WCS'18 features far-right speakers alongside establishment pols

The Western Conservative Summit (WCS), held annually in Denver and billed as “the largest gathering of conservatives outside of Washington, D.C.,” kicks off Friday with a slate of scheduled speakers that highlights both veteran rhetorical hardliners and members of the new generation of far-right social media propagandists.

The WCS has been a forum for anti-LGBT, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant oratory in the past, and this year looks to be no different.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, well known for his anti-immigrant positions and policies as well as ties to anti-LGBT hate group Alliance Defending Freedom (which is also well-represented at this year’s WCS), is the scheduled headliner — assuming he still has a job at the end of a week where President Trump has attacked him once again on Twitter.

Other longtime extremists scheduled to speak include Frank Gaffney, Jr., of the anti-Muslim hate group Center for Security Policy; Rep. Steve King, who once compared illegal immigration to the holocaust; and Michael Farris, president of the aforementioned anti-LGBT hate group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF senior counsel Erik Stanley is also conducting a workshop titled “Why Religious Liberty?”).

The new generation of hard-right social media conservatives will be well-represented alongside the old guard. At least three representatives of Turning Point USA, the nationwide conservative college organization which regularly flirts with the racist alt-right, are listed as scheduled speakers at WCS, including its founder, Charlie Kirk, and communications director Candace Owens, in the news recently for being Kanye West’s far-right red-pill supplier. Social media Trump defenders Diamond and Silk are also scheduled to appear, as is far-right Daily Wire correspondent Matt Walsh.

A slew of mainstream conservatives including Colorado’s U.S. Senator Cory Gardner and Congressman Ken Buck are on the agenda as well, along with the state’s four GOP candidates for governor. Embattled EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, criticized this week for having an aide look into acquiring a Chick-fil-A franchise for his wife and having another aide try to score a used mattress from the Trump International Hotel, was a late addition to the WCS list of speakers.

Comments, suggestions or tips? Send them to HWeditor@splcenter.org and follow us on Twitter @Hatewatch.