Monday, April 15, 2019

When the Call to Free Speech Becomes the Trojan Horse of Fascism: Turning Point USA and Trump’s Executive Order for College Campuses

Trump’s Trojan Horse

One way to describe President Trump’s recent executive order concerning the exercise of free speech on college campuses is as a “Trojan Horse,” not a very well concealed or well-designed Trojan horse (I’m writing about it after all), but a “bigly,” clunky weapon on wheels “disguised” as a horse.1

 As in the original myth, when the city of Troy allows entry to the giant wooden horse thinking it to be a tribute and a trophy, so too American colleges and universities are invited to believe that Trump, and the young “conservatives” of his mercenary entourage at Turning Point USA (TPUSA), are paying tribute to the first amendment’s protections for free speech. And just as the soldiers concealed within the Trojan Horse were at the ready to materialize at dawn against their enemy, so too Trump’s executive order arms its TPUSA Hoplites to carry out a smear campaign of harassment, shaming, and intimidation in the war to rid college and university campuses of whichever discipline, course, or instructor that cannot be made to fit Trump’s white nationalist worldview. While I take it to be as well-established as that the Earth is round that President Trump is a racist bigot who thinks the country (and the world, for that matter) belongs to wealthy white men like himself, Democracy in Color’s “The Trump Administration’s Record of Racism” offers more than 200 reminders, including Inauguration speech dog whistles referencing  the “invasion” of “our border,” the infamous Muslim Ban, the attack on a Gold Star family of a fallen Muslim-American soldier, the attack on Judge Gonzalo Curiel in virtue of Curiel’s Mexican heritage, the Whitehouse appointments of Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, “good people on both sides,” separation of undocumented parents from their children, and his retweeting of a Southern Poverty Law Centerdesignated hate group, the Center for Immigration Studies. The incident list goes on and on.2

Given this worldview—and the absolute necessity of deploying whatever stealth or subterfuge is available to fortify it against those who call Bull Shit on dog whistle hate-mongering—it’s hardly surprising that an executive order ostensibly crafted to reinforce the right to free speech on college campuses is actually just the Trump administration’s most recent gambit to squash free speech on college campuses—at least whatever doesn’t comport with Trump’s white America. The trouble of course, is that the very pretext of the order is the demonstrableliethat conservative students are victims of discrimination in virtue of their conservatism on their college campuses. Put differently: Trump’s executive order is premised on the liethat Young Republicans are victimized by their lefty, feminist, Marxist, environmentalist, non-Christian, LGBTQ, non-white professors, that they’re real victims of an indoctrinating cabal of “liberals.” The problem, however, is that no evidence supports this claim—not a damn shred—despite decades of effort by the far-right (for example, David Horowitz) to make it stick. Indeed, once we peel back the thin veneer of this lie, it becomes apparent that behind the charade of respect for freedom of expression lay the darker calculated motives of a presidential regime whose aims are to weaponize speech in the service of demonizing and silencing the regime’s critics—to use speech to repress… speech, leaving the ideological ballast of the extremist far right to fill in the void. As I have argued many times, the deliberate and nefarious conflation of teachingideas in the service of their thorough and critical examination with indoctrination amounts to an obscene debauchery of education. Ideas are not in and of themselves conservative or liberal, per se; they’re opportunities to think. And it is thinkingthe Trump administration and its venal champions cannot brook. That’s what the Free Speech Executive order is really about: if you can stomp out critical thinking where it lives, on college and university campuses, you can fashion the future—in Trump’s case, a very white, very patriarchal, very straight, very Christian theocratic (Mike Pence’s Handmaid’s Tale) future. 

