Tancredo: Establishment Media, GOP Betray First Amendment over VDARE Conference

A conference planned for April 2018 at a resort in Colorado Springs — a conference, not a political rally — was abruptly canceled this past week by resort owners after local officials in the most heavily Republican county in Colorado warned that they would withhold police protection against threatened disruption by protesters.

It appears that in Colorado Springs, the left does not need to show up and disrupt an event, they can merely threaten to do so and city officials run for cover like cockroaches. 

The conference sponsors issued this statement after the cancellation.

I had been asked to speak at the conference and would gladly have done so. I know that the VDARE Foundation’s only crime is to espouse the politically incorrect view that our immigration policy should be based on the needs of our own country. Pretty radical stuff, huh?  

The VDARE Foundation conference planned for the Cheyenne Mountain Resort had been announced months ago, but on Monday, August 14, two days after the Charlottesville riot, a local Colorado Springs television news story cited the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) attack on the VDARE Foundation and quoted the SPLC’s slander against VDARE as a proponent of alleged “hate speech.”

The very next day, on August 15, the city’s Republican mayor publicly asked the resort owners to reconsider the hosting of the VDARE conference. But the mayor did not stop there; he issued this official warning: The City of Colorado Springs will not provide any support or resources to this event…”

The message was there will be no police protection if violent protests occur.

And then, to top off his shameful performance, the mayor joined the Orwellian Upside-Down Society by a statement on his official web page blaming the conference sponsors for being the disrupters of the public peace, not the people threatening to disrupt the event.

The city had eight months to plan for possible unlawful disruptions of a private event held on private property, but instead, they chose to bury their heads in the sand. This can only be seen as an ominous and shameful capitulation to the “hecklers veto.”

Folks, we are talking here about a conference, not a political rally, a private meeting on private property where invited guests sit and talk to each other about matters that are important to them. No public park or public facilities were involved, and no city permit was sought or required. The city would not be involved in any way — except to protect the civil liberties of conference attendees engaged in the exercise of their First Amendment rights of free speech and freedom of assembly. But that was too much to ask the elected official of Colorado Springs: they chose to abrogate their responsibilities and oaths of office instead of upholding the Bill of Rights — and state law. 

In Charlottesville, the city permit granted to the “Unite the Right” sponsors allowed them to hold a noon rally on August 12 in Emancipation Park. The city attempted to revoke the original rally permit and move the event to a different park several miles away, but that action was blocked by the August 11 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Glen E. Conrad.

Colorado Springs officials should have read that federal court ruling before surrendering to threats of disruption against the VDARE conference. After hearing arguments from both sides, Judge Conrad issued an injunction against the city’s illegal action and specifically cited persuasive evidence that the city’s attempt to revoke the permit was based on the content of the rally organizer’s views and not on concerns for public safety. That, my friends, is unconstitutional, and Judge Conrad said so.

Clearly, we have now arrived at a dangerous crossroads in the “land of the free and home of the brave.” The famous libertarian dictum, “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” is being replaced with the opposite maxim: “Hey, if I disagree with what you say, you are on your own: I will not protect you from threats of violence designed to shut you up!” We have come to regard “safe places” as a right held by politicians, not a right held by citizens.

The shape of things to come was revealed this past Saturday in Boston. A rally sponsored by the “Boston Free Speech Coalition,” whose organizers have no known connection to neo-Nazis or white supremacists and had no connection whatsoever to any Confederate monument, was overwhelmed, shouted down, and then ordered to disband by Boston police — because of the violent behavior of the counter-demonstrators. 

While we can hope that both state and federal courts would squelch such dangerous undertakings as unconstitutional infringements of the First Amendment, the precedents have been set and the Champagne uncorked. If the next President of the United States adds a Minister of Public Virtue and Peaceable Assembly to her cabinet, we will know the alarm was sounded too late.


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