Pamela Geller, The American Thinker: CPAC Turns Me Away…Yet Again

ByPamela Geller on February 26, 2016

CPAC doesn’t deserve the name “Conservative.” It should be called the “Cowards Political Action Conference.”

I spent months trying to host an event at CPAC. They refused me. Again.
I submitted my request back in October. During the many long-winded discussions we had after that about security, I had to promise that if I came to CPAC, there would be “no cartoons.” So I had to surrender on the point where free speech is most challenged in order to speak out there for free speech. They also told me I could not publicize my event beforehand. My past events at CPAC were always SRO, but if I couldn’t publicize it, how would people know to come? Nevertheless, I agreed to every request…. read the whole thing.

February 26, 2016
CPAC Turns Me Away…Yet Again,

By Pamela Geller
Longtime supporters and followers of my work are acutely aware of the ongoing problems with the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C. For years, I have wrestled and wrangled with and cajoled the CPAC organizers to allow me the same privilege they routinely extend to other conservative groups: the right to host events at the largest gathering of conservatives in the country. Every year I faced roadblocks, delays, and lame excuses — all stemming from the crippling cowardice of the CPAC leadership and its adamant refusal to grapple honestly with the jihad threat. This year, with jihadis threatening the whole world, it hasn’t gotten better — it has gotten worse.

Back in October, I contacted Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, which puts on CPAC. I informed him that my organization, the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), wanted to be a full-fledged sponsor of CPAC, so that I could host an event, “How Liberal Ideology Is Crippling National Security Capability.” Being a CPAC sponsor is not some honor that CPAC organizers confer; any conservative group can buy sponsor status.

Thinking our money was as good as anyone else’s, we invited the internationally renowned Dutch freedom fighter Geert Wilders, who just won the “Politician of the Year” award in The Netherlands. We also invited British politician Paul Weston of LibertyGB, who was arrested for quoting Winston Churchill’s words about Islam; Swiss freedom fighter Oskar Freysinger; Israeli political analyst Caroline Glick; and DHS whistleblower Philip Haney.

I followed up with Schlapp, ACU Executive Director Dan Schneider, and the ACU’s Director of Events & Conferences, Carin Walters, regularly. I was put off, put down, jerked around, and made to go jump through hoops — which I did. I followed up for months while they “studied the issue.” They were concerned about security because of the death threats I have received since my free speech conference in Garland, Texas last May was attacked by Jihadis. I assured them that my entire security apparatus, a seasoned team of the top professionals in their field, would be in place (at our expense, not CPAC’s), and that several of my speakers who are European politicians would also be coming with their own secret service protection.

This should have been adequate. I would hardly have been the first person to be at CPAC after receiving death threats. And even after receiving death threats in the past, I have been at CPAC many times. There was a time I was asked to speak, or at least introduce, notables at CPAC. At CPAC 2008, I introduced Mark Steyn. I also once introduced David Horowitz. But once I started to criticize CPAC, the ACU’s David Keene, along with members of the ACU board such as Grover Norquist and Suhail Khan, those invitations quickly stopped coming.

Still, I have hosted several independent events during CPAC — by having other sponsors secure a room for me somewhat clandestinely — but we succeeded in bringing much-needed coverage of the jihad threat that CPAC was resolutely ignoring. Apparently because they were determined to continue ignoring it, I’ve had problems with the ACU leadership for years, as they have steadfastly refused to address the jihad threat and related issues adequately, and have continuously marginalized the most courageous voices.

At CPAC 2009, I was one of the first to give Geert Wilders a platform in America, after I fought fiercely for months trying to get Wilders on the official CPAC roster. They should have been clamoring to have him. He represents the fight for the idea of American freedom, our unalienable rights as endowed by our creator. After much conversation, David Keene was planning to give the Courage Under Fire Award to Wilders at CPAC for his fight for free speech (the very bedrock of conservative principles).

