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You Can Tell CPAC Is Happening Because “Horrifying” Is Trending Online

For so many different reasons.

Three women excitedly hold bedazzled handguns at CPAC 2021.

It’s that time of year again, when all the worst people you can think of get together to celebrate their own bigotry and terrible opinions. Yup, the Conservative Political Action Conference happened this weekend in Dallas, Texas and it was just as horrifying as ever—in fact, “horrifying” has been trending online Monday as a way to sum up the weekend’s events.

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First up, “horrifying” is how Dr. Anthony Fauci described some of the attendees’ reactions to news that the U.S. is lagging behind its vaccination goals.

Alex Berenson—a writer dubbed “the pandemic’s wrongest man” by The Atlantic—spoke at the conference on Saturday. “The government was hoping that they could sort of sucker 90% of the population into getting vaccinated,” he told the crowd.

“And it isn’t happening,” he added. And the audience cheered.

When asked for a reaction, Fauci told CNN’s Jake Tapper: “It’s horrifying. I mean, they are cheering about someone saying that it’s a good thing for people not to try and save their lives.”

“I mean, if you just unpack that for a second,” he continued, “it’s almost frightening to say, ‘Hey, guess what, we don’t want you to do something to save your life. Yay!’ Everybody starts screaming and clapping. I just don’t get that. And I don’t think that anybody who’s thinking clearly can get that.”

That was far from the only “horrifying” event at the conference. Here are some other highlights:

—Donald Trump (unsurprisingly but still distressingly) won the conference’s straw poll for the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nominee. The annual poll is not a great predictor of who will actually get the nomination come election year, but it is indicative of current conservative values. And right now, Trump is those values.

—Trump was also present at the conference and gave a rambling speech so chock-full of misinformation that Fox News had to air a disclaimer in the middle of it.

—Caitlyn Jenner was also at the conference and was accosted at the hotel where the event took place. An attendee followed her through the lobby, hurling transphobic attacks and shouting Jenner’s deadname at her while recording the encounter. It was so foul, even Tomi Lahren—someone we hate finding ourselves on the same side of an argument as—condemned the harasser’s behavior.

Of course, Tomi did nothing to address her own history of transphobia or the other transphobic comments made by speakers at this same event.

Tomi can pretend like that sort of transphobic attack is out of line with current conservative values, but it’s just a straight-up lie and always has been.

(image: Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.