A small organization, which calls diversity “a vulnerability” and immigration — both legal and illegal — the driving force toward the country’s bankruptcy, was supposed to hold its first-ever national conference at a Northern California resort this spring.
But Tenaya Lodge, a resort on the border of Yosemite National Park, canceled the booking after receiving complaints about the organization’s views.
VDARE Foundation, a supporter of President Trump, describes itself as a nonprofit “journalistic enterprise” that publishes analysis and editorial commentary to “preserve and celebrate the distinctive culture of America.”
“We inform the fight to keep America American,” according to its website, VDARE.com.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization that tracks hate groups, describes VDARE.com as an “extremist” and “white nationalist” website that publishes works from authors who “decry the demise of white America.”
The group, based in Connecticut, booked Tenaya Lodge for a three-day conference this spring. Organizers had planned a series of debates and presentations “that will establish guideposts for the incoming administration and burgeoning movement around patriotic immigration reform,” Lydia Brimelow, VDARE’s advancement officer, said in an email to The Washington Post.
But the conference, scheduled for March 31 to April 2, was abruptly canceled after two organizations, the Southern Poverty Law Center and Media Matters for America, a liberal research center, published two articles Monday criticizing the event and prompting complaint calls to Tenaya Lodge. Brimelow said the resort’s sales manager told her that Tenaya Lodge was being called a white supremacist “for doing business with us.”
Brimelow said VDARE is neither a white supremacist nor a white nationalist group.
“What we are is politically correct,” she said, citing Trump, his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, and his counselor, Kellyanne Conway, as examples.
Glen White, a spokesman for Delaware North, which operates the resort, said in a statement that Tenaya Lodge was initially not aware of VDARE’s views and that booking the group’s event was a “mistake” and that the resort does not endorse the group.
“We did not realize this group has values that are in conflict with our embracement of diversity among our employees and guests, including people of different cultures, lifestyles, creeds, nationalities, races and ages,” White said in the statement. “We are also concerned that providing meeting space and rooms to this group could be disruptive to our other guests’ enjoyment of Tenaya Lodge and the services we provide to those guests.”
But Brimelow said organizers were “completely transparent” with the resort about VDARE’s views.
“They were alerted of our controversial, immigration-politics mission. We told them there would be security concerns. They were fine with it,” Brimelow said.
Brimelow wrote in a recent article posted on VDARE.com that there has been increasing demand for the group to have a conference. Organizers chose Tenaya Lodge because it’s on government property, meaning the resort has “to honor freedom of speech and assembly,” she wrote.
One of the planned speakers was former Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo, an advocate of hard-line immigration policy. Tancredo, who ran for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008, is a columnist for Breitbart News. Bannon, Breitbart’s former chief executive, once called the news site “the platform of the alt-right,” a small, far-right movement that seeks a whites-only state.
Another was Jared Taylor, editor of the white nationalist magazine American Renaissance.
Brimelow’s husband, Peter Brimelow, a British anti-immigration activist, launched VDARE.com in 1999 as an extension of his book, “Alien Nation: Common Sense About America’s Immigration Disaster,” according to the website.
A promotional image of the conference was posted to VDARE’s Facebook page this month. After Tenaya Lodge canceled the event, the image was altered to include, in bright red letters, “COWARDLY VENUE BACKED OUT!”
Asked whether the organization is looking for another venue for its conference, Lydia Brimelow said the group has limited resources.
“We will have conferences again in the future, but we don’t have the money or staff to pull off another conference on such short notice,” she said.