Turning Point USA relies on fabricated controversy

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Conservative commentator Candace Owens speaks at the Turning Point USA Young Women’s Leadership Summit in Dallas on June 16. (Laura Buckman for The Washington Post)

Turning Point USA is an organization that is both incompetent and irrelevant. This week, the UConn chapter is hosting “Campus Clash,” an event where we can likely expect Candace Owens and Charlie Kirk to whine about how conservative views are being suppressed on college campuses and how America’s “left” is ruining the fabric of our nation. The fact that the university is already allowing these two to speak on campus (one of who was named the Christchurch shooter’s biggest inspiration and who claims that Hitler would have been okay as long as he stayed within Germany’s borders, and the other who has bad takes such as that liberals who protest Chik-Fil-A “are TRUE intolerant radicals”) suggests that conservative opinions aren’t being suppressed by the university administration in the slightest.  

So how will Turning Point USA promote their claim that they are so helpless and oppressed on college campuses? The obvious method would be to point at those protesting the event, and try to create a narrative on how protestors are attempting to stifle the free speech of the speakers. However, from my personal conversations with the leadership of various left-leaning student groups on campus, few actually plan to give the event any recognition or notoriety, and the only protest information seems to have been posted by someone from the Industrial Workers of the World on Buy or Sell, which does not have a UConn student organization. With such a dismal protest turnout, how will Turning Point USA support this narrative?  

Their ingenious solution was to ask College Democrats to lead a protest of the event. That’s right, they thought it would be a good idea to coordinate with College Democrats, asking them to protest an event that they had no interest in protesting. This would allow the speakers to have a boogieman to point to when making their arguments, while also portraying the College Democrats in a poor light and having to assume liability in the unfortunate event that an actual “clash” occurs.  

While I used to be a firm advocate of protesting those who hold extremist views, these two rabble-rousers deserve as little attention as possible. I believe that the best-case scenario for this event would be minimal attendance and minimal protest. This event will be filled with bad faith arguments by the speakers, and any form of protest further plays into their narrative of suppression. As such, it is likely best to just allow those with such spiteful rhetoric to have their safe space with the few who have already adopted their reactionary ideologies.  

In fact, this brings up the broader issue on whether or not it is even productive for smaller outlets such as college papers to cover and talk about Turning Point. I’m conflicted, as it is the responsibility of all of us to speak out when we see hate, yet introducing the wrong person to this ideology can have potentially disastrous consequences. Unfortunately, I think Kirk and Owens already have a following large enough that writing this piece can’t do much harm, but overall I think the less press these two receive, the better. 

Regardless, I urge you to not attend or protest the event, as I can’t imagine any good coming from it. It would be much more productive to organize rallies and speak up in one’s everyday life to bring awareness to issues such as xenophobia, racism and violence against women. We all have a responsibility to promote inclusion and to create a university that feels safe for all, yet any additional media attention towards this event will further stoke fears. While it is important to realize that the university did allow these divisive speakers on campus and those who support their ideology do go to school here as well, I think it would be best, in this single instance, to allow them to whine and complain in isolation.


Cameron Cantelmo is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at cameron.cantelmo@uconn.edu.

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