The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

About James O’Keefe and That Robert Taft Club Event

Last updated: 07/31/2020 08:00 | 02/04/2010 04:00
news
Henry Hamer

Max Blumenthal’s story about “James O’Keefe’s race problem” leads with an account of an August 30, 2006 after-work event hosted by the Robert Taft Club in Arlington, Va., where John Derbyshire and Kevin Martin joined Jared Taylor — the editor of the white nationalist magazine American Renaissance — to discuss “race and conservatism.” Earlier today, I posted my own account of that event and some context about the culture of see-what-we-can-get-away-with political correctness among young conservatives.

Apparently, the One People’s Project is citing me as a corroborating source on the event — but there are aspects of their story I can’t confirm. While their photo of O’Keefe is definitely from the event, I took it on the photographer’s word that O’Keefe was pictured “as he maintained a literature table near the panelists.” I can personally confirm that he was there, but not that he was manning the table — nor that O’Keefe “planned” the event (as Blumenthal put it) with Marcus Epstein, who was president of the Robert Taft Club.

Here’s how I came across the story: On Jan. 27, the photographer (who goes by the name Isis) from the One People’s Project called to ask me if I had any photos of the event. She remembered seeing me there — it was one of several RTC events I attended, including one where Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) spoke. I explained that I didn’t, but compared my version of the event with hers. She told me that she had photos of the event, but the full photos had been taken by the FBI in a raid. All she had on hand were cropped headshots of people who were at the event.

She emailed me the photo of O’Keefe, and I immediately recognized him from the event. And she told me that, unfortunately, the cropping had removed the table he was sitting at, which included copies of American Renaissance magazine. I remembered the table — curious, I’d grabbed a copy of the magazine, which was, of course, incredibly racist — and took her word that the photo showed O’Keefe sitting there. In the photo, after all, we can see a man walking out the door and O’Keefe’s head is much lower than his. But could I personally confirm that O’Keefe was manning the table at an event I attended four years and several phones/cameras ago? Well, no. I suggested that the story didn’t really have legs if O’Keefe wasn’t selling literature or hadn’t planned the event, as, well, people like me had shown up. It was a debate, after all, with two people — one of them African-American — ganging up on the truly ridiculous Taylor.

Fast forward to today and the Blumenthal article. Blumenthal writes that One People’s Project founder Daryle Jenkins was the source for the “manning the table” claim. But I can’t confirm that, because I don’t remember who was at the table at any particular time. All I know is that O’Keefe was there and he was working for LI at the time.

If OPP is able to retrieve its original photo and clear this up, it should do so.

Henry Hamer | I'm currently working for Google's Chrome team in Munich, Germany, as a developer advocate. I was a member of the team responsible for the online presence of Sueddeutsche.de, one of Germany's largest daily newspapers, from January 2010 to November 2011. I used to work for Yahoo! on their similarly massive European news pages before joining Sueddeutsche. I've concentrated my efforts on the internet, which has turned out to be a fantastic decision.

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