Cancel culture strikes again! Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union and founder of the consulting firm Cove Strategies, has received a great deal of backlash after speaking out against some of the left-wing progressive beliefs of the Black Lives Matter Coalition. Schlapp joins the podcast to discuss the dangerous road cancel culture could take America down.
We also cover these stories:
- The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the president now has the authority to fire the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau chief.
- The Supreme Court has struck down a Louisiana law demanding abortion providers have hospital admitting privileges.
- Iran is putting out an arrest warrant for President Donald Trump and others involved in the drone strike that killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in January.
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Virginia Allen: I am joined by Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union and founder of the consulting firm Cove Strategies. Mr. Schlapp, thanks so much for being here.
Matt Schlapp: Great to be with you, Virginia. And please call me Matt.
Virginia Allen: All right. I can do that. Today that we’re talking about your personal experience with quote, unquote “cancel culture.” But before we dive into the current situation with your business coach strategies and Black Lives Matter, can you just tell us a little bit about why you founded Cove Strategies and what you all do?
Schlapp: Well, when I got to Washington D.C., I did what a lot of people do. I thought that the best way I could make a difference for my country was to join the Republican revolution that took over the majority in the House for the first time in over 40 years in January of 1995.
I worked for a great conservative by the name of Todd Tiahrt from my hometown of Wichita, Kansas, and I worked on his campaign and I came to the nation’s capital and I started working for him, plugging away at conservative policies.
Over time, I worked for President [George W.] Bush on his campaign in 2000. I worked in the White House as a political director for the president, and I eventually went on to work for Koch Industries for four years.
And then after that, I started my firm because I’m a big believer that the conservative movement needs to have different elements involved in trying to change the town, to drain the swamp, to implement our policy desires. We need good people in government and we need good people outside of government to make sure these things can happen.
Allen: Absolutely. As you have worked with individuals inside of government, outside of government, who are those companies, those organizations that you’ve consulted for at Cove Strategies?
Schlapp: Oh, it’s all public and there’s a whole variety of companies, a lot of big companies, a lot of medium-sized companies, a lot of small companies.
I don’t know if I want to shine a spotlight too much on who I work for because, clearly, these radicals want to destroy me in every way they possibly can, as you can imagine. I’m laughing, but it’s a stressful time.
I think the key is this, look, I am an aggressive conservative. I push hard on TV and radio, on the streets of Washington, D.C., and around the country, really around the world for our conservative principles.
We did five [Conservative Political Action Conferences] overseas and we also have gone and done all kinds of interesting CPACs, including at a prison.
One of the reasons we did a CPAC at a prison in Chester, Pennsylvania, is because we believe passionately that some of the approaches to criminal justice policy in the past have been quite detrimental on our civil liberties.
And I think that the president’s leadership on that issue has got people like me literally with a target on our backs because we dare to question whether or not African Americans and minorities should walk in lock step with the new radicalism of the Democratic Party, which is now a socialist party.
I think we’re a threat. And I think that’s the main reason why people might be coming after me, coming after my company, and now coming after CPAC itself, now literally making calls to donors at CPAC saying, “How could you support an organization that has a terrible person like Matt Schlapp as its chairman?”
Look, it’s an integrated and very strategic attack on my character. It’s false, and I’m going to be looking at all the options I have to make sure we can go back to the idea of a civil debate.
Allen: Absolutely. Well, you mentioned those attacks, and most of them right now seem to be focused on a number of tweets that you’ve tweeted about Black Lives Matter, the coalition specifically, that organization. They’ve gained a ton of spotlights since the killing of George Floyd on May 25, and you have raised concerns about the beliefs in the platform of the organization. Can you expand a little bit upon that?
Schlapp: Well, I’m no perfect person, but I am a go-to-church Christian. I’m a Catholic and I believe very, in my heart, passionately that we should do everything we can to combat racism. I do that in my work at the American Conservative Union. I try to live my life that way. I think all good and decent people do.
I think when it comes to the question of having very radical beliefs, I mean, this is something that we’ve noticed with the Democratic Party and [former Vice President] Joe Biden as well, but the idea that it’s becoming chic and vogue to advocate for an organization that says that we should have legal abortion through all nine months of a woman’s pregnancy, it should be paid for by taxpayers, that the family should be taken down and is not a positive cultural foundation, that families are bad for kids, essentially, that cops are evil and racist and cops should be defunded and we should have maybe even a national police force, which is obnoxious to anybody who has a constitutional sense of the way America should run, anti-Semitic.
The state of Israel is something that’s not supported because they clearly have an animus toward American Jews. These are policies that we must call out, we cannot be for.
