Saturday, March 16, 2013

CPAC 2013: The racism at CPAC

by Hunter
CPAC banner with dinosaurs and the goposaur
Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 07:50 PM PDT
The needed introduction: yep, I'm at CPAC right now. And while Thursday was relatively sedate and businesslike, on Friday, all hell broke loose and then some. First off, the elephant in the room full of elephants. So, this happened:
A panel at the Conservative Political Action Committee on Republican minority outreach exploded into controversy on Friday afternoon, after an audience member defended slavery as good for African-Americans. The exchange occurred after an audience member from North Carolina, 30-year-old Scott Terry, asked whether Republicans could endorse races remaining separate but equal. After the presenter, K. Carl Smith of Frederick Douglass Republicans, answered by referencing a letter by Frederick Douglass forgiving his former master, the audience member said “For what? For feeding him and housing him?” Several people in the audience cheered and applauded Terry’s outburst.
And then, yes, everything went to hell. Much, much more below the fold.
The above video was from a panel called, portentously, "Trump the Race Card: Are You Sick and Tired of Being Called a Racist and You Know You're Not One?" The premise of the panel was how to reach out to black Americans, or at least, to offer up some (rather dim, it seems) arguments to use to convince black Americans that the Republican Party does not, in fact, fantastically and ambitiously suck.
That was the plan. In practice, things turned out to be a wreck:
[Black non-conservative radio host Kim Brown], who took offense at the suggestion modern Democrats were descendants of the KKK, tried to ask a question later once things finally calmed down. She was booed and screamed at by audience members. “Let someone else speak!” one attendee in Revolutionary War garb shouted.
“You’re not welcome!” a white-haired older woman yelled.
A wreck? Oh yeah, a wreck:
[Terry] also claimed that African-Americans “should be allowed to vote in Africa,” and that “all the Tea Parties” were concerned with the same racial problems that he was. At one point, a woman challenged him on the Republican Party’s roots, to which Terry responded, “I didn’t know the legacy of the Republican Party included women correcting men in public.”
Similar moments of uproar extended even into the hallways: at around the same time, a black attendee got into a heated exchange with a staffer and others over the nearly non-existent presence of other black Americans at the conference. Where to begin?

First off, when you hang out with full-on white supremacist fucksticks, you don't get to say you don't have a racism problem. In the span of only a few minutes, this clown decimated (no doubt, to his own pleasure) the notion that the conservative moderator was very invested in trying to sell, which is that Democrats are the party of the KKK, etc., etc,. and so on. A lovely argument, and all you have to do to believe it is completely ignore the last fifty years of history, the civil rights movement, segregation, the Southern Strategy, and so on. Both a black member of the audience and mister white supremacist fuckstick called the moderator out on it, the black woman for the obvious ridiculousness of trying to push all of racism off on the Democratic Party, and this twerp, who simply wanted to be recognized as a proud white supremacist fuckstick and why couldn't it be the black moderator who went off and formed his own black-tolerating party, so that white supremacist fucksticks wouldn't get all bent out of shape about having to put up with this tolerance stuff?

If there was ever a perfect demonstration of the problem, this has got to be it. This one should be bronzed and put in a park somewhere. This, right here, is the problem the current conservative movement faces in courting minority voters. Flat-out racism within some elements of the movement, and an intolerance for smarmy bullshit on the part of many of the minority voters they're trying to sell to.

I was, due to a scheduling botch on my part and to my ETERNAL GODDAMN EFFING SORROW, not at this particular panel. Thankfully, it looks like press abounded there, and ThinkProgress even got there with a video camera (good, good work there, y'all.) It was held in one of the smallest rooms, in the Chesapeake section, one of those panels that for some reason panel organizers either thought nobody would actually go to or were kind of hoping nobody would go to—take your pick.

A couple of things to note:

This guy is indeed an actual white nationalist, and proudly identifies with the tea party groups, saying at one point that "all the tea parties" agree with him. That matches up pretty tightly with what I've seen here. It's the tea partiers, a mostly but not entirely older crowd, that are the staunchest old-school crabs and bigots. Find someone at the conference who is bent out of shape about "the homosexuals", or someone who seems to have the same attitudes towards race as your creepy kinda-racist grandma, or someone who holds outright conspiracy theories as obvious truths, and they're very likely to identify as tea partiers. The tea party is insistently billed as an anti-tax group and nothing else, but in practice they're a hodge-podge of far-right cranks and unredeemed jagoffs.

The (mosty much younger) libertarian types have different attitudes, and they really are more of what the tea partiers always bill themselves as. They're get-the-government-out-of-everything cranks first, social conservatives second.

Take a look at the video, and check out the reactions from the young members of the audience as racist fuckstick guy launches into his speech. It's like they can't quite believe the crap they're hearing. Most attendees here are not white supremacist fucksticks.

But: you'll notice that the outright racist was, apparently, left free to the halls after disrupting the entire presentation with his bullying white supremacist fuckstickery. The black man arguing about the lily-white attendance at the conference was booted. The black woman who was angry at the speaker's notion that the Democrats were the racists and the Republicans weren't was treated more harshly than the actual racist fuckstick making actual racist fuckstick points. And that, too, speaks to something deep and nasty here. To wit: it is better to be even a total white supremacist fuckstick than to be a black woman who's pissed off at obviously propagandizing sidestepping of racial issues, or, heaven forbid, to be a perceived liberal.

Speaker after speaker here is full of stories about the evil liberals who want to do such and such. The panelists discussing the dangers of the U.N. are certain that American liberals want the United Nations to do an "end run around the Constitution." A panelist on a discussion on GMOs and other food issues states without hesitation that the liberals want to shut down all the fast food places, and ban all the foods that aren't healthy (a co-panelist opines soon afterward that H2O is a chemical too, and says that it has never been proven that "chemicals", even "manmade" chemicals, cause harm.

Gawd, the conversations these people have with themselves.) Liberals also want to register all the guns so that they can confiscate them, and liberals want the U.N. to be able to take your children, and they hate Mother's Day, and climate change talk is just the sort of thing the liberals want you to believe, because science is liberal and crooked and there's simply nothing more to it than that.

From Wayne LaPierre to Rand Paul to Paul Ryan to every-last-damn-everyone, the speakers at the conference all reference some unholy strawman of liberalism so terrifying and so very bent on some insane but fluffy totalitarianism world doom of doomness that it's a wonder any of these people even dare leave the house in the morning. It's universal, and one of the reliable applause lines. By mid-day Friday I'm more than half tempted to just stand in a crowded hallway and loudly say "I am a liberal!", because if these people really believed even half of what they say it'd start a damn stampede as everyone fled the building before I could oppress them. It's that ridiculous.

So yes, being an irritated black woman or being a perceived liberal is seen as a greater crime, and worthy of more open distrust and hostility, than being an openly white supremacist fuckstick. That is the kind of racism that exists here. It is a crowd that is not at all racist so long as there aren't any black people around. It is a crowd that is quite sure conservative racism is either dead or never really ever existed, so long as nobody dares bring the subject up.

It is a crowd that will not rebut, condemn, and boot the white supremacist fucksticks from the conversation, because even that is a lesser crime than being not part of the movement at all. And that, unambiguously, is the kind of racism that still pervades here.

Originally posted to Hunter on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 07:50 PM PDT.

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