Few organizations better personify the embrace of conservative student victimhood than TPUSA whose mission statement touts protections for free speech and free markets, but whose words and deeds tell a very different and far darker story. The irony is that TPUSA is manifestly not a “safe space” for actualconservative or even Republican students; conservatives and Republicans, after all, aren’t necessarily racist hate-mongers. The TPUSA agenda is to convert college campuses into safe spaces for what can only be accurately described as the white nationalist fascism. And that agenda makes sense of why

·     Founder Charlie Kirk attracted “a contingent of white nationalists from the Traditionlist Worker Party” during his speech at Colorado State University, and why the anti-immigrant fliers posted on campus before the event were attributed to TPUSA. Although Kirk denied any affiliation with the TWP Nazis, his repeated insistence that there exists no such thing as white privilege is plainly interpreted as a dog whistle much like President Trump’s dehumanizing references to invaders and aliens at the Mexican border.Kirk routinely refers to undocumented immigrants as “invaders” and “aliens,” as he applaudes the president.4

·     Communications director Candace Owens is cited as a key inspiration for the anti-Muslim massacre of 49 people at prayer in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 15th, 2019. In his 73-page manifesto, Terrorist Tarrant refers to the “Great Replacement” and “White Genocide” conspiracy theories. He refers to himself as an ethno-nationalist, and claims that “the person that has influenced me the most is Candace Owens.”5Less than a month later, and directly after Owens gave testimony to Congress denying racism is still an issue for the U.S.,TPUSA tweeted a photograph of white genocide conspiracy theorist, Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi.7In classic up is down, red is green fashion, Owens also tried to blame the New Zealand massacre on the Left “despite the explicit white nationalist ethos of the murderer”8

·     Owens remarked at the inauguration of Turning Point UK (TPUK) that “[y]ou know, he [Adolf Hitler] was a National Socialist,” … “but if Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well—okay, fine. The problem is that he wanted, he had dreams outside of Germany, he wanted to globalize…”9Yet, despite the fact that she has since denounced Hitler as a “psychotic maniac,” she denies white nationalism is real, insists that it’s a Democrat Party 2020 campaign strategy,10and claims that police brutality is not “a major issue for black Americans.11  Owens regularly applauds Dinesh D’Souza—who claims that avowed white nationalist Richard Spencer is a….Democrat.12 

·     TPUSA is regularly called out for its penchant for racist and anti-Semitic memes,13and in a telling expose by the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, has a well-documented history of hiring national field directors like Crystal Clanton whose texts to fellow TPUSA-ers include remarks like this: “I hate black people. Like, fuck them all…I hate blacks. End of story.”14 For anyone who thinks this is a one off, the Anti-Defamation Leaguereports that:

October 2018:  The Miami New Times revealed leaked messages from a TPUSA WhatsApp group connected to Florida International University that included a racist Pepe the Frog meme about Syrian refugees raping white women, as well as a joke about dressing up as ICE agents to “grapple Latinas and deport them.” The messages also included this advice on how to avoid scrutiny: “Just avoid saying the n word and don’t reference Richard Spencer too much and don’t Jew hate…all the time.”15 

·     The Anti-Defamation League(ADL) and the Southern Poverty Law Center(SPLC), among a host of other public watchdog organizations, publicize Owens’ and founder Charlie Kirk’s histories of racist, homophobic, anti-feminist, anti-Muslim remarks (and Tweets) as well as their associations with far-right figures like Alex Jones,16Paul Joseph Watson,17, Pamela Geller,18Marshall DeRosa,19 Mike Cernovich,20Sean Hannity,21and Gavin McInnes.22   

The only way this virulent form of white supremacist hate speech stands a chance of being heard is where every voice of reason is silenced. That is the mission of the Trump free speech executive order Trojan Horse. 

Silence and Trumpian Fascism

Silence—that is the point of President Trump’s Free Speech Executive Order. The TPUSA list goes on for a longmile,23and it’s just these facts that serve to remind us that like so much else in the age of Trump, the executive order isn’t a causeof either the elevation or erosion of first amendment protections; it’s merely a symptomof a very old anti-democratic trinity composed of corporate interests, racist, nativist, and xenophobic sympathies, and tyrannical aspirations newly personified by the Trump regime. The most appropriate name for this is fascism.

