Turning Point USA founder discusses trials and reasons for optimism at Restoration Weekend.
Editor's note: Below are the video and transcript to remarks given by Charlie Kirk at the David Horowitz Freedom Center's 2017 Restoration Weekend. The event was held Nov. 16th-19th at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida.
Charlie Kirk: Quite a week. In the last week, I've been on three college campuses; Cleveland State University, Eastern Carolina University and Arizona State University. It seems everywhere I'm going, I get lots of different protestors. Antifa tends to show up and tries to shout down the campus events that we're doing. For those of you that don't know, my name is Charlie Kirk, born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. The fun thing about Illinois is we have term limits; one term in office, one term in jail, so a little bit different than most states. When we ask for our former governor's cell number, we actually mean his cell number.
So you might ask how did a kid from Chicago start a nationwide student movement dedicated to identifying, educating and organize the next generation. It's really interesting. A lot of it has to do with this weekend. Four or five years ago, a dear friend brought me to this breakfast, this same very one, and I started to meet all of you for the first time and kind of pitch this idea, and this has been a key cornerstone of the growth of Turning Point U.S.A. It started on just a couple campuses, and now we're present on over 1,200 college and high-school campuses across the country, which is just amazing. Thank you. And so many amazing supporters in this room that have made it possible, and David Horowitz, I can't thank you enough for your mentorship and guidance and advice throughout the years, so thank you. Seriously, what you're doing here is so special, and we have a big event coming up next month, just to give you an idea of how big the movement has grown. A couple years ago, we had our first student activation summit. We had about 400 students. Last year, we had about 800, and next month we're going to have over 3,000 students here in Palm Beach, which will be the biggest conservative event to date, so it's quite exciting.
Before I introduce the amazing congressman, who's doing phenomenal work fighting for our rights and fighting for justice in the House, I do want to talk a little bit about what I believe is the greatest threat to Western civilization as we know it, which is what's happening on our college campuses right now. It cannot be overstated the erosion of free speech, the attack on traditional values and the direct assault on what made Western civilization great. I always like to say the left hates the idea that there are other ideas. The left wants racial diversity, they want ethnic diversity, they want every single type of diversity on a college campus except intellectual diversity. I like to say college campuses have become a place where they want everyone to look different but think the same. I'll say it again; college campuses have become a place where they want everyone to look different but think the same. As David, aptly, has pointed out for 30 years, these people have absolutely no interest in actually making college campuses a diverse place. They want to make it a multicultural place where everyone thinks in the same leftist world view.
I had a conversation with a Columbia professor a couple weeks ago, and I said, "You really don't resect free speech very well at Columbia, I have to say." He said, "What are you talking about? Columbia is a wonderful place fore free speech. In fact, my lecture hall is a great example." I said, "Really? Tell me why?" He said, "Well, in our lecture hall, we have conversations all the time of who would have made a better president, Hilary Clinton or Bernie Sanders." I said, "Oh, well that's great. No mention of Trump?" "Oh no, we don't talk about him. He's a racist xenophobe." "Oh great, you're really a champion of free speech." So the left, their idea of free speech is what version of socialism would be easiest to implement in America.
For those of you that aren't caught up with what's going on on these campuses, just in the last couple years we've seen the evolution of microaggressions, trigger warnings, safe spaces, free speech zones, and I'll focus on one of them. Does anyone not know what a safe space is? By the way, I'm not making any of this up. A safe space is a physical location on a college campus where students can seek refuge when they hear an idea, perspective or opinion that they deem so offensive that they need to seek counseling. Within a safe space are Play-doh, milk and cookies, soothing music, crayons, and these are at school like Harvard, Princeton, Yale. Which also goes to the next ones, trigger warnings and microaggressions. A microaggression is when you say something in your normal speech that a student might deem offensive. So for example, the phrase, America's the greatest country in the history of the world, that's microaggression to immigrants because they might not necessarily believe that.
We had some dealings at a northeast boarding school where a principal of the school called me, and he said, "Charlie, your chapter here is causing a lot of trouble. They're posting these very controversial posters all throughout the halls." And I said, "Oh my goodness, what are they doing now?" And he's like, "Yeah, there's all these posters that say America's the greatest country in the history of the world." He said, "That's racist, that's bigoted, that's homophobic. That cannot stand, and we're not gonna allow it to happen in our school." The radicalism that has infiltrated our high schools and our colleges is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, threat to this country, and that is something that I've dedicated my career to, to fighting back against through a variety of different ways; through grass-roots organizing, through empowering the next generation.
The amazing thing is, we are making more progress than any of the media might want to have you imagine. Everywhere I go on campus, we have standing-room only. Thousands of students want to come hear an alternative point of view because it's not that the next generation is opposed to conservative ideas, it's that they're not being exposed to conservative ideas. It's that they are being told one viewpoint, one perspective, and in fact, they're not even understanding that there's a different way to think, and that's the whole point of it is actually teaching the next generation to think. To open up their eyes to say that freedom can be a good thing.
Our organization stands for three things. We believe America's the greatest country in the history of the world, the Constitution's the greatest political document ever written by man, and free enterprise is the most assured way to lift the most people out of poverty ever proven in history. They're not very controversial things, but for whatever reason, the left is very threatened by that. And the left would rather have a discussion where they're the only ones talking, and conservatives are shut up for good. And I always say, I'll fight to my death for the right for a socialist to be wrong. For a socialist to come on campus and speak, why won't the left be okay with conservatives coming on campus?
And so this is a fight for the soul of this country. It's one that we have taken on very closely, and we're having victory after victory. We hope all of you can continue to be very supportive of what we're doing. I want to thank everyone in this room that has helped us along this journey. And it's not just a political battle, as we've talked about, which what the president is going through right now is unprecedented and is unparalleled, but it's also a culture war. And the left has made a 40-year play for our universities, and we have to do everything we can to help take them back.