CPAC’s Foes Hurl Fake Racism Charges at Right’s Venerable Gathering

Never has the left appeared to have so much interest in the well-being of Michael Steele.

He was called both an “Uncle Tom” and “Oreo cookie” (black on the outside, white on the inside) when he ran for the U.S. Senate. While running to become Maryland’s lieutenant governor, he had actual Oreo cookies thrown in his direction at a debate.

In 2009, he was elected chairman of the Republican National Committee. After that, a blogger posted an altered photo of this black man in blackface.

But the left holds him in high regard right now because he can be used to throw shade at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference.

During the event’s Ronald Reagan Dinner, American Conservative Union Communications Director Ian Walters was presented with a surprise award. During his extemporaneous remarks about his CPAC experiences, he mentioned the election of Barack Obama and the subsequent election of Steele to head the RNC. Sharing his opinion that there was too much identity politics at play, Walters said Steele was elected “because he’s a black guy – that was the wrong thing to do.”

Now, leftist media that once derided Steele is coming to his defense – obviously because there’s a bigger fish to fry. After all, there were no Richard Spencer drop-ins to make hay about this year.

Walters’ comment, for example, led to this headline in The Root: “Former RNC Chair Michael Steele Shocked by Racist Comment from Racist at Racist Conference.”

Now, as Paul Harvey used to say, it is time to hear the rest of the story.

Two members of the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network were in attendance at the dinner. They saw Walters speak, and they have their own interpretations of what happened that night and throughout CPAC. Not surprisingly, their views differ from The Root’s. One said The Root was even way off on the menu.

Project 21 member Deroy Murdock, a Fox News contributor and contributing editor for National Review, said:

American Conservative Union Communications Director Ian Walters, ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp and the ACU-sponsored Conservative Political Action Conference are all being accused of racism due to Walters’ comments at last Friday’s Ronald Reagan dinner. These absurd, ridiculous and phony charges deserve rejection and scorn.

I attended the Reagan dinner, already a warm CPAC memory among the many that I have enjoyed since my first CPAC in 1983. Schlapp invited Walters to the stage for an unexpected honor – a sort of lifetime-achievement award that startled Walters as much as it surprised the crowd. In off-the-cuff remarks, a visibly stunned Walters observed that conservatives struggled to respond to Obama’s election as president of the United States in 2008.

“That was a hill we got over,” Walters said, “and it was something we were all proud of. And we weren’t sure what to do. And in a little bit of cynicism, what did we do? This is a terrible thing: We elected Michael Steele to be the RNC chair because he’s a black guy, and that was the wrong thing to do.”

Walters surely would have made his point more eloquently had he planned to address the conferees and prepared a statement. That said, Walters expressed the concern that the Republican National Committee chose Steele as chairman, at least in part, due to identity politics: If a black man headed the Democrat Party, a black man should head the Republican Party.

Steele’s subsequent tenure, marked by inappropriate-expense controversies and other distractions, reinforced the notion that the RNC might have been better served by someone with stronger management skills.

Could Walters have spoken more carefully? Yes. Were his words a white-nationalist battle cry? No. Are CPAC’s enemies using episode this to hammer conservatives without facts? What else is new?

The Root’s Michael Harriott wrote last Saturday, “CPAC is the country’s biggest and most influential national Klan conservative political convention, uniting disparate entities like white people, Caucasian people, more white people and Ben Carson.”

This slurfest, no surprise, reflects Harriott’s disdain for the right. What it does not reflect is reality.

Let’s start with Ian Walters. Is he Finnish? Norwegian? Icelandic? It’s hard to tell, because his sapphire eyes and bathtub-white skin are so blinding.

Actually, Walters’ brown flesh gives proof of his Philippine ancestry. If Schlapp intended to showcase an honoree who embodies white supremacy, he should visit an ophthalmologist — at once.

Furthermore, if CPAC=KKK, why did it not only allow me – a black American – into the Potomac Ballroom on Friday afternoon but – believe it or not – ask me to moderate a panel of experts on the Trump/GOP tax cuts in full view of attendees and C-SPAN’s national TV audience?

Congress of Racial Equality spokesman Niger Innis and my fellow Fox News contributor Deneen Borelli hosted back-to-back, black-to-black panels. Innis’ defended the Second Amendment. Borelli, in no small task, interviewed White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney – one of President Donald J. Trump’s most influential advisors.

Heritage Foundation President Kay Cole James, Campus Reform Editor Lawrence Jones, Turning Point USA’s Candace Owens and Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke were among the prominent black conservatives who presented their ideas from CPAC’s dais.

As for those witnessing all of this, atop the black activists and political candidates on the right, some 100 black Republican Millennials attended CPAC thanks to CORE, the Black Conservative Federation and registration discounts courtesy of ACU. A black man named Diante Johnson, 21, led this youth delegation, guaranteeing a glistening future for black conservatism.

Despite the left’s paranoid fantasies, CPAC once again welcomed Americans of multiple ethnic and religious backgrounds to celebrate the benefits of individual liberty, personal responsibility, limited government, free enterprise and peace through strength. The only bigotry involved the hideous hallucinations of CPAC’s critics.

Project 21 member Niger Innis, the national spokesman for the Congress of Racial Equality, added:

I was at the dinner where Ian Walters’ speech took place – along with black pro-life singer Joy Villa, Kira Innis (my niece) and another rising star named Diante Johnson. He and my group, the Congress of Racial Equality, bought some 100 conservative black Millennials to CPAC. We were given front-row, VIP seats at President Trump’s speech in front of some of CPAC’s biggest donors. Deneen Borelli, Candace Owens, Sheriff David Clarke, Deroy Murdock and I were all prominent panelists and moderators.

I know all the actors in this controversy, and I consider all of them my friends: Michael Steele, Walters, Matt Schlapp and others.

What was Ian’s point? That America had made a historic leap forward that he applauded. He thinks the entire country, including conservatives, were swept up in the historic moment of electing our first black president. And he thinks that Michael Steele was elected the first black chairman of the RNC largely because of these realities and in reaction to them. And that the manifestation was a mistake.

Ian may largely be wrong on the process that elected Michael. Michael worked his behind off for decades to become a valued leader who could be a credible candidate. But largely does not mean completely wrong. Barack Obama and many black conservatives have credentials and accomplishments that have been enhanced by our blackness since the age of Obama began in 2004.

Did Michael Steele win a hard-earned RNC Chairmanship only because he was black? No.

Did he win in part – perhaps between one percent and 20 percent – because he was black? In my humble opinion, yes.

So it is the phenomenon of racial identity politics upon which Ian was commenting. One may agree or disagree with his point of view, but the fact remains he has a point of view on the this question. It does not make him a racist or what he said to be racist in any way, shape or form.

Racial? Yes. Racist? Hell no!

I’ve known Ian for nearly 15 years. Not only has he never demonstrated an ounce of racism, but we have often worked in concert to attract more people of color to the conservative movement. We have acted as reinforcing partners. Ian is a person of color himself – being a brown-skinned Filipino-American.

This drama is unfolding during the larger drama of a systematic left-wing-orchestrated attempt to undermine two powerful conservative institutions – CPAC and the NRA. They are not defending Michael Steele this out of the goodness of their hearts. They are doing it as a raw and naked power move.

Please don’t allow our friends at MSNBC and the rest of the liberal media to use this incident to make us pawns for a much larger political play.

Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over 25 years, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Its members have been quoted, interviewed or published over 40,000 times since the program was created in 1992. Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated, and may be earmarked exclusively for the use of Project 21.