Yet within 24 hours of the decision to give Wilders the Charlton Heston Courage Under Fire award, it was withdrawn. Keene canceled the decision to honor Wilders because of an article in Newsweek in which David Horowitz and my AFDI colleague Robert Spencer criticized CPAC for its Norquist-mandated refusal to deal with the jihad or Islamic supremacism in any meaningful or effective way. Upon their refusal, I raised the funds and I brought him myself. Imagine having to battle with the head of the American Conservative Union to have the future prime minister of the Netherlands, who continues to be persecuted for speaking the truth, address an audience at CPAC.

At CPAC 2010, I hosted AFDI’s inaugural event: “Jihad: The Political Third Rail,” featuring former Pentagon Islamic law expert Stephen Coughlin, Allen West, and other important voices — thanks to the David Horowitz Freedom Center (DHFC), which booked the room under its name. The following year, the DHFC came through for us again, and CPAC was the site of the world premiere of our acclaimed documentary, “The Ground Zero Mosque: The Second Wave of the 9/11 Attacks.”

Then at CPAC 2012, I hosted a panel on Islamic Law in America, featuring Justice Department whistleblower J. Christian Adams, Robert Muise of the American Freedom Law Center, and others. By this time, David Horowitz was no longer a sponsor of CPAC: the Norquist/Khan cabal was deeply problematic to many others besides me. We partnered with the Tea Party. Despite our being under the official umbrella of the Tea Party, CPAC put that event in a tiny, windowless, sweltering room — which was packed to the rafters with people, as CPAC knew it would be, given the urgency of the subject and the fact that it wasn’t being discussed in any official CPAC event. It was openly vengeful, and yet another indication of how petty the ACU leadership is.

At CPAC 2013, I appeared on Breitbart’s “Uninvited” panel — after being banned by the ACU. During that conference, I met with Al Cardenas, who was then the ACU’s chairman. He admitted to me that I had been banned by the ACU board and apologized for this, assuring me that I would be on the official CPAC roster of speakers the following year. On June 1, 2014, however, Cardenas resigned — so he almost certainly knew when he made that promise that it was an empty one. Schlapp took over, and when I applied in January 2015 to secure a space, I was told that I had asked too late. “If only I had asked earlier,” they said.

So this year, I asked in October. During the many long-winded discussions we had after that about security, I had to promise that if I came to CPAC, there would be “no cartoons.” So I had to surrender on the point where free speech is most challenged in order to speak out there for free speech. They also told me I could not publicize my event beforehand. My past events at CPAC were always SRO, but if I couldn’t publicize it, how would people know to come? Nevertheless, I agreed to every request.

Then, after telling me for months that they were concerned about security despite the extensive arrangements I planned to have in place, and delaying until there was almost not enough time for me to put together the event, Schneider told me Tuesday that they were not allowing AFDI to be a sponsor – not because of security concerns, but because I have criticized them in the past for not paying adequate attention to the jihad threat.

When Schneider told me that I was being denied because of the “negative press coverage” I had previously given them, after months of saying that they were hesitating because of something else, I responded that I had reported on what happened. I reported what was true and accurate. Back on our first phone call, Schneider had even admitted that I had been right about CPAC: that in previous years the conference had gone to great lengths to avoid the subject of jihad and sharia. And yet now that was why they were denying me an opportunity to host an event there. It looks as if Schneider’s new and improved CPAC is the same as the old, broken CPAC.

The ACU is so small and thin-skinned over the negative publicity that I gave them in the past for ignoring the jihad that they’re doing it again, and barring what would have been a significant discussion of the most important issue of our time. For that is what I did for years, and would have done again this year: I have done what CPAC refuses to do, and given CPAC attendees opportunities to become knowledgeable about covering the issues that ought to be center stage, prime time at CPAC.

It is apparently official CPAC policy at this point to avoid and ignore the greatest national security threat to our country — or at best to feature speakers whose analysis is hamstrung by political correctness and ignorance of the subject. Year in, year out, the ACU has managed to keep jihad and sharia off the CPAC schedule. The ACU is the right’s largest and most influential grassroots umbrella organization, and yet it has abandoned conservative principles and morphed into a fleshy, ambiguous, compromised political machine doling out money and favors for cronies — when it is doing anything at all.

