CPAC: ‘How Extremism Is Normalized’

Conservative Political Action Conference head Matt Schlapp is furious at NBC for reporting that “Nazis mingle openly at CPAC, spreading antisemitic conspiracy theories and finding allies.” Maybe he should be more concerned about, and angry at, the Nazis?
Photo courtesy of NCRM.

Critics are blasting CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, as the embattled head of the organization that puts together and hosts the event, Matt Schlapp, is attacking NBC News over its report that states: “Nazis mingle openly at CPAC, spreading antisemitic conspiracy theories and finding allies.”

“Nazis appeared to find a friendly reception at the Conservative Political Action Conference this year,” writes Ben Goggin, NBC News Digital deputy editor for technology. “Throughout the conference, racist extremists, some of whom had secured official CPAC badges, openly mingled with conference attendees and espoused antisemitic conspiracy theories.”

“The presence of these individuals has been a persistent issue at CPAC. In previous years, conference organizers have ejected well-known Nazis and white supremacists such as Nick Fuentes,” NBC News also reported. “But this year, racist conspiracy theorists didn’t meet any perceptible resistance at the conference where Donald Trump has been the keynote speaker since 2017.”

Schlapp is the head of the American Conservative Union. He and his wife Mercedes Schlapp were once described as the “Trump-Era ‘It Couple’.” Now he is facing a $9 million lawsuit over alleged sexual assault, including “aggressive fondling,” after Republican strategist Carlton Huffman, a staffer at the time for the failed Herschel Walker senatorial campaign, says Matt Schlapp groped him in January of 2023.

CPAC’s list of speakers last week included the far-right ultra-conservative president of Argentina, Javier Milei, who “gave Donald Trump on Saturday an ecstatic hug,” the AP reported. Donald Trump, calling himself a “proud political dissident,” delivered the keynote address at CPAC on Saturday. CNN described it as “lie-filled.”

Schlapp was both furious and dismissive of NBC News’ report.

“NBC’s claim that there was a Nazi presence at CPAC 2024 is false, misleading, and grossly manipulative—especially coming from a writer who has carried the water for Hamas in much of his reporting on the Israel-Gaza war,” Schlapp wrote in a statement posted by CPAC to X. “When we come across someone at CPAC peddling any kind of anti-semitism, we deal with them immediately. Knowing this, NBC weaved together lies and fabrications to create a false perception, and we won’t stand by idly while NBC engages in willful misinformation.”

In a separate post, Schlapp also wrote:

“Yawn. This is a tired old cliche. The Neo-Nazis in our midst are the ones controlling our college campuses and major institutions and grossly populate the newsrooms of corporate media, calling for an Israeli surrender.”

NBC’s Goggin responded:

“The Nazis introduced themselves to me at a mixer and said they were national socialists, started talking about skull measurements and pushing the conspiracy theory that all races were being controlled Jewish people. They were posting about their presence at CPAC online.”

He also provided photos and video:

“Either CPAC is lying about having no idea about this, or they simply don’t have a grasp on who they approved to come to their conference…,” Goggin added.

“Nazis, antisemitism, the great replacement theory, [white supremacist Nick] Fuentes, have become so common among conservatives that I think attendees, even journalists, didn’t think too deeply about them being at CPAC. There was very much an ‘oh them’ attitude about the nazis.”

“It really illustrated how successfully extremists have shifted the Overton window. This year, they were expected, and their presence was tolerated,” he added.

Critics blasted CPAC.

“At CPAC, avowed Nazis mingled openly & spread antisemitic conspiracy theories, as speakers welcomed the ‘end of democracy.’ They are all saying the quiet part out loud. And most GOP lawmakers are silent (or cheering). This is how extremism is normalized,” warned Amy Spitalnick, CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. Spitalnick “led a group that won a $25 million judgment against the neo-Nazis who organized the deadly 2017 Charlottesville march in Virginia,” The Times of Israel reported in 2022.

“Seriously, read this @BenjaminGoggin piece and tell me those of us ringing the alarm bells on increasingly mainstreamed Nazism are being hyperbolic,” Spitalnick added.

“CPAC denies the presence of Nazis at their conference this year, but when I reported that @cpac was teeming with white nationalists in 2022 there wasn’t a peep from Matt Schlapp about it,” wrote Texas Observer special investigative correspondent Steven Monacelli.

Former U.S. Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY), currently a candidate for Congress running to unseat U.S. Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY), said: “I am appalled that Nazis were allowed to attend CPAC—an event Donald Trump headlined again this year. Make no mistake: the Republican Party and Trump have empowered white nationalists for years.”

Responding to the NBC News article, former U.S. government official Mike Walker wrote on X: “This is not Munich, 1933. This is Washington, DC, 2024.”

See the photos and video above or at this link.

This article was originally published at the New Civil Rights Movement and is reprinted here with permission.

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Picture of David Badash, New Civil Rights Movement

David Badash, New Civil Rights Movement

David Badash is the founder and editor of The New Civil Rights Movement, a news and opinion site focused on progressive news, politics, and LGBT civil rights. Founded in 2008, NCRM won a GLAAD Award in 2014. Badash has been quoted nationally and internationally, including in The Washington Post and Politico. He lives in Provincetown with his two dogs.

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