CPAC, the conference Conservative activists have flocked to for decades, begins today. Past speakers have included Ronald Reagan, Bobby Jindal, Rand Paul, Scott Walker, and a list of other conservatives far too long to list here. CPAC has generally been the conference to go to if you want to meet other conservatives and get filled up on conservative ideas and discussions.
Some years have been better than others, of course. With confusion from and introduction to the alt-right in recent years, even Milo Yiannopoulos was invited last year—and subsequently disinvited after his comments apparently defending pedophilia came to light. Perhaps you’re as confused as I am. Isn’t the Conservative Political Action Conference supposed to be for Conservatives, generally speaking, and not those who favor an alternative to the right (i.e., alt-right)? Yes, and, for the most part, it is. But there are times when one scratches one’s head at the choice of a speaker.
Take this year, for example, when Marion Marechal-Le Pen, the niece of the nationalist leader Marine Le Pen, and granddaughter of the National Front party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen will be featured prominently as a speaker following Vice President Mike Pence.
If you’re like me, you aren’t laser-focused on French politics, so who is Ms. Le Pen and what is the National Front party? In short, the National Front party is well known to be a “far right” political party (read: European right, not American right. Fascists reside on the European right, while those who advocate for limited government are on the American right). Founder of the party, Jean-Marie Le Pen, famous for having said, “the gas chambers are a detail of the history of the Second World War,” was ejected from the party in 2015 by his daughter, Marine Le Pen, in an attempt to clean up its image, while she was in between presidential runs.
So, Marine is on the outs with her father and also had public fireworks with her niece, Marion Le Pen, soon to be speaker at CPAC, who is considered to be more hardline than her aunt when it comes to issues such as immigration, abortion, and same-sex marriage.
The question is this: in today’s political climate of alt-right contagion and whispers of nationalism (which, if not equal to fascism and anti-semitism, usually leads there), why invite someone with such a dubious background when we have plenty of solid conservatives to choose from?
No, I’m not suggesting a limitation of free speech—I’m a conservative, and that’s not what conservatives do. What I am suggesting, though, is that with the rise of nationalism and fascism worldwide—and with it having its effects here in America, too, there are more appropriate people to have standing on the stage addressing conservatives.
I’m assuming Ms. Le Pen will know her audience and will tailor her speech to talk about the policy issues she advocates with which American conservatives would agree. But why muddy the waters?
Marion has held office as well, under the same National Front party which, incidentally, received financial backing from Russia during last year’s presidential election. The same Russia which is trying to fool more people by creating something called the “World National-Conservative Movement,” which is chock-full of national socialists from around the world (but, hey, if it has the word “Conservative” in the title, it must be conservative).
In the epoch of time in which we live, with people falling prey to people who say enough things they agree with while the things they would disagree with are kept from them, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Or, at the very least, to go in with eyes wide open, knowing exactly who the speaker is you’re about to listen to.