to a Breitbart piece Gorka wrote in the summer of 2014. That piece, which accused the New York Times and the Washington Post of “shilling for the Jihadis,” still remains on the Breitbart website.

CREDIT: Screengrab
CREDIT: Screengrab

“Word for word, verbatim,” Gorka said, interrupting Hadar. “No. If you’re going to sling accusations against me, a word-for-word verbatim quote because you are lying or misinformed.”

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“It’s clear you’ve never read anything I’ve written,” Gorka said defensively. “I spent six and a half years in the Defense Department teaching Muslim officers — half of my students at Fort McNair were Muslim officers — if I had done anything the likes of which you accused me of, I wouldn’t have been able to work for 6.5 years as a Defense Department employee.”

Gorka said he “worked closely” with students from Arab countries, claiming when his students tell him “these guys are takfiri jihadists, you know what, I think it’s cultural arrogance for me not to agree with them.” (Takfiri refers a Muslim who accuses another Muslim of being an enemy of Islam.)

Gorka went on to accuse the student of “cultural appropriation and arrogance” and pretending to know more than a Muslim “fighting jihadis on his back door.”

“Just a clarification question, do you speak Arabic,” Hadar shot back.

“Do I need to?” Gorka responded, before saying he didn’t need to know Arabic to understand Muslim culture.

Gorka later walked out after a query from a Georgetown scientist who asked whether he really did draw up a plan to split Libya into three parts on a napkin, as reported by The Guardian, and whether that could “jeopardize the U.S. ability as a peace broker when the country is biased towards those countries.”

Gorka denied the “absurd” idea, before accusing “fake news” of jeopardizing global stability.

“Does that kind of story endanger peace-brokering in the Middle East?,” Gorka responded. “No. The people who write fake news definitely jeopardize stability all around the world.”

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Gorka then said he would allow other panelists a chance to answer questions and walked out. Georgetown University later explained that Gorka was scheduled to leave by 1:30 p.m., but it was unannounced at the time he departed.