You could want to fight racism, I want to fight racism, but you shouldn’t be fighting America. We should be trying to bring America together. We should be trying to get the good people inside America who mean well to work together for the change we need in society.
And by the way, America has a beautiful story to tell on race. It’s not a perfect story. It started off rather abhorrently with a black person being three-fifths of a person and legalized slavery, but we fought a civil war. We passed three civil rights amendments. We put a shot through the heart of Jim Crow. We changed institutions.
But now it’s really not so much just this question about, can we fight racism? It’s this, can we fight America? Can we bring America down? Can we start fires in her cities? Can we bring the whole system down? Can we bring every statute down, including statues of people that helped to create this whole idea of this democratic experiment called America? Can we bring St. Junipero Serra down? Can we bring Christopher Columbus down, men who helped Christianize this part of the globe?
I’m sorry I predicted on Twitter that they would then start to say we have to take down statues of Jesus and Mary and literally days later, there was a call to take down statues of Jesus and Mary.
They’re coming after the families. They’re coming after our churches. They’re coming after the institutions that are literally preventing the country from slipping into this radical abyss.
And of course, they’re coming after [President] Donald Trump, and I’m closely associated with Donald Trump. My wife works for the campaign. She worked for him in the White House. President Trump comes to CPAC each and every year. CPAC has become quite a big organization. And so the attempt is to shut me down and to shut me up for fear that I take a financial hit with the for-profit part of the work that I do.
Obviously, coming on your podcast, I want to be respectful and responsible at how I talk about things, especially as sensitive as what we’re going through as a country, but I’m not going to stop talking about the fact that going after someone’s faith, going after our churches, going after the state of Israel and those who support the state of Israel, going after our law enforcement officers—which the next step will be going after our military men and women—I won’t stand by for that.
I don’t think the American people agree with this type of radicalism. I think a lot of people buy into the idea that we maybe have a whole new conversation about race. I want to have that conversation, but I also don’t want to do it within the context of blaming America first for every problem in society.
Matter of fact, America as a country has done more to tackle the sensitive questions of race than any country I know. And we’ve done more to help more people economically, no matter what color of the rainbow they are, than any country I know. We accept more immigrants into our country than any country I know. And that whole system, that whole system is under attack. And that’s why at the ACU, we’re saying, “Let’s fight racism, not America.”
Allen: Yeah, yeah. Let me ask you directly, in your mind, what is the difference between the phrase “Black Lives Matter” and the organization known as Black Lives Matter?
Schlapp: Well, I don’t know. Of course, nobody would have a problem with the phrase Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter is a great concept. Brown lives matter. White lives matter. Women’s lives matter. Men’s lives matter. Unborn lives matter. All these lives matter.
The black experience in America is unique, and I’m a white guy and I understand that I can’t possibly walk in somebody else’s shoes. I do get that. But I’m not going to be lectured to about the fact that I’m bad or maligned because of my race or because of my color. If people don’t know my heart, they don’t have the right to judge it.
And I think it’s important for people, when they are the subject of these attacks, and I don’t know how many other hundreds or thousands of people are the subject of these attacks, if they have something to be ashamed of, they should take care of that.
If it’s just being done for politics to shut down someone’s First Amendment rights to opine on questions of politics and what the right policies are for society … For instance, let’s think about this. Is it good to support a group, and there are a lot of these radical groups that believe that families have a negative impact on children and it would be better for the state to raise those kids. We used to call that Marxism. Today, it’s being mainstreamed.
If you look at the black experience, in particular, if you read people that have spent their whole lives trying to help the black community, it always centers on two things, trying to rebuild black family units and trying to support the black church. Those are two things we should be helping. We shouldn’t be supporting groups that believe that those two entities are helping to harm people and are the problem. Those are the very things we should be raising money for and helping, not criticizing. This is a very, very stark difference in the approach.
But even that being said, how could it possibly be controversial for somebody in politics and somebody to opine on a personal Twitter feed or a Facebook feed that they don’t support legal abortion through nine months of pregnancy, that they don’t support indiscriminately saying, “All cops are bad”?
Because blue lives matter, too. All of our lives matter. They’re given to us by God. God creates us and puts us on this Earth for a specific purpose and each one of us has a unique purpose and we each have dignity.
And that’s why we went to a prison. That’s why we went and stood on the streets of Hong Kong with the protesters. CPAC went to Hong Kong, and we were invited, the first Western group invited. We did that. We didn’t do that because we have racial animosity. We do that because we love our brothers and sisters who are fighting for the oxygen of freedom in Hong Kong.
