Why Is #Resistance Dem J.B. Pritzker’s Family Hotel Chain Hosting an Anti-Muslim Hate Group?

If he really wants to stand up to Trump’s bigoted agenda, Pritzker should demand Hyatt cancel the meeting of the racist group.

Saqib Bhatti August 28, 2018

The family of Illinois’ leading Democrat is deciding to profit off of bigotry. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

As the Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­nee for Illi­nois gov­er­nor, J.B. Pritzk­er has cast him­self as a leader in the resis­tance” to Pres­i­dent Trump. Last year, he told sup­port­ers, I’m proud to be part of the resis­tance. When I’m gov­er­nor, we’re not going to be silent like Bruce Rauner. Illi­nois will be a fire­wall against Don­ald Trump’s destruc­tive and big­ot­ed agenda.”

If J.B. Pritzker wants to lead the resistance in Illinois, he needs to start by leading it in his own family.

So why is the hotel chain owned by Pritzker’s fam­i­ly host­ing America’s lead­ing anti-Mus­lim hate group?

Pritzk­er is an heir to the Hyatt Hotel for­tune. His fam­i­ly found­ed the hotel chain, and his first cousin, Thomas Pritzk­er, is still the Chair­man of the Board of Direc­tors of Hyatt Hotels. Anoth­er cousin, Jason Pritzk­er, also sits on the Hyatt board.

On Sep­tem­ber 4 – 5, the Hyatt Regency Crys­tal City will host ACT for America’s Nation­al Con­fer­ence in Arling­ton, Vir­ginia. The South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter (SPLC) lists ACT for Amer­i­ca as a hate group, call­ing it the largest anti-Mus­lim group in Amer­i­ca.” Not only is Hyatt host­ing ACT for Amer­i­ca, the hotel giant is actu­al­ly offer­ing con­fer­ence goers dis­count­ed rates on rooms.

ACT for Amer­i­ca has pushed anti-Mus­lim leg­is­la­tion at the state and fed­er­al lev­els, includ­ing a spate of anti-Sharia” bills that have spread across state capi­tols like wild­fire in recent years. Accord­ing to SPLC, ACT for Amer­i­ca push­es wild anti-Mus­lim con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, den­i­grates Amer­i­can Mus­lims and delib­er­ate­ly con­flates main­stream and rad­i­cal Islam.”

Last year, the group orga­nized March Against Sharia” ral­lies in cities across the coun­try. These ral­lies attract­ed Neo-Nazis and white suprema­cists. One such march in Arkansas was orga­nized by Bil­ly Rop­er, a leader of the Nation­al Alliance, a Neo-Nazi group, and the founder of White Rev­o­lu­tion. Brigitte Gabriel, ACT for America’s founder, has said that every prac­tic­ing Mus­lim is a rad­i­cal Mus­lim” and has called Mus­lims a nat­ur­al threat to civ­i­lized peo­ple of the world, par­tic­u­lar­ly West­ern society.”

At a time when anti-Mus­lim hate crimes are on the rise, reports of dis­crim­i­na­tion against Mus­lims trav­el­ing via plane have increased over 500 per­cent, and hate groups are build­ing strength and widen­ing their net­works, real allies of the Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty must be vig­i­lant in their sup­port. In the face of a pres­i­dent with a clear white suprema­cist agen­da set on dis­crim­i­nat­ing against peo­ple of col­or around the world, it’s cru­cial that we stand up and con­demn hate, loud­ly and clearly.

So why, instead, is the fam­i­ly of Illi­nois’ lead­ing Demo­c­rat decid­ing to prof­it off of big­otry? While many busi­ness­es in Wash­ing­ton, DC respond­ed to the Unite the Right 2 ral­ly this month by pub­licly declar­ing that white suprema­cists and Neo-Nazis were not wel­come at their estab­lish­ments, why is Hyatt try­ing to lure them with dis­count­ed rooms? If Stephen Miller’s uncle can pub­lish an op-ed in Politi­co call­ing out the hypocrisy of his nephew’s stance on immi­gra­tion, sure­ly Pritzk­er can sum­mon the courage to con­demn his family’s decision.

Iron­i­cal­ly, Hyatt has rebuffed calls to can­cel the con­fer­ence by say­ing that it would con­sti­tute unlaw­ful dis­crim­i­na­tion against con­fer­ence goers. Per­haps J.B. should remind his cousins on the Hyatt board that that’s not how civ­il rights laws work. Civ­il rights laws pro­hib­it the gov­ern­ment from dis­crim­i­nat­ing against pro­tect­ed class­es. Hyatt is not a gov­ern­ment actor and Neo-Nazis are not a pro­tect­ed class.

In fact, just last year, the Hilton El Con­quis­ta­dor in Tuc­son, Ariz. can­celed an anti-immi­gra­tion con­fer­ence held by the white suprema­cist group, VDARE. If Hilton can do the right thing, then why is Hyatt hid­ing behind dis­tort­ed inter­pre­ta­tions of civ­il rights laws to accom­mo­date hate groups?

If J.B. Pritzk­er wants to lead the resis­tance in Illi­nois, he needs to start by lead­ing it in his own fam­i­ly. After all, if he refus­es to stand up to his cousins, then how will he stand up to Trump? If he can’t con­vince them not to take mon­ey from white suprema­cists and Neo-Nazis, then how will he con­vince the Illi­nois Gen­er­al Assem­bly to pass his policies?

If Pritzk­er expects Illi­nois Mus­lims and their allies to vote for him, he needs to do more than tweet out Eid Mubarak!” to mark the sacred Mus­lim hol­i­day. He needs to put his mon­ey where his mouth is and tell his fam­i­ly to stop prof­it­ing from hate.

You can sign a peti­tion here to demand that J.B. Pritzk­er stand up to anti-Mus­lim hate.

Saqib Bhat­ti is the Co-Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the Action Cen­ter on Race & The Econ­o­my and the Direc­tor of the ReFund Amer­i­ca Project.
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