CPAC is almost here again. That means it’s time for the annual outrage over who is and is not invited — over who has been named an apostate to the conservative cause and who hasn’t. My own opinion is that CPAC doesn’t really exercise much power in this area. Nonetheless, many get riled up over it.
Last year, Chris Christie was not invited and it became a controversy – largely begun by the mainstream media, by the way. Incidentally, there was no real controversy. When asked about it, Christie replied that he was unaware that he had not been invited and that he was just concerned with fixing New Jersey. A nice distracting controversy ensued nonetheless.
This year’s controversy is the disinviting of American Atheists. National Review, to provide one example, is divided at least to some degree. Charles C. W. Cooke uses the opportunity to respond to those on the Right who would argue that conservatives and atheists are as incompatible as oil and water. He lists several people whose conservative credentials are without question, such as George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Anthony Daniels, Walter Olson, Heather MacDonald, James Taranto, Allahpundit, and S. E. Cupp.
Although I would argue that nothing approaching conservatism in the Western World can exist without a milieu of a Judeo-Christian worldview, certainly individual atheists can be conservatives. But the reason American Atheists was disinvited had nothing to do with their atheism and everything to do with this statement, as quoted by A. J. Delgado, also on National Review:
Speaking of its CPAC sponsorship, the group’s president, David Silverman, said on CNN: “I am not worried about making the Christian Right angry. The Christian Right should be angry that we are going in to enlighten conservatives. The Christian Right should be threatened by us.”
There is no reason why someone ought to be invited to a conference that is proud to threaten a broad swath of attendees of the conference itself. Unity should be a goal at CPAC. Inviting someone openly undermining that objective would be like putting China on the United Nations Human Rights Council. Oh, wait….
The bottom line is that, again, there is no necessary controversy. We can all agree that a divisive atheist group like American Atheists ought not to attend, while welcoming any atheist organization that wants to work with other conservatives to advance conservative principles.
Unfortunately, agreement on the Right is easier said than done. And the mainstream media sure likes a conservative controversy.