Read Jazz’s post this morning for the background on this — although, in a pinch, this tweet sums up the “controversy,” such as it is.
— Morgan J. Freeman (@mjfree) February 27, 2021
After that and others like it went viral, Hyatt Hotels, the host of this year’s convention, issued an initial statement politely eschewing the proper response — “you people have lost your minds” — and instead blah-blah-ing about its respect for tolerance and inclusivity. You can read that in Jazz’s post. The problem for Hyatt is that it didn’t satisfy the mob. The angry tweets and threats of boycotts kept coming, leading the company to put out a second statement sounding a note of concern about the stage design and disclaiming all responsibility for it:
We take the concern raised about the prospect of symbols of hate being included in the stage design at CPAC 2021 very seriously as all such symbols are abhorrent and unequivocally counter to our values as a company. The CPAC 2021 event is hosted and managed by the American Conservative Union that manages all aspects of event logistics, including the stage design and aesthetics. We discussed directly with ACU leadership who told us that any resemblance to a symbol of hate is unintentional. We will continue to stay in dialogue with event organizers regarding our deep concerns. Any further questions can be directed to CPAC.
In other words: Blame CPAC, not us. But that didn’t hack it for Hyatt’s critics either. The allegations of complicity in promoting Nazi iconography kept coming, eventually causing the company to issue a third, much longer statement designed to satisfy the mob once and for all. If only we had recognized the hateful connotations of the stage design, Hyatt insisted, we surely would have intervened. Not only that, they claimed, but various people attached to the event were rude to our staff — a little nudge from the company to its detractors that it shares their disdain for the sort of people who’d participate in CPAC.
In keeping with our deep culture of inclusivity, our colleagues worked tirelessly to support this event while enforcing Hyatt’s safety policies. At times, these efforts included reminding attendees to wear masks and socially distance, even while colleagues occasionally faced hostility from attendees who did not support our policies. While individuals are entitled to their opinions, in a Hyatt hotel we expect guests to follow our policies. Further, we were extremely disappointed by the disrespect many individuals involved in the event showed to our colleagues, as it is reflective neither of our own commitment to care for members of the Hyatt family nor of how we wish to conduct business. We are tremendously grateful to our colleagues for their resilience and the care they demonstrated keeping people safe in circumstances that became increasingly difficult as the event evolved.
When we learned that CPAC 2021 stage design had been compared to a symbol of hate, we promptly raised this concern with meeting organizers who strongly denied any connection to such symbols. Had we initially recognized the potential connections to hate symbolism, we would have proactively addressed it prior to commencement of the event. Unfortunately, this became clear to us only after the event kicked off. With CPAC’s denial of any intentional connection to hate symbols and our concerns over the safety of guests and colleagues in what could have been a disruptive situation, we allowed the event to continue. We understand and respect the opinions of those who might disagree with that decision.
In both statements Hyatt refused to give its customer, the American Conservative Union, any benefit of the doubt that they weren’t actually signaling an affinity for Nazism in their stage design. All the company would allow is that that’s what organizers told them. Why, if anything, Hyatt’s been victimized here!
This afternoon the ACU’s general counsel responded to the two statements in a letter, refusing to let them scapegoat CPAC in order to placate lefty critics. Tell the truth, wrote lawyer David Safavian: You helped us build the stage.
For months we have collaborated with your team on logistics, including sharing, reviewing, and approving the stage design that was created by one of our subcontractors. The fact that no one on the Hyatt staff ever raised concerns during the process shows the ridiculous nature of your statements. Moreover, your statements falsely conceal your oversight role. In fact, the Hyatt Hotel, with our organization and subcontractors, approved and worked collaboratively to build this stage. Only after a coordinated far-left assault to destroy our conference arose did you succumb to lies and compound them with your own.
During this difficult time for our nation, we believe in Americans getting back to work and helping companies like yours to flourish. Indeed, you recruited us. We sought to work with you in good faith to help Hyatt workers and the Florida economy. In fact, countless employees expressed their immense gratitude for bringing CPAC to the Hyatt in Orlando, many stating that this very conference was the sole reason they had a job.
Does anyone doubt that, for the great majority of liberal concern trolls wringing their hands about the stage design, the “Nazi rune” allegation is a pure pretext to discourage the hospitality industry from hosting CPAC next year? That’s the real sin of which Hyatt is guilty in its critics’ eyes, not greenlighting a set that happens to look like some esoteric fascist symbol. CPAC was the most overtly pro-Trump mass rally since the January 6 event that preceded the attack on the Capitol. Trump himself chose it as the moment he would return to the national stage and address his fans for the first time since Biden’s inauguration. Liberals were going to find some way to make Hyatt pay for providing him with a platform to revisit his claims that the election was rigged. The stage design was just a convenient excuse; without it, doubtless there’d have been a push to boycott Hyatt simply for agreeing to host a man who had inspired an insurrection two months ago. Noah Rothman put it well, I think:
This isn’t something a publicly traded company’s public relations team honestly believes, but it’s also something they’re not sure they can say they don’t believe in the current climate. And that’s scarier than if they were all genuinely mad. https://t.co/uUr0HnfNh3
— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) March 1, 2021
Hyatt knows the stage wasn’t designed to look like a Nazi symbol, but it also knows that defending CPAC’s good intentions from the left’s online activist class is a risky and thankless proposition. Make some appeasement-minded noises and the critics are apt to move on. Tell them that they’re nuts to think anything untoward was meant by the set and you’re all but daring them to punish you. And they just might. So Hyatt capitulated — twice, per their statements.
Exit question: If liberals wanted to grouse about CPAC for some transgression, why didn’t they focus on its potential to become a superspreader event instead?