The Organizer of the 2006 ‘Race and Conservatism’ Debate Speaks

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Thursday, February 04, 2010 at 12:12 pm

I just got off the phone with Marcus Epstein, the conservative activist who organized the “race and conservatism” debate in 2006 that has become a flash point of debate since a photo surfaced of James O’Keefe in the audience. (Like I’ve said before, I also attended the event.)

“I’ve made mistakes, which I paid for and addressed,” said Epstein, who has mostly ceased political activity since the 2009 revelation of his arrest in Georgetown. “I don’t want them to be used in false, guilt-by-association smears against others. I met James O’Keefe a number of times. It’s the Beltway — it’s a small circle. It’s the conservative movement. But he did not collaborate with me, definitely not on that event.”

Epstein went into the background of the event and forwarded me emails that he says he exchanged with Jared Taylor, the editor of the white nationalist American Renaissance magazine. He was, at the time, working at the Leadership Institute, as was O’Keefe.

“At that time, I was the only person involved with the Robert Taft Club,” said Epstein. Other Taft Club organizers like Daniel McCarthy (now of the American Conservative) joined later when he organized larger events with speakers like Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) — by that time, said Epstein, O’Keefe had left LI and Washington.

Marcus Epstein (left) at the Conservative Political Action Conference on March 1, 2007 (Photo by: Dave Weigel)

Marcus Epstein (left) at the Conservative Political Action Conference on March 1, 2007 (Photo by: Dave Weigel)

According to Epstein, LI did not fund the event — the only outside group to aid with Taft Club events was the American Cause, where Epstein worked from 2006 through 2009. The event was originally scheduled to take place inside of the Leadership Institute, but was moved across the street after police — who, said Epstein, had been monitoring the One People’s Project investigative reports on the event — warned LI to expect protesters. Epstein paid $250 of his own money to rent a new room, and offered to pay the travel expenses of the speakers: Jared Taylor, John Derbyshire and Kevin Martin. Derbyshire, who was coming from New York, declined Epstein’s offer. (Derbyshire, who is or was a member of a controversial listserv on “human biodiversity,” appeared at another Taft Club event in 2007.) Apart from that, Epstein paid for pizza by “passing a hat around.” The literature table that has attracted so much attention was not, he said, set up by the Taft Club. Much of the 40-odd member audience was composed of LI interns and staffers who’d heard about the event at work.

Epstein stood by the content of the event, describing it (accurately, in my view) as a debate, not a forum for Taylor. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the event,” said Epstein. “Jared Taylor has debated Queen Latifah and [anti-racist writer] Tim Wise.” At one point, remembered Epstein, Derbyshire laid into Taylor’s tactics and racism, calling him a “sower of discord” and remarking that “we know where sowers of discord end up” — that is, hell.

“I thought that was a bit extreme,” said Epstein, “but there’s nothing wrong with having a debate.”

Epstein acknowledged that his dabbling in extremist politics, and his 2007 arrest, had made him a sort of toxic figure.

“I’m used to being smeared, and these guys have more or less successfully harmed my career, so I don’t see what else they could do to me,” said Epstein. “A lot of stuff they said about me wasn’t true, but I definitely made a few mistakes. I just don’t want anyone to use me to smear James O’Keefe.”

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Comments

23 Comments

commie attheist
Comment posted February 4, 2010 @ 12:30 pm

Andrew Breitbart is still WAITING. WAITING. WAITING…


commie atheist
Comment posted February 4, 2010 @ 12:31 pm

@Breitbart: Why can't libruls spell? WAITING.


uberVU - social comments
Trackback posted February 4, 2010 @ 2:06 pm

Social comments and analytics for this post…

This post was mentioned on Twitter by daveweigel: My interview with Marcus Epstein, who organized the “race and conservatism” event that stung James O’Keefe: http://bit.ly/b69lEr...


Roger Ailes
Comment posted February 4, 2010 @ 2:09 pm

Epstein's “mistake” was hitting an African-American woman IN THE HEAD while shouting racist slurs at her. He was convicted of the crime.

If you're going to let Bay Buchanan's rent boy lie about his history, please point out the facts. Don't just link. Some people might think that Epstein's promotion of the vile bigot Taylor was also a “mistake.”

The little prick should be in jail, not whining to you about how he's been smeared.


David Weigel
Comment posted February 4, 2010 @ 2:44 pm

I linked to my original report which made that clear.


chrisjay
Comment posted February 4, 2010 @ 3:13 pm

yeah, that old 'guilt by association' thing that Palin et al STILL use on a daily basis. —-Ayers=Obama, anyone?