The Middle East is on fire. ISIS has vowed to commit a jihad attack larger than 9/11 and called on Muslims to murder American civilians. The country is deeply concerned about the jihad issue, and yet it is hardly anywhere on the CPAC schedule, and they’re not allowing me space because I criticized their weakness and flabbiness on this very issue in the past.

The work my organization and I do is critical and singular. It addresses the most serious issue of our time. CPAC should be inviting us, not banning us. The latest annual Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) points to 2016 as being perhaps the worst year in history for terrorism, and the Muslim migrant invasion presents an unprecedented threat to the West.

CPAC doesn’t deserve the name “Conservative.” It should be called the “Cowards Political Action Conference.”

Pamela Geller is the President of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), publisher of and author of The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America and Stop the Islamization of America: A Practical Guide to the Resistance. Follow her on Twitter here. Like her on Facebook here.

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  • Mahou Shoujo

    The worst enemy the republicans have, is themselves. To quote “Pogo” We have seen the enemy, it is us”.


      Remember that many “Republicans” are anything BUT conservative.

      • Mahou Shoujo

        “Red” conservatives are an embarrassment to the nation and themselves.

  • rambler

    Not inviting people because of “security” issues….. more like they don’t want to be in the cross hairs of some islamic nutjob, which in the end will only encourage that jihadi nutjob. Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!

    • IzlamIsTyranny

      That’s the excuse-du-jour, but I’m sure there’s a LOT more to it than that.

  • Christina

    Pamela, after reading your thoughtful column, I would say Grover Norquist has a lot to do with this. Since he is part of the muslim brotherhood and acts like a conservative in name only, I wouldn’t be surprised. The man seems to have his hand in almost everything from the NRA, to CPAC and lots in between. You need to do a feature on him and expose his shenanigans.

    • wildjew

      The Republican party (my party) is full of wusses and eunuchs.

      • IzlamIsTyranny

        There’s a guy who used to work w/Grover who says he has most probably gone over to the Dark Side already (he’s also involved in CPAC, but I forget his name). Grover has been a go-between for muslums and US government officials.

        • IzlamIsTyranny

          Gaffney is the one I was referring to, thanks ljm4!

          • ljm4

            His presentation of facts is really great. The immigration info is stellar…

        • Dravaa

          Grover was always on the Dark Side from well before he married his Muslim wife and converted.

      • ljm4

        We have a one party system and we pee-ons are mere serfs.

    • ljm4

      Frank Gaffney has a whole pdf on him at Center for Security Freedom. THere is a wealth of information on Grover there. There’s a segment of the 10 part course about him too.

      • ElmoGlick

        Grover’s allies on the left have managed to do a smear job on Frank as well, deligitimizing him and relegating him as well to the looney fringe. The SPLC has had a major role, and so have the leftist journalists like Dana Milbank.

  • IzlamIsTyranny

    CPAC has obviously been compromised. Who’s funding them these days?

    • ljm4

      I don’t think Grover is the only muslim welcomed in the inner circle.

      • SFTOBEY

        I’m sure he isn’t. He is nothing more than a traitor – and should be outed as such.

        • ElmoGlick

          I don’t understand why Michael Medved, who purports to be against Islamic extremism, calls Norquist a friend, and interviews him on his program.


      Very, VERY good question. As I suggested to Pam just minutes ago, find out who is backing them; and siphon off the support of those backers if at all possible.

    • Arcadia P

      Maybe the Saudis?

    • joe1429

      Probably the bushes and romneys

  • Ichabod Crain

    Have you ever tried to do a TED Talk – you could reach millions!

    • ElmoGlick

      They’d probably ban Pamela, too. She can do as much by doing her own videos, but I wonder if Youtube would ban those?

    • sulaiman

      lol yall trippin

  • RCCA

    They don’t even have the nerve to tell you the true reason they don’t want you there. You’re better off not associating with liars and creeps like that. IMO. They act like they will be contaminated by associating with you but I think the opposite is true. Why not appeal to a broader audience?

    • IzlamIsTyranny

      The dis-invitation to Mrs. Geller and Robert Spencer is obviously very much a back-room deal — because the fact her earlier presentations were nearly SRO implies CPAC doesn’t give a FFF what the people want.

