The 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) took place on February 9-11 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington D.C. CPAC has never been a stranger to controversy, but two workshops at this year's conference drew media attention on account of race issues.
First, controversy erupted when Peter Brimelow, founder of VDARE, was scheduled to speak on a panel entitled “The Failure of Multiculturalism: How the pursuit of diversity is weakening the American Identity.” According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, VDARE is an anti-immigration white nationalist group founded in 1999. The panel in question was sponsored by ProEnglish, an organization that wants to establish English as the official U.S. language.
According to BuzzFeed, CPAC spokeswoman Kristy Campbell wrote in an e-mail that the panel was not organized by the American Conservative Union and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the ACU. Some observers, however, called for condemnation of the workshop. In an online press release, People for the American Way urged Republican presidential candidates to speak out against the inclusion of Brimelow at CPAC.
The panel in question took place on February 9th and featured Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), VDARE founder Peter Brimelow, and ProEnglish director Robert Vandervoort. According to Right Wing Watch, Vandervoort introduced the workshop with a thank you to CPAC for allowing the panel to take place despite the efforts of "leftist thugs."
While I could not find a recording of the entire panel, I did find several short video excerpts. In this YouTube excerpt of the workshop, King told listeners how he introduced H.R. 997, the English Language Unity Act. Rep. King explained his justification for introducing the bill.
"It's important that, not only that we pass this legislation, but that ... in law, we must declare English to be the official language of the United States of America ... A national language has got to be an official language so that the official functions of government are in English."King argued that common language unites civilizations more strongly than any other social force, including race or religion.
"If you look throughout history and try to find the most powerful unifying force any culture or civilization has ever had, the human universal is a common language. A common language binds people together more powerfully than religion, than common ethnicity by race or by culture. There's nothing as powerful as a common language to tie people together."He provided several examples of language as a unifying force, citing a Chinese emperor who developed the first common script for the Chinese language, and the resurrection of Hebrew as a uniting force for the Jewish community (and later Israel). King also cited the biblical Tower of Babel story, describing its creators as one people united by a common language for whom nothing was impossible. When God divided them with different languages, they subsequently weakened and scattered.
Revealingly, King also discussed the role of language for the Spanish Conquistadors and the Native Americans they conquered.
"When the conquistadors came up into what's now Arizona and they encountered the Native Americans -- the Zunis, the Hopis, and the Anasazis -- they didn't speak the same language, the three different tribes that I mentioned. They were fractured into their own villages ... They couldn't communicate with each other, and so the Spanish conquistadors came in and they divided and conquered. But the mistake that they made was, if you want to call it a mistake, they brought them, the Native Americans into the missions to convert them to Christianity -- a good thing -- but they also taught them Spanish. When they learned the Spanish, it gave them a lingua franca, a common language, a utility of communication. A common form of communication's currency. They went back to their villages and they realized, 'I can talk to my neighbor. Well, why don't we just organize ourselves and throw those Spaniards out?' And they did."Finally, King celebrated English as the global language of business, adding that the U.S. has been successful at assimilating diverse groups because it uses the English language as a unifying element.
Sofia Resnick of the American Independent posted a short excerpt of Brimelow himself speaking at the workshop. At the 0:19 mark, Brimelow had this to say about language and diversity in the U.S.
"It's not enough to have official English as the government [inaudible]. I get e-mail all the time from people in eastern Washington state and places like this who say their kids can't get jobs at McDonalds and places like that because they don't speak Spanish. And so there's essentially this ferocious attack on the living standards of the American working class and blue collar workers, just as immigration policy in general is."
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Second, News One reports that conservative rappers Steven Crowder and Chris Loesch performed a rap song at this year's CPAC. The duo's song "Mr. America" drew ire from commentators because of the word "ni**ers". At the 1:53 mark of the video below, we can hear what sounds like the N-word, but afterwards, one of the rappers claimed he was saying knickers. "What? Knickers? No, I can say knickers," he insisted as a black man stood up and walked out. Danny Gold at Gawker points out that the black man may have been a plant, but we can't know for sure. (Hat tip to Freak Out Nation.)
Admit it. You liked the adorable woman dancing at the 1:46 mark.
For more information on CPAC, visit cpac2012[dot]conservative[dot]org
For additional commentary, visit the following links.
SPLC Hatewatch: CPAC Lineup Includes Hate Group, ‘Patriot’ Leaders
BuzzFeed: Rep. Steve King Defends White Nationalist On Conservative Panel
Salon: CPAC welcomes white nationalists
The Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights: White Nationalist to Speak from Podium at CPAC 2012
Right Wing Watch: Steve King and White Nationalist CPAC Panel Warn that America's Greatest Threat is its Diversity