What TPUSA richly illustrates is simply that the Trump regime suffers no shortage of recruits ready to carry out the executive order’s repressive mission. The more difficult task, however, is to explain why the recruitment to so anti-democratic a vision of America has been even modestly successful among a demographic whose own futures will be markedly impaired by it, namely, college age young adults and students. There are many reasons, but some are surely these: Trump’s Trojan Horse executive order offers

·     A cornucopia of scapegoats, including so-called “leftist, feminist, environmentalist, Marxist, Postmodern” professors who provide a convenient, if wrong-headed, avenue of blame for the fact that traditional white and/or male and/or affluent college-goers must now compete with “others” for the social status to which a college education had been presumed as an entitlement. Re-securing that entitlement is among the primary drivers of TPUSA’s Professor Watchlist.24

·     A righteous patriotic-sounding balm to disaffected Republican-leaning young adults bolstering the promise of a chance to take back, as Trump puts it, an “our country,” allegedly stolen through government spending on social programs aimed at reducing the widening gap between the wealthy and the poor—falsely blaming them for college debt borne by millennials.25

·     A promise to restore the sort of “natural order” made popular in, for example, the lobster-hierarchy nostalgia of far-right pop-psychology gurus like Jordan Peterson. Peterson’s crude determinism has been soundly debunked by real scientists who make clear that the brain chemistries he associates with male domination are also shared by bee colonies where “the queen is much larger than the male,” and where after the queen is fertilized all the males are driven out and subsequently die.26Facts, however, don’t appear to deter the nearly entirely white male audiences that flock to his wildly expensive presentations. Although the cost of reaffirmation of native superiority be very high, the appetite for it appears to be equally insatiable. It’s thus no wonder that it’s this same crowd that forms the twitter-brigade for Candace Owen’s #Blexit blather, the conspiracy-mongers that flock to Infowars, the Daily Caller, and Rush Limbaugh, or the bottom-feeders that skitter around in that white nationalist sewer that is GAB.

But the Trojan Horse of Trump’s faux free speech executive order offers even more—and does so even though in the weeks that follow the signing, Trump himself seems to have forgotten all about it, namely,

·     An opportunity to eliminate or at least substantively deface the first amendment’s establishment clause protecting minority religious traditions, replacing these with Charlie Kirk’s vision of a Christian America where what we teach in public schools is that “[t]he Bible is the most powerful, significant, and important book of all time 66 books, 40 authors, and 5,000 years of history Four direct accounts of the most influential person ever to live Answers to every challenge you will face So why don’t we teach it in our schools?”27

·     A chance to make the just-under-the-surface always-simmering racism and sexism so deeply enmeshed in U.S. history sexy-cool again, (see, for example, Andre Chung’s “Trump’s man on campus”).28 At this point in the Trump  regime, it’s actually hard to imagine having to defend the claim that the president and many of his cohorts actively court racist tropes quite literally all the time—but a reminder is always helpful: Trump’s retweeting of the New York Posts flagrantly racist Anti-Muslim comparison of Representative Ilhan Omar to 9-11 terrorists,29or his threat to use desperate undocumented immigrants as weapons against his political opponents,30or, well, his endless history of racism going all the way back to the 1970’s.31 

What Trump-brand fascism needs are young folks to make it real, and disaffected young white men are just the ticket. Or: disaffected young black men who can be convinced that the only alternative to a disappointing Democratic Party is, for example, Candace Owens’ Blexit,32the Black exit, a particularly deceptive iteration of straight-up racist nativism cast as salvation from a party so demonized we might as well imagine Democrats with horns and pitchforks. Blexit personifies Owens’ need for an enemy so blighted and evil that “[w]ithout question, it is more difficult today to come out as a conservative than it is to come out as gay.”33Owens’ reasoning is, of course, absurd, and would be absurd even if the Dems were every bit as malevolent as she makes them out to be. The trouble is that there’s not just one alternative to the Democratic party; there are many—libertaerians, independents, greens…  The Democratic Party is flatly not, as Owens’ calls it, a “slave plantation,”34and the “conservatism” of Blexit is not conservative; it’s Turning Point USA white nationalism masquerading as liberation from enemies made up just for them—a “made up” that requires a lot of lying. But like the white brethren she regularly dog whistles, Owens’ is rarely without her magic bag of mendacity. From insisting that the GOP Southern Strategy never happened,35 to denying that police brutality disproportionately impacts young black men,36to claiming that the greatest threat to “The West” is Islam,37to trashing the Me Too Movement,38 Owens appears willing to entertain virtually any claim (or conspiracy theory) that she can use to recruit fellow African Americans to a Blexit that would be a better acronym for the exodus of the blowhard grifters.