Name
Comment posted February 4, 2010 @ 3:29 pm

Yet another right wing coward who cries like a baby when his racism is exposed.


jummy
Comment posted February 4, 2010 @ 7:51 pm

interesting comparison you invite there.

on the one hand, you have the right talking about president obama's substantial, first-person political association with the domestic terrorist, william ayers. william ayers hosted a “coming out party” for president obama in his own living room, which marked obama's transition from activism into electoral politics.

on the other hand, you have the left's guilt by association attacks against palin, which include:

guilt by association to things some people say they heard shouted anonymously from the back of an auditorium she was speaking at.

guilt by association twice removed via a third party's association to a fourth party who wrote some stuff pseudononymously on a listserv 15 years ago.

this comparison of course being invited in the context of defending a already thoroughly debunked smear piece by max blumenthal which is itself a half-dozen guilt-by-association attacks grouped behind a larger guilt-by-association theme, which is not uncommon amongst leftwing writers. indeed, it is the only thing progressives seem to write.


wantmytaxesback
Comment posted February 4, 2010 @ 11:01 pm

He did his time. Is this a debate about Epstein or O'Keefe? Why aren't those Black Panther guys with weapons at a voting booth not in jail? Why aren't those SEIU guys that attacked Kenneth Gladney not in jail? I'll leave you to your own conclusions, as misguided as they may be.


LaLee
Comment posted February 4, 2010 @ 11:11 pm

“william ayers hosted a “coming out party” for president obama in his own living room, which marked obama's transition from activism into electoral politics.”

Jummy, do you have link of an article from a REPUTABLE NEWS SOURCE (Not blogs, whether left or right wing) which confirmed this?

BTW Jummy do you still think Ayers is still a “domestic terrorist” when he met Obama?

Because this guy disagrees.

Wall Street Journal October 15, 2008:
“I can personally attest to the idiocy of it all because I am a friend of Mr. Ayers. In fact, I met him in the same way Mr. Obama says he did: 10 years ago, Mr. Ayers was a guy in my neighborhood in Chicago who knew something about fundraising. I knew nothing about it, I needed to learn, and a friend referred me to Bill.

Bill's got lots of friends, and that's because he is today a dedicated servant of those less fortunate than himself; because he is unfailingly generous to people who ask for his help; and because he is kind and affable and even humble. Moral qualities which, by the way, were celebrated boisterously on day one of the GOP convention in September.”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122402888900234…


» Correction Report: The Village Voice - Big Journalism
Pingback posted February 4, 2010 @ 11:36 pm

[...] O’Keefe and Race: An Update The Washington Independent’s David Weigel has added some clarity to the story of James O’Keefe’s role at a 2006 “Race and Conservatism” [...]


jummy
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 3:50 am

what's thomas frank's imprimatur supposed to mean to me? i get it: progressives don't mind political extremism and terrorism so long as it's progressive extremism and terrorism.

the question of when someone stops being identified by their nastiest doings and associations is an interesting one. we know the answer, though. if timothy mcveigh bombed the murrah building under the yellow star rather than a swastica, he may yet be in jail, but his execution would be permanently stayed by a string of appeals funded by the support of “mainstream” progressives, who would “understand” his motives while conditionally “disagreeing with his tactics” and his exploits would be favorably contextualized in a sundance award winning documentary. if his bombing campaign was more profligate and less deadly, he could be a professor of education at a state university, pulling down six figures and developing curriculum to help teachers teach through the lens of white racial identity.

score one for the republic that mcveigh was a nazi and not a communist. in a morally clear liberal republican polity, the two dispositions would be approximately radioactive. they're not, i know. and the mcveigh comparison was perhaps too hypothetical. we could compare the radical violence of the red-anarchist new left's three most notable groups, ayers' weather underground, the black panthers and the sla, with the radical violence of the entire history of anti-abortion violence right up to the present day. the two have virtually identical number of incidents, level of property destruction and death tolls. both were motivated by an urgency to act against what the actors viewed as state-sanctioned mass murder. where's eric rudolph's invitation to appear on good morning america?

that's beside the point, anyway. i don't want to see him make polite banter with matt lauer.

what we're talking about is the hypocrisy of the progressive left, who would have it that nothing any progressive does is ever framed by a critical word no matter how extreme, while any given republican figure is eternally marked by whatever ugly bit of esoteria which can be dug up on him.

in this case, you don't even have that bit of esoteria, try as blumenthal did to lie one into existence. instead all you have is a 25 year old attending a debate on a college campus. you must be dissapointed, though i don't doubt the facts will deter you from soldiering on with blumenthal's construction despite the facts.

