There’s a rise in young, Black con­ser­va­tives

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Opinion -

This past week­end, I spoke for the sec­ond time at the sec­ond an­nual Black Lead­er­ship Sum­mit in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., hosted by Turn­ing Point USA. Turn­ing Point was founded in 2012 by then-18-year-old Char­lie Kirk. Its web­site de­scribes its goal as seek­ing “to iden­tify, ed­u­cate, train, and or­ga­nize stu­dents to pro­mote the prin­ci­ples of free­dom, free mar­kets, and lim­ited gov­ern­ment.”

In ad­di­tion to the Black Lead­er­ship Sum­mit, Turn­ing Point holds other an­nual gath­er­ings, in­clud­ing the Young Women’s Lead­er­ship Sum­mit, the Young Latino Lead­er­ship Sum­mit and the Stu­dent Ac­tion Sum­mit. Turn­ing Point, ac­cord­ing to Kirk, has es­tab­lished chap­ters at over 1,000 col­lege cam­puses across the coun­try. In a short time, the or­ga­ni­za­tion has be­come quite a force.

In an in­ter­view with Busi­ness In­sider, Kirk asked: “Have you ever seen a con­ser­va­tive shout down a lib­eral speaker on cam­pus? Isn’t that kind of strange, though, that the left does that ev­ery day and con­ser­va­tives don’t?” He ar­gues: “We live in a bro­ken cul­ture. Where the con­ser­va­tive move­ment is mak­ing gains re­ally quick and where the left is re­ally strug­gling right now is that we are of­fer­ing reme­dies for a bro­ken cul­ture.”

Not too sur­pris­ingly, Turn­ing Point is not with­out con­tro­versy. A col­umn in the con­ser­va­tive

Wash­ing­ton Ex­am­iner writ­ten by a col­lege se­nior in­sists: “TPUSA is ini­tially at­trac­tive to many young peo­ple due to the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s savvy mar­ket­ing us­ing memes, posters, and catchy slo­gans such as ‘so­cial­ism sucks.’ And at first glance, this may seem like a good thing for the con­ser­va­tive move­ment.

“But ev­ery­one should be con­cerned by the main­stream­ing of TPUSA and Kirk. … In re­al­ity, it’s an or­ga­ni­za­tion that pulls kids too young to know any better into a group that’s deeply trou­bled and dis­hon­est at its core.” A piece in the Wall Street

Jour­nal writ­ten by a se­nior at Dart­mouth crit­i­cizes groups like Turn­ing Point for re­ceiv­ing fund­ing by wealthy donors. The stu­dent wrote: “These groups are well-or­ga­nized, well-funded po­lit­i­cal op­er­a­tions, not grass-roots gath­er­ings or stu­dent-led move­ments. There’s noth­ing nec­es­sar­ily wrong or un­eth­i­cal about them, but they of­ten con­vey a de­lib­er­ately false im­age of them­selves as bot­tom-up move­ments when in fact they are top-down, highly pur­po­sive na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions. Stu­dents ap­proached by their re­cruiters — or handed “ed­u­ca­tional” ma­te­rial by their ac­tivists — should ask about their spon­sors and ob­jec­tives.”

What I know is this: Some 400 young blacks re­cently gath­ered in D.C., where they heard crit­i­cism of Democrats, lib­er­als and the left. Speak­ers such as for­mer Turn­ing Point Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Direc­tor Can­dace Owens, now a pod­cast host for Prager Univer­sity, ques­tioned blacks’ over­whelm­ing al­le­giance to the Demo­cratic Party, ar­gu­ing that the party pushes the nar­ra­tive of sys­temic, struc­tural and in­sti­tu­tional racism for power and votes. After I spoke, young per­son after young per­son came up to me and said things like, “You in­tro­duced me to eco­nom­ics pro­fes­sors Thomas Sow­ell and Wal­ter Williams,” and, “be­cause of you and your books and videos, I be­gan to ques­tion the hor­ri­ble things I was taught about the ‘racist’ Repub­li­can Party.”

These young peo­ple did not think of them­selves as vic­tims. They rec­og­nized their good for­tune as Amer­i­cans liv­ing in a coun­try of op­por­tu­nity where their own fu­ture will be bright if they work hard. In my speech, I quoted black lib­eral Har­vard so­ci­ol­ogy pro­fes­sor Or­lando Pat­ter­son, who 28 years ago wrote: “The so­ci­o­log­i­cal truths are that Amer­ica, while still flawed in its race re­la­tions … is now the least racist white-ma­jor­ity so­ci­ety in the world; has a better record of le­gal pro­tec­tion of mi­nori­ties than any other so­ci­ety, white or black; of­fers more op­por­tu­ni­ties to a greater num­ber of black per­sons than any other so­ci­ety, in­clud­ing all those of Africa.”

At last week­end’s sum­mit, the nar­ra­tive of “struc­tural racism” by the po­lice was chal­lenged with facts, stud­ies and data. The Democrats’ op­po­si­tion to pri­vate vouch­ers was ques­tioned, given stud­ies show­ing that school choice im­proves read­ing and math scores, grad­u­a­tion rates and parental sat­is­fac­tion. Demo­cratic poli­cies of repa­ra­tions, race-based pref­er­ences, gov­ern­ment-man­dated min­i­mum wage and taxes on job cre­ators were chal­lenged.

I have known Sow­ell and Williams for nearly 30 years. Their pres­ence loomed large this week­end in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. For years, they were lonely voices ques­tion­ing blacks’ de­vo­tion to the Demo­cratic Party. They have long ar­gued that the wel­fare state has desta­bi­lized fam­i­lies, en­cour­ag­ing women “to marry the gov­ern­ment” and men to aban­don their fi­nan­cial and moral re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. They have long ar­gued against the job-de­stroy­ing im­pact of the min­i­mum wage. They have long ar­gued that one’s fate is de­ter­mined not by racism but by one’s will­ing­ness to in­vest in one­self through ed­u­ca­tion, hard work and sac­ri­fice.

Turn­ing Point’s Black Lead­er­ship Sum­mit shows that Sow­ell’s and Williams’ books, col­umns, tele­vi­sion ap­pear­ances and speeches have spawned a gen­er­a­tion of hope­ful young black men and women who be­lieve in them­selves.

These bright, en­er­getic young peo­ple get it. As then-first lady Bar­bara Bush said, “Your suc­cess as a fam­ily, our suc­cess as a so­ci­ety, de­pends not on what hap­pens in the White House, but on what hap­pens in­side your house.”

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