CPAC already has earned headlines for narrowing the conservative tent this year. Now, after not inviting Christ Christie to speak, and declining to allow GoProud to participate, CPAC is refusing to allow Pamela Geller to have a booth or rent rooms to conduct events. From her own site, Pamela writes:
the Grover Norquist/Suhail Khan cabal refuse to address (jihad, sharia, the war on freedom in the West).
This year, I applied to speak and was ignored. I tried to get a room for an AFDI event, "The War on Free Speech," and was ignored. So, for the first time in five years, I won't be at CPAC. Last year Suhail Khan bragged out loud that he (and his other operatives) had successfully kept Robert Spencer and me from being invited to speak. He went so far as to warn people not to attend our events or read our books.
>In several articles I took on Grover Norquist and his powerful influence over CPAC, most notably here and here. As soon as I published my Newsmax column concerning his perfidious influence at CPAC, my Newsmax column was taken down and my name and picture were removed from the Newsmax page..... it was two slots away from Grover's. My weekly column never appeared at Newsmax again. It was axed.
Now this. I might add, every AFDI event at CPAC was standing room only. We turned people away every year.
I remember in 2011, I was hanging out with Tania Gail and all of sudden she jumps up and says, "Oh my gosh, we've got to get over to Pamela Geller's screening of "The Ground Zero Mosque: The Second Wave of the 9/11 Attacks." We then ran over to the other side of the conference center to find a jam-packed hall just sitting down to the movie screening. It was awesome. And then the next day, Pamela held a standing room event for the families of 9/11: "THE GROUND ZERO MOSQUE EVENT AT CPAC." These events were the freakin' pinnacle of the conference. Sheesh. What is wrong with this world? Now Pamela's banned? Unbe-freakin'-lievable.
Breitbart News adds:
For the last four years, Pamela Geller of AtlasShrugs.com and the American Freedom Defense Initiative have held events at CPAC featuring guests she invites to discuss the influence of Islamism on America. But this year, the American Conservative Union (ACU) has no room for Geller or her message.
In 2009, she brought Geert Wilders, who is the head of the third largest party in the Netherlands and has spoken out against the Islamization of his country.
In 2010 she held an event that her organization, The American Freedom Defense Initiative, hosted, titled "Jihad: The Political Third Rail", with speakers like Allen West, Wafa Sultan, Simon Deng, Anders Gravers, and Steve Coughlin.
In 2011, she hosted an event discussing the Ground Zero Mosque with 9/11 families. In 2012, the event was titled "Islamic Law in America."
In years past, the events were standing room only thanks to their popularity, but that apparently was not enough to counter pressure brought to bear from somewhere to exclude Geller's message.
I will be attending CPAC for the first time this year, and am saddened that the organization is restricting the scope of conservatism allowed to be represented. As Jonah Goldbergwrote before news of the Geller ban came forth:
Some will no doubt see this as CPAC bravely holding the line. But it reads to many in the public as a knee-jerk and insecure retreat at precisely the moment conservatives should be sending the opposite message. Maybe the near third of young Republicans who support gay marriage are wrong, but CPAC won't convince them - never mind other young voters - of that by fueling the storyline that conservatives are scared of gays.
It's not CPAC's fault that the borders of conservatism are shrinking, but it would be nice if at this moment it acted less like a border guard keeping all but the exquisitely credentialed out and more like a tourist board, explaining why it's such a great place to visit - and live.
CPAC is a private group, and free to manage its affairs as it sees fit, of course. But it occupies a significant role in politics because many stripes of conservatives have regarded it as something close to a comprehensive representation of where conservatism stands. That is certainly not the case this year. Too bad.