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The Coup D’état of Conservatism Inc. and TPUSA

  • Patrick Casey

  • November 2, 2019

Since the 2016 election, the Right has suffered a marked decline in morale and enthusiasm. Trump failed to deliver the sweeping reforms for which we so hoped; the Alt-Right, initially new and intriguing, gradually devolved into crude neo-Nazism; Charlottesville scared most people away from real world organizing; an escalating climate of censorship and deplatforming diminished our ability to communicate and fundraise. 

But perhaps worst of all was the dissipation of the energy that made the 2016 election cycle such an unforgettable experience. Those who were politically active during this time know precisely what I’m referring to. They lived it. The zeitgeist was undergoing a climactic shift – one seemingly in our favor – and we were along for the ride, laughing like gleeful maniacs the entire time. Of course, these things ebb and flow, so we should have been prepared to come down; regardless, we didn’t want to. “Energy is eternal delight,” wrote William Blake – correctly so.

In the past few months, people have begun paying more attention to politics, given that the 2020 election is drawing nearer. Many have wondered whether or not this upcoming election will in any way rival that of 2016. The safe bet is that it won’t. I’m predicting Trump wins reelection, but nothing major changes. Although, given how chaotic and polarized the political landscape is these days, anything can happen. 

Thankfully, something did happen to alleviate this sense of political lethargy. Last week, Charlie Kirk, as part of his TPUSA Culture War college tour, stopped at Colorado State University, where he was confronted by a few right-wing dissidents. During the event’s Q&A session, one asked an innocently-phrased question regarding the USS Liberty, and another asked a question regarding immigration. Charlie didn’t seem terribly flustered, though I’m sure he was caught somewhat off guard.

Given that these TPUSA events are livestreamed, tens of thousands of people observed the questions in real time. It didn’t take long for clips of these questions to make their way to Dissident Right Twitter, where they were enthusiastically retweeted and commented on. Many in our sphere were ecstatic to see Conservatism Inc.’s buffoonery disrupted. Both young men were well-spoken, sharply dressed, reasonable, and passionate about real issues, which is exactly what the establishment fears. (Believe it or not, the most powerful state in the history of the world fears not grubby neo-Nazis resolute on resurrecting the Sturmabteilung.

It’s worth pointing out that this event was by no means the first time Charlie Kirk has been confronted while on one of his college tours. Earlier this year, a member of American Identity Movement politely asked the Turning Point founder why he initially sided with the Left against the poor Covington Catholic students. Though this particular confrontation generated some buzz within our circles, it failed to inspire copycat questioners – at least not immediately. This, of course, was no fault of the AIM member in question: his performance was flawless, but my guess is that the time wasn’t yet right. Like or not, the success of our actions has been and will continue to be largely determined by where we are in this historical unfolding to which we are all party and witness. (In a sense, Charlottesville’s resounding failure was due in part to an overzealous attempt to force something, anything – but alas, the time wasn’t right.) 

The two dissidents at TPUSA’s Colorado State event did, however, initiate a chain reaction. At the following two stops, Charlie was questioned by right-wing dissidents: first at the University of Iowa, and then at the University of New Hampshire. Both events played out similarly to the first, with Charlie Kirk being subjected to questions related to Israel, demographics, and immigration – all topics on which Conservatism Inc. tolerates only the ‘correct’ opinions. 

Things reached a boiling point this past Tuesday when Culture War arrived at The Ohio State University. Having witnessed the preceding events from behind a screen, I decided to wade into the fray, spending a combined 14 hours in the car to and from OSU – time well spent, to be sure. 

On my way to OSU, I was alerted by a friend who had arrived early that protestors were doing their thing – being publicly and politically loud and unkempt – outside of the entrance to OSU’s Performance Hall, where Charlie Kirk was to speak. I was fairly cautious on my way in, given antifa’s history of violence and my status as an open dissident. The protestors didn’t recognize me, nor did they seem to be paying attention to much other than themselves. I was struck by how young and frail they seemed – they were just goofy kids, not hardened black bloc thugs. 

Unsure of whether or not I was on some sort of TPUSA blacklist, I reserved two tickets: one under my name, and the other under a generic alias. As it turned out, I needn’t have reserved a ticket at all, for the two TPUSA employees who were charged with running the desk were not, in fact, running the desk. They were instead preoccupied with something near the entryway, but they largely ignored me, so I proceeded to stroll in nonchalantly. 

Right on cue, the event began as soon as I entered the room. (I sincerely thank Charlie for waiting.) I was first struck by the size of the event. In the room were hundreds of young conservatives, who, instead of binge drinking or watching Netflix, chose to spend their Tuesday night listening to Charlie Kirk speak. He flitted from one topic to the next, offering milquetoast takes and saying absolutely nothing we haven’t heard before. 

