Commentary: Why didn't GOP question CPAC panelist's alleged white supremacist ties?

The Kansas City StarFebruary 13, 2012 

Memo to the GOP: White supremacists no longer announce themselves by marching hooded and torching crosses.

Last week, GOP officials were told that a former leader of a group preaching the genetic superiority of white people would appear on a panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference in D.C.

Initial blank looks were understandable. Few know the name American Renaissance. But a well-researched backgrounder was available through the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights, which said Robert Vandervoort was once a leader of Chicagoland Friends of American Renaissance.

In a statement released Sunday to The Star, Vandervoort called the accusations “smears” and “exaggerations,” saying, “I have never been a member of any group that has advocated hate or violence.”

Not that the GOP bothered to ask. Renaissance was brushed off as just another differing viewpoint.

On Saturday, Vandervoort sat alongside Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach for a CPAC immigration panel. Republican U.S. Rep. David Rivera of Florida was also present.

No one questioned the alleged associations. Vandervoort represented ProEnglish, which opposes multiculturalism and bilingualism.

Jared Taylor founded American Renaissance in 1990, according to Leonard Zeskind’s book “Blood and Politics.”

Writing in 2001, Taylor proclaimed immigration the “greatest threat to whites today.” He wrote that one step is changing attitudes “at the right levels” and getting rid of “anti-white policies.”

But his real concern was “that would still leave us with nearly 100 million non-whites living in the country.”

Taylor is not talking about illegal versus legal immigration. He worries about too many minorities, period.

Reasonable people can express differing views about immigration, crime and class issues entwined with race without spewing eugenics ideology.

This is different. And it’s dangerous.

White supremacists believe America is doomed because of Hispanics, African-Americans and Asians. They are adept at finding space where their repugnant ideas can gain a foothold.

Republican circles need to at least ask why their meeting might be seen as fertile soil.

Some factions of the tea party already faced that ugly question. And many within its leadership spoke out, telling supremacists their venom was not welcome.

But a man with alleged unsavory ties was invited to the CPAC gathering. And the views he has been linked to went completely unchallenged by the GOP’s spineless non-reaction.

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