American Renaissance's Conferences: Talking About The Taboo

[Peter Brimelow writes: VDARE.COM has just been named a Hate Group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the notorious Treason Group. One reason cited: our publishing articles by Jared Taylor, Editor of the American Renaissance newsletter. For our take on Taylor, click here. We certainly wish we had published AR's recent article on immigration into Scandinavia. We will answer the SPLC smear when we have time, yawn. But meanwhile, to celebrate our new status, we publish another Taylor article below.]

[Recently by Jared Taylor: The New York Times Says Japan Needs Immigrants. The Japanese Politely Disagree.]

At the start of every baseball or football game, thousands of people get to their feet and sing happily about how they live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

But just try holding a serious public discussion about race or immigration and you will find the land is not quite so free as it sounded in the grandstand. 

Every other year since 1993, American Renaissance—of which I am editor—has held a conference to discuss such shocking things as race differences in IQ, the impact of mass immigration, and whether a culture can survive apart from the people who created it. We invite top speakers—Professor Philippe Rushton, Samuel Francis, Professor Richard Lynn, Rabbi Meyer Schiller, Professor Michael Levin, Joe Sobran, Father Ronald Tacelli—as well as the public and press.  (The next conference will be held February 20-22, in Herndon, Virginia.)

We learned very quickly that a significant minority of Americans do not believe in free speech. Pornographers, Communists, pederasts, and UFO-chasers can meet in peace, but not people who violate racial taboos. All five of our conferences have met with threats of violence. Busybodies always put pressure on hotels to break their contracts with us and deny us meeting space.

The most fun of this sort we ever had was in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1996. At the prodding of local "anti-racists" the Louisville Courier-Journal ran a long article on "white supremacists" and blasted us in editorials not just once but twice. An anti-free-speech delegation visited the conference hotel and told the general manager to break his contract with us. When he declined, demonstrators held "prayer vigils" outside the hotel, asking God to interfere with our plans.

Perhaps in the belief that God is more likely to answer prayers that are televised, they arranged for their vigils to be reported on the nightly news.

God must have had more important things to worry about.

Two Louisville high schools had planned proms at the same hotel on the same weekend. They, too, were caught up in anti-free-speech hysteria, and joined the chorus to have us ejected. The hotel once again refused to break its contract with us, but let the high schools out of theirs without penalty. The proms were to be ten floors away, in an entirely different part of the hotel, and the students would not even have known we were there. One prom was to finish twelve hours before our conference even began, but some ideas, it seems, are so loathsome they can contaminate an entire building hours before the people who hold them even arrive.

The conference itself was greeted with demonstrations, a "teach-in" and more hand-wringing press coverage—and went off splendidly. Several of the speeches were broadcast by C-SPAN, and the proceedings were edited into a book that still sells nicely.

The enthusiasm to denounce racial dissent brings out the worst in people. Dinesh D'Souza, the celebrated immigrant Indian Beltway Conservative, attended an AR conference when he was gathering material for his book, The End of Racism. He was treated with courtesy, but when I managed to get a pre-publication copy, I discovered that he had invented passages from speeches (which, unfortunately for him, had all been recorded), and had deliberately falsified "quotations" from American Renaissance.

The distortions were so shameless that when I and other conference speakers explained them to Mr. D'Souza's publisher, it took the extraordinary step of destroying the entire first print run while Mr. D'Souza hurriedly made corrections.

Mr. D'Souza no doubt feared his book might cause him to be accused of "racism." In a familiar if formulaic move, he was trying to triangulate—"These guys are the racists; I'm just a bold thinker."[VDARE.COM note: The Southern Poverty Law Center has D'Souza on the same list of suspect organizations as VDARE.COM and American Renaissance...!]

When we hold conferences in the Washington, DC, area, a group called Anti-Racist Action does its best to shut us down. Once it threatened the hotel with so much disruption the police kept two squad cars in the parking lot and a detective prowling the halls. In the end, all we got were 20 scruffy protesters waving signs that said things like "Go home, Nazi scum." Several had dyed their hair neon colors, and others wore safety pins through their earlobes, so passers-by were likely to conclude whatever this lot was protesting must be very worthy indeed.

Protest, however, is strictly fair-weather fun. Our last conference, in the dead of winter, drew no free entertainment at all.

Of course, an AR conference is plenty of entertainment for lively minds, even without green-haired demonstrators. We have had many Jewish speakers and conference guests, but any meeting that explores race and nationalism will also attract a different element. One year David Duke was in the audience. Our gatherings can therefore be a unique mix of which one guest once observed with a dazed smile, "I've never been to a conference before where 15 percent of the audience was Jews and 15 percent were Nazis."

We long, of course, for the day when it will be old hat to note the connection between GNP and average national IQ, and when it will not be controversial to point out that "diversity" is a weakness and not a strength—and when VDARE.COM is considered firmly mainstream.

And we may be moving in that direction. We haven't been the target of a prayer vigil for years, and hotels now ask for repeat business.

But the land of the free hardly yet lives up to its name. For plenty of Americans, muzzling those with whom they disagree is hardly enough. I just got a note from someone who says he hopes I will die a slow and painful death. Free speech still needs all the friends it can get.

Jared Taylor (email him) is editor of American Renaissance and the author of Paved With Good Intentions: The Failure of Race Relations in Contemporary America. (For Peter Brimelow's review, click here.) To register for the next AR conference, click here.