LTTE: Allowing Charlie Kirk at CSU is dangerous, unnecessary

Guest Author

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board. Letters to the Editor reflect the view of a member of the campus community and are submitted to the publication for approval.

To the Editor,

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As an alumni, former journalist and University affiliate, I am extremely disappointed in the Colorado State University’s administration’s decision to allow Charlie Kirk’s “Culture War” event on campus.

Contrary to guest speaker Donald Trump Jr.’s claims that it was meant to have students “listen to others’ ideas,” the event was remarkably light on ideas; it was, however, heavy on pure political propaganda that featured the same dangerous rhetoric proffered at his father’s rallies.

Local media coverage noted that last Tuesday’s event “felt like a pep rally. All three speakers gleefully hammered Democrats, the news media, leftists and socialists.” This kind of rhetoric has already incited actual and fictive violence against those exact groups.

Donald Trump Jr., Kimberly Guilfoyle and Charlie Kirk speak to one another during Kirk’s “Culture War” tour at Colorado State University Oct. 22. (Colin Shepherd | The Collegian)

For the last three years, at rallies similar to Kirk’s, the president has repeatedly called the news media the “true enemy of the people” — a dangerous lie that many of his fans and acolytes have nonetheless taken to heart.

In May 2017, a Trump-endorsed Montana politician allegedly physically assaulted a journalist, and the president defended him.

Almost exactly a year ago, a fervent Trump supporter attempted to mail pipe bombs to leading Democrats and prominent members of the news media. Just two weeks ago, a Trump supporter spread a violent meme across the internet showing the president mass-murdering Democrats and media members.

Like Trump’s rallies, Kirk’s Twitter feed is filled with baseless claims about “illegals” — and in August, a shooter in El Paso, Texas, committed one of the deadliest hate crimes in U.S. history when he killed 22 people at a Walmart, leaving behind an anti-Hispanic and anti-immigrant manifesto repeating many of the same lies that Trump and Kirk tell on a daily basis.

Kirk, Trump Jr. and their conservative supporters constantly complain that they are being “silenced,” despite the fact that Kirk has an online following of thousands, while Trump Jr. is a privileged scion of wealth who just published a book in which he ironically whines about being “silenced.”

Moving forward, I challenge CSU administrators to distinguish between events that actually promote healthy discourse and events that are only meant to divide and inflame.”

In reality, neither Kirk and Trump Jr., nor their followers on campus, are being “silenced.” They are free to write and disseminate whatever baseless and dangerous propaganda they want — without the encouragement and platform of a major research institution that claims to promote truth and inclusivity. If anything, allowing the “Culture War” event on campus serves to elevate and legitimize anti-First Amendment views, such as the news media being a “public enemy.”

Beyond its dangerous and baseless rhetoric, a Kirk rally also unnecessarily brings the specter of violence to campus. We recall when fascists stormed Kirk’s rally last year; while things were not as intense this time, local media still reported “rising tensions” among the crowds outside the rally, and police had to break up a fight.

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The volatile mix of police, protesters, excited rally-goers and Kirk’s MAGA-mirroring rhetoric unnecessarily turns part of campus into a veritable Molotov cocktail. Security email warnings were blasted out to faculty and students — and for what? So Charlie Kirk and Trump Jr. can complain to students about their hero — the verifiably corrupt and criminal president — being treated “unfairly.”

If anyone is being treated unfairly, it is the host of people affected by the University’s decision to host this meaningless rally: the faculty, employees, students and neighborhood residents who have to navigate the various security concerns that come with admitting an inflammatory, disingenuous speaker like Kirk.

Moving forward, I challenge CSU administrators to distinguish between events that actually promote healthy discourse and events that are only meant to divide and inflame. Moreover, I challenge them to have the moral courage to disallow the latter, even in the face of scathing yet baseless criticism.

The fact that a proposed event is within the constitutional rights of its participants does not immediately warrant a platform at our University. For the sake of maintaining a civil discourse and a safe community, the CSU administration can and should do better.

Nick Johnson

The Collegian’s opinion desk can be reached at letters@collegian.com. To submit a letter to the editor, please follow the guidelines at collegian.com