Outrage is rippling through the darker depths of MAGAland after a Donald Trump-owned resort announced it would not host a fundraiser for a known anti-Muslim group.
ACT for America, headed by Brigitte Gabriel (not her real name), was proud to host its 2019 conference at Mar-a-Lago, a South Florida resort Trump refers to as the “Winter White House.” South Florida is a big change for the Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group, which usually hosts its annual event in the Washington, D.C., Metro area; additionally, the SPLC noted on Friday, the price of attendance—starting at $1,500—had gone up significantly: That starting price is “a 400 percent increase over previous years, which ranged from $250 to $350.”
Why such a change? There’s been no clear explanation, but it’s worth remembering that last September, after the hate group’s 2018 conference at a Hyatt in Virginia, a petition with six figures’ worth of signatures led the hotel chain to create a policy against hosting any and all hate groups at its facilities. The Los Angeles Times reported,
The hotel company declined to release the memo Friday but instead issued a statement saying: “Hyatt will no longer allow hate groups, those who primarily seek to disparage or demean a specific group of people, to host meetings or events at our hotels.”
It was not clear from Hyatt’s statement how the hotel company planned to determine which groups promote hate, but it added: “This is a complex and emotional issue, but what we’ve concluded is that we need to commit to a higher level of vetting such that groups using hate speech, primarily seeking to disparage or demean a particular group, are not welcome in our hotels.”
One might assume that this decision played a role in ACT for America’s choice of venue this year, and it might have, but Gabriel is also a huge Trump fan. As the SPLC reports, Gabriel brags of having a “direct line” to the White House, and it’s not hard to understand why: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered the group’s conference keynote in 2016. Other previous speakers include legendary bigots such as Sen. Ted Cruz and Reps. Louie Gohmert and Steve King. This year’s event promised to honor the deplorable Congressional Freedom Caucus, with a keynote by Michelle Malkin, a well-established bigot known for authoring such books as Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces and Open Borders Inc.: Who’s Funding America’s Destruction?
Of course, all of this event talk is in the past tense for a reason. After the SPLC reported on the gala on Friday, outrage spread quickly, leading to media reports on Saturday. The next day, the Trump Organization tersely announced a change of plans. Reported The New York Times, “On Sunday, the invitation was removed from the website and a spokeswoman for the Trump Organization said in an email, without elaboration, ‘This event will absolutely not be taking place at Mar-a-Lago.’ She did not respond to additional questions.”
On Monday, ACT for America tweeted a press release announcing the cancellation, featuring a scathing and poorly written quote from Gabriel.
“This is a perfect example of how Free Speech is on its last breath in this country. The radical leftist smear machine like the SPLC, CAIR, and the fake news media will lie, twist the truth, and take words out of context in order to destroy those with whom they disagree. While we are disappointed in the decision made by the Trump Organization attorneys, we do not blame President Trump or the Trump family. ACT for America, with its over one million member base, will continue to stand with President Trump and support his fight for the soul of our country, and his fight to protect and preserve our freedoms. They are under assault like never before. ACT for America will never stop fighting for truth and Free Speech. We will not be silenced.”
And that is when the most extreme members of MAGAland got to tweetin’. Yet as the Daily Beast’s Will Sommer points out, “The Trump Organization’s role in the cancellation put Malkin and other Trump supporters who are typically eager to accuse the left of attacking free speech in an awkward position.” Never the sort to be easily deterred, Malkin found a suitable villain in “Cancel Culture.”
THREAD: Statement: I am disappointed at the cancellation of my 11/7 speech at @ACTforAmerica 's annual banquet, but I will not be deterred. There is a chilling "cancel culture" campaign being waged against patriotic journalists & activists — /1
— Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) October 7, 2019
That set the tone for everyone!
— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) October 7, 2019
What? Why would @realDonaldTrump's Mar-a-Lago cancel YOU? That's crazy! Mr. President, fix this! Don't participate in the "cancel culture" being waged on conservatives who support you!
— Alecia (Band & Stand)❤×8 (@aleciavaught75) October 7, 2019
The tweets all framed ACT for America as Trump supporters. More on why that’s interesting in a second.
Trump is banning his own supporters from his properties.
Seems like not a great move. https://t.co/EcVxEDjwf7
— Mike Cernovich (@Cernovich) October 7, 2019
At least a couple of Trumpian folks had something resembling a rational response: Think of the Donald, who has enough on his plate right now.
^^^THIS. I have to agree that holding it at Mar-a-lago was tactically unwise. What exactly did you think was going to happen?? He’s got enough negativity coming at him. Give him a break and move on..and hold it somewhere else. Don’t be silenced and don’t act like the left. Adapt
— Rampage (@Rampage77759370) October 8, 2019
Here’s a short primer on ACT for America, courtesy of the Anti-Defamation League.
- ACT for America is the largest anti-Muslim group in the United States, with a purported 750,000 members nationwide.
- ACT propagates the hateful conspiracy theory that Muslims are infiltrating US institutions in order to impose Sharia law.
- ACT stokes irrational fear of Muslims via a number of false claims, including that headscarves are a sign of radicalization, and that 25 percent of Muslims approve of terrorism.
- ACT founder Brigitte Gabriel is a leading voice in the fight against immigration and refugee resettlement.
- ACT’s hardline stance on Islam and immigration has attracted a number of conservative lawmakers as well as far-right extremists, including white supremacists and militia group members.
Sure. That does sound like quite the Trump-friendly group. Yet so many tweets equate ACT for America with Trump supporters. That’s … not really a good look for a group of people who insist they’re not racist.
No word yet on whether or not the event has found a new home.