Charlie Kirk visits UI to discuss conservative cultural issues

Turning Point USA Founder and Executive Director Charlie Kirk visited the University of Iowa on Wednesday, to address members of the student organization and various members of the community about undocumented immigration, the college “cartel,” the free market, and more.


Mason Childs

Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA, spoke out to the Iowa City community during his “Culture War” tour. His tour at The University Iowa took place in the Iowa Memorial Union at 7pm on October 23, 2019.

Katie Ann McCarver, News Editor

Turning Point USA founder and Executive Director Charlie Kirk stopped in Iowa City on Wednesday during his “Culture War” tour, to address the University of Iowa chapter of the college-student organization and local attendees about the challenges conservative youth face on campuses.

Approximately 400 community members crowded into the ballroom of the Iowa Memorial Union to hear Kirk discuss Turning Point USA perspectives on the free market, the Constitution, the Second Amendment as the protector of all other amendments, and more.

“It’s tough to be a young conservative on a college campus,” Kirk said. “We’re not going to play the victim like the left. Instead of being victims, we’re going to be victors.”

Kirk began on Wednesday by describing how the U.S. is the greatest country to ever exist — and the most generous and accepting of undocument immigrants.

The UI chapter of Turning Point USA executive board resigned in 2018 after declining an invitation from the organization’s national leadership to visit campus and speak about immigration after Cristhian Bahena Rivera, an undocumented immigrant, was accused of the killing UI student Mollie Tibbetts.

Wyatt Dlouhy
Audience members listen to Turning Point USA Founder Charlie Kirk speak during the”Culture War” tour at the Iowa Memorial Union on Wednesday, October 23, 2019. “Culture War” will stop at eight different Turning Point USA chapters on college campuses across the country.

“The world is a better place because of America,” Kirk said. “What makes America exceptional is that our ideals come from God, not from government.”

He connected this to an innate skepticism by its people of collectivist or socialist ideals — which he said he believes destroy society. The idea of competition as it factors into wealth is so important, Kirk said.

“Our message is harder,” Kirk said. “Our message is, ‘You know what, I’m not going to give you anything, but I will give you one thing — equality of dignity, and I’ll make sure government stays out of your life.’”

Kirk voiced concern about the “disservice” society makes to students by telling them to attend a four-year college. He believes the nation instead needs additional police officers, carpenters, military personnel, and workers in other fields. Universities and university administrators are a “cartel” rigged against students, Kirk said.

“It really boils down to a cultural issue that we have in our country,” Kirk said. “We look down on people that do not go to a four-year college. But college should not be about ideological exploration; it should be about career preparation.”

Although Donald Trump Jr. has joined Kirk at other stops on his tour, the president’s son was not present Wednesday. Turning Point USA Chief Creative Officer Benny Johnson joined Kirk in a live-streamed segment called “Benny on the Block” instead, in which he searched for protesters to speak with outside the building.

RELATED: Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk to visit UI in October 

“We expect the totalitarian left that hate free speech to come after us,” Johnson said, gesturing to an empty Hubbard Park.

Kirk emphasized the need for debate and discussion around cultural issues, and opened up the event for questions. He asked that fellow conservatives be respectful of opposing opinions, characterizing them as “the ambassadors of decency.”

Wyatt Dlouhy
Protestors stand in silence as audience members exit the venue following the”Culture War” tour at the Iowa Memorial Union on Wednesday, October 23, 2019. “Culture War” will stop at eight different Turning Point USA chapters on college campuses across the country.

As Kirk addressed concerns ranging from foreign aid to those accused of rape receiving prison time, a group of about 20 protesters gathered outside the event. UI student Majid Al-Kaylani said he believes populist ideology such as Kirk’s is taking hold of Americans.

“With the rise of Trump and the alt-right, our politics are broken,” he said. “It’s a slippery slope and it’s only a matter of time before it becomes too much for our country and for our institutions to bear.”

UI sophomore Brittany Kelly added that such events are counterproductive to promoting an inclusive community on campus.

“The kind of speech that happens in there and the kind of speech that’s been happening around campus is dangerous, and it mongers fear and builds hate in a community that definitely doesn’t need it,” Kelly said. “We pride ourselves on being a diverse campus, but then we invite people to talk about things that don’t align with the university’s message.”