TPUSA Is a Safe Space for the Worst of Campus Conservatism - 2018-05-15
If anyone needed proof of the influence of Turning Point USA, take a look at the outrage that Kanye West has stirred up in the past month, which all started with a single tweet in which the rapper praised Candace Owens, the group's communications director. Before then, if you knew about TPUSA it was likely because of its attention-grabbing stunts—members once wore diapers to protest "safe spaces" at Kent State—and the high profile of its founder, 24-year-old Charlie Kirk, often hailed as the leader of the next generation of Republicans. But most people don't know just how potentially dangerous this group can be, because they haven't seen it up close as I have. In my career as a conservative student activist, I've witnessed the group deteriorate from a harmless free market advocacy organization to the breeding ground of the "alt-lite."
In December, Crystal Clanton, the group's former national field director, was outed for saying "I HATE BLACK PEOPLE. Like fuck them all... I hate blacks. End of story," in text messages to another TPUSA employee employee. Yet one day after the New Yorker published these text messages as part of a longer story on the group, President Donald Trump tweeted his support of Kirk. A few months later, HuffPost reported that one of Clanton's replacements, Shialee Grooman, had once tweeted, "I love making racist jokes," and "All I get is nigger dick." HuffPost also found that two other employees—including their former Midwest regional field director Timon Prax—had posted tweets that included racial jokes and the use of the word "nigga" by a white guy.
In response to the controversies, TPUSA sent an internal memo to employees asking if anyone had posts "that could potentially damage your credibility or the credibility of the organization" and added, "If you are interested in ways to lock down your social media to make it less accessible to the public or ways to better control your online profiles to separate your professional and personal life, please contact your manager or me directly."