      • ElmoGlick

        I went to the 2009 event with Wilders and it was, indeed, packed. SRO.


    “Cowards Political Conference” indeed. REAL conservatives should boycott CPAC – and tell Grover Norquist and his muzlim buddies to go to hell.

    What is more, people like you, Pam, and others concerned with this very real threat should hold your OWN conference – at the same time, and nearby to the “official” CPAC conference. Then make it quite clear that there is nothing “conservative” about CPAC’s own dismissal of the twin threats of sharia and jihad; that, rather they are SUBMITTING to sharia law by not even mentioning those very real threats.

    Personally, I’d like to see the ACU and CPAC both go the way of the dodo bird. But they are getting their money from somewhere. Find out where and siphon it off, if at all possible.

  • Robert Bayer

    CPAC …. not worth attending if Pamela Geller is not invited.

  • Numb3rTech

    Sounds like their poor itty-bitty feelings have been hurt. Have they built themselves a fancy safe room where they can go whine & cry? It sounds like CPAC is turning progressive liberal with their actions! They are worthless as leaders if this is the way they treat Pamela. CPAC must be moving over to CNN for safety soon.

  • Don Grantham

    Fine. No cartoons. Just photographic evidence of Islamic brutality. They’ll need to provide extra room…

  • Expat88

    That is a big loss not have Pamela and her intended guests at CPAC. Especially not to have Oskar Freysinger there. He is such a total stud!

  • Most of us do not want to die–particularly a violent, painful, gruesome death. When I attempt to conceive of reasons for people avoiding defamation of Islam, I think of this and doubly if they have children and grandchildren.

    Do I think that this fear is sufficient reason to excuse what we might call cowardice? I do think that people in such positions of authority and responsibility should NOT be there if they can NOT resolve this dilemma with: “no, I will NOT submit.”

    For the record, I have NOT been in such a position.

  • Jack

    Ian shocked that an Organkization such as CPAC is treating you this way out of weakness of character and deficiency of foresight. It is such as the the other commentator said their Great Loss. Keep researching & presenting eventually the true Conservative Platform will emerge begging you to present.

  • Drew the Infidel

    What did you expect? CPAC is nothing more than second cousin to, and mouthpiece for, the incompetent RNC. To call its claim of conservatism a fraud is a masterpiece of understatement.

  • Larenzo1

    Never trusted CPAC or Red Snake Eric Erickson’s bunch.

  • Isabellathecrusader

    **********************************MISS PAMELA**********************************

    We ought to have one big hairy protest right outside the convention center with lots of signs and lots of flags. Even a small group of us would make people think. They can’t ignore you forever.


  • NotTheMama

    The Islamic threat to the west is an important issue and getting worse. As long as this is ignored it will continue to get worse.

    I was at CPAC the last time Pamela was there. The presentations were great. I haven’t been back to CPAC since then.

  • WarEagle82

    Why not host an event in Virginia? At least there, like-minded compatriots can carry firearms and double-up as guests and security.

    I won’t be going to CPAC because it is always either in DC or Maryland where 2nd Amendment rights are ignored and criminalized.

  • Patriot Girl

    Pamela they fear your message and you! This organization is one big RINO fest and they pander to Muslims bec of their hopeful they will vote republican one day! Yeah right! Like never! These ungrateful savages the Mullah’s govt keeps importing if not stopped will overtake the Latin hordes who swarm our borders now and indeed will Muslims Willa become a big voting block! For demoncraps! Pamela, You deserve a voice there as much as anyone else! But it’s a pandering boys club still and your message is too truthful for these posers to associate with!! Your a hero, Pamela and do more for this nation than any of those pandering posers going to speak at that event! God bless you and keep you safe! We need your voice!

  • Dave Weinbaum

    Yet, you won’t even respond to my request to come on my radio show–without any preconditions. Why not?

    • AlOmega

      Does she have to respond “yes” to every single inquiry? Why?

    • IzlamIsTyranny

      Maybe because f’ing muslums tried to kill her in Garland, Texas renob?

    • SJS

      How small of you, Dave.

