Alt-right nutcase Richard Spencer kicked out of CPAC

It's not exactly William Buckley challenging conservatives to marginalize the John Birch Society in the 1960s, but the leadership of the American Conservative Union, sponsors of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), finally acted to clear the meeting of some of the more odious appendages of the so-called alt-right by kicking out one of its recognized leaders, Richard Spencer.

Spencer, a white nationalist and anti-Semite, was denounced from the main stage of CPAC by the executive director of the ACU, Dan Schneider.  After being cornered by the press, where the alt-right bomb-thrower tossed a few grenades at conservatives, he was asked to leave the premises by conference staff.

Washington Post:

"People want to talk to me," Spencer told NBC News from outside the Gaylord National Harbor complex. "They don't want to talk to these boring conservatives. They want to learn about ideas whose time has come, not whose time has passed."

Spencer, who has frequently attended CPAC without incident, became a minor media sensation during and after the 2016 election. One of the first speeches at this year's conference challenged the media to stop referring to the alt-right as conservative.

"There is a sinister organization that is trying to worm its way into our ranks," said Dan Schneider, the executive director of the American Conservative Union, which runs CPAC. "We must not be deceived by [a] hateful, left-wing fascist group."

There was an irony to Spencer's expulsion on the same day the conference featured White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon, the former CEO of Breitbart News, who once called the site "the platform for the alt-right."

In 2013 and 2014, Breitbart News sponsored forums on the outskirts of CPAC called "The Uninvited," featuring guests who were not welcome on the main stage due to controversial views on Islam and immigration.

"I didn't like 'the Uninvited,'" said the ACU's president, Matt Schlapp, introducing Bannon with White House Chief of Staff Reince Preibus. "Everybody's a part of our conservative family."

But not Spencer, apparently. Over seven tense, perplexing minutes, Schneider argued that the alt-right was philosophically left-wing because it departed from a conservatism in which "the individual" was sovereign.

"They hate the Constitution. They hate free markets. They hate pluralism," Schneider said. "Fascists tend to want big government control."

The argument wasn't unique to Schneider. In 2009's "Liberal Fascism," the National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg drew a zigging line from the fascism of the 1930s to the welfare state liberalism of the Clinton/Obama era.

But inside the main ballroom of CPAC, the argument didn't generate much applause. Some in the audience cheered the denunciation of "left-wing fascism," while a few listeners walked out.

Schneider took exactly the wrong approach to criticizing Spencer.  Calling him a "left-wing fascist" plays right into his hands.  At bottom, Spencer is a nihilist – someone who wants to watch the world burn.  His outrageous statements on race and women are thrown out to see what fires he can light to excite his followers and disgust the rest of us.

The press is going to connect him to responsible conservatives anyway, but Schneider is making it easier by misidentifying Spencer's ideology.  Spencer is not "liberal" in any way, shape, or form.  He may be a "fascist" in some ways, but he is definitely not any kind of "conservative" – classical, modern, mainstream, Main Street, supply-side, hawk, isolationist, or any sort of "conservative" that falls under a large umbrella of beliefs and ideologies that organizations like the ACU recognize. 

The press refuses to recognize the amorphous nature of the alt-right and names "leaders" and "organizations" as representing the worst of them when self-described members of the alt-right can't even decide what they stand for and what their beliefs are.  In short, while Spencer seeks the legitimacy granted him by the media as a bona fide conservative, the press has created the alt-right monster to tar the legitimate right with the most odious of beliefs.

President Trump encouraged people like Spencer throughout the campaign by not denouncing him and his noxious ideas.  Trump has no allegiance to conservatism and thus felt perfectly at ease using the racists and anti-Semites to advance the cause of victory.  The ACU, once the guardian of "responsible conservatism," now has a major identification problem on its hands that it has yet to fully deal with.

It's not exactly William Buckley challenging conservatives to marginalize the John Birch Society in the 1960s, but the leadership of the American Conservative Union, sponsors of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), finally acted to clear the meeting of some of the more odious appendages of the so-called alt-right by kicking out one of its recognized leaders, Richard Spencer.

Spencer, a white nationalist and anti-Semite, was denounced from the main stage of CPAC by the executive director of the ACU, Dan Schneider.  After being cornered by the press, where the alt-right bomb-thrower tossed a few grenades at conservatives, he was asked to leave the premises by conference staff.

Washington Post:

"People want to talk to me," Spencer told NBC News from outside the Gaylord National Harbor complex. "They don't want to talk to these boring conservatives. They want to learn about ideas whose time has come, not whose time has passed."

Spencer, who has frequently attended CPAC without incident, became a minor media sensation during and after the 2016 election. One of the first speeches at this year's conference challenged the media to stop referring to the alt-right as conservative.

"There is a sinister organization that is trying to worm its way into our ranks," said Dan Schneider, the executive director of the American Conservative Union, which runs CPAC. "We must not be deceived by [a] hateful, left-wing fascist group."

There was an irony to Spencer's expulsion on the same day the conference featured White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon, the former CEO of Breitbart News, who once called the site "the platform for the alt-right."

In 2013 and 2014, Breitbart News sponsored forums on the outskirts of CPAC called "The Uninvited," featuring guests who were not welcome on the main stage due to controversial views on Islam and immigration.

"I didn't like 'the Uninvited,'" said the ACU's president, Matt Schlapp, introducing Bannon with White House Chief of Staff Reince Preibus. "Everybody's a part of our conservative family."

But not Spencer, apparently. Over seven tense, perplexing minutes, Schneider argued that the alt-right was philosophically left-wing because it departed from a conservatism in which "the individual" was sovereign.

"They hate the Constitution. They hate free markets. They hate pluralism," Schneider said. "Fascists tend to want big government control."

The argument wasn't unique to Schneider. In 2009's "Liberal Fascism," the National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg drew a zigging line from the fascism of the 1930s to the welfare state liberalism of the Clinton/Obama era.

But inside the main ballroom of CPAC, the argument didn't generate much applause. Some in the audience cheered the denunciation of "left-wing fascism," while a few listeners walked out.

Schneider took exactly the wrong approach to criticizing Spencer.  Calling him a "left-wing fascist" plays right into his hands.  At bottom, Spencer is a nihilist – someone who wants to watch the world burn.  His outrageous statements on race and women are thrown out to see what fires he can light to excite his followers and disgust the rest of us.

The press is going to connect him to responsible conservatives anyway, but Schneider is making it easier by misidentifying Spencer's ideology.  Spencer is not "liberal" in any way, shape, or form.  He may be a "fascist" in some ways, but he is definitely not any kind of "conservative" – classical, modern, mainstream, Main Street, supply-side, hawk, isolationist, or any sort of "conservative" that falls under a large umbrella of beliefs and ideologies that organizations like the ACU recognize. 

The press refuses to recognize the amorphous nature of the alt-right and names "leaders" and "organizations" as representing the worst of them when self-described members of the alt-right can't even decide what they stand for and what their beliefs are.  In short, while Spencer seeks the legitimacy granted him by the media as a bona fide conservative, the press has created the alt-right monster to tar the legitimate right with the most odious of beliefs.

President Trump encouraged people like Spencer throughout the campaign by not denouncing him and his noxious ideas.  Trump has no allegiance to conservatism and thus felt perfectly at ease using the racists and anti-Semites to advance the cause of victory.  The ACU, once the guardian of "responsible conservatism," now has a major identification problem on its hands that it has yet to fully deal with.

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