Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A CPAC session sponsored by Tea Party Patriots and billed as a primer on teaching activists how to court black voters devolved into a shouting match as some attendees demanded justice for white voters and others shouted down a black woman who reacted in horror.The session, entitled “Trump The Race Card: Are You Sick And Tired Of Being Called A Racist When You Know You’re Not One?” was led by K. Carl Smith, a black conservative who mostly urged attendees to deflect racism charges by calling themselves “Frederick Douglass Republicans.”
Disruptions began when he began accusing Democrats of still being the party of the Confederacy — a common talking point on the right.
“I don’t care how much the KKK improved,” he said. “I’m not going to join the KKK. The Democratic Party founded the KKK.”
Lines like that drew shouts of praise from some attendees and murmurs of disapproval from one non-conservative black attendee, Kim Brown, a radio host and producer with Voice of Russia, a broadcasting service of the Russian government.
But then questions and answers began. And things went off the rails.
Scott Terry of North Carolina, accompanied by a Confederate-flag-clad attendee, Matthew Heimbach, rose to say he took offence to the event’s take on slavery. (Heimbach founded the White Students Union at Towson University and is described as a “white nationalist” by the Southern Poverty Law centre.)
“It seems to be that you’re reaching out to voters at the expense of young white Southern males,” Terry said, adding he “came to love my people and culture” who were “being systematically disenfranchised.”
Smith responded that Douglass forgave his slavemaster.
“For giving him food? And shelter?” Terry said.
At this point the event devolved into a mess of shouting. organisers calmed things down by asking everyone to “take the debate outside after the presentation.”
Brown, who took offence at the suggestion modern Democrats were descendants of the KKK, tried to ask a question later once things finally calmed down. She was booed and screamed at by audience members.
“Let someone else speak!” one attendee in Revolutionary War garb shouted.
“You’re not welcome!” a white-haired older woman yelled.
Eventually she asked a question. It was about whether Republicans should call out racist ads.
Attendees interviewed by TPM afterwards expressed outrage at the way the event turned out. Not at Terry and Heimbach — they were mad at Brown for her interruptions.
Chad Chapman, 21, one of the few black attendees, said overall he enjoyed the event — except “there were lots of interruptions, mainly because of the woman.”
I asked whether he was concerned about the question from Terry and Heimbach.
“No they were just telling the truth,” he said. You mean he agrees blacks are systematically disenfranchising whites, I asked?
“I listen to anybody’s point of view, it doesn’t really matter,” he said.
Seconds after the event ended, a media scrum formed around Terry. A woman wearing a Tea Party Patriots CPAC credential who had shouted down Brown earlier urged him not to give his name to the press.
She wouldn’t give her name either, but I asked her what she thought.
“Look, you know there’s no doubt the white males are getting really beat up right now, it’s unfair,” she said. “I agree with that. My husband’s one of them. But I don’t think there’s a clear understanding about what really is going on. He needs to read Frederick Douglass and I think that question should be asked to everyone in this room who is debating.”
Oddly enough, the unnamed woman ended up talking to Brown afterwards and it actually approached something of a constructive dialogue, even if she kicked it out by complaining about an “entitlement mentality” among liberal African Americans. She explained that despite appearing outwardly white, she was one quarter Korean and her mother’s side of the family had been called “Japs” in the 1950s. She added she had gotten heat from “white men” who mocked her for going to a university, Berkley, over its large Asian population without knowing she was Asian herself.
Brown asked if her experience made her feel any sympathy for what African Americans experience.
“I feel that there is a certain disadvantage coming out of slavery, they had to make it on their own,” she said. “There are certain endowments handed down to you and on the education, level the black community has not had a fair share.”
“Correct,” Brown replied, segueing into a discussion of generational wealth gaps between races. They were joined by an older white man, George Vermillion, who had come by to make sure Brown knew he wasn’t one of the people who had muttered remarks while she was speaking.
“Race is such a weird issue,” he said. “It’s hard to talk about it.”
This story was originally published by Talking Points Memo.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.