Turning Point founder Charlie Kirk speaks on socialism

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Turning Point founder Charlie Kirk speaks on socialism

By Madelyn Foster, Contributing writer

Members of Turning Point USA at the University are working to promote their upcoming event, “Charlie Kirk at UIUC Melting Snowflakes and Smashing Socialism Campus Tour,” amidst discord and backlash from students.

The event is scheduled to take place tonight from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Illini Union.

Andrew Minik, senior in Business and treasurer of TPUSA UIUC, said he was unsurprised when heard that many of the fliers that the student organization had posted in order to promote the event had been torn down or defaced.

“Turning Point uses provocative posters to point out resistance to intellectual diversity and to the marketplace of ideas. We are absolutely inviting controversy,” Minik said. “The organized aggression towards our group, and to this event in particular, proves that some people are afraid that others will like our ideas and actually listen to what we have to say.”

The type of “organized aggression” that Minik addressed was in response to the defacing of TPUSA fliers and advertisements, as well as hateful comments posted on open Google Doc sign-up lists used by TPUSA UIUC to manage event volunteers.

Madeleine Hubbard, sophomore in Media and secretary of TPUSA UIUC and former Illini media employee, documented the vandalism of the fliers by photographing them. Hubbard also managed the Google Docs that saw an influx of commentary that ranged from song lyrics to communism accusations, curse words and suggestions for the students managing the event to kill themselves.

“I just do not understand why there is so much hatred,” Hubbard said. “The purpose of this event is to have a conversation about why capitalism is still important in society, and why free speech matters, but I feel as if a lot of people are trying to shut us up and not let our opinion out there.”

According to the Turning Point USA website, the organization was founded in 2012 by Illinois native Charlie Kirk, then just 17 years old. Since then, Kirk has appeared on numerous news stations, became a best-selling author and the youngest speaker at the 2016 Republican National Convention.

Since its establishment, Turning Point USA has grown and emerged on over 1,200 high school and college campuses.

The chapter of Turning Point USA at the University made its debut on campus within the past year and now boasts approximately 30 core members, and as many as 300 on its mailing list.

Minik said Turning Point represented “political issues that start with free, except for college and healthcare.” A statement to which Hubbard agreed.

In a July interview with The Daily Wire, Kirk outlined what he saw as the mission of TPUSA, “We essentially argue for free markets and free people on college campuses across the country — in the most treacherous terrain imaginable.”

Minik said he believes Turning Point USA provides the perfect outlet for conversation between conservatives and liberals alike.

“We find that students who are predominantly on the left tend to mostly discuss these issues in the context of people who mostly agree with them and when they encounter ideas opposite of what they believe, they tend to react with hostility and close their ears,” Minik said. “We want students to realize sections on all spectrums and if you hear something that you disagree with, you are more than welcome and encouraged to question Charlie Kirk.” 

Joel Valdez, freshman in LAS and new member of TPUSA, said that all students regardless of political affiliation or race should attend.

“A lot of people assume that because I am Hispanic, I must be liberal,” Valdez said. “I do not put my Hispanic label before my ideas because Turning Point believes that we are Americans first. I was actually a Bernie Sanders supporter, but that was before I did my research and found out how diverse Turning Point actually is.”

Hubbard said while this is Kirk’s first speaking tour, it is also the first time that there will be a conservative speaker on campus. She said they are expecting protests at the event and notified local law enforcement about it in light of safety considerations.

“We need to learn how to have a civil conversation without vandalism, boycotting and yelling,” Minik said. “A diversity of ideas is what makes a campus great and Turning Point does that with great skill.” 

Minik, Hubbard and other members of TPUSA said they felt that the conservative viewpoint is not welcomed or encouraged on campuses across the nation.

“Students tend to think that these opposing viewpoints do not exist,” Minik said. “It is time to pop the campus bubble.”

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