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CPAC cancels speaker over 'reprehensible views' — but keeps rest of hateful lineup

The annual conservative conference regularly features a roster of bigoted speakers.

By Donna Provencher - February 23, 2021
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Donald Trump at CPAC 2020

The Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual conference featuring conservative activists and politicians, has canceled an appearance by a panelist after his antisemitic tweets were publicized — while maintaining an entire roster of other right-wing speakers with a history of bigoted remarks.

Hip-hop performer Young Pharaoh, originally slated to speak at the event, was disinvited after Media Matters for America reported that the artist has tweeted that “Jewish people are ‘thieving fake Jews'” and that Judaism is a “complete lie” that was “made up for political gain.”

“All the censorship & pedophilia on social media is being done by Israeli Jews,” Young Pharaoh also tweeted.

Following the report, CPAC organizers tweeted a statement, saying, “We have just learned that someone we invited to CPAC has expressed reprehensible views that have no home with our conference or our organization. The individual will not be participating at our conference.”

But Young Pharaoh is far from the only speaker scheduled to speak at CPAC this year with a long history of bigoted remarks.

Donald Trump, whose long history of racism spans some 50 years, will be making his first public appearance since the inauguration of President Joe Biden at CPAC. Trump ran for president in 2016 on a platform of xenophobia against immigrants that also  characterized much of his time in office, claiming Mexican immigrants were “rapists” bringing drugs and crime across the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump also promoted the racist “birtherism” theory about former President Barack Obama, claiming he was actually born not in in the United States but in Kenya.

He encouraged hate groups for years during his administration, famously refusing to condemn white supremacy at the violent “Unite the Right” protest by right-wing extremists in Charlottesville, Virginia, that killed one person, as well as during the first presidential debate in 2020.

Over the years, Trump also made headlines for stereotyping a Black reporter by asking if she “knew” the Congressional Black Caucus personally, making flippant comments about massacres of Native Americans, and claiming in a 2016 debate that most Muslims hate America.

In 2017, he frequently attacked NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem to protest systemic racism and police brutality, and in 2018 referred to Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries.”

Donald Trump Jr. will also speak at CPAC this year. In 2019, he shared a racist tweet claiming Sen. Kamala Harris wasn’t truly Black due to being born to Indian and Jamaican immigrants, and has referred to COVID-19 using racist terminology. He’s also claimed his father couldn’t be racist because he let his son hang out with pop star Michael Jackson.

Trump Jr. has given interviews to antisemitic hate websites in the past and has made jokes about the Holocaust. He’s also repeatedly made homophobic and transphobic remarks, including slamming LGBTQ students for boycotting fast food chain Chick-fil-A because of its donations to hate groups and criticizing the inclusion of trans women athletes in women’s sports.

Republican politicians speaking at the 2021 conference include Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Tom Cotton (AR), Sen. Ted Cruz (TX), Sen. Marsha Blackburn (TN), Rep. Andy Biggs (AZ), Rep. Lauren Boebert (CO), Rep. Mo Brooks (AL), Rep. Matt Gaetz (FL), Rep. Paul Gosar (WY), and Rep. Jim Jordan (OH), all of whom have histories of racist, antisemitic, and other bigoted remarks.

DeSantis has spoken at Islamophobic events in the past and has referred to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) as “this girl … or whatever she is.”

He’s also defended a supporter who suggested Republicans ought to “bring back the hanging tree,” referred to gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, who is Black, as a “monkey,” and moderated a Facebook group that posted racist memes.

Cruz has maintained noted Islamophobes as advisers and denied the existence of systemic racism in policing, while Blackburn has drawn ire for repeated bigoted remarks about Asian Americans.

Boebert has appeared on racist podcasts and joked about wrestling with Ocasio-Cortez, while Jordan has come under fire for racism and antisemitism on numerous occasions.

Other figures making an appearance include Charlie Kirk, a right-wing activist and founder of the organization Turning Point USA; right-wing radio show host and political commentator Dan Bongino; Hans von Spakovsky of the far-right Heritage Foundation; and James O’Keefe, founder of Project Veritas, a right-wing activist group that posts secretly recorded and highly edited video footage.

Kirk’s organization, Turning Point USA, is described as an extremist hate group by the Anti-Defamation League, while von Spakovsky’s organization has denounced “critical race theory” as racist against white people. Bongino has defended the use of anti-Asian American slurs to describe the coronavirus and has repeatedly attacked immigration reform. O’Keefe has close ties to the Proud Boys hate group.

In 2019 and 2020, CPAC featured a roster of similarly bigoted speakers, including talk-show hosts Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham, famous for their xenophobic anti-immigrant rhetoric, and Candace Owens, who has made excuses for the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis by a white police officer in 2020.

By contrast, in 2020, Mitt Romney was disinvited from speaking at CPAC after voting to convict Donald Trump in his first impeachment trial.

It’s rare for CPAC to cancel a speaker over hate speech. Right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was pulled from speaking at the conference in 2017 after remarks promoting child sexual abuse, but his prior history of racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic comments did not disqualify him from speaking at CPAC previously.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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