Political figures from the conservative group Turning Point USA spoke at the University about big government and the political left Wednesday night during the Campus Clash event hosted by the organization’s LSU faction.
The nonprofit organization was founded by Charlie Kirk in 2012 with the mission to build the most organized, active and powerful conservative grassroots activist network on American college campuses. Kirk was joined on stage by Turning Point USA communications director Candace Owens and other guest speakers, including Dave Rubin from “The Rubin Report.”
Kirk and Owens discussed immigration problems in America, how they believe conservative students are being targeted and issues facing marginalized groups.
Owens said America is not a country of racism and misogyny, opposed to what she said leftists believe. She said the Black Lives Matter movement consists of people who are not actually oppressed, and she said the movement is insulting.
While Owens was discussing this, liberal arts junior Nalo Zidan leaped onto the stage in protest. The sound of the crowd’s booing drowned out what Zidan was shouting. Owens tried inviting Zidan to join them for a calmer discussion on stage, but Zidan was ultimately forced out by security. Owens mentioned Zidan a few times during the event, seemingly questioning Zidan’s gender and using Zidan as an example to further her points about leftists.
Former SG presidential candidate Nalo Zidan jumped on stage in protest shortly after the event began. It happened as Candace Owens said that America isn’t racist and black Americans are privileged. Zidan was removed by security, and Owens mentioned her throughout the event. pic.twitter.com/HFfkIiQjdE— Karli Carpenter (@karlicarpenter_) April 4, 2019
Owens, Kirk and Rubin said they were open to discussion from all sides, and they wanted to show how conservatives uphold the ideal of free speech while pointing out that others on the opposite side of the political spectrum sometimes do not.
Campus Clash lived up to its name once more when the question-and-answer session raised tensions between the speakers and spectators. People whose beliefs and political ideologies differed from that of the speakers were allowed to ask their questions first. One such person ended his debate with Kirk by calling him a crude name.
Owens was asked about issues concerning the black community, including current threats posed by the KKK. She said that if she made a list of 100 things killing black America, white supremacy would not make the list. She said in America’s history, the KKK has killed thousands of black people, but Planned Parenthood has killed millions.
When two high school students said they were not looking to debate but wanted an opinion on a subject, Owens questioned how much they knew about the subject.
Rubin said conservatives have a level of PTSD from always being labelled as racists and bigots, but the speakers reiterated throughout the event the negative aspects of acting like a victim.
When health care was brought up, the speakers said it’s far too expensive, and that should change. Kirk said America has led the way in medical advancements and offers the best health care for those who can afford it. He said it’s just another example of something the free market could help with. Kirk explained that having more doctors and being able to buy health insurance across state lines would be beneficial.
“We need market-based healthcare,” Kirk said.
Owens discussed the importance of having self confidence and knowing that it’s OK for people like her — a black woman — to be conservative.
“I hope I can liberate minds,” Owens said.
Kirk urged the crowd to abandon the mindset that progressivism always leads to positive changes, and he encouraged conservatives and liberals to reach out to each other and communicate.
TP LSU president and economics senior Cassidy Riley said that although the organization is conservative, it does not endorse specific politicians, policies and platforms, and it’s open to everyone.
“What we’re trying to do is get more people involved [and] spark a dialogue between people that are from various beliefs on the political spectrum,” Riley said. “I just want dialogue — I don’t want debates. That’s not productive.”
Riley said she believes most students at the University are apathetic toward politics, and she hoped Campus Clash could help change that.
While Campus Clash took place, three leftist LSU organizations — Young Democratic Socialists of America, Feminists in Action and College Democrats — held an event to facilitate open discussions about liberal issues.
Computer science junior Courtland Crouchet said it was hosted as an alternative to Campus Clash with the purpose of expressing political thought in a friendly environment.
Topics discussed ranged from mental health to punk rock’s relationship to the political left. Crouchet and other students who attended and coordinated the event said they look to host similar events in the future, regardless of what other groups on campus are doing.
One speaker was LSU alumnus Joshua Fini, who discussed income and wealth inequality, among other topics. He said it’s beneficial to hold educational events such as this one as a result of political events like Campus Clash. He said it’s a way to share knowledge, and it would be good for non-liberal groups to do the same when democratic events are held at the University.