Charlie Kirk founded the nonprofit Turning Point USA on June 5, 2012. Its mission statement, as defined by its official website, is to “identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government."
The problem is that the organization sees itself as an activist organization, while in reality Turning Point USA is an alt-right extremist group. Specifically, in light of its recent appearance at USC, this organization promotes racist, anti-LGBTQ+ and sexist ideals that go against the inclusive initiatives President Pastides has worked to put in place.
USC has been working tirelessly to assure students that “today's campus climate is one that fosters inclusivity and respect for all," as Pastides claims. However, Turning Point USA works in the opposite direction. The organization claims that it should be able to continue its hateful rhetoric under the guise of free speech. The state of South Carolina has a large chapter of the organization.
When Turning Point USA stopped at USC on its “Campus Clash” tour this past week, the Russell House ballroom had no empty seats and people were standing in the back because of how packed it was.
There was an almost tangible feeling of hostility in the room as soon as Charlie Kirk, Candace Owens and Anna Paulina walked onto the stage and every white person in a red hat exploded with glee. However, the true excitement didn’t start until Turning Point USA began to spout its claims, which came off as brainwashed and terrifying.
Speakers mocked the #MeToo movement and claimed that it has made it more difficult for people to come forward about sexual assault. However, according to USA today, the #MeToo movement has “made it easier for victims – female or male – to report offensive behavior."
On top of that already sexist comment, members said that Brett Kavanaugh should have claimed he was female so people would believe his claims of sexual assault. With that blatantly transphobic statement, Turning Point USA is also silencing the millions of women whose testimonials are disregarded in a court of law, and — as the New York Times reports — the extreme doubts people have when confronted with evidence of sexual assault.
In their time on stage, speakers also spent a whole segment making fun of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, where they incorrectly described what the Green New Deal was and claimed white supremacy is not a rising issue in America, even though USA Today reports that the Southern Poverty Law Center has found that the “hate group count hits 20-year high amid rise in white supremacy."
Not only did Turning Point USA spout baseless hatred, but during the event an entire ballroom of white people in red hats were cheering, laughing and clapping along to the speakers' claims (especially at Candace Owen’s loud yell of “Lock her up!” in regards to Hillary Clinton). Also, when it was time for questions, the speakers made it clear that they respect those on the other side. However, many inquiries were regarded with tormenting, patronizing and angry responses. In the end, it was easy to see that they were disagreeing before the question was even asked.
Minorities in America still face slurs, hate crimes and harassment that can happen simply because of their identities, especially in our current political climate. The fact that Charlie Kirk and all of Turning Point USA are making the argument that conservatives face discrimination ignores years and years of discrimination that the far right has caused.
This is not an “oppression Olympics,” as Turning Point USA would like to call it, but something that is still happening. Failure to recognize this perpetuates harmful ideas that have no place on college campuses. The movements Turning Point USA is against (Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ+, feminist, #MeToo and other causes) are not fighting for anything other than love, equality and recognition.
Groups like Turning Point USA allow the hatred that follows its misogynistic, homophobic and racist ideas to become considered common instead of allowing people to see the flaws in these opinions. They are pushing a mentality of “us vs. them” that breeds division, ridicule and misunderstanding that leads to hate and violence.
We cannot escape the previous and prevailing thoughts of racism, homophobia and sexism that exists in the South, and organizations such as Turning Point USA never want us to.