“Jummy, do you have link of an article from a REPUTABLE NEWS SOURCE (Not blogs, whether left or right wing) which confirmed this?”

yes…
nytimes.com/2008/10/04/us/politics/04ayers.html?_r=1

“It was later in 1995 that Mr. Ayers and Ms. Dohrn hosted the gathering, in their town house three blocks from Mr. Obama’s home, at which State Senator Alice J. Palmer, who planned to run for Congress, introduced Mr. Obama to a few Democratic friends as her chosen successor.”


mantis
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 12:35 pm

Is this a debate about Epstein or O'Keefe?

It's not a debate. It's background reporting.

Why aren't those Black Panther guys with weapons at a voting booth not in jail?

Because people don't get thrown into jail just because you think they should. There has to be a case against them. Read up on voting rights laws and let us know how you think the justice department should have proceeded.

Why aren't those SEIU guys that attacked Kenneth Gladney not in jail?

Well, first of all there is no evidence, despite video of the event, that Gladney was “attacked” at all. Second, there's a thing in our country called the justice system, in which people accused of crimes are tried in a court of law. Perhaps you've heard of it? The court date for the trial surrounding the alleged crimes against Gladney is scheduled for April. Can you wait for justice to take its course, or would you rather people just be imprisoned without trial. I assume you're a conservative, so you probably couldn't care less about justice and laws, just vengeance against political enemies.

Btw, you want your taxes back? Move to Somalia. They have no government, no taxes, and no regulations. A tax-free libertarian paradise! Enjoy your trip.


» The Wheels Come Off for Salon and Blumenthal as Weigel Issues ‘Clarification’ of O’Keefe Event - Big Journalism
Pingback posted February 5, 2010 @ 1:05 pm

[...] and point out the parts that, based on my experience at the event and interviews with Isis and event organizer Marcus Epstein, were not [...]


chrisjay
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 7:33 pm

Well, if you want to make sweeping generalizations I can play that too: I find most rightwingers to be irony-challenged, thin-skinned (you can dish it out but you certainly can't take it) and easily-led/suggestible—I believe that applies to you, Palin and O'Keefe & Breitbart


LaLee
Comment posted February 6, 2010 @ 1:08 am

“in this case, you don't even have that bit of esoteria, try as blumenthal did to lie one into existence. instead all you have is a 25 year old attending a debate on a college campus. you must be dissapointed, though i don't doubt the facts will deter you from soldiering on with blumenthal's construction despite the facts.”

Jummy, is this bit of “esoteria” enough for you?

“It’s interesting to note, however, that Taft Club organizer Marcus Epstein said he’d invited several other Establishment conservatives to speak, most of whom initially agreed to come but then backed out when they discovered Jared Taylor would be on the platform.”

http://www.amren.com/mtnews/archives/2006/09/race_and_conser.php&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a” rel=”nofollow”>http://74.125.47.132/search?q=cache:Xpg5JD7Mxgw…

Unlike the gathering Ayers hosted, the one O'Keefe attended is so controversial even the speakers backed out.


jummy
Comment posted February 6, 2010 @ 2:20 pm

enough for what?

enough to establish that the event was a debate of various differing views. not, as the lie goes, a “white supremacist forum”.

again, the fact that a communist domestic terrorist is an uncontroversial – even welcome – figure amongst mainstream progressives means only that progressives have a morally decrepit tolerance for that sort of thing which can't be found on the right. that's what i get from the proposition that, unlike a gathering organized by a communist domestic terrorist, which is readily attended by local democrat office holders, conservatives refuse to dignify a white nationalist, guilty of only holding obnoxious views about race, with their participation on a debate panel.

and again, we are mixing up “attending” and “organizing”, which is the deceit at the root of the original lie. the lie is that o'keefe “organized” a “white nationalist event”. it was not a “white nationalist event” and o'keefe didn't “organize” it. i don't know why you are contiunuing to pursue this now completely debunked and deflated lie. maybe you're a liar and you like a good lie.

it was a debate of differing views, but of course, in the typical form of progressives and their historical views on race, kevin martin's participation in the debate doesn't count because a black conservative is only something like two-thirds black to a progressive. acorn's white founder, wade rathke, is 110% black, apparently. so dripping in authentic blackness is he that attacking his organization is prima facie evidence of the attacker's racism.

