Commentary

Hotel chain on use of its Charlotte facility by group featuring extremist speakers: “Meh”

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest

As Policy Watch reported earlier this morning, a growing number of voices are calling on Lt. Gov. Dan Forest to withdraw from next week’s “North Carolina Renewal Project” event at the Renaissance Charlotte Suites Hotel. This includes the Washington, DC-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) which decried the idea of a public official like Forest sharing the stage with bigoted speakers who possess a long history of spouting Islamophobic and homophobic rhetoric.

Among other speakers, the event will feature a conservative activist and conspiracy kook named William Federer who has repeatedly alleged that the movement for LGBTQ equality in the United States is somehow part of a diabolical plot to transform the United States into a Muslim-dominated country.

Unfortunately, one voice that’s not taking a stance on this disturbing event is the company that’s providing the venue for it – the Marriott Corporation. When asked to comment on its decision to rent space for such an event, the general manager of the Renaissance Charlotte Suites Hotel sent the following milquetoast statement to Policy Watch early this morning:

We are a hospitality company that provides public accommodations and function space. We strive to provide a welcoming environment to all. Acceptance of business does not indicate support, or endorsement of any group or individual. Our hotel management and staff do not necessarily endorse the views and practices of our guests and those who attend meetings or events at our facilities. We strive to create a diverse and inclusive environment for our guests and associates as we endeavor to deliver the best guest experience possible. For questions or concerns specific to events held at our facilities, we ask that event organizers be contacted directly.

In other words: “Meh – as long as groups bring the cash, we really don’t care what they say or stand for.”

While perhaps superficially appealing for its apparent neutrality on such matters, the hotel chain’s stance begs the question of where, if anywhere, it would draw the line. Would the Marriott folks be okay if groups like the Klan or the Aryan Brotherhood or any number of Neo-Nazi or white nationalist groups asked to rent their space?

And if they wouldn’t, it would be extremely interesting to hear them explain why and how they would distinguish such groups from some of the individuals headlining next week’s confab – an event in which one of the scheduled featured speakers has claimed that “The number one crime in Norway, Sweden and Denmark is rape – Muslim immigrant men raping European women” and another has stated that the election of two Muslim women to Congress is “beyond the pale.”

The bottom line: If your company is about creating “a diverse and inclusive environment for our guests and associates,” hosting/facilitating an event like this is not the way to do it.

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