Conservative provocateur and Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk suggested that “Nazis” who demonstrated outside a TPUSA event in Florida might actually be paid Democrats trying to discredit his organisation.
In a Twitter post on Wednesday, Mr Kirk said it was “super weird” that the media wasn’t trying to determine the identities of the “Nazis” who were outside his group’s event. It is unclear if any media organisations are attempting to determine the identities of the individuals outside the event.
“I want to know who these people are. Are they actually Nazis, or paid Democrat agitators? I plan to find out,” Mr Kirk wrote.
Conservative groups have frequently tried to dismiss extremist action on their side of the aisle by claiming the “outside agitator” defence. It is essentially a “No True Scotsman” fallacy, relying on the idea that no one aligned with them would do something illegal or indefensible, therefore by definition any objectionable individual belongs to their ideological enemies.
Conservatives and Republican lawmakers attempted — and some still try — to use this line of reasoning to explain away the Capitol riot, blaming incognito antifa members or FBI plants as the actual perpatrators, despite all available evidence to the contrary.
The issue reached a flashpoint after hosts on “The View” suggested TPUSA knew the protesters and agreed to their presence at the event.
“Neo-Nazis were out there in the front of the conference with antisemitic slurs and … the Nazi swastika and a picture of a so-called Jewish person with exaggerated features, just like Goebbels did during the Third Reich. It’s the same thing, right out of the same playbook,” host Joy behar said.
Whoopi Goldberg said TPUSA “let them in and you knew what they were, so you are complicit.”
The show ran an apology after Mr Kirk threatened to sue ABC over the comments, claiming his organisation had nothing to do with the protesters.
“We want to make clear that these demonstrators were outside the event and that they were not invited or endorsed by Turning Point USA,” The View host Sara Haines said on Wednesday following the threat.
Mr Kirk has repeatedly denounced white nationalists and Nazi-affiliated organisations that show up at TPUSA events. During one event at Colorado State University, members of the Traditionalist Workers Party — which the Souther Poverty Law Centre classifies as a white nationalist organisation — rallied outside.
The college’s TPUSA chapter responded by saying it “condemns white nationalism and embraces students from all backgrounds.”
“That BS [the TWP] is trying to say out there, it’s not who we are, it’s not what we believe, it’s not what Turning Point believes,” Mr Kirk said during his speech.
That being said, his group’s events have on more than one occasion drawn white nationalists and Nazi-affiliated groups, even if they are not invited or endorsed.
Even without explicit connections to white nationalist and Nazi-affiliated organisations, however, TPUSA has nonetheless had troubling affiliations with racists, misogynists, and the alt-right.
The New Yorker ran an expose on the group in which author Jane Mayer obtained text message screenshots showing the group’s then-national field director Crystal Clanton admitting that she hated Black people.
“i hate black people. Like f*** them all… I hate blacks. End of story,” the text messages said. When confronted with the texts Ms Clanton did not dispute the message.
Though Mr Kirk is the founder and spokesman for the group, Ms Clanton was reportedly the “hands-on boss” for the organisation and Mr Kirk had called her “the best hire we ever could have made,” saying the organisation “needs more Crystals.”
She later left the organisation.
Mr Kirk himself has called for the elimination of “safe spaces” on campuses for minority students and previously tweeted that police officers are 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a Black man than an unarmed Black man is to be killed by a police officer. That statistic is flawed and has been touted in conservative circles to dismiss racial justice concerns.