A photo of the stage went viral, with thousands of Twitter users comparing its distinctive design to an odal rune
The Hyatt Hotels Corporation called symbols of hate “abhorrent” on Sunday after the design of a stage at the right-wing Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at one of its hotels drew comparisons to a Norse rune used by Nazis during the second world war
High-profile Republicans including former president Donald Trump were attending the four-day event in Orlando, Florida, as conflict raged between Trump allies and establishment politicians trying to distance the party from him.
A photo of the CPAC stage went viral on social media on Saturday, with thousands of Twitter users sharing posts comparing its distinctive design to an othala rune, also known as an odal rune, one of many ancient European symbols that Nazis adopted to “reconstruct a mythic ‘Aryan’ past”, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
The ceiling of the conference room featured a lighting display in the same shape as the stage, according to Reuters photographs.
Hyatt said all aspects of conference logistics, including the stage design, were managed by the American Conservative Union, which organized the conference.
The comparisons were “outrageous and slanderous”, Matt Schlapp, chair of the American Conservative Union, said on Saturday. He added the organization had a “long standing commitment to the Jewish community” and that the conference featured several Jewish speakers.
In its statement on Sunday, Hyatt said: “We take the concern raised about the prospect of symbols of hate being included in the stage design at CPAC 2021 very seriously as all such symbols are abhorrent and unequivocally counter to our values as a company.”
Some Trump supporters who launched a deadly insurrection against the US Capitol on 6 January carried Confederate flags, which many Americans see as a symbol of oppression and slavery. Extremism experts said some of the rioters were members of white nationalist groups.
The rune was seen at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 that saw violent fights with counter-protesters and one civil rights activist killed when a neo-fascist drove his car into the crowd.
Joe Biden cited that event and Trump’s assessment at the time that there were “very fine people on both sides” as a factor in his motivation for running for the Democratic nomination, winning the presidency in November 2020.
Trump’s presence has dominated this year’s CPAC, with his supporters parading a larger-than-life golden statue of him through the lobby of the hotel.