Leftists are convinced that the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is a nefarious conclave of secret Nazis plotting an insurrection. Many activists on Twitter have seized on the shape of the CPAC stage at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Fla., claiming it is shaped like a secret rune to cater to Neo-Nazis. Partially for this reason, activists have demanded that Hyatt Hotels stop hosting this “hateful” confab. Hyatt rightly stood up to this absurd cancel push.
Leftists have mocked CPAC as “QPAC,” slamming Republicans as supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory, even though the worst offender in the GOP, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), has disavowed QAnon. This secret Nazi conspiracy theory makes QAnon seem sane.
“Dear [Hyatt], Are you okay with Nazi symbols being used on your properties?” history teacher and PBS Zoom video podcast host Sari Beth Rosenberg asked on Twitter. “Because if you fail to speak out & do something about this immediately, I’ll be sure to no longer patronize any of your properties ever again.”
Rosenberg shared an image that has gone viral on Twitter, comparing the design of the CPAC stage to an oral rune, which the Nazi Waffen SS units used during World War II. While Neo-Nazi groups do use this symbol, it is far less known than the swastika. Even the document that Rosenberg posted to explain the symbol included other symbols like the schutzstaffel (SS) bolts and the Celtic cross, which the Nazis used but which is far more associated with Ireland and Christianity than with the Nazis.
Are you okay with Nazi symbols being used on your properties?
Because if you fail to speak out & do something about this immediately, I’ll be sure to no longer patronize any of your properties ever again. #CPAC2021 #CPACstage #CPACNazi pic.twitter.com/beFauYAMwO
— Sari Beth Rosenberg (@saribethrose) February 27, 2021
Even the connection to this symbol is extremely tenuous. The CPAC stage looks slightly like the inverse of the symbol, but it seems organizers set up a stage for multiple speakers and panels, as CPAC has hosted this week. In previous years, CPAC stages have often had two wings on the right and left, with two pathways by which speakers enter the stage. The wings allow for multiple panelists on either side of the stage.
Matt Schlapp, chair of the American Conservative Union (ACU), which organizes CPAC, definitively debunked this absurd conspiracy theory.
“Stage design conspiracies are outrageous and slanderous,” Schlapp tweeted. “We have a long standing commitment to the Jewish community. Cancel culture extremists must address antisemitism within their own ranks. CPAC proudly stands with our Jewish allies, including those speaking from this stage.”
Stage design conspiracies are outrageous and slanderous. We have a long standing commitment to the Jewish community. Cancel culture extremists must address antisemitism within their own ranks. CPAC proudly stands with our Jewish allies, including those speaking from this stage.
— Matt Schlapp (@mschlapp) February 27, 2021
Indeed, CPAC hosts many Jewish speakers, supports the Jewish State of Israel, and celebrates Judeo-Christian values. The official CPAC program included two Jewish prayer services, a Purim luncheon, and a Shabbat dinner on Friday.
Rabbi Yaakov Menken, managing director of the Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV) had the perfect response. “The left is desperate to draw attention from their elevation of antisemites in Congress… so they claim a stage design is antisemitic,” he said on Twitter.
“The Left traffics in ‘dog whistles’ so incredibly sensitive that only leftists can hear them, as compared to the supposed targets, who only see a stage,” Menken added in a statement to PJ Media.
“I wish that all those who for politics pretend to care about hate, real or imagined, would speak up when Orthodox Jews are generalized and defamed by elected officials,” Yossi Gestetner, co-founder of the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council (OJPAC), told PJ Media. Gestetner has often spoken up against Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D-N.Y.) disgusting targeting of the Jewish community.
“Those who don’t speak up about hate when it does not serve their politics, are frauds that cheapen the cause of fighting bigotry,” Gestetner added.
As a descendant of European Jews who fled Pogroms in the land that today is known as Belarus and a longtime attendee (and one-time speaker) at CPAC, I can say it takes a special kind of insanity to read Nazism into this platform.
Leftists wouldn’t listen to Schlapp, Menken, or Gestetner, however.
