NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The so-called “alt-right” and its relationship to the conservative movement took center stage in the early hours of the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday, and the message is clear as far as CPAC is concerned: “The alt-right ain’t right at all.”

That was the title of a speech by Dan Schneider, executive director of the American Conservative Union, the main organizer of CPAC.

Schneider noted that the best way to recognize a counterfeit dollar bill is to regularly examine authentic bills, as Treasury Department employees do. When they see a counterfeit bill, it’s like a slap in the face.

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“CPAC, we have been slapped in the face,” Schneider said. “There is a sinister organization that is trying to worm its way into our ranks, and we must not be duped. We must not be deceived. This is serious business.”

Schneider said that while it’s important to know what conservatism is, it’s just as important to know what conservatism is not.

He said the term “alt-right” had been used for some time, but a few years ago a sinister group, white nationalists, hijacked it intentionally to confuse conservatives and the media.

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This group wants to normalize itself, but he assured the CPAC crowd the alt-right is not part of the conservative movement.

The alt-right, he said, “are anti-Semites, they are racists, they are sexists.”

“They hate the Constitution, they hate free markets, they hate pluralism, they hate everything, they despise everything we believe in,” said Schneider. “They are not an extension of conservatism.

“They are nothing but garden-variety left-wing fascists!”

He explained he considers the alt-right “left-wing” because its members want bigger government and less freedom.

Schneider said no one can work for him at the ACU without knowing this definition of conservatism: “Conservatism is a political philosophy that sovereignty resides in the person.”

He argued that is not what the alt-right believes.

The topic was particularly salient this year because many believe Donald Trump was elected president with considerable help from the “alt-right.”

Schneider’s talk was the last of a four-speech set titled “Conservatism: Where We Come From, Where We Are, and Where We’re Going.”

He called the first three speakers “authentic, true conservatives” who clearly contrast with the alt-right.

The first speaker, Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn, spoke about “The Roots of Conservatism,” emphasizing liberty is the core value of conservatism. Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin told the CPAC crowd “How to Govern as a Conservative.” And Sabrina Schaeffer of Independent Women’s Forum discussed how “Conservatism is About Ideas, Not Identity.”

Schaeffer termed the conservative movement a “big tent” but a unified one. She said the common thread among conservatives is the belief that principles trump identity. The principles conservatives share, she said, include free markets, limited government, human dignity and equality under the law.

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