Conservative speakers address the Confederate monument, racism on campus

Posted on Apr 8 2019 - 5:50am by Mason Scioneaux

Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens, the national leaders of the conservative student organization Turning Point USA, spoke against the relocation of the Confederate monument from the Circle to the Confederate cemetery when they visited Oxford for an event called Campus Clash.

“It deeply troubles me to hear about the statue situation,” Owens said. “It deeply bothers me that the idea of a Confederate soldier now is someone who owned slaves when it wasn’t the case.  It was a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight. It’s become a perversion of history.”

Candace Owens and Charlie Kirk, address the audience at Turning Point USA’s “Campus Clash” at the Oxford Community Center on April 4, 2019. Photo by Mason Scioneaux.

While several students in the audience argued for moving the statue, Owens and Kirk said that doing so would hide history and “the soldiers’ sacrifice,” and they argued that the Civil War was complex and not only about slavery.

Sophomore general business major Grant Hemsley said he thinks Turning Point uses rhetoric and generalizations that do not do justice to both sides.

“Preaching the message of hate on either side of the aisle is damaging in my opinion,” Hemsley said.

Lucas Edmondson, the Ole Miss campus coordinator for the organization, said that the event was important to give all students on campus a chance to be heard.

“I think it is important to hear all voices on campus, including left-wing voices. Without a balance of differing viewpoints, it would be more difficult to find middle ground on political issues that need to be discussed,” he said.

Mississippi native Graham Allen, a veteran who works with veteran outreach for Turning Point, joined Kirk and Owens to discuss the skewed perceptions that people across the country hold regarding people in the South.

“My whole life, I was taught people in the South are stupid and racist,” he said.

Kirk, who was raised in a suburb of Chicago, argued that “the affluent North” is more racist than “the Deep South.”

“I have heard more racist comments there than in the South,” he said.

Owens said that, in her experience, being a conservative African-American attracts a lot of criticism from the media.

“Because of the color of your skin, they think they know how you’re supposed to think,” she said. “People have made their full-time profession to misrepresent what we do.”

Kirk, who started the organization in 2012, said his Campus Clash events usually have a turnout of around 1,000 people, and his goal is to expose every person present to new ideas.

“We feel we’re on the verge of losing this country and every gift that’s been given to us,” he said.  “This is a culture war between freedom of speech versus communist and socialist ideals.”

Kirk and Owens also highlighted the uniqueness of freedom of speech in America and the ability to host such an event.

“This event could not take place in any other country in the world, where a group of people come together to critique the government and people in power,” Kirk said.

Kyle Kashuv, a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, is one of the few survivors who has participated in right-wing activism. He also joined Kirk and Owens at the event to discuss gun safety laws.

“We’re fighting every day to hold the government officials accountable that allowed this to happen,” he said.  “Nothing has changed. The same thing could happen today.”

Freshman finance major Amanda Charles said that, in light of recent issues such as the push to relocate the Confederate statue, she found Campus Clash to be a beneficial event for the Ole Miss campus.

“I think it’s great that we were able to get a new viewpoint in, especially with all the stuff going on lately,” she said. “It’s cool to see everyone open up their eyes and be more open-minded.”