James 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" event in D.C. that featured the controversial Jared Taylor, editor of the white nationalist American Renaissance magazine, as a participant.
In a previous post, "OPP: James O'Keefe, ACORN and Landrieu Stinger, Ran Racist Forum," the Voice mischaracterized the event, saying that O'Keefe "ran" and had "organized" what we called "a racist forum."
We also cited a Salon story by Max Blumenthal, "James O'Keefe's race problem," that talked about O'Keefe's staffing a table that was "filled with tracts from the white supremacist right." We mischaracterized the role in the event of the Leadership Institute (O'Keefe's employer at the time).
Weigel, who says he attended the event, points out in a post this afternoon that it was "a debate, not a forum for Taylor."
The event was hosted by the Robert Taft Club, which Weigel calls "a proudly un-PC debate society run by young conservative activists who worked" at the institute. "O'Keefe's position at the Leadership Institute gave him some ownership of the event," Weigel wrote. But Weigel also quotes Marcus Epstein, who did organize the event, as saying that O'Keefe "did not collaborate with me, definitely not on that event."
O'Keefe was indeed at the event, Weigel writes in another post: "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 ..."
The Voice pointed out that "there have been overt racial themes" in O'Keefe's work, and Weigel riffs on that as well, writing in "Race and James O'Keefe" that "Blumenthal's article is worth reading for the background on O'Keefe's race obsession at various points in his career." Weigel adds that "the new attention" on the 2006 event "suggests that young campus activists with big ambitions are going to find their dabblings in extreme politics coming back to haunt them."