The annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) always attracts its fair share of racists and conspiracy theorists looking to rub shoulders with respected, establishment Republican types.
But at 2018’s CPAC last week, it at times felt like the loons had taken control of the place. The Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, just outside of Washington, D.C., was crawling with white nationalists. We’re talking open bigots who promote the idea of a white ethno-state and spend a frightening amount of time fretting over anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremism, called this year’s gathering akin to “a carnival of conspiracy theorists, white nationalists, and mainstream Republicans all uniting under President Trump.”
“In many ways,” the SPLC wrote, “CPAC has become an annual measure of how far the radical right has moved into the mainstream of the conservative right, especially in recent years as anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-LGBT groups have found political friends in the United States and Europe.”
The White Nationalists
Richard Spencer, the “alt-right” white supremacist movement figurehead, was banned from CPAC this year. (He reserved a hotel suite nearby, and invited young conservatives to stop by for a chat. It was sad.)
Many of Spencer’s white nationalist compatriots, however, got into the conference just fine.
Nicholas Fuentes, host of the fashy America First podcast, attended the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year. Although he denies being a white nationalist, he often parrots their language and hangs out with prominent members of the movement. He believes there’s a “white genocide” going on and thinks a Eurocentric ethno-state would be just swell.
Fuentes was inside CPAC this year, yukking it up with people like Nigel Farage, one of the architects of Brexit and a former leader of the U.K. Independence Party.
Peter Brimelow is the suit-and-tie racist behind the group VDARE, whose website serves as a platform for white nationalists and anti-Semites.
Slate caught up with Brimelow at CPAC. “[M]y heart is with civic nationalism, but my head is with racial nationalism,” he said. “Because I think that’s the way things are going — I think the country is precipitating out on racial lines.”
Patrick Casey And Identity Evropa
Identity Evropa is a preppy white nationalist organization known for posting its propaganda on college campuses. Its members want an ethnostate and were at the Charlottesville rally chanting, “You will not replace us.” The group’s current leader, Patrick Casey, wrote on the Identity Evropa site that he “attended CPAC with another member of Identity Evropa leadership on Friday,” passing out business cards and “meeting up with other IE members throughout the day.”
Some Identity Evropa members, Casey wrote, “traveled alone; others attended the conference with their fellow College Republicans; and a few were there in a professional capacity.”
Marcus Epstein — an anti-immigrant attorney who co-founded a now defunct white nationalist college organization called Youth for Western Civilization — was charged with assault in 2007 for calling a black woman a racial slur and attempting to karate chop her in the head. (He entered what’s called an Alford plea, in which a defendant doesn’t admit guilt but acknowledges that the prosecution would likely win its case.)
He was spotted at CPAC sitting with a bunch of “alt-lite” conspiracy theorists, including Jack Posobiec and Gateway Pundit’s Lucian Wintrich. He was also spotted chatting with The Daily Caller’s Scott Greer, who has been photographed wearing Youth for Western Civilization paraphernalia while hanging out on the Virginia compound of a white power group.
Far-Right Trolls, Propagandists, Conspiracy Theorists And More!
The so-called “alt-lite” or “New Right” is a loose coalition of far-right activists made up of conspiracy theorists, men’s rights dodos, and obnoxious Twitter celebrities who publicly claim to reject racism and fascism, but nevertheless have deep connections to the explicit racists and fascists of the alt-right.
As we’ve written about before, the alt-lite provides cover for, and acts as a conduit to, the alt-right.
The alt-lite had a big presence at CPAC. Here’s a bunch of them sitting together:
Starting on the left we have Posobiec, the Seth Rich and Pizzagate conspiracy theorist. To his right is Breitbart News tech reporter Charlie Nash, according to multiple reporters who attended CPAC and identified him to HuffPost.
Next is Wintrich, the White House reporter for the deeply disreputable pro-Trump Gateway Pundit. Wintrich recently made headlines for attempting to give an “it’s OK to be white” speech at the University of Connecticut. (“It’s OK to be White” is a meme that grew out of the neo-Nazi fever swamps of the internet message board site, 4chan.)
To the right of Wintrich is Ali Akbar, a New Right activist and MAGA fan. And next to Ali, is Marcus Epstein, the white nationalist described above.
Also among the CPAC crowd (in the photo below) was former alt-right bigot, current alt-lite activist and pro-Trump troll Mike Cernovich, a men’s rights devotee and date rape apologist famous for pushing the Pizzagate conspiracy theory and saying loathsome things about all kinds of things.
Here’s a photo of Will Chamberlain, left, debating the aforementioned Fuentes at CPAC. Chamberlain hangs out with the alt-lite folks and is head of MAGA Meetups, which organizes networking events for Trump supporters.
And here’s a photo of Frank Gaffney at CPAC. Gaffney was a persona non grata at CPAC for years, due to his paranoid assertion that two CPAC board members were secretly working with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Gaffney believes all kinds of people he doesn’t like are working for the Muslim Brotherhood, including Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin and conservative activist Grover Norquist. Gaffney is the country’s foremost anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist, often promoting debunked claims about how American Muslims are secretly plotting to take over the U.S. government. This year, Gaffney hosted his very own panel at CPAC. It was about how to get Muslims out of America.
And here’s a video of former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack at CPAC. Mack heads the anti-government extremist group Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, which contends that sheriffs are the highest law enforcement authority in the land, and can defy federal laws. He’s apparently running for Congress.
Luke O’Brien contributed reporting.
This story has been updated with the identification of Charlie Nash.
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