Last weekend was CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Committee, so a ton of Republicans went down to Orlando to watch some speeches and maybe visit the new Star Wars exhibits that Disney has. CPAC’s chairman is Matt Schlapp, who famously left Michelle Wolf’s speech at the White House Correspondence Dinner with his wife, Mercedes, when he claimed that Wolf was an out of touch elite liberal who didn’t speak for the American people. Look, no one should be punished for their name, but if Schlapp was going to speak for the American people, he should have changed his wife’s name, just for one night, to “Gently Pre-Used Honda Civic”.
Anyways, CPAC has this wonderful thing happen every year where some loud racist conservative says something racist and says it quite loudly. This is then followed by the RNC trying to disavow the comments as quick as they can so they can spend the entire weekend complaining that the media is only covering one loud racist and not the other racists who are much more cool about keeping their feelings hush hush. My bet is a lot of CPAC members don’t visit Epcot.
So, did this happen this year? Yes. Well, kind of. And it leads to some thoughts about why we say the things we say in front of the people we say them to.
If you were unaware about what happened, I’ll catch you up quick.
CPAC, to it’s credit, is trying to distance itself from the loud racist dicks I was talking about earlier. In the past, they’ve banned people like Alex Jones and Laura Loomer. This year, they banned Sesame Street from attending (yes, REALLY), but that has something to do with vaccines. However, one of the people still allowed at CPAC is Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Georgia congresswoman who loves Q Anon, has been booted from twitter for attempting to spread COVID misinformation, and used the term “Jewish space lasers”, which is… you know, crazy.
Greene spoke on a CPAC panel, and was her normal insane self and no one seemed to mind. However, what came about was that before than panel, Greene spoke at AFPAC, the America First Political Action Committee. And while CPAC is the event which gets Presidents and politicians and the important members of the conservative media, AFPAC is anything but reputable.
AFPAC is founded by Nick Fuentes (let’s call him AFPAC-Man), who is a straight-up white nationalist, regardless of his last name. Fuentes, like Greene, was also banned from Twitter. However, unlike MTG, Fuentes was also banned from CPAC, because he is one of those guys who likes to say the quiet part loud, as my friend Jordan Holmes would say. Fuentes is also a bedfellow of the aforementioned Alex Jones, and you can see his crazy videos on Jones’ youtube alternative, banned.video. I say “alternative”, but that would imply choice, and since neither Jones or Fuentes are allowed on youtube, that term is really quite a misnomer.
1,200 racists visited AFPAC’s conference in person, and an estimated 10,000 more streamed it online, and they got exactly what they were hoping for. Fuentes knows who he is dealing with, and he said so in his remarks: “Do you want to know our secret sauce? White young men.” Those men were cheering when Fuentes repeatedly asked him them to “give it up for Putin”, so you know where he stands on foreign policy. In case you want to know if AFPAC can blend their white nationalism and foreign policy views all in one, I will give you the cheer from the crowd after Fuentes mentioned that some compare Putin to Adolf Hitler: “LET’S GOOOOOOOO!”
In fairness to Greene, she wasn’t the only elected official to speak at AFPAC. In fairness to the truth, everyone else on the list is also horrible. There was another congressman, but it was Paul Gosar, who got in trouble when he tweeted a video depicting him murdering Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Also there, was Joe Arpaio, who would still be in jail except he was pardoned by Donald Trump. I only mention this so I can state very clearly: Fuck Joe Arpaio, that racist piece of shit.
So, Greene made her speech. She bonded with Fuentes, calling them both “cancelled Americans” and said they were in charge for “fighting for the constitution and America.” If we’re looking for context, earlier in the day, Fuentes would call the January 6th storming of the Capitol things like, “Patriot Day”, and “The proudest day of my life.”
The press found out about Marjorie’s comments because, contrary to her belief, they are not idiots. When pressed on them, she first said that she was unaware of Fuentes’ thoughts and views. When the press tried to make her aware, she said she did not endorse white nationalism. When RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel was asked about MTG’s appearance at AFPAC, she first refused to answer questions, but would later state that, “white supremacy, neo-Nazism, hate speech and bigotry are disgusting and do not have a home in the Republican Party”, which made me laugh so hard I almost shot Diet Coke out my nose.
Remember how Greene said she didn’t endorse white nationalism? If that’s the case, she seemed to have no problem endorsing people who are, in fact, white nationalists. Trying to downplay the crowd, she claimed she only spoke at AFPAC “to talk about getting everyone together to save our country” and would call the audience “1,200 young conservatives who feel cast aside and marginalized by society”. A tweet of hers would say that she was not playing the “guilt by association game” and that “I’m only responsible for what I say”.
And that brings us today where MTG faced no consequences because, apparently, words no longer mean anything.
I would hope you know where I’m going with this. So, I’m gonna do y’all a favor and just present the counter-argument.
If there are any conservatives reading this (if so, hi!), I’m sure they’re screaming at their devices right now, “Robert Byrd! What about Robert Byrd? How come you’re forgetting about Robert Byrd? Here is this picture of Hillary and Robert Byrd! Robert Byrd Byrd Byrd! Robert Byrd is the word!”
Yes, Robert Byrd was a senator from West Virginia who became a very prominent member of the Democratic Party. And yes, he was also a member of the Ku Klux Klan, an organization which some claim to have its own ties to white supremacy. And whenever talk about racism in the GOP comes up, Byrd is the first named always mentioned, despite the fact that the dude died in 2010.
Yes, being in the KKK is bad. No one would say otherwise, except for David Duke (and maybe Nick Fuentes). And Byrd wasn’t just a member. He recruited about 150 of his friends. And that is something people have to reconcile with when talking about him and his legacy. But let’s also provide a little context.
Robert Byrd would come to realize that what he did was wrong. That his views, though they may have reflected society at the time, were those of a scared young man. So he stopped paying dues and left the group. Then continued to call his decision to join the Klan the worst decision of his life. Then go on to apologize for it thousands of times in front of anyone who would ask. Also, Robert Byrd was one of the first Senators to employ an aide who was African-American.
Yes, Byrd’s words as a young Klansman matter. But so does everything that follows. I believe in the chance to repent and ask for forgiveness. Byrd got a chance as so should Greene and Fuentes. But they’re not in the forgiveness stage yet.
They’re still too busy where they are.
So, here’s the big question: Do I think Marjorie Taylor Greene is racist?
Maybe probably, I guess.
Here’s the better question to ask: If someone speaks in front of a bunch of racists, aligns themself with the organizing racist, then refuses to denounce the group once they fully learn about their racism, then will continue to accept their money and votes and vocal support, what does that say about them? And this isn’t just about CPAC and AFPAC.
Typing articles like these make me think about the major difference in politics. When people talk about the extreme left wing of American politics, they usually mention people like Bernie Sanders or AOC or Rachel Maddow. When people mention the extreme right wing, it’s MTG or Nick Fuentes. The extreme left believes in things like creating a tax system in which it would be plausible for no one to ever worry about affording health care or higher education and trying to create environmental policy so the world doesn’t burn down. The extreme right believes that white people are the best and it should always remain that way, and that as long as they have that voting block, we should just allow them to do or say whatever.
Marjorie Taylor Greene doesn’t believe in guilt by association, and I imagine that’s so she can sleep at night. Because she associates with some real fucking monsters.