The American Conservative Union’s annual conference (CPAC) is this week, and it looks like it will be quite the spectacle. Conservatives have spent the last year taking each other to the mat over Trump, and the ACU is not making reconciliation any easier.
Most of the controversy falls around the event’s now dis-invited choice for keynote speaker, Milo Yiannopoulos. He is a homosexual alt-Right columnist and editor-at-large for Breitbart, as well as a general internet provocateur. He is also seen as a major figurehead of the alt-Right, an anti-Semite, and all-around amoral human being. In fact, after he was selected to keynote CPAC, a video surfaced of Yiannopoulos defending pedophilia.
Yes, you read that right. The American Conservative Union invited a keynote speaker who publicly condones pedophilia.
Let’s not forget that some speakers have faced CPAC’s ire over minor policy issues. CPAC expressed concerns over hosting Senator Marco Rubio during the Gang of Eight fiasco. This year, the two senators who voted no on Betsy DeVos’ confirmation were uninvited. I’d consider Marco Rubio a far more conservative figure than Milo (who I do not believe is a conservative at all), but I guess the ACU considers policy disagreements the graver sin.
Members of the ACU board made statements over the weekend claiming they were not consulted over this decision. However, Matt Schlapp, the ACU chairman, defending his choice on Twitter on the grounds that it is all about free speech.
Apparently, if you just use your free speech for its own sake, eschew political correctness, and provoke the right people, you too can speak at CPAC! Who cares if you’re into underage boys or girls?
In all seriousness, though, this is not conservative by any definition. Call it populism, call it nationalism, call it something else. But conservatism promotes human flourishing according to the proven ideals of history. It is not about crass rabble rousing for its own sake. As a conservative, I don’t want to have to explain that conservatism isn’t really down with pedophilia. We have far bigger battles to fight.
Thankfully, this story had a happy ending. Almost immediately after the video surfaced, the ACU board voted unanimously to dis-invite Milo. It’s a major step in the right direction, but I hope Schlapp and the ACU will never pull this nonsense again.