In six short years since it was founded by 18-year-old Charlie Kirk, Turning Point USA has become a powerful force on America’s college campuses, with over 1,200 chapters across the country. Turning Point promotes free market, limited government policies in a fun, aggressive manner that is attuned to young people.
Tonight Charlie Kirk gave a speech at the University of Minnesota, sponsored by the TPUSA chapter there. My wife and I attended, along with our youngest daughter and a couple of her friends. Security was tight, apparently because of threats from liberals. There were at least eight or ten police officers guarding the venue, and you had to register in advance to be admitted.
Needless to say, whatever violence had been threatened failed to materialize, and there were not even any protesters. It takes commitment to protest outdoors on a December night in Minnesota. Despite the limitations imposed by security requirements, the crowd was good.
Kirk covered some of the basic points of TPUSA’s philosophy–pro-free enterprise, pro-America, anti-socialism–and then threw the program open for an extensive questions and answer session. Sitting directly in front of us were a pair of Communists:
The guy on the right wore a t-shirt that said “Marxist.com.” It turns out that there is such a web site. During the Q and A, Kirk, who loves to debate Communists, engaged in an extensive colloquy with this guy. It was not a fair fight, as Mr. Marxist.com was a sad specimen even by Socialist standards. He turned out to be an exponent of a rare form of Communism that starts from the premise that Lenin was murdered. Apparently there was a brief shining moment during the Russian Civil War when real Communism existed, but it was quickly snuffed out. By the time this guy was done, I felt sorry for him.
As the evening went on, I tried to put myself in the place of the Minneapolis and University of Minnesota police officers in attendance. Here was a speaker who thinks America is a great country; who believes in individual freedom and the Bill of Rights; who argues that our free enterprise system is good, while Communism is bad. And he is so controversial that he must be protected from violence by armed guards. I can only assume that the officers in attendance found this mystifying. The college students, on the other hand, know how the deck is stacked.
A footnote: when the event was concluded, quite a few kids lined up to have their pictures taken with Charlie Kirk. One of them told Charlie that he had put up a poster promoting the event in his dorm, and in response someone sent out an email to the effect that displaying the poster was a racist hate crime. The punch line, of course, is that the kid who put up the poster is African-American.
This is a snapshot, one of countless such vignettes, of the battle that is being fought every day in our colleges and universities. The situation is, as we all know, grim. But Turning Point is worth keeping your eye on. It offers a beacon of sanity to our college kids.