As the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) gets set to kick off just outside of Washington DC, the event is already mired in a controversy over white nationalism.
ProEnglish, the white nationalist led English-only outfit that created serious headaches for the conference back in 2012, has quietly been allowed to again be an official exhibitor at CPAC 2014 when it opens today.
According to the CPAC 2014 event site, the ProEnglish booth is number 538, sandwiched between the booth for a movie about the IRS “scandal” and the booth for the group, Tradition, Family, Property. The site lists the ProEnglish contact for CPAC as Robert Vandervoort.
Prior to becoming executive director of ProEnglish, Robert Vandervoort was the organizer of the white nationalist group, Chicagoland Friends of American Renaissance, while he lived in Illinois. During that period Vandervoort was at the center of much of the white nationalist activity in the region. While he was in charge, Chicagoland Friends of American Renaissance often held joint meetings with the local chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens. He also made appearances at white nationalist events outside Illinois, for instance participating in the 2009 Preserving Western Civilization Conference.
Much more on Mr. Vandervoort can be found in “What about Bob? Robert Vandervoort and White Nationalism.”
The Vandervoort problem shouldn’t be new to CPAC staff. After IREHR raised concerns because of Vandervoort’s white nationalist attachments during CPAC 2012, a significant discussion ensued. The Kansas City Star, the Wichita Eagle and Mother Jones were among the publications to take note of these events. American Spectator, a decidedly conservative periodical weighed in with the comment that “if Vandervoort indeed organized events for an American Renaissance affiliate … he should explicitly and publicly renounce his old associates; that is a crowd that no one should touch with a ten foot pole.”
Instead of taking that advice, Vandervoort tried to bamboozle the public by claiming “I have never been a member of any group that has advocated hate or violence.” No one has accused Vandervoort of advocating violence. But the record clearly shows that Vandervoort not only acted on American Renaissance behalf, but that he shared its white nationalist views. Which as American Spectator aptly noted, should not be touched with a ten-foot pole by CPAC, or anyone else.
CPAC 2013 also had problems with white nationalism. On the eve of last year’s conference, the group responsible for organizing CPAC chose to feature the work of a controversial white nationalist professor on its website. The American Conservative Union (ACU) website featured an article by Dr. Robert Weissberg, a retired University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign political science professor with a second career as a white nationalist. Like Vandervoort, Weissberg has been active with the white nationalist group, American Renaissance. Inside the hall last year, CPAC’s problem with white nationalism flared at a Tea Party Patriots workshop entitled, “Trump the Race Card.” White nationalists turned the workshop into a pro-segregation apologia for slavery.
Just eight days ago, after an uproar from members, CPAC organizers reversed their decision and decided to not allow American Atheists to have an exhibition booth at this year’s event. Will CPAC do the same for a group run by a white nationalist?