Right-wing conferences have become more plentiful and more 'extreme': report
Far-right Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been drawing vehement criticism around the world for a July 23 speech in Romania, where he declared that a “mixed-race world” is harmful to western countries and promoted the racist Great Replacement theory. The speech was so racist that even long-time Orbán adviser Zsuzsa Hegedüs resigned in protest, calling it “a purely Nazi diatribe worthy of Joseph Goebbels.” But despite that controversy, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) plans to go ahead and feature Orbán at the start of its Dallas gathering. Orbán, in fact, is scheduled to give one of the keynote speeches when the event opens on Thursday, August 4.
The four-day Dallas event, which continues through Sunday, August 7, has a far-right lineup of MAGA culture warriors. In addition to Orbán, CPAC Texas 2022 will feature former President Donald Trump, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, “War Room” host and former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
In an article published by Mother Jones’ website in early August and also included in the publication’s September/October 2022 print edition, journalist Stephanie Mencimer takes a look at the abundance of right-wing conferences and conventions that are being held in the U.S. in 2022 — stressing that such events have become both more plentiful and more “extreme.”
“With no analog on the left, these events are an underappreciated component of the MAGA infrastructure,” Mencimer explains. “Amplified by conservative media, they help propel candidates and influencers far beyond in-person audiences. Even as they claim to showcase the GOP’s best and brightest, they also provide a national platform for disgraced politicians, bona fide criminals, and others who might have trouble finding a real job — but discover the conference circuit to be a generous source of speaking fees and book sales. These gatherings are a stew of nationalist ideas and conspiracy theories served to the movement’s most enthusiastic base, priming them for future election battles. And oh, the merch!”
Mencimer continues, “There are now so many conservative events that they are practically a full-time job for a host of Trump acolytes…. These events also offer a springboard for purported victims of woke cancel culture or otherwise infamous actors seeking to become GOP candidates, a dynamic that pushes the party further to the extremes.”
CPAC was founded in 1974, the year in which President Richard Nixon resigned because of the Watergate scandal — and in 2022, it is way to the right of where it was 48 years ago. Never Trump conservative S.E. Cupp has slammed CPAC’s willingness to promote Orbán as a glaring example of the event’s intellectual decline.
CPAC is competing with many more right-wing events than it was in the past. Mencimer notes that when she started covering CPAC in the late 2000s, the “options” for right-wing conferences “consisted mainly of…. CPAC and the Value Voters Summit.” Now, she observes, the options also include everything from AMPFest to the Truth & Liberty Coalition Conference to the Turning Point USA Young Women’s Leadership Summit to White nationalist Nick Fuentes’ America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC).
The journalist points out that CPAC, along the way, became more and more supportive of Republican Party “wingnuts.”
“Even before the Trump era,” Mencimer notes, “CPAC was a playground for the party’s wingnuts…. A decade ago, CPAC came under fire for featuring White nationalists on a panel. Today, such views have arguably moved center stage, with Trump and Tucker Carlson as headliners. Even so, organizers walk a fine line in trying to keep out the party’s most embarrassing racists or professional trolls drawn to the show, like the vendors selling anti-Muslim t-shirts, or White nationalists like ‘groyper’ Nick Fuentes, who is always trying to crash the party. After CPAC banned them, Fuentes and the groypers started a rival conference — same time, same town.”
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