What TPUSA, Blexit, and Trump’s free speech executive order offer is the opportunity to be disgorged from the back end of the Trumpian Trojan Horse to do righteous battle with the Infidels, that is, the “leftists,” “feminists,” “Muslims,” “undocumented immigrants,” the world full of “others” whose defeat promises catharsis for vanquished jobs and poor wages. Volunteering to climb aboard, buys you scapegoats and, with them, an outlet for the misplaced sense of having been cheated out of the entitlement to dominate, exploit, and discard those “others.” Along with an array of other executive orders, deregulations, and the histrionics of Trump’s endless campaign, the free speech order helps to drown out the black, brown, and female voices daring to call out the fact that the myths that undergird white entitlement have become threadbare. That is the order’s purpose, and that’s why the deception of a Trojan Horse is imperative: the myth of a white “Western” cultural, religious, and economic superiority is the bone marrow of other biggermyths—like American Exceptionalism or Manifest Destiny. Speech that interrogates their mythical foundation, that threatens to reveal just how existentially dependent its white supremacism is on the institution of slavery, the systemic oppression of women, the genocide of indigenous peoples, and the rape of the fruited plain, is speech that must be silenced—or, as is Owens’ strategy, subverted to the defense of bizarre claims like a defense of Hitler.  That’s how far she’s apparently willing to go doing her part to insure we continue to believe the hogwash of an entitlement that will benefit her for exactly as long as she remains willing to defend its falsehoods—and not a minute longer. That’s the enigma of Candace Owens. She apparently thinks that, as she likes to put it on her Candace Showon Dennis Prager’s fake university website that she having open-minded conversations where people can actually exchange ideas and change their minds. Well, just no. Did Owens change her mind and, for example, recognize the countless reasons why Sojourner Truth and Martin Luther King would find in her political posturing a horrifying race-baiting charlatan, she’d be disowned by her old white dude nationalist entourage faster than you can say “grifter.”

It’s no easy thing to defend the throng of falsehoods TPUSA seems hell-bent to champion. The planet, for example, is not a vault of endless resources. “Western” values are not superior to “Non-Western” values. Whether Owens has ever been subjected to slavery is irrelevant to whether racism is “over,” as she puts it, in America.39Men have no natural right to dominate women. Modern feminism is not a “war on men,”40Christian conservatives were not “responsible for the Renaissance,” and they are neither the sole arbiters nor the creators of culture.41 The market is not free and it doesn’t insure a just distribution of goods.42Climate change is real and it’s anthropogenic, despite Owens,43and Kirk’s denial.44Each of these myths are demonstrably false—yet they provide the scaffolding for the biggest myth of all: that America is the land of the free; that the country is a democratic republic whose governing agents work tirelessly to insure equal opportunity and freedom of expression to all. From the point of view of this big fat lie, we can see that Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens are just hucksters trying to cash in on an American Dream built on hot sand. But this doesn’t make them any less a very real threat. TPUSA’s profoundly divisive, fear-mongering Trumpian rhetoric and its efforts to amplify it in every cyber-venue available is the tell that there’s something more: the desperation that accompanies recognition, however dim, that neither the planet not its clamoring masses are prepared to put up with their destructive chicanery for very much longer; that no matter with what zeal the Kirks and Owens of the world align themselves with the repression of dissident voices, no matter what characters from the so-called hype of the intellectual dark web they’ll entertain as authoritative, no matter how wide they open the Turnstile doors of Turning Point’s roster of speakers and personalities, they know in their guts that the rest of us know they’re charlatans, grifters, and false prophets. 

