Nativism Watch

CPAC shuns Pamela Geller but welcomes two anti-Muslim hate groups

Imagine2050 Staff • Feb 29, 2016

Notorious anti-Muslim firebrand Pamela Geller is upset that, once again, there is no place for her at the upcoming Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) scheduled to take place this week.

The American Conservative Union — the group responsible for putting on CPAC — may be upholding its ban on Geller, but it has clearly made space for other anti-Muslim groups at its large signature gathering for conservatives.

Geller writes that CPAC organizers denied her offer, on behalf of her organization the American Freedom Defense Initiative, to sponsor the conference and host a panel during the event. The panel would have brought together various European far-right, anti-Muslim figures, including Geert Wilders and Paul Weston.

“The ACU is so small and thin-skinned over the negative publicity that I gave them in the past for ignoring the jihad that they’re doing it again,” says Geller.

“The ACU is so small and thin-skinned over the negative publicity that I gave them in the past for ignoring the jihad that they’re doing it again,” she wrote.

Center for Security Policy at CPAC 2016

ACU may be able to avoid the negative attention Geller brings, but they don’t seem to have a problem with what she actually says. Frank Gaffney’s organization Center for Security Policy (CSP) brings a message much the same, but it is couched is dubious research reports and policy papers. CSP, recently designated a hate group by our friends at the Southern Poverty Law Center, will have a considerable presence at CPAC 2016, including a 4-hour session called “Countering the Global Jihad” and panelists in two other sessions.

Like Geller, Gaffney has been ostracized from the annual conference, though he is often seen lurking around the event. But other representatives of his organization can be expected to bring CSP’s signature anti-Muslim conspiracy theories and disturbing and false rhetoric about Muslims.

In an opinion piece published at Fox News, CSP’s Fred Fleitz boasted the group’s “expanded presence” at CPAC 2016. 

Fleitz will also be moderating a panel titled “Rogue States and Missile Defense” and CSP’s Jim Hanson will appear on a panel titled “Fighting for Victory Against Radicial [sic] Islamism” alongside other anti-Muslim voices such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Rep. Steve King.

ACT! for America to debut booth at CPAC

CSP is not the only vehemently anti-Muslim group that will be present at CPAC. ACT! for America, the nation’s largest anti-Muslim grassroots group, will have an exhibitor booth this year. ACT!, which is run by anti-Muslim demagogue Brigitte Gabriel, is known for using its network of chapters across the country to introduce and advocates for discriminatory policies aimed at marginalizing Muslims. Gabriel’s organization also recently earned a hate group designation from SPLC.

Geller and her anti-Muslim colleague Robert Spencer were once welcome at CPAC. The duo spoke in 2009 and 2010, but they have since been barred. They were sidelined, along with Gaffney, after pushing a conspiracy theory that ACU staffer Grover Norquist and board member Suhail Khan are agents of the Muslim Brotherhood and working to establish a “shariah-compliant” conference. Barred from the official conference, Geller, Spencer, and Gaffney instead participated in an event billed as the “Uninvited” panel, at an off-site location. Geller claims the ban had to with her criticizing CPAC for “not paying adequate attention to the jihad threat.”

Although CPAC has sought to distance itself from bigoted figures like Geller and Spencer, its decision to give an official platform to groups like ACT! and CSP shows they still have a long way to go to rid themselves of blatant anti-Muslim scapegoating and fearmongering. We’ll be on watch to see how they do.

Follow Imagine2050 staff as we live tweet from CPAC this week.

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