NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — In 2004, far-right activist Michelle Malkin published a racist book called “In Defense of Internment.” It argued that the United States was right to forcibly remove 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry from their homes during World War II — 70 percent of whom were American citizens — and place them in internment camps for years, where they often lived behind barbed-wire fences under the watch of armed guards.
On Friday afternoon, Malkin was a featured speaker at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, speaking from the same stage where Vice President Mike Pence had spoken just a few hours earlier, and where President Donald Trump spoke Saturday.
Malkin — who, it bears repeating, wrote a book that defended putting an ethnic group in government internment camps — told the crowd that current immigration levels amount to an “invasion” that “endangers our general welfare and the blessings of liberty.”
“I’ve been called white for stating the facts,” she said. “I’m not white. I’m just right. Both native-born and immigrant families like mine, which revere the rule of law, common traditions, constitutional principles, one identity and one tongue, have been replaced by militantly unassimilable and hostile generations.”
Malkin then lashed out at the left for labeling her fellow far-right activists as members of “hate groups.” She warned the crowd that such designations have led to those on “the front lines for liberty” being “de-Twittered, de-PayPaled, de-Facebooked and de-platformed.”
Among those whom Malkin listed as on the “front lines for liberty” were Gavin McInnes, the racist and anti-Semitic founder of the violent neofascist gang the Proud Boys; Laura Loomer, the anti-Muslim activist and InfoWars conspiracy theorist; and the Center for Immigration Studies, an anti-immigrant group founded by a eugenicist.
Malkin closed her speech by telling the crowd that “diversity is not our strength,” parroting a slogan white supremacists have used for years. “And I know those words are a trigger,” she continued. “Diversity is not our strength. Unity is. Our common purpose is the common defense of our nation. Good people make America great. Good people stand up and fight. Thank you.”
The crowd, full of people in red “Make America Great Again” hats, roared.
After the speech, white nationalist Peter Brimelow stood in the hallway outside the ballroom, an official CPAC attendee badge dangling from his neck. He was delighted.
Brimelow — a racist who has said “Hispanics do specialize in rape” — runs the hate site VDare.com, named for Virginia Dare, said to be the first white baby born in the so-called New World. He has regularly published the work of anti-Semites and Nazi sympathizers, including big-name white supremacists like Richard Spencer. He has also published the writing of Malkin.
“I’m stunned by Michelle Malkin’s speech,” Brimelow told HuffPost. “Did you hear it? We agree with her 100 percent of course. And it’s extraordinarily brave of her.”
White nationalists, bigots and assorted conspiracy theorists are as commonplace at CPAC, which is organized annually by the American Conservative Union, as Republican senators, U.S. House members and presidents. Brimelow, for example, was a featured panelist at CPAC in 2012.
Although some efforts were made this year to keep extremist figures out of the conference, they were also given top billing to speak from the main stage of the event, inside the Potomac Ballroom at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, just outside Washington, D.C. All told, the conference served as yet another annual reminder of how the conservative movement in America is joined at the hip with the white nationalist movement.
Malkin gave an interview at CPAC to VDare. The interviewer was Faith Goldy, a white nationalist who has appeared on the podcast of The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website that advocates for gassing Jews. Goldy has also recited the “14 words,” a white supremacist mantra.
“Thanks so much for joining us today, Michelle,” Goldy told Malkin at the end of the five-minute interview about immigration. “You bet, Faith,” Malkin responded, cheerily.
Goldy — who won over 3 percent of the vote in last year’s race for mayor of Toronto — was part of a gaggle of more explicit white nationalists that dipped in and out of this week’s conference, sometimes with official CPAC badges.
On Thursday, the young white nationalist podcaster Nick Fuentes, who attended the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, lurked outside CPAC with a pack of cronies dressed in suits, most of whom were apparently unable to get inside the conference. The next day, however, Playboy reporter Alex Thomas spotted Fuentes inside the conference, wearing a CPAC badge.
“Nick Fuentes got into CPAC and an organizer is currently trying to kick him out,” Thomas tweeted, adding that “cops ran downstairs to grab Fuentes but he slipped up the escalator.” CPAC organizers didn’t respond to a request for comment on the incident.
Later video footage shows Fuentes and Goldy speaking to a group of fellow white nationalists inside a room at the Gaylord hotel. Patrick Casey, the leader of the white nationalist group Identity Evropa, also spoke.
As HuffPost reported, Casey attended last year’s CPAC. This year, however, he claimed on Twitter that conference organizers rescinded his ticket.
On Thursday, Jacob Wohl and Laura Loomer — MAGA grifters and conspiracy theorists who have both been kicked off Twitter — were denied entrance to CPAC. They held an unsanctioned “press conference” in the hotel anyway, in which they made unsubstantiated claims against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), the first Somali-American to serve in Congress.
On Friday, however, CPAC gave Loomer press credentials, which she used to storm into the media area of the ballroom with a film crew and harangue journalists — including this reporter — who have written negative stories about her.
After Jared Holt of Right Wing Watch questioned CPAC over Loomer’s press credentials, Loomer was banned from the conference.
But for every extremist banned from CPAC, another was given the chance to speak onstage inside the event.
Sebastian Gorka, a former deputy assistant to Trump, spoke from the main stage Thursday, warning the CPAC crowd about the alleged perils of socialism. Gorka has been a regular contributor to Fox News and The Rebel, a Canadian far-right website. (The Rebel once published a video by Gavin McInnes called “Ten Things I Hate About Jews.”)
Gorka is an anti-Muslim extremist, long associating himself with Islamophobic hate groups. He has said that accepting Muslim refugees into America would be a “national suicide.” In 2017, speaking in his capacity as a White House official, Gorka told MSNBC that a bombing of a Minnesota mosque may have been a “fake hate crime.” (It was not.)
Gorka has also been photographed wearing a medal associated with Vitezi Rend, a Nazi-linked Hungarian political group. Gorka denied being part of the group, but Vitezi Rend stated that he was, in fact, a sworn member.
Another anti-Muslim extremist, Frank Gaffney, was featured on a panel about China at this year’s CPAC. Gaffney was banned from CPAC for years due to his unhinged claim that two CPAC board members were covertly working for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Gaffney is arguably America’s foremost anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist, heading up the organization Center for Security Policy, which he’s used to promote debunked claims about how American Muslims are plotting to take over the U.S. government. (During HuffPost’s CPAC interview with Brimelow, a man wearing a Center for Security Policy badge came up and shook Brimelow’s hand. Brimelow told HuffPost the man was a “friend.”)
Gaffney also appeared at last year’s CPAC, hosting a panel on how to get Muslims to leave America.
On Friday, self-styled “guerrilla journalist” James O’Keefe, who runs the fraudulent media outlet Project Veritas, spoke from the main stage at CPAC about the tech industry’s alleged bias against conservatives. O’Keefe has associated with white nationalists for years. Photos from the anti-racist organization One People’s Project have shown him posing with members of the white-nationalist group Youth for Western Civilization.
CPAC finished Saturday. The marquee event that day was a rambling, two-hour speech from another bigot: a man who once called for banning an entire religious faith of 1.6 billion people from entering the U.S., and who once referred to the violent neo-Nazis and white supremacists at the deadly 2017 Charlottesville rally as “very fine people.”
As he came onstage to loud cheers, the president hugged the American flag and smiled.