Here’s just one sample: Vicewriter Tess Owen documents the efforts of white nationalist Identity Europa(now “American Identity Movement”) to infiltrate Turning Point in the interest of rebranding themselves as a more “PG-13” white nationalism after the riots at Charlottesville that left one person dead. That Identity Europarecognizes TPUSA as an ideal home for their recruitment efforts is hardly surprising, but even less so is that the effort has apparently been met with some success: 
It’s not entirely clear how many members Identity Evropa has accrued since Nathan Damigo, an Iraq War veteran, founded the group in 2016. The Discord server had nearly 900 members, which isn’t necessarily a reflection of the group’s membership but does speak to the numbers of people who are curious, if not sympathetic, to its ideas… Part of Identity Evropa’s strategy now relies on its ability to weaponize metaphors to make their white nationalism seem more acceptable, like referring to “European heritage” — which white nationalist often use as a euphemism to mean “white” — or seizing on mainstream conservative issues like immigration… In the leaked Identity Evropa Discord chats, one server member wrote that his “ultimate goal” was a “subversion of my school’s TPUSA chapter into a front for IE [Identity Evropa.]” “Broke: Infiltrating GOP,” another user wrote. “Woke: Infiltrating TPUSA.” Another member claimed that he’d been recruiting with the leader of his school’s Turning Point USA chapter at the club fair… “To the best of TPUSA’s knowledge, no Evropa representative — or sympathizer — has ever or would be invited to participate in one of our events,” Kirk told VICE News. But just last week, white nationalist Nicholas Fuentes, who attended Unite the Right, spoke at Iowa State University. During his speech, blamed people of color, immigrants, and “globalists” for America’s problems, according to the Des Moines Register. Iowa State University's College Republicans released a statement the following day condemning Fuentes and claimed that he’d been invited to speak by Turning Point USA.45 
Here's the point: it’s easy to track down the fact thatTPUSA’s donors and benefactors are wealthy white men,46that its conventions47are sponsored by far-right organizations likeCenter of the American Experiment,48that TPUSA is popular with white nationalist conspiracy theorists,49, avowed anti-Semites,50and figures like Paul Joseph Watson.51  It’s also not hard to see that, however thinly concealed in the Trojan Horse of Trump’s executive order, TPUSA’s objective isn’t the restoration of democratic ideals, but rather the preservation of an America where the pretense to democracy was never met with any real commitment to carry out its promise of equality, opportunity, and freedom.

What the rise of organizations like TPUSA have achieved, in other words, and utterly contrary to their intentions, is the disillusion of the myth that is “America.” You can smell the desperation. We can tell the jig is up from the sheer lengths they’re willing to go to hold onto power.  We can see right through to their grifter fame-mongering motives, and we can tell that the “land of the free, home of the brave” narrative is collapsing by just what-all TPUSA and its analogues are willing to do to preserve it… for the few. In every racist, sexist, anti-gay association, white supremacist dog whistle, and act of denial; in each reaffirmation of “Western” values, Islamophobic tweet, trashing of “Me Too,” reference in a terrorist manifesto, and threat to sue for defamation (Twitter, 11:38AM, 3.14.19), is the faint stench of that they knowwe seethem for what they are. We’re catching on to the lie. We’re woke to the xenophobic fa├žade that isTPUSA. We know why Candace Owens is cited as inspiration for a racist massacre; we get it that Charlie Kirk’s faint rejections of white nationalism are really dog whistles intended to mainstream hate. Hell, we even get why Kanye West wants out.52

Day is not Night and Freedom of Expression is not the Repression of Dissent

At one level, Trump’s is the ordinary fascism of branding a country as a dynasty. But at another, epitomized by the executive order, we’re now witness to a fascism crafted for a time where the truth—about the climate, about human migration, about access to clean water, about extinctions—stand in such stark contrast to the preservation of the privileges of this ruling class that not only must truth-tellers be silenced—they must be vilified as the oppressors so that rulers can be “victims” of oxymorons like “presidential harassment.” In this latter sense, Trump’s executive order is not merely about consolidating power; it’s about the survival of an entire way of life on a planet whose dwindling resources cannot support it, and whose increasingly desperate and disenfranchised populations inch closer and closer to that truth.

It’s thus no wonder that the new enemies of the state are the scientists, the teachers, the scholars, and the public intellectuals who dare to speak truth. What threatened the Greeks were the warriors of Troy.  What threatens the way of life that is Trump is the production of knowledge that informs an educated citizenry, the capacity for critical evaluation and appreciation of fact that is the mission of university education. Did Turning Point USA not already exist to provide loyal foot-soldiers in the war on that production, the Trump regime would surely have to create them. Fortunately for the Trumpian Troglodytes, grifters like Kirk and Owens, and their counterparts at smear-machines like The Daily Caller, Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children, and Breitbart, have arisen to fill that vacuum. Like the warriors crammed into the belly of the Trojan horse ready to disgorge at the first light of dawn, the soldiers of the Trump regime ready their cyber-spears, their memes, their doxing expertise, and their good old-fashioned first amendment rights to bludgeon any scientist who names the potentially catastrophic consequences of climate change, any academic who dares to suggest that capitalism may not be the great liberator, any “social justice warrior” who’d dare to tell the truth about the rising number of hate crimes in the land of the free, or hell, any parent—just like me—who cannot fathom being torn away from her baby for the crime of seeking asylum in a foreign land. Consider, for example, Faye Higbee, a writer for Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children:

