Young Fascists on Campus: Turning Point USA and Its Far-Right Connections - 2018-02-07
On November 22, 2017, Joel Valdez and Blair Nelson, two members of Turning Point USA (TPUSA) and both students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), joined Gavin McInnes on his program, "Get Off My Lawn." The young "conservatives" excitedly promoted their appearance on his show earlier in the week. McInnes, who is founder of the Proud Boys, has been thoroughly investigated by the Southern Poverty Law Center and describes himself as a "Western Chauvinist." He has become a leader in the "civic nationalist" contingent encircling the "alt-right." McInnis interviewed Valdez and Nelson about their encounter with a fellow student on campus on November 16, asking Nelson, "Why did you not punch him in the face?"
TPUSA, famous for its aggressive tactics against leftist professors across US campuses, was founded in 2012 by a disgruntled Charlie Kirk, who failed to get into the United States Military Academy at West Point. Kirk hardly built TPUSA into the organization it is today, however; the nonprofit is funded largely by Republican mega-donors and is a source of controversy for allegedly funding student government campaigns on several campuses.
McInnes asked them about an alleged "wild attack by an antifa professor" who supposedly confronted Nelson and Valdez "just for being conservatives." The instructor they were referring to was Tariq Khan, a US Air Force veteran and graduate student at the university. Khan challenged this characterization, saying he confronted the two after they made what he felt was a veiled threat against his children. Khan, his wife (one of the authors of this piece) and one of his children had been filmed by right-wing, anti-Muslim student activists in the same spot on campus two years earlier, and UIUC's chapter of TPUSA had already attempted to push two campaigns against two different women of color associated with UIUC this past fall: an undergraduate student and a staff member. After the confrontation between Valdez and Khan, TPUSA members and allies created a campaign of threats and intimidation across media platforms.