Excellent (Mind-Boggling) Read: Turning Points USA Takes Its Grift Across the Pond

You could make this stuff up, but no self-respecting editor would accept it. Big props to Buzzfeed for alerting the rest of us to Charlie “Diaper Boy” Kirk’s latest brand expansion — “Days After Its Disastrous British Launch, Turning Point Has Already Lost One Of Its Star Recruits”:

They were here to start a culture war, and Charlie Kirk was looking forward to the backlash.

“There will be retaliation, there will be protest,” the 25-year-old founder of Turning Point USA, a right-wing student organisation with close links to Donald Trump, said in London recently as he described plans for an assault on British university campuses. “You will see that it takes individuals to go straight into the fire to start a movement.”

But already some of the Tory activists Kirk recruited to launch Turning Point in the UK are having second thoughts about its war on “cultural marxism”, according to several people familiar with their internal discussions. Within days of the launch, one of the “influencers” tapped to front the campaign has distanced himself from the group, BuzzFeed News has learned.

“There was a sense of people realising, ‘Who are these cranks?’,” one source said.

Kirk, with his business partner, Candace Owens, is a rising star on the American conservative scene — a smooth-talking, telegenic salesman pitching Trump’s “Make America Great Again” agenda to a young audience. Now he has radical ambitions to import its confrontational brand of activism to the UK.

This week, Turning Point announced the opening of its British offshoot with a flashy digital media campaign fronted by several youthful Westminster figures, including the Guido Fawkes writer Tom Harwood and Darren Grimes, the Brexit campaigner fined £20,000 by the Electoral Commission for breaking spending rules during the EU referendum campaign.

With a provocative pitch about liberating universities from the left, the launch attracted widespread publicity. Several prominent politicians on the British right endorsed the group, including Nigel Farage, Priti Patel, and Jacob Rees-Mogg. But there was also pushback: Labour MP David Lammy tweeted that Tories who were endorsing Turning Point were openly promoting “hard right, xenophobic bile”. Conservative party headquarters sent an instruction to its members “not to work with them in any capacity”…

Within days of the launch, internal tensions emerged among those Kirk assembled to lead his campaign, according to several people familiar with the group’s internal discussions. Harwood, who featured prominently in the launch video, told the organisers he no longer wanted to be one of Turning Point’s public faces, BuzzFeed News has learned. On Thursday, images of Harwood and the other influencers were removed from the UK website…

Plenty of shady Brits ready to join such a prosperous con, of course…

… Turning Point USA claims to be the biggest student organisation in America, with a presence on 1,400 college and high school campuses, around 120 staff, and an annual budget of $15 million. In Kirk’s telling, he started the group in his parents garage as a teenager in Chicago and grew it to be a powerful political force through sheer grit and hard work. As it rapidly expanded, Kirk himself was portrayed as a conservative “boy wonder”; he is a favourite of Fox News and is close to the Trump family…

Turning Point began discussing a move into the UK last year, seeing the turmoil around Brexit as an ideal moment to launch a fightback against Labour’s dominance among young voters. (Brexit is “fundamental to the defence of Western society”, Kirk told the audience at the RAC.) It has secured substantial financial backing from donors in the UK to roll out its campaign to British universities, several people told BuzzFeed News, although the identities of the donors is unclear.

The UK chief executive is Oliver Anisfield, 24, whose family owns a salmon smokehouse in London, and it is chaired by George Farmer. Farmer is the 29-year-old son of a multimillionaire hedge fund trader and Tory peer. He is engaged to Owens. An ardent supporter of Trump and Brexit, Farmer tweeted this week after Turning Point’s launch: “Plenty of snowflakes melting in London tonight.”…

Farmer’s father, Lord Michael Farmer, is one of the Tories’ most influential supporters. A devout Christian who made a fortune as a commodities trader, he is estimated to be worth £141 million, according to the Sunday Times Rich List. Lord Farmer has given more than £8 million to the Tories since 2001, according to Electoral Commission records, and was also a major donor to the Vote Leave campaign. He was made a life peer by David Cameron in 2014.

Another person who is involved with the group is John Mappin, a 54-year-old hotelier who has been one of Donald Trump’s biggest boosters in the UK. Mappin, who owns the Camelot Castle hotel in Tintagel, Cornwall, wrote to Trump during the 2016 presidential election campaign awarding Trump an “honorary knighthood”. He claims to have won £110,000 betting that Trump would be elected and to have been the third Briton to have a personal meeting with the new president behind Farage and Theresa May.

