On February 14th, 2018 at the URI Kingston campus, outside the Memorial Union, two members of Turning Point USA were displaying a “free speech ball” in which students passing by could express any of their thoughts in celebration of the presumed rights all Americans hold. The two men were trying to recruit passersby into Turning Point USA, a youth non-profit that seeks to promote the benefits of capitalism by supporting conservative politicians, organizing speaking events, and building a base of student activists to promote the free market. But things aren’t always what they seem.
Turning Point USA is known for organizing events where the likes of alt-right poster boy Milo Yiannopoulos spout their racist xenophobic rhetoric. In addition, TPUSA is responsible for the Professor Watchlist, which targets and harasses academics (such as URI’s own Erik Loomis) for supposedly leftist or anti-American sentiment, hearkening back to McCarthy era tactics. The TPUSA president, Charlie Kirk, is merely a lacky for the capitalist dogs in the higher echelons of the American capitalist class and far-right movement, all the way up to to Koch Brothers and Trump himself. The fact that the University of Rhode Island allowed such a a group to try and recruit students is unsurprising nevertheless concerning.
However, RISUP felt it necessary to state that we won’t buy into your farce , and neither will the students at the University of Rhode Island. The so-called “benefits of free market capitalism” TPUSA refers to are the exploitation and oppression of people of color, women, and other marginalized groups. Since the inception of the United States of America, marginalized peoples have been abused by this racist, imperialist, economic machine. We know for a fact that when TPUSA acts to protect “free speech” they are not referring to the those who speak up and act up against misogyny, racist police violence, and transphobia. Rather, Turning Point USA seeks to protect neo-Nazis like Richard Spencer and Steve Bannon. Part of RISUP’s goals of free tuition, higher wages for student workers, and more student power in decision-making across the college and university system is anathema to the capitalist principles TPUSA vehemently supports.
Let this be a warning to all members of Turning Point USA attempting to establish themselves at the University of Rhode Island:
We’re watching you. Every move you make at URI will be directly opposed. You cannot hide under your thin veil of love for “the free-market of ideas” to conceal your ties to the Neo-Nazi movement and blatant racist rhetoric espoused by your directors and organizers. You are not welcome here and we will see to it that you are challenged by any means necessary.
To students and others on campus who oppose what TPUSA stands for, please join us for an open meeting to figure out how to combat the influence of white supremacy and the alt-right on campus later this week on Thursday at 2pm at 193 Coffeehouse. Visit the FB event for more details: https://www.facebook.com/events/284113462120188/
For further reading on TPUSA:
- Turning Point USA’s blooming romance with the alt-right: https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2018/02/16/turning-point-usas-blooming-romance-alt-right
- Turning Point USA’s Stealth Campaign to Conservatize College Campuses : www.truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/turning-point-usa-s-stealth-campaign-to-conservatize-college-campuses
- Young Fascists on Campus: Turning Point USA and Its Far-Right Connections : www.truth-out.org/news/item/43419-young-fascists-on-campus-turning-point-usa-and-its-far-right-connections
- No Re-Turning Point, U.S.A.: https://thebaffler.com/the-poverty-of-theory/no-re-turning-point-u-s-a
- What I Got Wrong About Turning Point USA: https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/just-visiting/what-i-got-wrong-about-turning-point-usa
- A Conservative Nonprofit That Seeks to Transform College Campuses Faces Allegations of Rsacial Bias and Ilegal Campaign Activity: https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/a-conservative-nonprofit-that-seeks-to-transform-college-campuses-faces-allegations-of-racial-bias-and-illegal-campaign-activity/
- Letter to My Colleagues Concerning Turning Point USA and Professor Watchlist: It’s Time for Courage and Conviction: https://www.academia.edu/35322691/Letter_to_My_Colleagues_Concerning_Turning_Point_USA_and_Professor_Watchlist_Its_Time_for_Courage_and_Conviction
- The Conservative Dark-Money Groups Infiltrating Campus Politics: https://www.mediamatters.org/research/2017/03/29/conservative-dark-money-groups-infiltrating-campus-politics/215822
- Turning Point USA: The Alt-Right’s Blackshirts: https://itsgoingdown.org/turning-point-usa-alt-rights-blackshirts/
- Meet Charlie Kirk, The “Boy Wonder” Trump Ally Behind A Poorly Sourced McCarthy-Like Watchlist Of Professors: https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2016/12/02/meet-charlie-kirk-boy-wonder-trump-ally-behind-poorly-sourced-mccarthy-watchlist-professors/214688
- Open Letter Regarding the Professor Watchlist : What It’s Like to Be Named to a Watch List of ‘Anti-American’ Professors: https://www.chronicle.com/article/What-It-s-Like-to-Be-Named/238486
- I’m on the ‘professor watchlist.’ It’s a ploy to undermine free speech : https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/dec/02/us-universities-professor-watchlist-free-speech
- What It’s Like to Be Named to a Watch List of ‘Anti-American’ Professors [w/ more links]: https://www.chronicle.com/article/What-It-s-Like-to-Be-Named/238486
- I Am A Dangerous Professor: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/30/opinion/i-am-a-dangerous-professor.html
- Professor Watchlist Is Seen as Threat to Academic Freedom: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/28/us/professor-watchlist-is-seen-as-threat-to-academic-freedom.html
- “I’m Turning Point USA’s Top Activist in the Country, & I Quit this Shitty Organization”: https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2018/02/15/18806749.php
- Campus Anti-Fascist Network Statement in Support of Tariq Khan: campusantifascistnetwork.com/2018/01/22/can-statement-in-support-of-tariq-khan/