We received an email from John Fromille, a Marine veteran who served three combat tours in Iraq and received two Purple Hearts. He is a student at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. He told us about a professor at his school who is using her position to push a left-wing, vicious, anti-Trump ideology. This kind of thing has been occurring across the country in our schools from elementary to college and everywhere in between.53

Channeling the narrative of the evil indoctrinating professor, it’s easy to imagine Higbee leaping from the belly of Trump’s Free Speech Trojan Horse to defend innocent college students from their “left-wing, vicious, anti-Trump” teachers. The problem, of course, is that Higbee provides not an iota of evidence for indoctrination, and apparently doesn’t ask veteran John Fromille to supply any either. From Fromille’s letter:

“Professor Wendy Lee is a professor at my university. From her office window in a major thoroughfare that thousands of students have to walk by a day, she has an upside down American Flag and a sign that reads “Biggest Shithole In The World Is Donald Trumps Racist Soul.” My issue with this is the fact that she’s using a government/state owned building, payed for with taxpayers’ money, to display the American Flag upside down and her sign, pushing her own ideologies and indoctrination upon our children. 
Furthermore, she has a history of doing this and has discriminated against students who have either been military, or who oppose her ideology by kicking them out of class, threatening to call the cops on them, or punishing them by giving them substantially lower grades. I feel the hypocrisy is astounding. If a conservative professor would do the very same things she has been doing, such as displaying signs from their office windows, the university shuts these people down immediately.
Everyone is entitled to their own 1st amendment rights. But she’s using her position of authority and power, abusing it, by pushing her own ideologies and agenda on children in an academic setting, using state/government owned buildings.
My goal is to create AWARENESS to EFFECT change. Students have complained about this before using the appropriate chains of command within the university. However, the university does nothing because there is no public awareness about this. So far, my original post has over 1,000 shares and and has almost 2k in comments. I’ve conducted two interviews with local media outlets. Already, Bloomsburg University is feeling the pressure. They have recieved dozens and dozens of phone calls from concerned citizens.”54

Let’s be very clear here: professors are citizens, and no professor at a public university gives up their right to free expression. A display like my upside-down American flag is an act of free speech and, contrary to Ms. Higbee’s hate-mongering title, an expression of patriotism. Indeed, it is exactly the defense of the first amendment that Trump’s executive order would seem to protect. Except that neither Trump, nor his allies at Turning Point USA, nor Mr. Fromille, nor Ms. Higbee mean any such thing. How can we tell? Easy—Ms. Higbee’s screed exemplifies precisely what Trump’s free speech executive order is intended to do: repress speech by publicly shaming and demonizing the administration’s critics. How does she achieve this? By a slight of hand—convincing exactly the sort of primed-pump reader “Uncle Sam” attracts that an act of free speech is the same thing as an act of indoctrination—especially when it comes from those already suspect “lefty” (not to mention female) professors. It’s question-begging and ad hominem(attack the credibility of the person) all wrapped up in one big fallacious flag. Higbee cites Fromille’s letter as if it were evidence the indoctrination claim is true, as if his veteran status somehow authorizes his claims without additional evidential support. 

But that’s just not how evidential support works: claiming that something is true doesn’t make it so just because someone writes it down, says it in anger, expresses indignance, or occupies some position of authority. Claims are true when their supported by evidence; full stop. But evidence is plainly no more Ms. Higbee’s (TPUSA’s, President Trump’s) goal than respect for truth informs one iota of her screed or Fromille’s letter. 

As for Mr. Fromille, note how glibly he slides from “display the American flag” to “pushing her own ideologies,” as if the latter followed from the former as a matter of course. It does not. Note too that Fromille follows this with a cascade of unsubstantiated claims that include:

·     Lee has a long history of indoctrinating students.
·     Lee discriminates against military students.
·     Lee discriminates against those who oppose her ideology.
·     Lee punishes students who disagree with her by giving them lower grades.
·     Lee is abusing her position of authority.
·     Students have complained through the appropriate channels.

