CPAC Once Again Shuts Out Gay & Atheist Groups, Welcomes White Nationalists

The Institute For Research & Education on Human Rights points out today that the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is once again welcoming a white nationalist group, even while shunning organizations that represent LGBT and atheist conservatives.

IREHR reports that ProEnglish is sponsoring a booth at this week’s CPAC, which costs exhibitors $4,000 in exchange for official recognition and promotion from conference organizers. ProEnglish is an anti-immigrant “English only” group led by Bob Vandervoort,  who previously headed a white nationalist group and who has fretted about the “cultural and racial dispossession of the West’s historic people” and the coming of a “post-Western America.” Vandervoort has also written about supposed “racial differences” in “intelligence and temperament.”

ProEnglish is part of the network of anti-immigrant groups connected to white nationalist John Tanton. The Center for New Community explains:

ProEnglish was established in 1994 with the oversight of its founding chairman, the white nationalist John Tanton. In fact, it is Tanton’s second English language interest group, formed after he left the first, U.S. English, after a racially charged memo that surfaced in 1988.

While Vandervoort’s group was apparently not too controversial for the conference, two other groups were. Late last month, the American Conservative Union, which organizes CPAC, abruptly canceled the exhibition booth of the group American Atheists after an outcry from Religious Right groups. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said of the planned inclusion of the atheist group, "Does the American Conservative Union really think the liberties and values they seek to preserve can be maintained when they partner with individuals and organizations that are undermining the understanding that our liberties come from God? Thomas Jefferson warned against such nonsense."

CPAC’s organizers also prevented the gay conservative group GOPround from sponsoring a booth, although they magnanimously allowed GOProud’s leaders to “attend as guests,” causing a cofounder of the group to resign.

Similar dramas have played out in each of the last few years. In 2012, CPAC banned GOProud but allowed two white nationalists, including Vandervoort, to appear on an anti-multiculturalism panel. Last year, GOProud was banned once again but ProEnglish was allowed to host a booth.

Interestingly, one of CPAC’s “participating sponsors” this year is Facebook, which has been working to push GOP toward immigration reform. We wonder how they feel about sponsoring a conference that welcomes the participation of an anti-immigrant white nationalist group?