The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) has never been much interested in hosting honest discussion of the jihad terror threat. I was on a panel there in 2003, and in 2007 debated both Dinesh D’Souza and “moderator” Suhail Khan on Islam and the jihad threat (partial video here). I was on various AFDI panels while we were still able to have them there, but I haven’t been back since Suhail Khan flew into a hysterical rage at CPAC 2012 when I challenged him to debate, except for an appearance on Breitbart’s “Uninvited” panel in 2013.
Not only has CPAC consistently dissembled about the nature and magnitude of the jihad threat, but it has also shown a disturbing tendency to dance to the tune of the Left. Saul Alinsky’s 13th Rule for Radicals is “‘Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.‘ Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.” The Left consistently does this; in the case of counter-jihadis (including me), it presents our statements, however correct and demonstrable, as egregious and individual to us — that’s freezing and personalizing the target. Then Leftists move to “cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy,” demanding that others on the Right disavow and condemn, or at very least shun, the target. And establishment conservatives have always willingly played along, allowing their associations and allies to be dictated by their enemies.
I’ve been the recipient of both the Alinsky treatment and the shunning from caitiffs on the Right, including CPAC, for years, but I’ve never seen a more nauseating example of CPAC’s cravenness, cowardliness and dishonesty than what has played out with my colleague Pamela Geller over the last ten days. Since last September, Geller has been trying to get a room at CPAC for an AFDI event, even offering to pay sponsorship fees, which are pricey, since sponsoring organizations are given a room in which they can hold an event. CPAC stonewalled and ran out the clock. Finally on February 14, she submitted a proposal for a panel discussion entitled “Suppression of Conservative Views on Social Media: A First Amendment Issue.” She added a list of proposed speakers, including James Damore, Google whistleblower; Harmeet K. Dhillon, renowned free speech attorney; Dan Gainor, Vice President for Business and Culture, Media Research Center; Jim Hoft, Editor-in-Chief, Gateway Pundit; James O’Keefe, Project Veritas; and Marlene Jaeckel, Tech Entrepreneur. I know this because I consulted with Pamela Geller at the time about the focus of this panel and who the speakers should be, before she submitted this proposal to CPAC.
CPAC’s Dan Schneider and Matt Schlapp approved this panel, but would not let it be an AFDI event. Schneider and Schlapp insisted that the panel be sponsored by the American Principles Project (APP), which neither Geller nor I had ever heard of. Otherwise, however, they made no changes — until shortly thereafter, when Hoft enraged the Leftist establishment by noting what has been likewise observed by many people — that the pro-gun control students speaking out in the wake of the Florida school shooting appeared coached. As condemnations rained down on Hoft from the likes of Chelsea Clinton and Paul Krugman, CPAC again rushed to do the Left’s bidding. APP top dog Terry Schilling, a board member of the American Conservative Union (ACU), which hosts CPAC, demanded that Hoft be dropped from the panel. Geller refused to play lapdog for the Left, and so Schilling and CPAC canceled the panel.
And then they stole it.
Today at CPAC there is a panel entitled “Suppression of Conservative Views on Social Media: A First Amendment Issue” and featuring Damore, Dhillon, Gainor, O’Keefe, and Jaeckel. Hmmm, where did they get the idea for such an event? CPAC claims that it was all their idea. CPAC officials issued CPAC staffers talking points on various issues, so that they would march in lockstep in the media (very conservative, that). One of these talking points stated: “CPAC sponsor APP is hosting a panel discussion on conservative voices being silenced on the internet. APP invited Pamela Geller to participate on the panel. She initially accepted but she then made her participation contingent on APP including another person who was obviously a poor choice. Pamela is actively promoting a version of events that are intentionally inaccurate designed to mislead and mischaracterize the construction of this presentation. She is no longer a participant, her claims that the panel is cancelled are false and the panel will move forward as intended.”
This is, to put it politely, a pack of lies. APP did not originate this panel. It did not invite Geller to participate. She did not make her participation contingent on anyone else being included. She is not promoting a false version of event; they are. In reality, Geller originated the panel. APP was added on by CPAC. Hoft was on the panel from the beginning, with CPAC’s agreement. When CPAC insisted that Hoft be dropped because the Left was angry with him, Geller refused, whereupon CPAC canceled the panel. I know all this because I have been involved with this imbroglio at every step of the way.
I knew CPAC brass, including Dan Schneider, Matt Schlapp, and Terry Schilling, were cowardly. I didn’t know they were a bunch of liars and thieves. But they are: this panel is going on today, with Geller’s title and Geller’s speakers. CPAC stole the whole thing.
CPAC’s attendance has been declining over the years. We can only hope it will keep on zooming down, all the way to zero, or that CPAC will soon get a complete overhaul in leadership, to bring in some people with some integrity.