Major conference on Islam cancelled at last minute by Nashville hotel

Note: the conference is taking place. The story reports: “The symposium started Friday as scheduled, but at a venue revealed only to people registered to attend.”

I called Regional News Editor Kevin Paulk of the Tennessean and he told me that the attendees had not been “turned away” at the door, at the article had suggested, but that the organizers had been told somewhat earlier in the week about the cancellation, and were able to arrange an alternative meeting place. That’s pretty incredible. Consider the logistics, and the advance time normally needed, to set up a hotel for a two day conference involving perhaps a hundred people, including all the room reservations. Unless perhaps the attendees were allowed to stay in their reserved rooms at the Loews Hotel, and traveled back and forth to another location for the conference itself.

Robert from Nashville writes:

I just heard this today on our local Steve Gill radio program. After the conference attendees had arrived in Nashville and signed in, the hotel manager, a Mr. Negri (who had also helped oppose making English our sole language of local government referendum), announced that they would not be allowed to meet. His reason: Presumably Moslems, or others unknown, might cause violence, or maybe just not like what was said. He acknowledged that no threat had been received, but might be. Guess he demonstrated the creeping sharia theory. No jihad needed. Just the possibility of threats will make us submit in Nashville. Guess Loews could have agreed to pay the dhimmi poll tax as an alternative.

By waiting until they arrived, signed in and then cancelled surely they have legal recourse.

LA writes:

This is beyond belief. Perhaps a hundred people traveling from all over the U.S. and abroad to come to a conference, they arrive at the hotel and are told the conference will not be allowed to take place?

Notice that the story in the Tennessean by Christina Sanchez, which Robert sent, is ambiguous about when and how the conference was cancelled. The lead sentence says: “Loews Vanderbilt Hotel turned away a symposium it had booked for this weekend…” “Turned away” suggests that the organizers and attendees were told only after they had arrived that the hotel would not allow the conference to meet. Yet the story doesn’t actually say that—perhaps because that would have been too shocking to admit. But Sanchez also writes: “[Rebecca] Bynum [of the New English Review] said the group signed a contract in January to do the meeting at Loews, but learned this week it was canceled.” “This week” could mean yesterday, Friday, after the organizers and attendees had come to the hotel, or it could mean earlier in the week, before they traveled to Tennessee.

Such is modern journalism, in which vague, indefinite phrases are used instead of clear statements of fact, almost as though clear statements of fact were distasteful. Who, What, When, Where, and How have been replaced by impressionism

For the moment, I’m assuming that Steve Gill’s information was correct. I’ve written to Rebecca Bynum of New English Review to get more information on this, and also to the Tennessean’s reporter, Christina Sanchez.

Here is the article:

Nashville hotel drops jihad conference over safety concerns

New English Review had contract at Loews Vanderbilt Hotel

By Christina E. Sanchez — THE TENNESSEAN — May 30, 2009

Loews Vanderbilt Hotel turned away a symposium it had booked for this weekend that would have featured a controversial Dutch politician and filmmaker, citing concerns about safety if the event were allowed to happen.

A group called New English Review planned to hold a two-day conference on “Understanding the Jihad in Israel, Europe and America,” and had signed a contract in January to use the prominent West End Avenue hotel.

“We canceled the group for both the safety and the health of our guests and employees here at Vanderbilt hotel,” said Tom Negri, managing director of Loews Vanderbilt.

Negri is known in the Nashville community for his involvement in the group Nashville for All of Us, which helped defeat the English-only measure this year.

Negri would not say why he believed there could be a safety issue if the group appeared at the hotel, nor if the scheduled appearance by Geert Wilders played a part.

Wilders, a Dutch politician whose 15-minute film, Fitna, has been called insulting to Muslims, was to be the keynote speaker. The film, which challenges radical Islam, got him banned from ever entering Great Britain.

Rebecca Bynum, listed on the group’s Web site as publisher and a senior editor, said the hotel stated no actual threat was made against Loews for hosting the symposium.

“We find it interesting that even without a specific threat that the fear of violence is so great that they would decide to cancel our event,” Bynum said.

New English Review’s Web site had a statement that said, “Loews Vanderbilt Plaza Hotel succumbed to intimidation and cancelled hosting our event.”

Bynum said the group signed a contract in January to do the meeting at Loews, but learned this week it was canceled.

She said Loews knew the topic of the event and had talked with the group about the possibility of having security, though she and other members were not worried.

The group’s Web site lists a Nashville mailing address, but it does not include a description of the group’s purpose or mission. The World Encounter Institute, a nonprofit organization that funds the Review site and symposium, said it aims to protect the values of Western civilization.

“We seek to raise awareness about the nature of the jihad and all its various instruments, which do not all necessarily involve violence,” Bynum said, declining to elaborate.

One of Bynum’s articles questions the Nashville Jewish community’s attempt to foster relations with local Muslims.

“These people are all well intentioned and perhaps actually believe they can reverse 1,400 years of Islamic history,” she writes. “They are providing their own children as political cover for people whom they want very much to trust and believe, but who have revealed themselves to be deceivers.”

The symposium started Friday as scheduled, but at a venue revealed only to people registered to attend.

Negri wouldn’t say whether Loews had ever canceled a symposium or similar event in the past.

“We made the correct decision to protect the health and safety of guests and employees,” Negri said.

- end of initial entry -

June 1

Joe Catechissimo writes:

This article exemplifies why concerned and committed Christians and unchurched conservatives should resolve themselves to avoid as much as possible secular media and commercialization and build a future network of alternate communities with its own counterculture and facilities to house such events. Some of us in the Catholic community have recently begun to explore this approach and have launched efforts in Maryland and elsewhere. I have included the link on the Maryland community.

This way we outflank the spineless politically correct flanker, who would never dream of discontinuing a conference FOR Moslems, but who wishes to deprive us of basic rights of assembly and freedom of expression.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 30, 2009 02:31 PM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):