  • scocope

    “Conservatives” are just another wing of the Establishment. Anything (or one) that may upset their gravy train is not welcome.

  • AlOmega

    CPAC… how pathetic. Pretty shocking actually. Let someone else arrange it, and then invite you as the guest. Voila!

    Don’t worry. This leftist insanity will change once Trump is in office.

  • Gleaner1

    Although I live in the UK and therefore am in the dark about what’s possible in the US, when I found avenues of communication closed to me 20 years ago I stopped kicking a closed door and went over the heads of those obstructing me.

    Is it not possible to hire a hall and stage a fringe meeting {as they’re called in UK} and publicise it in advance?

    If promoted right, people would surely come if they thought they were getting an inside line on the truth, hidden as it is by your establishment.

    Trump is tapping into this frustration, and doing pretty well from it, why not have a go, at least you won’t have to sprinkle on your own fireworks of truth to please the “party”.

    • ElmoGlick

      Maybe somebody should try to organize a counter-CPAC, held at the same time, in the same city, and invite all the conservative luminaries who are regular presenters at CPAC. Accuse CPAC of associating with he violent fringe and weak on our enemies. Force the conservative leadership, including the elected officials, bloggers and commentators, to choose.

  • Rob Porter

    Regarding the cowards of Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), I simply, once again, quote the great Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: “A decline in courage may be the most striking feature that an outside observer notices in the West today. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling and intellectual elites, causing an impression of a loss of courage by the entire society. There are many courageous individuals, but they have no determining influence on public life.

    “Political and intellectual functionaries exhibit this depressing passivity and perplexity
    in their actions and in their statements, and even more so in their self-serving rationales as to how realistic, reasonable, and intellectually and even morally justified it is to base state policies on weakness and cowardice.”

  • American

    Disgusting! Cowards is right. Many people need you and your presentation, including the Donald. Maybe you should produce it anyway, then post it or film it. You are truly wonderful!

    Thank you and Love you.

  • kktex12

    acu and cpac are a bunch of gutless cowards. norquist is a traitor and should receive the Bendict Arnold award.

  • American

    How did Norquist and Khan get on the ACU Board? And somehow we’re surprised by this behavior?

    • IzlamIsTyranny

      Norquist was on the board of the NRA! Islamic petrodollars speak loudly in the dying western democracies of the world.

      • American

        I find that incredible. If this is our nature (selling our souls to the devil), we are doomed. They couldn’t see any downside consequences?

  • Arkansas MIke

    Gave up on them a while back. Bunch of RINOs / liars / dhimmis. We need a platform that is not so prone to corruption and democrat butt-kissing.

  • sulaiman

    too bad so sad – nobody likes you or your idiotic cheerleaders

  • Frank VanArsdall

    Shenanigans of GOP, CPAC, and many of the professional “movement” conservatives bring to mind lessons that I learned in the Reagan Revolution of the 80’s:

    I joined the College Republicans (CR’s) in 1980. While there I served as Chapter Chair of the ISU CR’s and the state CR Vice-Chair for Indiana. In that capacity, I met many people who I came to think of as political mercinaries.

    These were bright, ambitious young people who had their sights set on bettering themselves by getting involved in politics. Problem was, most of them had no core values. Those that did, privately expressed values that nowadays are expressed publically by Bernie Sanders.

    However, they were bright enough to see that Reagan was a winning cause and that conservatism was popular.

    They wanted, more than anything, to win and be popular.

    When in the company of others whom they thought like themselves, they would deride Reagan and the average people who loved him. Publically, they would say anything rise to leadership roles in “the movement.”

    I believe people like this now dominate the professional conservative leadership. They make very good livings by dictating what conservatism should be for the rest of us.

    The ACU and CPAC have long since ceased to be about ideas and priciples; holding onto their place of power has become the priority.

  • Trident

    CPAC= The Koch Brothers…They own the shadow Republican Party ( The Real Party) ….What we see in the media about the party is smoke and mirrors…
    Koch Brothers ..absolute threat to the National Security of the US …
    ISLAM is a close second ….
    There is no way Pamela you will get to stand on their stage…They are terrified of your past history of exposing them for what they really are…