Posted on May 26, 2022

How the GOP Allows Bigotry to Be Mainstreamed at Conservative Events

Aaron Blake, Washington Post, May 24, 2022

It’s pretty remarkable how this keeps happening.

When Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) appeared at a white nationalist conference early last year, he soon disavowed “white racism” and escaped punishment from his party.


When Gosar then appeared at the same conference this year, this time joined by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), party leaders denounced their appearances. But both Gosar and Greene indicated there was somehow, again, some kind of misunderstanding, and Greene even defended her speech as reaching out to “young conservatives who feel cast aside and marginalized by society.” Again, leaders let it slide without sanction.

The sum total of it, as Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) pointed out last week, is that those within their GOP and conservative movement have seen that aligning with racist theories like the “great replacement” and even racists themselves just isn’t a dealbreaker in today’s GOP. And a week after Cheney’s comment, there’s yet another example.

The Guardian reported this weekend that one of the speakers at the new Conservative Political Action Conference in Hungary, Zsolt Bayer, has a history of bigoted comments. Bayer, a talk-show host in Hungary and key figure in the political party of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, shared a stage with not just leaders of the American conservative movement, but even former president Donald Trump.

From the Guardian’s report:

In 2011, he used the phrase “stinking excrement” to refer generically to Jews in England, and in 2013 wrote: “a significant part of the Roma are unfit for coexistence. They are not fit to live among people. These Roma are animals and they behave like animals.”


Bayer also said on his blog in 2020, amid Black Lives Matter protests in the United States, “Is this the future? Kissing the dirty boots of f****** [Black people] and smiling at them? Being happy about this? Because otherwise they’ll kill you or beat you up?” (There is some dispute about whether Bayer used an epithet for Black people, which we’ll get to.)


During his appearance at CPAC Hungary, Bayer, according to the Guardian, unfavorably compared Calvin Klein ads featuring a White woman whom he labeled “very hot” and a Black woman whom he labeled “not so hot.” He reportedly added that “it’s clear that this ad was born under the aegis of Black Lives Matter.”

There was a time relatively recently when the usual response to such an incident would be to retreat — to say you weren’t familiar with the views of someone like Bayer. But CPAC has gone in a very different direction.

Before the Guardian’s article landed, CPAC issued a statement late last week that referenced the news outlet and complained of “a coordinated smear campaign on conservative leaders on both sides of the Atlantic.”

After the article landed this weekend, CPAC doubled down in a statement Monday. It said, “We reject the reporting of The Guardian and have been assured by our partners in Hungary that the substance of this attack is false.” Matt Schlapp, the head of the American Conservative Union, which runs CPAC, said, “We reject this unfounded reporting. We have many speakers with independent views.”


Bayer’s comments about the Roma have also been widely translated. As the German outlet Der Spiegel reported in 2013:

Bayer sparked an uproar in early January when he wrote an article in the Fidesz-aligned, right-wing newspaper Magyar Hirlap about a New Year’s Eve stabbing in a bar in Szigethalom, a town south of Budapest, in which Roma are suspected of involvement. “A significant part of the Roma are unfit for coexistence,” he wrote. “They are not fit to live among people. These Roma are animals, and they behave like animals. … These animals shouldn’t be allowed to exist. In no way. That needs to be solved — immediately and regardless of the method.”


No one in the Fidesz party leadership publicly condemned Bayer’s article. {snip}