Trump pumps a fist in front of a large Turning Point sign.

Donald Trump Spent the Day Talking to a Campus “Alt-Lite” Hate Group and No One Seems to Care

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Tuesday morning, Donald Trump tweeted that he was going to talk with Turning Point USA, a group he described as “some of the greatest and smartest young people on the planet.”

Turning Point is a conservative nonprofit aimed at turning increasing conservative visibility on college campuses, sometimes through allegedly illegal means. They say that their mission is to “identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government.” But this isn’t a regular Young Republicans group. Turning Point makes no efforts to hide its ties to the larger national white supremacy movement. The organization is built on a foundation of racism and bigotry.

Media Matters has a thorough breakdown of the group’s history, but here are just a few examples:

—They have a long history of “accidentally” hiring racists, the kind of racists that don’t even try to hide it. One former National Field Director sent texts to other employees reading “I HATE BLACK PEOPLE. Like fuck them all . . . I hate blacks. End of story.”

—Former Communications Director Candace Owens publicly defended nationalism recently by way of defending Hitler. “If Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, OK, fine. … I have no problems with nationalism,” she said.

—The group is founded by Charlie Kirk, a frequent Fox News guest who regularly tweets racist, Islamaphobic, and otherwise bigoted messages, often supported by false or disingenuous statistics.

—They started a McCarthy-esque “Professor Watchlist,” documenting college professors who “discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.”

—They’re also just really bad at protests. Here’s how one campus group tried to protest “safe spaces.” (That group disbanded soon after.)

Charlie Kirk has routinely denied that his organization is rooted in white nationalism and white supremacy. But members across the country clearly feel differently. They’ve been recorded saying hateful, antisemitic and racist things to each other at TPUSA events (for example: “The only thing the Nazis didn’t get right is they didn’t keep fucking going!”) and in campus chatrooms.

The Anti-Defamation League notes that a known white supremacist named (or going by the name) James Dunphy wrote an article in 2018 criticizing Kirk’s “compliance with political correctness” but praised him for doing “wonderful things” because TPUSA’s members have done “great things” (read: incredibly racist things). He saw TPUSA as beneficial to the white nationalist movement because it’s basically a big stepping stone, writing that “the number of people who will migrate from its platform to a white nationalist one will be far larger than those who do the reverse.”

This is who Trump spoke to today, at their Teen Student Action Summit, as if that’s a totally normal thing for a president to do.

And let’s not pretend he didn’t know exactly who he was talking to.

He’s not even bothering with dog whistles anymore. He’s just putting it all out in the open. This should be the biggest story of the week.

(image: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.