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December 29, 2010

CPAC in the News Again, Sorta

I don't know about you guys, but I'm excited about CPAC this year. It's my first year in D.C., so I can actually go. Unfortunately, not everyone is as excited about it. Some groups are again organizing a boycott over the inclusion of gay conservative group GOProud.

When the latest story came out about the social conservative groups who are choosing to absent themselves from the conference, I decided not to post about it. First of all, it was just after Christmas and who wants to deal with a downer like that during the holidays? Second, the story was in World Net Daily and nowhere else. I suspected WND was simply continuing its crusade against GOProud (recall the kerfuffle when Ann Coulter had the audacity to speak at their Homocon party). Third, I figured WND's story and the various social con boycotts in general wouldn't make much of a splash on the Right, but rather give the Left something to chortle about.

As Jimmie at the Sundries Shack discovered, it was a good prediction:

And you know what? The boycott isn’t drawing much attention from the right, if any at all. Take a look at this memeorandum thread. See all those blogs writing about this story? They’re almost all left-wing blogs and I can guarantee you they’re not writing about the noble moral stand of the Concerned Women of America or the Family Research Council. Without even looking, I can tell you they’re eating up the “I hates me some gay people” quotes like sweet, sweet candy and using words like “bigot” and “hater”. It’s a mortal lock that they’re playing those two groups as representative of conservatives as a whole, to make us all look like homophobic cretins.

Whether CWA and FRC are taking a "noble moral stand" is somewhat questionable anyway. FRC says in WND that it has been "very involved in CPAC for over a decade." In fact, FRC stopped participating in CPAC a few years ago and now operates a rival conference, the Values Voters Summit. Encouraging people to skip CPAC and wait for its own conference is fine, but let's not pretend FRC doesn't have this self-interested motive in making CPAC look bad in the papers.

Stacy McCain doesn't understand the "auto-marginalization" of these groups, given the unparalleled opportunity at CPAC to reach out to other conservatives. But I suspect that they don't believe they are marginalizing themselves. Many conservative identity groups, particularly the Christian-identity Christian-themed special-interest groups* making the ruckus here-- FRC, Liberty Counsel, NOM -- already feel isolated in an immoral world. It's an easy calculation: will they get more by reaching out to other (immoral) conservatives at CPAC or by making a flashy stand in WND and then hold their own Christian conference?

The target constituency for these groups isn't conservatism as a whole, but a rather more limited group. I think they were genuinely surprised by the general lack of reception to their vocal GOProud opposition last year (remember the Sorba incident?) and this is the response. If they can't convince conservatives of the evils of GOProud inclusion (we're not even talking about the "evils" of gays here, we're talking about merely standing in the same room with them), well, they're going to take their ball and go home.

Update: *I was informed in comments that refering to these groups as Christian-identity groups is defamatory. Rather than fight about whether they are in fact identity groups with explicitly Christian goals and outlook, I'll just strike and rephrase to avoid the disputed words. A google search turned up a movement refered to as "Christian Identity" which is basically a racist idea masquerading as religion. I had no intention of associating FRC or the other special interest groups above with the racist Christian Identity movement and I'll avoid that phrasing in the future since it comes with unfortunate implications and a likelihood of misunderstanding.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 08:15 AM

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