o'keefe walked across the street to attend a debate between a couple of non-racists and jared taylor. if that's enough to make o'keefe a white supremacist, then so are you, by virtue of perusing the american renaissance website for the link you provided. so is the mccarthyite from the one peoples project who began this mess. and this brings me back to my point about the relative morality of progressives and conservatives in their dealings with the extremist fringe.

the photographer from the one peoples project was only able to provide a cropped and zoomed image of o'keefe because, as they claim themselves, the fbi raided their anarchist collective and took her camera as evidence. this bears further investigation into what extremist activities she was a part of, no? or does that not strike you as interesting, because they would have been progressive extremist activities, and thus unperturbing to your moral conscience? the opp itself is a red anarchist outfit. doesn't bother you, no? didn't think so.


LaLee
Comment posted February 7, 2010 @ 2:07 am

Jummy, i'm not trying to “contiunuing (Sic) to pursue this now completely debunked and deflated lie.”

If it turns out O'Keefe is not a white supremacist then that's good for him.

What i want to know is whether or not you sincerely believe Ayers is still a “domestic terrorist” when he met and worked with Obama.


jummy
Comment posted February 8, 2010 @ 3:13 am

let's see. obama met and worked with ayers in 1995. in 2001, ayers said of his terrorist activities, “I don't regret setting bombs, I feel we didn't do enough.”

do i sincerely believe that he was actually still setting bombs in 1995? that can't really be what you're asking me. that would be stupid. i think you're asking me whether it is appropriate to frame him in those terms in 1995. per the 2001 quote, it's a frame he accepts.

but here's the thing: he accepts the frame so readily because a progressive who commits terrorist acts is framed by the mainstream of the progressive democrat party as an “activist” with a rakish edge to him. it's a plus, not a deficit. “moderate” progressives deeply admire the “complete man” of the left who is willing to cock the ak and agitate from the fringes. in fact, it's not the moderates who police the fringe on the left but the left fringe who is able to apply shame as a leverage against “moderate” progressives for the impurity of their moderation.

and yet we have to endure this pantomime of moral shock about extremism on the right.

when does a domestic terrorist stop being a domestic terrorist? it depends on whether he's a leftist or not. if he's a leftist, then his terrorism was never “terroism” in the bad sense, and to speak of it is a “smear”.

this is the treatment even if the extremism of his past was not necessarily what you'd characterize as leftist. if he's a progressive now, to speak of his disgusting past is itself a moral wrong, according to his comrades. for example, consider senator robert byrd, who was the grand kleagel of the ku klux klan; he's all reformed now, and how dare you mention it!

yet, in the same instance they are willing to exonerate and suppress every wrong of any progressive, progressives have a blot to mark nearly every conservative figure of note with. and in 99% of the cases, they are similar to the one we're discussing here with the smear against o'keefe; that is to say, deceitfully tendentious if not fabricated from whole cloth.

and nothing could illustrate the hypocrisy of this better than the fact i raised and which you chose to ignore: you're here to defend a false charge against a conservative figure which jackets him with the frame of “extremism”, yet it never occurs to you that the source for this charge is a comrade of the left who's extremism is such that her anarchist collective was raided and her camera was siezed by the fbi in connection with her extremist political activity.

are you blind?

and what's with the “sic” treatment? are you 22 or something?


LaLee
Comment posted February 8, 2010 @ 8:24 am

I'm thirty so i'm legal now (Heh heh).

BTW you could just say “no” to my question.


LaLee
Comment posted February 8, 2010 @ 1:24 pm

I'm thirty so i'm legal now (Heh heh).

BTW you could just say “no” to my question.


» With Weigel Exposed, Who Will Media Matters Turn To for a “Conservative” Source? - Big Journalism
Pingback posted June 27, 2010 @ 12:49 am

[...] writing for the Washington Independent – dug in deeper to clarify his previous remarks and revealed the true story behind the event that liberal “journalists” falsely portrayed as supposed proof of [...]


» With Weigel Exposed, To Whom Will Media Matters Turn For a ‘Conservative’ Source? - Big Journalism
Pingback posted June 28, 2010 @ 8:18 am

[...] writing for the Washington Independent — dug in deeper to clarify his previous remarks and revealed the true story behind the event that liberal “journalists” falsely portrayed as supposed proof of [...]


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