Pete Da Tech Guy has a good analysis of CPAC's demand that I not speak about Grover Norquist's and Suhail Khan's ties to Islamic supremacists when receiving the CPAC People's Choice blog award. It is important to bear in mind that this is not a dispute between John Hawkins of Right Wing News and me. John Hawkins is just an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks. He told me he was relaying the gag order at the behest of higher ups he could not name, and for whom he is now taking the fall. Clearly there are some highly-placed people at CPAC who don't want the truth to get out about how deeply the organization is compromised to Islamic supremacists.
...Looking at the two statements and counter statements there are three basic facts that are in agreement:
1. Robert Spencer is the winner of the People’s Choice award
2. John Hawkins asked (or demanded) Robert not to bring up the CPAC/Norquist/Kahn when accepting it
3. Robert Declined that demand (or request).
Where the worm turns to me is this
A: “Did John ask Robert Spencer to not bring up any issues when accepting the award on his own initiative as a favor (as he said to me) or
B: was John asked/told to give that condition to Robert (as would be consistent which what Robert said to me about “checking with his superiors”) by TeaParty.net or someone at CPAC to keep Robert from speaking?
If it’s A, then John made a well meaning but foolish mistake, if it’s B then then it’s a much more insidious because that means John went along with the idea.
I understand the argument. People much more important that Teaparty.net are out. (Chris Christie) and they need CPAC more than CPAC needs them. Either John on his own or the Tea Party.net wanted to avoid trouble.
But while I understand the argument, my reaction is still: Are you kidding me?
Robert just lost a speaking gig at the Catholic Men’s Conference (coincidentally scheduled at the same time as CPAC this year) due to outside groups putting pressure on the church. There was absolutely no chance that he was going to agree to such a thing, it would be totally inconsistent with all he’s done to agree to be silent and as he said, it would be inconsistent with his honor and honorable behavior to say he would shut up and then speak.
Regardless of A or B this was a huge miscalculation. If Robert was just allowed to say whatever he was going to say it would have been one speech at one event at CPAC and that would be it. In fact even if he did say something stronger that what TeaParty.net or CPAC wanted they could have simply have pointed to the speech and contrasted it with the move to stop him speaking in Worcester as something to their credit.
Instead keeping him from speaking simply highlights divisions and sends the wrong message and makes this a story worth covering as opposed to just another CPAC event.
Once can argue CPAC is our host and we should respect that and if this was a dinner party or a college graduation that would be an excellent point. But this is a gathering of conservatives who are defenders of the Bill of Rights. It is impossible and incredible that a conservative group should do this....