Ah, college, those great formative years when young adults pursue higher education and broaden their intellectual horizons and meet students from different backgrounds, ethnicity, religion and ideology. Unlike high school, college professors take a deeper dive into topics and challenge ideas that students were taught back home.
For a few insecure and closed-minded individuals, having their ideas challenged is scary. Take, for example, Charlie Kirk, the latest of America’s young conservative leaders. He’s the 22-year-old who started a growing national organization, Turning Point USA, from his parent’s garage in the affluent suburban village of Wheeling, Illinois just four years ago. Charlie’s dad, Robert W. Kirk was the project architect manager for Trump Tower in New York.
In 2012, at the ripe young age of 18, Kirk was discovered at Benedictine University’s Youth Government Day by Bill Montgomery, who once spearheaded the re-election campaign for President Nixon in Sarasota, Florida. Young Charlie took the stage to give a speech at the event and reportedly blew away Montgomery.
Charlie wasn’t a student at Benedictine University. In fact, he didn’t go to college at all, though it wasn’t for lack of trying; he applied to West Point but was rejected.
According to McHenry County blogger, Cal Skinner, Charlie has suggested that affirmative action kept him out of West Point. Which is weird because here is a picture of the 2016 graduating class from West Point and it doesn’t look like it was hard for a white male to get in.
Charlie founded Turning Point USA, the conservative activist organization, after attending the 2012 Republican Convention. The idea behind it was to get young Republicans engaged in politics with an emphasis on why Big Government Sucks and Free Market Economy Rules. He viewed it as a right-wing MoveOn.org and just needed money to get his dream organization off the ground. As luck would have it, Kirk ran into multimillionaire Foster Freiss at the close of the Convention.
Turning Point USA promotes red-baiting propaganda and teaches young adults that elitism is actually good. But one of its primary activities is keeping a list of professors who “advance a radical agenda in lecture halls.” This list, which is updated regularly, is known as the Professor Watchlist and is a project of TPUSA. The list of dangerous educators is culled from news sources such as Fox News and Project Veritas of James O’Keefe, who is periodically interesting but whose conservative politics don’t make him an impartial censor of campus speech. (And in general, campus speech, no matter how silly or whatever its politics, should not be censored anyway.)
Some of the professors listed as threats to young conservative minds are advocates for tougher gun laws while others speak out against Israel and the Netanyahu government. There is a history professor who dared to link slavery to capitalism and then there is Jonathan Zasloff, a law professor at University of California, who claimed on social media (not in a lecture hall, mind you) that some Republicans “were catering to their KKK core of old, angry, white Southern men with reactionary views on race.”
Not all Republicans are racist, but there’s no doubt that the GOP periodically played the race card this year and the Klan did endorse Trump. Zasloff’s statement was hardly outrageous and it’s hard to see why young Republicans are so emotionally fragile that they can’t be confronted with contrary viewpoints. Beyond that, this country’s political leaders, from numerous parties, have always used race as a divisive issue, from the founding fathers on up. There’s nothing controversial about it.
Meanwhile, university professors, like students, are entitled to free speech. They should be free to criticize Israel’s government — as so many do given its disgraceful treatment of Palestinians — without being accused of antisemitism. Most importantly, there is no evidence that any student was given a failing grade or prevented from graduating by any of the professors listed by TPUSA.
I reached out to TPUSA and Charlie Kirk to see if they could provide a single example of a student being unfairly impacted. Thus far they have not commented.