LOS ANGELES, February 22, 2018 — For children, there is Disney World. For conservatives, there is the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). In the age of Trump, politics has been turned upside down. CPAC 2018 is a serious policy conference.
Free Speech denied?
But the CPAC 2018 incarnation of conservatism’s Woodstock began with the censorship of a free speech panel.
Yes, a panel dedicated to lamenting the censorship of conservatives actually censored a conservative. In an even crazier twist, many CPAC 2018 attendees championing liberty and open dialogue understood why this censorship was necessary.
The panel was to feature several individuals who have either been personally censored by conservative social media or represent others who have been victimized. Facebook, Twitter and Google are all run by liberals. They all knowingly and systematically remove conservative users and their postings.
The companies deny this, but the evidence is overwhelming.
(Full disclosure: Twitter banned me for 12 hours for referring to “Hollywood bimbos” and “liberal media bimbos.”)
Panelists included Pamela Geller, who is known for her desire to crack down on Islamists. Another panelist was San Francisco attorney and Republican activist Harmeet Dhillon, who has represented several conservative individuals abused by liberals physically and online.
Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft
However, one panelist was considered too controversial even for CPAC: Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft.
After the Florida shooting, Hoft spread the story that high school shooting victims were paid actors and not actual students. While some of the students were allegedly organized by liberal activists, Hoft’s assertions crossed the line into conspiracy territory.
Hoft was disinvited from CPAC, leading to an outcry that he was a victim. This narrative is as false as his assertion about the students.
Hoft has kicked the ball onto the fairway a few times. He has circulated conspiracy stories that have been debunked. While he may be politically conservative, his approach can be a detriment to conservatism. It is difficult to scream about CNN and “fake news” when conservatives are behaving just as badly.
The purpose of CPAC 2018 is to advance conservatism. That requires putting the best face possible on conservatism. It requires that conservative speakers be seen as credible, trustworthy, and likable. Hoft’s assertions failed the credibility test. His presence would have been a distraction.
CPAC 2018 is not afraid of controversy.
The NRA’s Wayne LaPierre and Dana Loesch both came out firing (figuratively) at socialist gun-grabbers. Vice President Mike Pence turns from a mild-mannered Midwesterner into a red meat firebrand when he enters the CPAC arena.
The liberal media despises all of them, but the conservative audience trusts them. They are universally beloved by this audience.
The same cannot be said of Hoft.
With the 2018 midterms expected to be a brutal reckoning for the Republican Party, the GOP cannot handle any more internal gaffes. When the battle turns to ideas, conservatives win. When it becomes about personalities, conservatives often lose.
The free speech and censorship panel, after initially being canceled, was revived without Hoft. Conservatives are clearly being targeted for censorship by liberals.
The topic is legitimate and timely.
However, there is no law requiring a team owner to play the third string players. Spreading the message requires putting forth the very best advocates who put the ideas first. With Hoft, the focus is on Hoft himself. That distracts from the topic, and that was why he had to be removed.
In the future, Hoft needs to avoid making the mistake that has corrupted the New York Times, Washington Post, MSNBC, and leftist outlets. Stories must be verified, sources need to be corroborated, and stories must be spiked unless and until the first two conditions take place.
CPAC is too important to the national discussion to get bogged down in conspiracy theories that wilt under the slightest scrutiny.
CPAC 2018 got this one right. Now it is time to get back to the business of the right.