Halfway through the event, Charlie welcomed one Rob Smith onto the stage. I had never heard of Rob prior to this. He’s a gay, black conservative, and – to be perfectly honest – not much else. Amusingly, prior to styling himself as a champion of conservative values, Rob was an LGBT activist. He protested “don’t ask, don’t tell” laws during the Obama administration, and, in 2007 penned an article for HuffPost titled “I Was Called a ‘Faggot’ My First Day in the Army.” (Weird flex, but ok.) 

Rob openly spoke of his time as a Leftist during the OSU event. What he left out, though, was that his LGBT activism extended well beyond the 2016 election – it even took on an anti-Trump tenor at times. In a 2017 NBC op-ed titled “A Message to Trans Troops From a ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Soldier,” Rob lamented Trump’s decision to bar transgender individuals from serving in the US military, echoing liberal talking points by claiming that such a decision is discriminatory and puts the lives of transgender troops in danger. 

After the main portion of the event concluded, dozens of people, myself included, rushed the aisle, attempting to procure a favorable spot in line; at this I failed, I will admit, winding up some fifteen people behind the mic. As I stood in line, a TPUSA employee walked up to me and asked if I was there to disagree with Charlie Kirk. Thinking he was attempting to prevent dissidents from getting ahold of the mic, I told him that I was not here to argue. This was the wrong move, though, as the person behind me – a tall, brawny fellow wearing a denim jacket adorned with a SPQR patch – stated that he was indeed interested in disagreeing with Charlie Kirk. He, along with a few other dissenters, were moved to the front of the line, while I was forced to stay where I was. 

Right off the bat, Charlie was hit with a question regarding Israel. “If the president were to enact a policy that would completely benefit the United States and our citizens, but to the detriment of Israel, would you support it, yes or no?” asked a well-dressed young man. Charlie responded that such a question posed a false choice.

Rob’s flaunting of his identity as a sexual minority would become a contentious subject during the Q&A session. Some of the first questions involved the promotion of homosexuality in conservatism. Dave Reilly, who works closely with Dr. E. Michael Jones, asked Charlie rather provocatively how anal sex will help conservatives win the culture war. Charlie and Rob seemed taken aback, and I don’t blame them. These Q&A sessions were craft with liberal dissenters in mind, not reactionary Catholics. Directly afterward came the guy in the denim jacket. He asked a similar question, wondering why the Right continues to cede cultural ground to the Left, and at what point do conservatives take a stand for traditional Christian morale. Charlie sputtered for a bit, which prompted Rob to accuse his critics of turning people away from God.

The next person in line began by apologizing to Rob for the content of the first two questions, explaining that he’s not a conservative, but that since Rob is, he’ll have to get used to it. 

“This is the first time we’ve gotten that kind of flow of, whatever the heck that was,” Charlie retorted, clearly concerned that his pro-LGBT brand of libertarianism was under attack. This questioner asked something generic and boring about America being a bad country that has done bad things in the past – not very original, if you ask me. Although, in light of America’s foreign policy record, it’s an accurate assessment, though it likely doesn’t justify whatever Leftist nonsense he subscribes to. 

A number of other people asked questions thereafter, some good, others mediocre. One of the better ones was asked by a young non-white guy, who wore a suit and sported a MAGA hat. He asked a question regarding demographic change, mass immigration, and voting patterns, which Charlie responded to with accusations of racism. To his credit, Charlie did endorse Sen. Tom Cotton’s RAISE Act, which would cut legal immigration in half and result in a more meritocratic immigration system overall. However, Charlie was asked a similar question at a previous Culture War tour, where he pushed back against legal immigration restriction. So either he had a change of heart, or his handlers gave him the okay to support the RAISE Act – I’d place money on the latter. 

I came to the unpleasant realization in the last ten minutes of the event that I wouldn’t be able to make it to the mic in time to ask a question. Given that I drove six hours to attend the event, I didn’t want the trip to be for naught. I proceeded to cut in line. The guy whom I cut complained, so I moved behind him. The second guy whom I cut said nothing, so I remained. Fortuitously, I reached the mic with three minutes to spare; and other than the TPUSA employee who was put in line behind me to ask a question about liberal bias against the police, I was the last person to ask Charlie a question. 

Prior to arriving at the event, I mulled over various topics on which to grill Charlie. Identity politics? Immigration? Foreign policy? Perhaps I could ask him about the USS Liberty for the thousandth time? The beauty of these events is that they offer an incredible opportunity to disseminate dissident ideas – and, as we all know, we have those aplenty. (This strategy is known as media-jacking, and it’s one the Left has found success with.) I opted to avoid asking a question related to ideology, focusing instead (in true Alinskyite fashion) on the areas in which Charlie Kirk and TPUSA fail according to their own standards. Contrary to their public support for open dialogue, debate, and free speech, TPUSA and Conservatism Inc. as a whole engage in relentless gatekeeping, blacklisting anyone who dares step outside the bounds of establishment-approved discourse. 