Brian Taylor Cohen, an actor and podcast host, mocked the ACU chair’s statement, saying, “I mean the stage is literally shaped like a Nazi insignia but okay.”
Others seized on the Nazi symbolism claim as if it were proof that the Right is proving itself the home of white supremacists and Neo-Nazis.
“In 2018, I, and others, were calling out the white supremacists who made this sign. We were ridiculed and told we were overreacting. It’s now accepted as the white power sign. The CPAC stage is in the shape of a Nazi symbol. THEY ARE TELLING IS WHO THEY ARE. Not a coincidence,” Kimberley Johnson, an author, feminist activist, and podcast host, tweeted.
James S.A. Corey, the pen name for Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, authors of the Expanse, insisted that the NAZI stage couldn’t possibly be an accident.
“Trust me guys, I am intimately involved in the endless discussion and decision making process that goes into designing a set before it is ever built. There is literally zero chance a famous Nazi symbol gets built into a set because, ‘no one realized it.’ That’s laughable,” Corey tweeted.
“Let’s be clear. This stage was built to mimic a Nazi symbol. This is what MAGA is,” argued Fred Guttenberg, a bereaved father who lost his daughter in the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018 and who became a gun control activist. “The only response that they have today is to stupidly scream ‘liberal or liberalism’ showing that even they are bored by their own bulls**t.”
Jeremy Newberger, CEO of Ironbound Films and a self-described political satirist, mockingly expressed sympathy with Jews at CPAC, who must secretly hate themselves or something.
“Imagine being a Jew at CPAC, passing false idol golden Tump in the hall, Watching speakers on a Nazi Odal rune stage, seeing Steve King and Nick Fuentes lecture on white power, and Matt Gaetz chatting with Holocaust deniers. I mean, just hand in your yamalka or GTFO of there,” Newberger tweeted.
While a leftist Twitter mob mobilized to pressure Hyatt to cancel CPAC, Hyatt actually proved itself the adult in the room.
“Hyatt’s most fundamental responsibility is to provide a safe and inclusive environment for all of our colleagues, guests and customers,” a spokesperson said. “We take pride in operating a highly inclusive environment and we believe that the facilitation of gatherings is a central element of what we do as a hospitality company. We believe in the right of individuals and organizations to peacefully express their views, independent of the degree to which the perspectives of those hosting meetings and events at our hotels align with ours.”
(I wish Hyatt had taken this position with ACT for America in 2018, but that’s a separate issue.)
Of course, actress Alyssa Milano interpreted this statement as Hyatt announcing it “is totally fine hosting Nazis.”
Some anti-Semites have attached themselves to mainstream conservative and Republican movements. This week, CPAC canceled a speaker, known as Young Pharaoh, who called Judaism a “complete lie.” President Donald Trump repeatedly denounced white supremacy and the former KKK leader David Duke, who endorsed him in 2016. Movements as large as the Republican Party are tempting targets for extremists seeking a mainstream audience, but mainstream conservatives have an excellent track record in repelling anti-Semites.
Democrats, however, have long winked at certain forms of anti-Semitism. Earlier this year, Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Minn.), Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), Marie Newman (D-Ill.), and Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) falsely accused Israel of refusing to vaccinate Palestinians when the Palestinian government has vociferously refused the Israeli vaccine and even repeatedly refused COVID-19 medical aid from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) because the UAE had been working toward normalization with Israel. Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan condemned Tlaib’s accusation as a “modern-day blood libel.”
While both Republicans and Democrats condemned Marjorie Taylor Greene’s anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, Democrats did not condemn Tlaib, Castro, Newman, and Bowman. Similarly, Democrats have not loudly condemned Cuomo’s horrific targeting of the Orthodox Jewish community in New York. He targeted the community for specific COVID-19 restrictions, warning about “a predominantly ultra-orthodox cluster.”
Perhaps Leftists should focus on the anti-Semitism right underneath their noses, rather than straining to connect CPAC to the Nazis via an obscure runic symbol.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.