Mappin is a Scientologist who produces digital videos at his castle under the banner of the “Camelot TV Network”. On social media, he posts about his admiration for Trump, the benefits of the “superpower technology” developed by Scientology’s founder L. Ron Hubbard, and the dangers of socialism, the “fake” news media, vaccines, and psychiatry…

Speaking to BuzzFeed News about his involvement with Turning Point on Friday, Mappin wouldn’t reveal who was funding the UK arm. “Well, the whole idea is to stay anonymous,” he said. “That’s how they do it in the United States. It actually doesn’t matter who funds it because it’s about the ideas.”…

Lebensraum, for instance. Hail Xenu!

… Asked by a member of the audience about nationalism in Western politics, Owens brought up Adolf Hitler. “I actually don’t have any problems at all with the word ‘nationalism’,” Owens said. “I think that the definition gets poisoned by elitists that actually want globalism. Globalism is what I don’t want… Whenever we say nationalism, the first thing people think about, at least in America, is Hitler.”

“He was a national socialist,” she continued. “But if Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, OK, fine. The problem is that he wanted, he had dreams outside of Germany. He wanted to globalise. He wanted everybody to be German, everybody to be speaking German. Everybody to look a different way. To me, that’s not nationalism. In thinking about how we could go bad down the line, I don’t really have an issue with nationalism. I really don’t.”…

Seriously, read the whole thing. I can hardly wait to see how the eventual falling-out among… call them ‘true believers’… shakes out!

42 replies
  1. 1
    Yutsano says:

    The problem is that he wanted, he had dreams outside of Germany. He wanted to globalise. He wanted everybody to be German, everybody to be speaking German. Everybody to look a different way.

    ** headdesks repeatedly**

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  2. 2
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    Black Person, this is “what the fuck” moment for me. Really? Was she homeschooled or what? One of those “saved from her heritage kids”? No black person who is even remotely hones thinks Hitler was okay, world war or not. Dictators of one nation are common, even if only because many nations lack the military might to do more than bother a neighbor or two. If she believes it, she’s nuts . If she doesn’t and its a grift, she should get into more honest work like escort service. Escorts are more honest and saner than this.

    If HItler had come over here, blacks and Jews, along with NA , would have been on the same trains. The only reason we don’t hear more of his thoughts on us is because there probably weren’t enough for him to deal with.

    This reminds me that we now have an increasing number of black kids (largely millenial) who don’t remember the Civil Rights movement and the other struggles for black civil rights. Because of that they imagine that these right-wingers who extol Hitler would include her in their camp if she says the right words.

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  3. 3
    Mary G says:

    I have to believe TP USA, and a stupid acronym that is, must be Astroturfed by some big RW money, because Charlie went from a guy who with a few friends was thoroughly mocked for wearing a diaper and sucking on a bottle to prove something or other on a college campus to holding very Trump-like rallies in front of 4,000 screaming fans in a very short period of time. I suspect it’s private school white kids who’re bused in, and just glad to be letting off steam and not sitting in a classroom rather than undying love for conservatism. But that’s just my theory.

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  4. 4
    randy khan says:

    “There was a sense of people realising, ‘Who are these cranks?’,” one source said.

    A fine question.

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  5. 5
    Jeffro says:

    This is intriguing but it looks like our Friday afternoon news dump is more Fairfax bad news

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  6. 6
    NotMax says:

    Gadzooks.

    You’ll never find a virtue
    Un statusing my quo
    Or making my beelzebubble burst

    Let others take the high road
    I will take the low

      – “The Seven Deadly Virtues” from Camelot

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  7. 7

    Seems like a good time to share one of my favorites, A Bit of Fry and Laurie‘s “Young Tory of the Year” skit.

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  8. 8
    ruemara says:

    She’s currently attacking Chelsea Clinton as a racist and the Clinton Foundation as being on par with the Holo caust on Twitter. How the fuck do these people get approved with blue checkmarks?

    Then again, Jack is goddamned idiot.

    @Jeffro: Yeah, saw that. And he’s done.

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  9. 9
    Lyrebird says:

    @ruemara: Just saw the same bad news.

    Dunno if you’ll read this as the thread grows, but I just wanted to wish you something wonderful in your weekend. I so appreciate the truth and compassion in your comments in some of those Threads of Pain the other day. Can’t pretend to know how to walk in your shoes, but can be glad to walk alongside.

