A Washington, D.C. area hotel last week closed its doors to a racist convention that had booked rooms under the benign-sounding name "American Renaissance" conference. Now all American hotels and conference centers should follow that lead, because in the U.S. renaissance means overcoming bigotry.
American Renaissance conducts a biannual conference that promotes racial and religious hatred. This year one of its guest speakers at the February conference is to be Nick Griffin, a convicted criminal who heads the British National Party, a white separatist group that contends immigrants are causing the "genocide" of "indigenous" white Britons.
The hotel canceled the booking after several groups asked it not to serve as host to a hate hoedown. Those groups will monitor the organization's attempts to secure another meeting place. They include the United Steelworkers; One People's Project, which describes itself as a resource for those fighting fascism; and the Mormon Worker, a newspaper based in Provo, Utah.
As a union that promotes diversity and inclusion, the United Steelworkers finds the doctrine and language of Griffin and American Renaissance reprehensible.
The American Renaissance Web site contends, for example:
"Virtually no whites anywhere are willing to break taboos about racial differences in IQ, the costs of 'diversity,' or the challenges of non-white immigration."
It specifies: "Gentlemen will wear jackets and ties to all conference events." Apparently women are not invited.
It also tacitly acknowledges the offensiveness of its message by offering attendees tags bearing false names, which it describes as "war names":
"We will prepare name tags in advance; please call us if you would like to use a nom de guerre."
That link to violence is not accidental. By inviting Nick Griffin, the group embraced a criminal whose organization is connected to numerous violent -- even deadly -- acts.
In 1998, Griffin was convicted of inciting racial hatred with articles that denied the Holocaust. He received a suspended nine-month prison term. At the trial he said, "I am well aware that the orthodox opinion is that six million Jews were gassed and cremated and turned into lampshades. Orthodox opinion also once held that the world is flat."
Griffin has cited neo-fascist Robert Fiore as a major BNP influence. Fiore is a convicted criminal and member of the Italian terrorist organization implicated in the 1980 Bologna bombing that killed 85 people.
Among the criminals associated with the BNP are David Copeland, a former member sentenced to 50 years for setting off explosives that killed three people and injured 139; former BNP candidate Roderick Rowley, who was sentenced to prison on 14 charges of making and distributing obscene images of children, and BNP election agent Kevin Hughes who was sentenced to two years in prison for assaulting an Iraqi asylum seeker.
Griffin and the BNP were admired by U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum shooter James W. von Brunn, who killed a security guard when he opened fire in the Washington museum lobby last year. Brunn, a white supremacist who was convicted and imprisoned earlier for an armed attempt to kidnap Federal Reserve Board members, went to see Griffin speak when the BNP leader lectured in the U.S. previously. Brunn wrote on his blog that although he had misgivings about Griffin allowing Jews to join the BNP:
"My hat is off to this fighting white man, Nick Griffin, for the incredible victories for White Britain which his hard work, rhino-thick skin against [Jewish media] criticism, and inspired leadership have made possible. . . . Hail the white leader, Nick Griffin!"
Brunn died in prison in January awaiting his murder trial.
Griffin himself is again facing the potential of imprisonment, this time over the BNP's racist constitution. A British court ordered him to change the document so that it no longer bars admission of Asians, blacks and members of other ethnic minorities. The BNP constitution also says:
"The British National Party stands for the preservation of the national and ethnic character of the British people and is wholly opposed to any form of racial integration between British and non-European peoples. It is therefore committed to stemming and reversing the tide of non-white immigration and to restoring, by legal changes, negotiation and consent, the overwhelmingly white make-up of the British population that existed in Britain prior to 1948."
Griffin suggests non-whites be paid to leave Britain and return to their countries of origin. It's not clear how that would work for minorities who've lived in Britain for generations.
The court initially set the end of January as a deadline for the constitutional change, but has given Griffin two more weeks to comply. This convict connected to so many other criminals apparently received a visa to enter the U.S. How likely is it that he would he have gotten one if he were a Muslim endorsing the "cleansing" of Christians?
Hotels and conference centers have every right to shun the likes of Griffin and American Renaissance. Refusing to provide a forum for hate is not a denial of First Amendment free speech rights. Griffin and the American Renaissance are free to spew their race- and religion-based venom in any public park or on any private property owned by a like-minded bigot.