A letter from Claremont Institute President Ryan Williams to Nicolas Berggruen and Nathan Gardels of the Berggruen Institute

September 22, 2020

Nicolas Berggruen
Chairman and Founder

Nathan Gardels
Co-Founder + Editor-in-Chief of Noema Magazine

Berggruen Institute
Bradbury Building
304 S. Broadway, Suite 500
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Dear Mr. Berggruen and Mr. Gardels:

As you may by now be aware, on Monday, September 21, 2020, your employee, Nils Gilman, tweeted what is tantamount to a death threat against Michael Anton, a Senior Fellow at the Claremont Institute. Specifically, Mr. Gilman compared Mr. Anton to Robert Brasillach, a Frenchman who was executed by firing squad in 1945 for what have been characterized as “intellectual crimes.” Still more specifically, Mr. Gilman wrote that “Michael Anton is the Robert Brasillach of our times and deserves the same fate,” which can only be interpreted to mean that Mr. Gilman is approving of, if not calling for, Mr. Anton to be shot to death.

This is incitement to political violence. Mr. Gilman has yet to retract his inflammatory words.

Is the official position of the Berggruen Institute that its political opponents should be killed? Does the Berggruen Institute countenance or tolerate advocacy of political violence by its employees? If not, why has the Berggruen Institute not disavowed this threat? Why has the Berggruen Institute not terminated the employment of Nils Gilman?

The Claremont Institute takes threats against our fellows very seriously. We have reported the threat to relevant authorities and are exploring other legal options. We would welcome your assurances that the Berggruen Institute absolutely rejects political violence and/or the endorsement or incitement of political violence.

The public rejection of political violence is particularly important now, as our national political dialogue remains at a fever pitch and unruly and often violent mobs range across many of our cities.

The continued employment of Mr. Gilman at the Berggruen Institute, and the refusal of the Berggruen Institute to reject Mr. Gilman’s implied threat of violence against our senior fellow, Mr. Anton, is in essence the Berggruen Institute’s official endorsement of political violence against its perceived enemies.

As president of the Claremont Institute, I call on you immediately to disavow, explicitly and publicly, political violence against Michael Anton or anyone else. Failure to do so will constitute an endorsement of political violence by the Berggruen Institute, its staff, and its donors.


Ryan P. Williams

is the President of the Claremont Institute. He is the Publisher of the Claremont Review of Books and The American Mind.

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