An Appeal to the City of Charlotte and to Mayor Pro-tem Patrick Cannon
On July 29, 2010, New Century Foundation signed a contract with the Sheraton Charlotte Airport Hotel to host the biennial American Renaissance (AR) conference. (New Century Foundation is the non-profit organization that publishes the monthly magazine, American Renaissance.)We explained to the Sheraton that many people think the ideas discussed in AR are controversial. We explained that in 2010 a hotel that had agreed to host our conference came under pressure and broke its contract with us. The Sheraton agreed that it was therefore important to keep the location of the conference confidential. Our contacts said they understood what was at stake and that they believed in free speech.On January 25, the Sheraton sent us a one-line e-mail message saying that because of "recent disclosures as to the nature of your event" they were breaking their contract. Since then, they refuse to speak to us. The pretence that it did not know what might be discussed at an AR conference is a pathetic, embarrassing lie.Perhaps what the Sheraton actually found out was that Patrick Cannon, Mayor Pro-tem of the city of Charlotte, does not want AR to come to Charlotte. In an e-mail message to a constituent he wrote: "I have all hotels, motels, and gotels [sic] on notice and they seem to be cooperating well still." The date of this e-mail was January 25, the very day the Sheraton canceled its contract.We can only imagine that the Sheraton must have come under very heavy pressure to walk away from tens of thousands of dollars in revenues-100 hotel rooms for two nights, a formal banquet, bar and meal tabs-and to subject itself to a five-figure cancellation fee.We have heard that another city councilman, Warren Turner, has also urged hotels not to business with us. Both Mr. Turner and Mr. Cannon are black.Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam has been to Charlotte four or five times since 1990. Minister Farrakhan has said things about Jews and whites of a vileness that has not the slightest parallel in the writings of American Renaissance. On September 12, 2005, he was in Charlotte to tell you the US government deliberately broke the levees in New Orleans so as to flood black neighborhoods.Imagine the outrage if two white city councilmen pressured the hospitality industry to keep Minister Farrakhan out of the city.Just this month, the president of the National Council of La Raza ("the race") visited Charlotte to take part in a panel discussion on education. La Raza`s motto is: Por la Raza todo. Fuera de La Raza nada: "For the race, everything. For those outside the race, nothing." Again, a sharply divisive statement unlike anything in AR. We understand that the Charlotte Observer paid for La Raza to come here.Can we imagine white elected officials conspiring to keep La Raza out of town?At an AR conference, middle-aged men in suits give speeches to other middle-aged men in suits. We have nothing to hide. Our speeches are videotaped and made available on our website, amren.com. If our ideas are hopelessly wrong, they should be easy to refute. They should be a threat to no one.Why is Charlotte in a panic about this conference?It is because we disagree with certain prevailing views and we have the courage of our convictions. Your city is not even attempting to understand our views, much less debate them. You are trying to silence us and drive us away.Are your citizens proud of what you are doing? In an era that claims to value "tolerance and diversity," why do you have no tolerance for the most precious kind of diversity of all: the diversity of ideas?Shortly after he was named US Attorney General, Eric Holder famously called Americans "a nation of cowards" because we do not talk about race, and urged us to "be honest with each other." AR is 100 percent honest about race-and look how we are treated. Is it a wonder Americans have become cowards on race?We have learned that Charlotte is trying to attract the Democratic convention.What the Democratic Party should say to your city is this: "Democracy thrives on the free exchange of ideas, not on running opponents out of town. As Democrats, who take democracy seriously, we will take our convention to a city that upholds American freedoms, not to one whose leaders trample them."We think better of Charlotte than this. We call on Patrick Cannon and Warren Turner to consider how their actions soil the reputation of their city. We believe they should support free speech. We believe they should take a stand for genuine tolerance of a genuine diversity of ideas.We call on them to issue an apology to American Renaissance and to make a city-owned property available to us to rent for our conference. It is still not too late to encourage the qualities that made America great, not the totalitarian impulses that Americans-at least traditionally-have always despised.