White nationalist Richard Spencer attempted to crash the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, but he didn’t get too far.
Since he was not invited by the event’s organizers, Spencer decided to buy a ticket and go as a guest. He was seen sitting in the front row when one of the event’s organizers gave a speech entitled “The Alt Right Ain’t Right At All.”
Less than an hour later, he was removed from the conference. In a statement given to Talking Points Memo, CPAC communications director Ian Walters denounced Spencer’s views as “repugnant.”
‘He’s not welcome here. His views are repugnant and have absolutely nothing to do with what goes on here’
During the aforementioned speech, CPAC organizer Dan Schneider called the alt-right “a sinister organization that is trying to worm its way into our ranks.” He went on to warn that “They are anti-Semites. They are racists. They are not an extension of conservatism. They are nothing but garden-variety, left-wing fascists.”
While Schneider is correct to call out the alt-right as racists, he is wrong to say they aren’t conservatives. They are a reactionary movement that grew out of modern conservatism. They do, in fact, have qualities in common with fascists, but Schneider is wrong to use the term “left-wing fascists.” There is no such thing as left-wing fascism. Fascism is, by definition, a movement of the far-right.
Walters agreed with this and told TPM, “For as long as this organization has been around, we have had a moral quarantine on the kind of vile crap that comes out of his mouth.”
Spencer, on the other hand, warns that the alt-right is resonating with many people and it is foolish for the conservative establishment to ignore them.
‘What the alt right is doing is clearly resonating with people. It’s clearly resonating with young people. You can call it names or you can actually ask, why is it resonating? Why does a young white person feel alienated in the modern world?’
As if to underscore Spencer’s point, during this conversation a group of teenagers wearing red “Make America Great Again” hats recognized Spencer and started waving at him. Spencer smiled in return.
Despite CPAC’s organizers frequently denouncing the alt-right, their own ties to the movement are a bit difficult to ignore, given that Breitbart News is one of the sponsors of the event. Steve Bannon once boasted that Breitbart is the platform for the alt-right and Schneider openly praised the website and its former editor Steve Bannon.
CPAC might not want the negative press that would come with openly supporting white nationalists, but their support of Breitbart, Steve Bannon, and the Trump administration make it clear that they are fine with quietly supporting racism as long as no one calls them out on it.
Spencer himself believes that CPAC is currently in a transitionary period, but is moving in a nationalist direction. He even said that he might be able to hold a panel there in five years.
Featured image via Getty Images.