That’s why we went to a prison, because we wanted to stand up with people and show that we have equal dignity. No matter what you’ve done in your life, even if you’ve committed terrible crimes, you still have dignity. God still has a call on your life and you still have responsible decisions to make moving forward, including keeping good family relationships and trying to live your life as best you can.
As conservatives, we all believe this. This is knit in our heart. Matter of fact, the idea of being bigoted or racist is so contrary to anything the conservative movement stands for or what our values are that it’s almost shocking when the charge gets leveled, because it’s so different from what you are that it takes breath out of you. And I think that’s a big problem.
I think we have stop being on defense and we have to start leading because I think the American people are looking at what’s going on in the streets of our country and they’re saying, “What’s happening to my country? Why is it wrong for me to have the values of I believe in my church and I want to be a regular church attender and be active and I want to help families and I think cops help keep order and I think that we ought to stand for our brothers and sisters in the state of Israel? How can these things be radical ideas, those positions?”
Instead, what’s in vogue are the opposite of those ideas. And I think it’s propagandized through too much of our media. They have done everything they can to put a sexy sheen on this radicalism because they’re wrapping it up with the idea that America is a bad place and a racist place, and I deny that.
I think racism exists. I’ve seen it my whole life. I’m sure people of color see it much more and they see it much more personally. And if all this has us recommit to fighting it, I’m all for that, but that will not happen if we rip down America. If we rip down America, the last and best hope for men and women of freedom on Earth, I guarantee you racism around the globe will be on the rise, won’t be on the decline.
And I think there’s a lot of people who live in these cities, these cities that are now being terrorized by vandalism and arson and the idea that cops aren’t responding to 911, that cops are having walkouts, that the City Council in Minneapolis can defund the cops but then they can hire private security that the taxpayers are going to pay for so the office holders get to be protected but the citizens really [don’t] get to be.
These are either illogical or insane times or very evil times. And if we don’t start speaking up, no matter what the consequences, we won’t have a country to reside in.
Allen: And, Matt, you’re right in the center of this. You’re experiencing it in a very personal way right now.
You posted on Twitter a number of tweets, one of which you said, “A growing list of companies giving to Black Lives Matter Coalition, which is hostile to families, capitalism, cops, unborn life and gender,” you pointed that out.
As you said, this is the platform of this organization. You’ve always been very, very open about being a conservative. You’ve never hid that. But now you have a company like Verizon breaking its contract with you. They’ve worked with you for seven years. Did they explain to you why they chose to break their contract?
Schlapp: They did, and I’m not going to talk publicly about any of that at this time. I’d rather not talk about any specific companies, but what you report on, what you’ve just said has been publicly reported on. If people want to learn more, they can go do their research.
I’ll just say this: I am proud of who I am. I’m not proud of every moment of my life. I’ve made lots of mistakes, lots of them in my 52 years. But with all the decisions I’ve made, I am an interesting human being and a unique human being, like each one of us is, and I’m proud of who I am and I won’t be shamed. Even for the things I’ve done wrong, I won’t be shamed by people who are trying to destroy me and by destroying me, destroy this great country. I will continue to speak up.
Now, if there are consequences, there are consequences, and no one should feel sorry for me because God has given me wonderful gifts and I’ve had a wonderful life and I have my health and I have five beautiful daughters and I have the world’s greatest wife and I have brothers and sisters and family, some of whom I’m with now who have my back, so no one should feel sorry for me.
But what they should do is realize that today it’s easy to come after me. Why? Well, I’m too closely associated with Trump. Some people don’t like my tweets and guess what? I’m not rich enough to not need to work, so I need to work so they can try to cut off ways in which I try to work, OK?
So all that’s going to happen to me, but who’s it going to be next? Who’s the next person down the line [they] go after? Is it an employee of one of these companies who goes to an evangelical church or a Catholic church who has these same views of families and unborn life and cops and Israel? Can they work in that company or will that somehow be beyond the pale? How do you allow your employees to write checks to people that have political views like me?
There’s a lot of Republican senators who I know well and we share a very similar philosophy, it’s called the conservative philosophy. It’s called abiding by the Constitution. How are they going to write checks to those senators and those members of Congress?
If criticizing not the racial policies of Black Lives Matter, but their other destructive cultural policies, if that’s allowed to stand that that’s equated to racism, in other words, you have to be a Marxist who wants to destroy the foundations of America in order to be acceptable on questions of race, then I suppose we have 55% of the country that will get canceled.
It won’t just be me. Won’t be my wife. Won’t be my family. It’ll be 55% or so … of America that will be canceled, that will be somehow out of bounds for doing business with.
This is critical. America’s never been here. They certainly haven’t been here since the days when we went into armed conflict with each other or signed the Declaration of Independence.
