Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk is on tour to grift from the latest conservative stunt aimed at Black people but during his stop in Burlington, Vermont it seems something about Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was on his mind…
SOUTH BURLINGTON, VT – The University of Vermont’s Burlington Turning Point USA (TPUSA) student chapter hosted Charlie Kirk’s “Critical Racism Tour” at the Double Tree Hotel in Sen. Bernie Sanders’ hometown on Monday, as student protesters from the University of Vermont chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) marched from campus with drums to the event to protest outside, and also to attend the event.
It was event that was supposed to be held in another hotel, but when that venue learned of its nature, it shut it doors to it, leading organizers to scramble for another location and keeping it a secret until the day of the event.
Kirk validated the protesting students’ concerns when at one point he decided to poke fun at Senator Sanders, seemingly calling him a “Jew” and just as quickly called him a “joke”. His crowd immediately heard something to cheer him for, and the YDSA student protestors began shouting out against what they saw as a purposeful antisemitic jeer. He then turned toward them and began to ridicule them for wearing masks.
It would not be the first time TPUSA was called out on such a quip. In 2017, a writer named Adam Weinstein mocked one of the group’s pro-capitalism memes online with a tweet that spoke to their own business model: “The best grift in America is convincing rich old-man conservatives to give you their money so you can ‘reach’ young people with a rich old-man message.” TPUSA responded with a now-deleted tweet of their own that read, “The best ‘grift this morning is having a guy named Weinstein criticize young people for wanting fewer hands in their pockets. Too good.” After removing the tweet, TPUSA apologized and said they were referring to disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.
The event was part of a tour that Kirk said was to stop critical race theory, which is a framework that critiques how systemic racism has been implemented in American society through institutions such as its legal systems, education, housing, employment and others. In recent months conservatives including Kirk have rallied against it arguing that critical race theory is racist toward white people and is divisive but curiously, Kirk himself has entertained race-based solutions to his concerns on his podcast last month when he called for a “citizen force” at the U.S.-Mexico border to protect against what he called an “invasion” of the country by Haitian refugees and prevent the “diminishing and decreasing [of] white demographics in America.”
While conservative individuals such as Andrew Breitbart have attempted in the past to mount campaigns against Critical Race Theory in the past, the current campaign against it has gained momentum largely from distorting its meaning to be the teaching in public schools of the contributions to history of persons of color and others who have been ignored in the past. Ironically, the result has been to do exactly the things that Critical Race Theory addresses. There has been local and state governments attempting to pass laws to prevent such curriculums in schools, and the entire campaign itself was created by right wing activist Christopher Rufo though his role as a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, an organization founded in 1977 by former CIA Director William Casey that sought to apply the principles of the market economy to what they considered social problems, which meant dismantling the advances of the civil rights movement, and relocating African-Americans and poor people out of the big cities where at the time they had the most found political strength and representation.
The event struck an interesting chord as Kirk hardly spoke of Critical Race Theory. In fact, despite trying to address the subject with remarks that “CRT is judging someone by the color of their skin”, and that it was from “Woke-istan or whatever”, when he offered to go further into CRT “if you guys want to”, he never said anything more about it. Instead, the majority of his sermon against “CRT” centered around what he called “the center of American values”, like having big families, staying married, and keeping marriage and families at the center of American values. He then praised Vermont’s gun laws, as well as Pastor Todd Callahan’s Ignite Church in Williston. Earlier Pastor Todd, himself a longtime TPUSA supporter gave the opening prayer. Kirk then criticized Vermont for being “the third least churched state in the country”. As the crowd broke out in jeers and boos, student protestors from the YDSA began heckling Kirk and the room with a few cries of “Praise trans God!”
Turning Point USA was founded in 2012 by Kirk and one time Tea Party activist Bill Montgomery, who died last year after complications from COVID. After Montgomery’s death, TPUSA deleted a tweet ridiculing the use of masks to prevent catching the virus.