Last year we wrote about how CPAC allowed notorious white nationalists to speak on multiple panels but banned the gay conservative group GOProud. This year the CPAC organizers, who aren’t entirely oblivious to the 2012 election, are trying to emphasize diversity. There’s even a panel entitled, “Conservative Inclusion: Promoting the Freedom Message to all Americans,” which boasts a racially diverse lineup of conservative activists.
“Conservative inclusion” is a nice idea, but it doesn’t go very far at CPAC. For the second year in a row, the gay conservative group GOProud has been banned from the conference. So at best, “inclusion” at CPAC means “straights only.”
Even more telling is the roster of sponsors and exhibitors at CPAC. Most troubling is the inclusion of the anti-immigrant group ProEnglish, which is run by longtime white nationalist organizer Bob Vandervoort. The Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights has reported extensively on his activities:
Vandervoort was at the center of white nationalist activity during his time in Illinois. While he was in charge, Chicagoland Friends of American Renaissance often held joint meetings with the local chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens. The group held events featuring numerous white nationalist figures. Vandervoort also made appearances at white nationalist events outside Illinois, for instance participating in the 2009 Preserving Western Civilization Conference.
When CPAC and its organizers at the American Conservative Union were widely criticized last year for allowing Vandervoort and other white nationalists to speak on multiple panels, the conference organizers played dumb:
“This panel was not organized by the ACU,” CPAC spokeswoman Kristy Campbell told The Daily Caller, ”and specific questions on the event, content or speakers should be directed to the sponsoring organization.”
There’s no such excuse this year. CPAC knew all too well about Vandervoort’s white nationalist background and yet they allowed his group to return. Apparently “conservative inclusion” means shunning gays while including racists.
The reality is that CPAC couldn’t open its doors to gay conservatives even if it wanted to. As Brian reported last week, the head of CPAC sponsor Accuracy In Media is not only pleased with the GOProud ban, he wants to see a panel at the conference on “the dangers of the homosexual movement and why some of its members seem prone to violence, terror, and treason.”
Another important sponsor is the Family Research Council, which has been designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-gay hate group. The group’s top policy expert, Peter Sprigg, explicitly supports the criminalization of homosexuality, and readers of this blog are familiar with FRC’s aggressive and dehumanizing advocacy against gays and lesbians. There is no compromising on gays with extremists like these.
As we’ve reported, GOProud isn’t the only group banned this year. Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, co-founders of the Freedom Defense Initiative, are vicious Islamophobes and conspiracy theorists. Had CPAC banned them for spreading lies and fomenting hate against Muslims, it would be a sign of progress. But Geller and Spencer were really banned for having made the mistake of extending their Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy theory to include two American Conservative Union board members, Suhail Khan and Grover Norquist.
In past years, ACU has happily given Geller and company a platform to bash Muslims. And Spencer, who runs the blog “Jihad Watch,” overwhelmingly won this year’s CPAC People’s Choice Blogger Award. But their paranoid rantings hit too close to home this year, so CPAC pulled the plug. Even “conservative inclusion” has its limits.