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  10. 10
    chris says:

    @Mary G: TPUSA is funded by Foster Friess.

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  11. 11
    Lapassionara says:

    @Jeffro: Yea. Oh my.

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  12. 12
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Mary G:

    And as we have been finding out piece by piece, a whole lot of that RW money comes from Russia, with love.

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  13. 13
    Mnemosyne says:

    In less depressing news, schroedingers_cat and our other Indian-American commenters will be particularly happy to watch Rep. Pramila Jayapal rip (D-WA) Matt Whittaker a new one over family separations at the border:

    https://t.co/1JkoqXd7YP

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    It’s a sign of something extremely twisted that I know Foster Friess as someone who is very rich and says stupid things about birth control. He hasn’t earned the right to be a public figure who says things people listen to. He’s rich. That’s enough.

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  16. 16
    Ramalama says:

    Americans and North Americans (that’s how anglophone Canadians used to correct me on before … George W?) have enjoyed great luxuries that Europe did not…. by the skin of our teeth, it seems.

    Library and Archives Canada buys a Hitler book that maps the ‘Final Solution in Canada.

    Fecking wiping out Montreal and environs like my little mountain town.

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  18. 18
    Another Scott says:

    @Jeffro: Indeed.

    I hope one of the lessons we learn about this is to thoroughly vet people who are running for state-wide office, and then work our way down to every elected office.

    Lt. Gov. is Fairfax’s first elected office.

    Grrr.

    :-(

    Cheers,
    Scott.
    (“We need to remember that he defeated Jill Vogel, a prototypical RWNJ, and that’s a good thing, but he still needs to go if these allegations have substance.”)

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  19. 19
    Ramalama says:

    The post also reminds me of the light-skinned black dude who was on the ground floor founding of Proud Boys, before realizing, yeah-no I got to getthefeckouttahere.

    Great story as told by This American Life.

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  20. 20
    ruemara says:

    @Ramalama: POC aligning with racism is a mystery to me. I don’t understand anti-blackness in non-black POC & I don’t get blacks who are anti-Latino, Asian or even anti-African. I don’t get POC who are homo & transphobes. Like, ok, glad you came to your sense but look what you built.

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  21. 21
    Comrade Colette Collaboratrice says:

    @Mnemosyne: I hope it’s not cultural appropriation if I feel particularly happy, too, because I do when I watch her.

    Also, Whittaker is a smarmy, lying, fucking slimeball.

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  22. 22
    rikyrah says:

    @CarolDuhart2:

    She is a slave catching coon.
    Period.
    Out for the buck.

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    J R in WV says:

    I must say, this Candace Owens person sounds like a real ignorant fascist hater piece of work, who needs an appointment for a tumbrel ride ASAP. Hitler didn’t want to make Germany better, he wanted to kill everyone he didn’t think was a pure Aryan (a fictional term, by the way) German off to make Germany pure.

    That guy in Italy didn’t set out to make the trains run on time, and in fact did not — what he did do is induce the train people to lie about their on time numbers to keep their jobs. And, also too, wanted to make Italy safe for the Romans who in his dreams were to rule Italy again for centuries. That dream ended with piano wire and a lamp-post.

    Candace Owens is obviously an uneducated ignorant troll with dreams of supremacy. Fortunately, her business partner believes that she is inherently inferior to him and definitely not fit to have authority over any (R) men.

    Being African-American, she will be on the first train to the camps for removal, once the Muslims have been eliminated. But too dumb to be aware of that fact.

    I was somewhat surprised to see that she is African-American, as the right-wing is so known for their unreasoning hatred of that community. But Nikki Haley is also a Republican, even though she too is eligible for an early train to the fascist camps. No telling why these RWNJs are the way they are, is there? Joining a club for people that hate people like them? Nuts!!

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  26. 26
    chopper says:

    If Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, OK, fine.

    shoulda put “again” after “great”. otherwise, 9/10. (kisses fingers like a chef)

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  27. 27
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    Q believers of the world unite, all you have is your shackles to rationalism to lose.

