As Rachel noted last night, the Conservative Political Action Conference will get underway in Washington today, and will feature a cavalcade of Republican leaders and prominent far-right voices. It is no exaggeration to say this is the largest and most important conservative gathering of the year.
Indeed, it's such an annual draw that every member of the Republican congressional leadership and each of the leading GOP presidential candidates -- Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich -- will be on hand to shamelessly pander to the right-wing audience.
Following speeches from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Rep. Michele Bachmann, CPAC is hosting the panel "The Failure of Multiculturalism: How the pursuit of diversity is weakening the American Identity" with Peter Brimelow, the founder and head of VDARE.com.
VDARE is a White Nationalist website, run by Brimelow, which frequently publishes the works of anti-Semitic and racist writers and is named after Virginia Dare, who is believed to be the first child of English parents born in the Americas. Brimelow, an immigrant from Great Britain, expresses his fear of the loss of America's white majority, blames non-white immigrants for social and economic problems and urges the Republican Party to give up on minority voters and focus on winning the white vote. He also said that a New York City subway is the same as an Immigration and Naturalization Service waiting room, "an underworld that is not just teeming but also almost entirely colored."
When BuzzFeed's Rosie Gray asked CPAC organizers if they would renounce Brimelow's participation at the conference, they chose not to.
It's worth noting that this represents a disconcerting regression on CPAC's part. Last year, many conference participants made clear that they wanted white nationalists to have no role at the annual event. This year, that's apparently no longer the case.
Also note, radical conspiracy theorist Joseph Farah has been boycotting CPAC in recent years because organizers did not want him to host a panel questioning President Obama's citizenship. This year, Farah has been "welcomed back with open arms."
GOProud, a gay conservative group, meanwhile, has been rejected as a CPAC sponsor. Brimelow and Farah are welcome to be part of the conference, but gays must be kept at arm's length.
Perhaps someone could ask Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, and the entire congressional Republican leadership how comfortable they are with attending a conference with white nationalists and radical conspiracy theorists. If the situation were reversed, and Democratic candidates were part of an event with far-left extremists, it seems likely the questions would come up.