I won’t transcribe my interaction with Charlie word for word, but you can view it here. I will, though, offer a few comments on the interaction. Because I asked the last challenging question, Charlie was already quite exasperated by the time I stepped up to the plate. When I mentioned that CPAC banned me, Charlie somewhat maniacally blurted out, “But I didn’t ban you from this event!” Despite my repeated assurances that I was not, in fact, blaming him for banning me from anything, he interrupted me once more to tell me that he doesn’t run CPAC. 

Charlie’s response to my question was utterly weak. He denied my debate challenge by “respectfully” stating that he has no idea who I am. This is likely true, but it’s less an insult to me than it is to him. Were I Charlie, I would familiarize myself with my adversaries to my right, so as to not be so pitifully unprepared when they appear. He then prattled about his support for Israel, which, as I shouted after the mic had been pulled away, I didn’t ask about. He also whined about the “hate” Rob received, at which point I again shouted that I had said nothing about Rob. Rob then chimed in, asking if anyone listens to Cardi B. Apparently, a line in one of her songs says something about people doing anything for clout. I’ll be the first to admit that one of my goals for this event was to increase my name recognition. I could care less about social validation; I’m idealistic to a fault, and so long as I am a public advocate for that which I believe in, I will find continue to find ways to make sure the ideas I represent are impossible to ignore. 

After giving a shoutout to the groypers – the girl holding the mic really didn’t like this – I walked to the back of the room, where dozens of nationalists and patriots, most of whom I hadn’t yet met, shook my hand and congratulated me on a job well done. I, too, congratulated those who risked social ostracization by standing up for their beliefs in a public forum. It takes courage to do so, particularly for those who, unlike myself, must maintain some degree of anonymity for the sake of their careers and personal relationships. We went out to a local restaurant after the event concluded, where we celebrated with food and drink. Contact information was exchanged, plans were hatched, and new friendships were formed. (I want to stress that these events serve as excellent networking opportunities.) 

Conservatism Inc., incensed with our disruption of their event, went to war the following day. Benny Johnson, Will Chamberlain, Rob Smith, Sebasatian Gorka, Ian Miles Cheong, and many others too irrelevant to name participated in a concerted effort to smear those involved in the previous night’s shenanigans as Alt-Right white nationalist neo-Nazi trolls – all false charges, of course. There’s nothing inherently extreme or hateful about questioning the profound demographic transformation America’s currently undergoing, conservatism’s promotion of LGBT culture, America’s relationship with a foreign country, etc. Inconveniently for these grifting gatekeepers, a number of the people at OSU who either asked controversial questions or cheered loudly for such questions in the crowd were not white. Indeed, one needn’t be white to recognize the obvious realities of American decline, nor does believing that America should conserve its historic demographics entail ethnic cleansing, violence, supremacism, or other such ugliness. 

Despite establishmentarian attempts to stymie the Dissident Right’s recent momentum, every gatekeeping oaf who has dared proffer the aforementioned bad faith critiques has been brutally ratioed on Twitter. It’s evident where the energy and enthusiasm is – it’s with us, not with them. We are the harbingers of truth, and our intentions are noble. Those who serve Conservatism Inc., on the other hand, are more often than not motivated by petty, self-serving desires, choosing the past of least resistance and lining their pockets in the process. 

In the end, however, this only plays to our advantage, for the average person who understands that child transgenderism, open borders, rising income inequality, and rampant anti-white animus are antithetical to a flourishing, harmonious society is not vying for a job with National Review or The Daily Caller. They merely want a safe, healthy society in which they can raise their kids and be left the hell alone – something we in the Dissident Right long for as well, though the particulars may very. And I’m more confident than ever that we will be able to achieve our aims, given which way the wind’s blowing. But though the wind of history blows hard, Conservatism Inc. is still standing – for now. As the Nietzchean aphorism goes, what is falling must pushed; and it is among the ruins of the old, false right that the real Right will emerge. 

Such unapologetic optimism might seem unfounded or perhaps a bit naive to some. Many lost faith after the energy from the 2016 election petered out, believing that what we all experienced was somewhat of a last hurrah for historic America. It’s quite easy to rationalize oneself into despair, especially when one’s immediate surroundings are grim. Will we win? Will we fail? Is there any point in trying? These are questions that only gain salience in the absence of the energy – that mysterious, invigorating force that propelled us into the national spotlight, and will continue to catapult us to unimaginable heights. Frankly, it’s hard to describe this energy without resorting to hazy, metaphysical language; but its reality remains undisputed to those who participated in the Dyonisian furor that culminated in Donald Trump winning the 2016 election.

At this point, I am convinced that 2016 was not the end but the beginning, and that wondrous events await us. The energy has returned; and so long as we have the energy, the possibilities are endless.

Note from the editor: After this article was written and sent to Autistic Mercury for publishing, Patrick Casey was banned from Twitter following an article from Media Matters that the man had *gasp* started a podcast.

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