Virginia Allen: Does it surprise you? I mean, does it surprise you that we’re at this point? Because I’m looking at the news and I’m feeling really taken aback and I’m asking that question of how do we spiral this quickly and where do we go from here?
Schlapp: Well, … I just want to say the support I’ve gotten from people, Democrats, Republicans, friends from around the globe with our CPAC travels and just friends here in this country, it really makes me have great confidence in the decency of Americans.
I think most Americans know that we’re in a bad place. The murder of George Floyd was terrible. Most of us saw it and it literally made us physically sick.
Everyone’s hoping that out of a tragedy, something good can come, but also out of tragedy, a lot of additional tragedies could come.
And if the destruction of the institutions of America and our ability to stand firm with the institutions of the country can survive, if that somehow is weakened after all this, well, that’s a very serious problem, because that won’t help prevent the next George Floyd, who by the way, was killed by a police force run by all these socialists, from the mayor to the governor to the City Council to everyone.
So the idea that somehow Democrats and socialism [are] going to solve the problems that were evidenced by that video, to me, are very clear that the opposite could be true. They might want to consider different policies so that there’s a much better result.
But when people reach out and they say, “Hey, sorry that you’re a victim of this cancel culture and this very scary time,” I always tell them, they say, “What can I do?” I say, “Well, put your flag out.”
I’m literally hearing people are not putting their American flag out because they are afraid that they will be the subject of some violence. Put your flag out and get the biggest flag you can. Maybe put a couple of them out.
Second thing is we get on our knees to say our prayers and we should all ask God for his protection for our country, and every single person in the country, even those I disagree with, even those who mean me harm. Let’s pray. Let’s pray as a country.
That’s one of the reasons why God allowed America to be established is this idea that we understand, at least most of us, … that God is good and he has an intention for each and every one of our lives.
Fly your flag, say your prayers, and if you possibly can, speak up. Speak up now. Speak up as loudly as you can because if we’re all silent, just like we were, so many of us in 2016, with our support of President Trump because there were repercussions in the workplace, there were repercussions in society if you said you were for this man, and so that’s why he won when no poll showed that he was going to win.
And that same dynamic is going on in our society today. But it’s much deeper … now. It isn’t just a question of Donald Trump. It’s much deeper. It’s, can you say that you live in a good country? Can you say, “I support the flag”? These are very basic questions that are at risk. If you can possibly be in a position to speak up, speak up, speak up now, and speak up loudly.
Virginia Allen: And one of those individuals who is speaking up is the founder of Black Guns Matter, Maj Toure. He posted a video on Twitter supporting you. He called you a buddy and he explained that you’ve supported him and his organization over the years.
How did you get connected with Maj Toure? And why do you think that the work he’s doing is so important to building up the African American community?
Schlapp: We do CPAC every year and we have the big national one. [Heritage President] Kay James spoke at our big national event in National Harbor, but we go all over the country now and we go all over the world.
And we actually literally stumbled across Maj because he puts out really compelling video content. And we stumbled across Maj, and I think it was Dan Schneider who stumbled across him, and we asked them to come speak at CPAC. And that developed into a great relationship with Maj and myself and several other people on the team.
He came with us to Prison CPAC and he was powerful. He was a lot more powerful there than I was. That’s for sure. I mean, his story is a great story.
And his point is he believes he’s a fierce defender of the Second Amendment, as I think we all are and should be, but he’s actually teaching civics. That’s what I hear when I hear Maj talk.
He talks differently from me. He has a different way of delivering his message than I do. It resonates with a lot of people. I’ve seen it. And he uses the Second Amendment and concerns about crime specifically and the urban cores of our country and talks about why the Constitution matters, why thinking about voting matters, why certain policies are more respectful than others.
But I will also say that you worry when these terrible slurs, these charges are made against you. You wonder, what will your friends who are people of color think? And it meant a great deal to me to have him say those words because I just don’t think about Maj as a black friend. I think about Maj as just a really interesting civics teacher who’s on the streets of Philadelphia and a lot of other cities having a big impact.
And that’s the CPAC model, which is, we don’t always get the most famous, although, I think a lot of the most famous speak at our conference, but we don’t always get the most famous, sometimes we get the person you’ve never heard of who can really deliver a powerful message. And he’s one of those people.
Allen: Yeah, he certainly is. Well, Matt, we encourage all of our listeners to follow you on Twitter, @mschlapp, and we just really appreciate your time today. Thank you for coming on the show.
Schlapp: Well, we love the work that The Daily Signal does and The Heritage Foundation, and we appreciate very much that we get to collaborate together, and let’s keep doing that.
Allen: Absolutely. We plan on it.