What’s critically important here isn’t merely that Fromille offers precisely no supporting evidence for these defamatory claims. It’s not merely that they’re flatly and unequivocally false. It’s not even whether there exist reports in Lee’s personnel file, or whether there have been “dozens” of phone calls.  There are no such reports in Lee’s file, and the public doesn’t get to decide a professor’s expression of patriotism. What isimportant here is that examples like this show how entirely free from fact is the ideologically driven myth of the victimized conservative student. That there’s not really even a pretense to respect for fact is, in other words, the tell that what does inform this sort of “reporting” is fear—unvarnished, screeching, nothing matters except winning terror. And that is the Modus Operendiof Brietbart, the Daily Caller, the Daily Wire, and their countless analogues and posers. Fromille apparently thinks himself entitled to deliver a deluded rant without bothering to contact his target. Higbee apparently takes herself to be entitled to make a “report” on the basis of Fromille’s rant. Both play victim very much after the model of the Turning Point USA playbook—now codified in the Trump Free Speech Executive Order. 

The right response to a Trojan Horse, however, is to recognize it as a Trojan Horse

This clunker is naught but a barometer of Trump’s ever-expanding vulnerabilities. For despite his rabid base, the president’s position isas fragile as the necessity of securing it through deception, corruption, graft, and the weaponizing of grifters and sycophants. It’s a barometer not of the extent to which Trump is confident that he’ll keep, as he puts it, winning bigly; were the Greeks so certain of their chances they’d have simply stormed the gates. No—Trump’s executive order is, like the Trojan Horse, a nefarious effort to steal in through camouflage what would be swiftly defeated if we knew what was up. And we do:

The only way to execute a vision of America so

·     Cruelas to take babies from the arms of their mothers and fathers,
·     Mercenary as to help cover for the butchering murder of journalists,
·     Xenophobicas to destroy its own economy by walling off its Southern border,
·     Nativistas to debauch the Statue of Liberty’s promise of sanctuary and opportunity,
·     Tyrannicalas to trample the separation of powers and defy Congress as a co-equal branch of government,
·     Arrogantas to attempt to brand an entire country as the private property of a single family with dynastic aspirations, and
·     Fascistthat profiteering is normalized as the point of elections rigged to benefit corporations…

is to silence its dissidents. That’s what Trump’s night is day, black is white, true is false, free speech executive order is about. But it’s also symptomatic of the sloppy-desperate gambit to which the beleaguered resort in their effort to stave off what endangers them the most—the prospect that enough of the public will catch on. Trump and his allies wrap themselves in the flag as if it were made of Kevlar because they know just what a whole cloth lie this administration really is. They know we just might figure out that the Trump Trojan Horse is actually full of shivering ignorant self-aggrandizing cowards fouling their skivvies at the very prospect of being disgorged from their comfy seats inside the belly of the beast. 

They need to hear our raucous laughter.

Land of the free. Home of the brave. The reversed American flag covering my office window facing out onto my university quad? Seventeen carefully preserved death threats and countless abusive, harassing, violent, rape-fantasy, shaming, dehumanizing comments later: it stands. 