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  28. 28
    banditqueen says:

    The Reverend William J Barber has an oped in WaPo:

    …Scapegoating politicians who are caught in the act of interpersonal racism will not address the fundamental issue of systemic racism. We have to talk about policy. But we also have to talk about trust and power. If white people in political leadership are truly repentant, they will listen to black and other marginalized people in our society. They will confess that they have sinned and demonstrate their willingness to listen and learn by following and supporting the leadership of others. To confess past mistakes while continuing to insist that you are still best suited to lead because of your experience is itself a subtle form of white supremacy.
    At the same time, we cannot allow political enemies of Virginia’s governor to call for his resignation over a photo when they continue themselves to vote for the policies of white supremacy. If anyone wants to call for the governor’s resignation, they should also call for the resignation of anyone who has supported racist voter suppression or policies that have a disparate impact on communities of color…
    …In our present moral crisis, we must remember that real repentance is possible — and it looks like working together to build the multiethnic democracy we’ve never yet been.

    Republicans don’t repent—they’ll work to see that their racist agenda is entrenched—gerrymandering, excessive police authority, blocking health care reform, wars of plunder, destroying gun laws, stripping workers’ rights, environmental destruction, voter suppression.
    I hope that Northam will work with the Rev Barber & and POC in VA to start the healing process, and set an example for the US to finally talk about the original sin of slavery.

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  29. 29
    Ian G. says:

    Holy crap, where to begin with Owens?

    Let’s leave aside the brutality and repression that was going on inside the German borders 1933-1939 that Owens seems fine with (yes, let’s leave THAT aside), the “nationalism” is the DIRECT CAUSE OF GERMANY’S AGGRESSION OUTSIDE OF ITS BORDERS. Hitler saw the German “nation” in Austria and Sudetenland and Danzig and elsewhere and saw it as the supreme race’s right to take land for expansion of the nation from sub-human Slavic people. No nationalism = no World War II.

    It’s hard to believe that people are this moronic, so I have to assume it’s all a grift.

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  30. 30
    MattF says:

    I think that counts as an oopsie. And no, the issue with Hitler was not that he was a ‘globalist’.

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  31. 31
    ThresherK says:

    @NotMax: Hee hee. I would also accept ‘Fie on Goodness’ for that crowd.

    I really dont care that they’ve coopted and ruined the word ‘nationalism’. But touch my Lerner and Loewe? That’s a step too far.

    Plus, ‘Camelot’ makes people think of JFK and that’s never gonna work for the right.

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  32. 32
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Mary G: Figure between evangelicals and frat bois there should be enough to get 4,000 people who are mostly isolated from their own age group.

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  33. 33
    Dan B says:

    @Mnemosyne: My rep! She’s crazy schmart and a charismatic speaker. Go Pramila!

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    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @NotMax:

    One of my favourite numbers from Camelot (I confess to loving them all, though). Never understood why it didn’t become better-known as a stand-alone song. I would say the same about the haunting “Follow Me.” But “The Seven Deadly Virtues” is full of clever rhymes and mild double entendres. It’s a lot of fun.

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    J R in WV says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques:

    Figure between evangelicals and frat bois there should be enough to get 4,000 people who are mostly isolated from their own age group.

    Hoping that all those 4,000 or so folks are 100% Incels, so that they will Darwin themselves out of the gene pool by being too monstrous for any self-respecting female to mate with. That’s just me, tho. Being critical of fascists again.

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  36. 36
    Dan B says:

    @Comrade Colette Collaboratrice: Pramila’s launch party was about 200 people. One quarter or a third white, maybe. I didn’t pay much attention but that’s what I recall from my photos. I don’t believe she’d be the least concerned about cultural appropriation as long as you align with her vision and principles. She started a group to assist immigrants post 9/11. It’s run by a white guy now. Good guy but not as charismatic.

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  37. 37
    jimmiraybob says:

    I’m guessing that she’s saying that Francisco Franco, who overthrew a democracy and had nearly a million Spaniards murdered in order to install himself as iron-fisted, right-wing dictator and the catholic Church as co-ruler, and then initiated another 40-years of political terror was her kind of fascist dictator since he kept it inside the borders. I assume that Make Spain Great Again was his slogan. Or close to it.

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  38. 38
    Yutsano says:

    @Dan B: And hopefully, whenever Patty or Maria want to give it up, the next Senator from the great state of Washington.

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    jl says:

    @banditqueen: Thanks. Barber gave a great explanation, expressed the issues very well.

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  41. 41
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    “OK, fine”?!?

    Godamighty.

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    Barney says:

    There has been much piss-taking of Turning Point UK: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-47159137

    My favourite, because this reference is always good:

    https://twitter.com/TPUKCraggyIslan/status/1092447865664876544

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