Jay Encarnacion-Rivera / Nubian Message
Protesters march together with a banner displaying “No Hate at NC State.”
Oluwajoba Ogun, Staff Writer; Naz Santiago, Correspondent
On Nov. 13, Turning Point USA (TPUSA) hosted a lecture as a part of their “Culture Wars” series. The speakers, conservative Charlie Kirk and daughter-in-law of Donald Trump and alumna, Lara Trump, discussed issues that pertain to the economy and government.
The purpose of the conservative organization, TPUSA, is to educate students on the concept of freedom, free markets and restricted government through the conversations of the Culture Wars series.
The night started with introduction videos of Kirk and Trump, as the audience roared, welcoming them to the stage.
Kirk came out first, then introduced Trump as they jumped right ahead to the topic of events.
Trump talked about the impact that her father-in-law has had on the country as president and she shared her frustrations with the media.
“There are so many misconceptions about this president,” Trump said. “It just drives me crazy when people try to misconstrue the reason that he ran for president. I really think he knew he was one of the last hopes we had in this country. If not for Donald Trump, I mean think where we could be, he really saved this country.”
Trump also shared her college experiences to the students and stressed the importance of speaking out on what they believe in.
“You guys are the next generation,” Trump said. “You are who will control this country one day. By standing up and making your voices heard and really speaking your minds and your hearts… You are probably changing people’s minds and encouraging people every single day.”
After Trump left, the event continued with a question and answer session with Kirk.
Questions ranged from stances on homosexuality to worries of Kirk becoming more liberal and forgetting about his conservative background.
His stance on LGBT rights caught some supporters by surprise because of his traditionally conservative views.
“My personal position: I’m a Christian first and foremost, then an American, then a constitutionalist, then a conservative in that order,” Kirk said. “I believe marriage — biblical and theological — one man and woman. I also do not believe in sore rhetoric that some people engage in… they saw that there’s no place for gay people in the conservative movement. I do not believe that.–”
Someone interrupted him and said, “I thought you were a Christian?”
“Part of being Christian is appropriately interpreting what the theology says for the individual but also means to be long-suffering and patient and loving, and kind,“ he responded.
Many people agreed and it showed their approval by their roaring applause and shouts.
The Q&A’s continued for about twenty minutes as many students asked questions on different political and cultural topics that they felt needed to be addressed.
Kirk answered them as many people through various shouts in agreement.
Hopes Stallings, an audience member and second-year NC State student studying fashion and textile management voiced her opinions on the event.
“I think personally it was a really well-hosted event,” Stallings said. “I think it was both an opportunity for conservative, liberal and independent students to attend. People can come and get educated, people can come and ask questions, people can come and support them. So I think overall NC State did a nice job of inviting them to come and speak.”
Bryson Gray, creator of the MAGA challenge, a social media challenge in which pro-Trump supporters record themselves rapping about the love they have for the president was also in attendance. The viral video creator performed one of his original songs in support of the Trump family and Charlie Kirk.
Though there were many supporters of the event, there was also a massive protest that occurred in opposition to the event.
Students at NC State held a protest in Wolf Plaza to express their displeasure. The protest was a demonstration of intolerance for hate speech on campus.
Sidney Uriarte, a fourth-year, studying civil engineering expressed her reasoning for participating in the protest.
“Through this protest, I think students and myself are here to let the NC State community and everyone else know that we are here and present,” Uriarte said. “That our existence should not be diminished and that being a marginalized community by the oppressor, we have to take a stand against years and years of oppression.”
Many protesters were skeptical about the intentions of the event hosted by TPUSA.
Diana Vallejo, a fourth-year studying science technology and society spoke out on the Culture War series.
“I think that it’s all just an excuse to create a platform to let very quiet white supremacists come to reveal themselves,” Vallejo said. “There is no direct structure for their event, it’s a very ambiguous topic, and as the recent events of this week have proven it is not about left versus right — it’s about race, homophobia, islamophobia.”
Vallejo attempted to convey a message through protest.
“I am trying to convey the message that it is unacceptable to bring hate speech or any type of speech that threatens the safety of any type of student here at NC State,” Vallejo said.
As the protest went on, students took turns speaking to the crowd. They expressed their feelings regarding Lara Trump’s presence on campus and Kirk’s beliefs.
“I want you to understand that this has never been about politics,” Vallejo said. “This hasn’t been about left versus right. This is clearly about racism that is still alive on our campus, this is clearly about homophobia that is still on our campus.”
As the Culture War event began, students marched into the Talley Student Union. The space was then occupied by protestors for the remainder of the event. According to NC State Faculty, hundreds of students occupied the student union’s lobby. Students carried posters promoting a no hate slogan, this was also included in the main banner for this protest which stated: “No Hate At NC State”.
Chants were recited by protestors that caused a response from TPUSA’s event attendees. Protestors chanted No Hate at NC State among many other chants while TPUSA supporters chanted USA. As tensions rose, students attempted to make their mission clear.
Thomas Jackson, a first-year majoring in horticulture science stated his mission was inspired by the late Heather Heyer. She was a victim of violence during a counter-protest to hate-speech on the campus of the University of Virginia.
“I am from Virginia and as the quote of Heather Heyer says ‘if you are not outraged you’re not paying attention’ is always on my mind at every demonstration and I feel like I am bringing that heavily tonight,” Jackson said. “I am very outraged and I am paying attention, and I think it is very important to always make your presence known in every possible space even when it’s trying to be suppressed.”
Various student groups supported the cause by attending the protest. The groups included the GLBT Community Alliance, Queer and Trans People of Color, Young Democratic Socialist of America at NC State, Youth Fight US Empire, Mi Familia, Feminist, Collective at NC State, Smash Racism Raleigh, People’s Defense Raleigh, NAACP at NC State and many more.
Together, the counter-protest and TPUSA event highlighted the growing gap between conservative identifying students and liberal identifying students.