Wendy Lynne Lee
Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania


1.     “Trump signs executive order on campus free speech.”The Hill
2.     “The Trump administration’s record of racism.” Democracy in Color
3.     Kelley, Brendon Joel. “Turning Point USA’s Blooming Romance with the Alt-Right.” The Southern Poverty Law Center
4.     Kirk, Charlie. “here’s why Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration protects all Americans.” Fox News.
5.     Branigan, Anne. “Candace Owens was named in the New Zealand shooter’s manifesto.” The Root
6.     Jackson, Dory. Candace Owens’ defense of white nationalism: 5 other times she’s sparked controversy.” Newsweek.
7.     Moritz-Rabson, Daniel. “Organization Candace Owens represents shares, then deletes, photo promoting white genoicide conspiracy theory days after her testimony.” Newsweek
8.     Shanes, Joshua. “Trump Republicans love Candace Owens because she sells their brand of fascism.” Haaretz
9.     Frazin, Rachel. “Candace Owens: If Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well—OK, fine.” The Hill
10.Cheney-Rice, Zak. “White nationalism is the Republican Party’s meal ticket.” The Intelligencer
11.Anti-Defamation League. “Turning Point USA,”
12.Friedersdorf, Conor. “The apotheosis of Dinesh D’Souza.” The Atlantic
13.Watson, Libby. “Yet another campus chapter of the conservative diaper group is into super racist memes.” Splinter
14.Jane Mayer. “A conservative non-profit that seeks to transform college campuses faces allegations of racial bias and illegal campaign activity.” The New Yorker
15.Anti-Defamation League. “Turning Point USA,”
16.Wegman, Phillip. “Turning Point USA leaks screenshots to Infowars.” The Washington Examiner
17.Candace Owens Interviewed by Alex jones and Paul Joseph Watson. Youtube
18.Shanes, Joshua. “Trump Republicans love Candace Owens because she sells their brand of fascism.” Haaretz
19.Wasko, Sarah. “Turning Point USA and Campus Reform are defending a Florida professor with ties to a white nationalist group.” Media Matters
20.O’Connor, Brendon. “Davos for fascists.” The Nation
21.Turning Point USA. “Charlie Kirk joins the Trump family on Hannity.” Youtube
22.Burley, Shane and Kristina Kahn. “Young fascists on campus: Turning Point USA and its far-right connections.” Truthout
24.Professor Watchlist
25.Knirnschild, Jacqueline. “Turning Point USA arrives on campus with Ole Miss chapter.” The Daily Mississippian
26.Goncalves, Lenor. “Psychoilogist Jordan Peterson says lobsters help to explain why human hierarchies exist. Do they?”
31.Lopez, German. “Donald trump’s long history of racism: from the 1970’s to 2019.” Vox,
34.Swan, Bishop Talbert. “Calling liberal and black voters ‘slaves on the plantation’ is patronizing ahistorical nonsense.” Blavity
35.Kilgore, Ed. “Candace Owens says the Southern Strategy never happened.” The Intelligencer
36.Lee, Wendy Lynne. “Red Pill/Black Wash: Turning Point USA and the Mercenary Logic of the Alt-Right, Candace Owens Plays the Victim,” Academia.edu
37.Shanes, Joshua. “Trump Republicans love Candace Owens because she sells their brand of fascism.” Haaretz
38.Cohrs, Rachel. #MeToo makes women look stupid, weak, conservative figurehead Candace Owens says ahead of Dallas Women’s Summit,”
39.Judge, Monique. “Candace Owens thinks racism is over because she has never been a slave.” The Root
40.Owens, Candace. “Modern feminism is a war on men.” Facebook
41.Thomas, Jake. “Candace Owens: Christian conservatives were responsible for the Renaossance.” The Intellectualist
42.Boddiger, David. “Charlie Kirk loses his shit at Politicon over a question about his salary.” Splinter
43.A skeptical human. “Candace Owens is clueless about climate change.”
44.Collette-White, Richard. “Turning Point: meet the climate science denying, fossil fuel funded student group coming to a UK campus near you.” DeSmogBlogUK
45.Owen, Tess. “Leaked chats show white nationalist’s plot to infiltrate Turning Point USA.” Vice News
46.Kotch, Alex. “Who funds conservative campus group Turning Point USA? Donors revealed,” International Business Times
47.Turning Point USA Convention, 2019,
48.Center of the American Experiment.DeSmogBlog
49.Turturino, Zoe. Opinion: UConn to host far right speakers who inspired Christchurch shooting.” The Daily Campus
50.Sommer, Will. “Turning Point USA courts activist who said Jews want the destruction of the black community.” The Daily Beast
51.Barnes, Luke. Turning Point USA launches British chapter to Rocky reception.” Think Progress
52.Klinkenberg, Brendan. “Kanye West distances himself from Alt-Right provocateur Candace Owens,” Rolling Stone
53.Higbee, Faye. “Bloomsburg University professor’s anti-Trump, anti-American hatred,” Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children
54.Higbee, Faye. “Bloomsburg University professor’s anti-Trump, anti-American hatred,” Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children