Editor’s note: This letter to the editor was written by multiple members of the Frances Beal Society.
There is simply no other way to put this: Turning Point USA (TPUSA) is a white supremacist harassment engine.
The behavior of Binghamton University’s chapter matches the usual strategy employed by TPUSA groups across the country. First, sexist, white supremacist or similarly inflammatory and violent rhetoric is openly flaunted. Then, when people inevitably gather to make their justified anger known, the incident is recorded by TPUSA and distributed online to attract attention and donations. Specific protesters — often women, or people of color or both, as in the recent case on campus — are also singled out and recorded for targeted harassment online. The police are often all too willing to side with TPUSA, coordinating with them to threaten anti-racist protesters with a regime of radicalized state surveillance and violence, as was done here. A quick Google search will exhibit the racist and violent rhetoric TPUSA pushes and why they have been pushed off of other college campuses. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the group has drawn attention for its associations with hate group leaders and alt-right figures.
When called out for their bigotry, TPUSA will then attempt to reframe the issue as one of “free speech” and claim that their rights are being infringed upon. This is a purely cynical move, a smoke screen intended to redirect attention away from the content of the organization’s words and deeds. After all, where were these self-styled champions of liberty when police targeted students for posting flyers in Downtown Binghamton? Politicians such as Rep. Tom Reed latch onto these gestures toward an empty conceptualization of free speech.
It is imperative to note that leftist organizers and radical students committed to fighting for liberation are more commonly harassed, attacked and targeted, as we have seen repeatedly with DIVEST BING, an anti-war manufacturing and anti-fossil fuel campaign. Or consider last December, when the Broome County Legislative Chamber attempted to pass its authoritarian “annoy the police” law.
The reality is that a white supremacist organization, which continuously places marginalized people in the crosshairs of online harassers, is seeking funding and an exclusive soapbox so it may continue to do so, all while protected by a racist and militarized police force. Its members willingly carry out this agenda, either in hopes of acquiring some cushy think tank job or just for sick kicks.
The founding of BU’s TPUSA chapter is certainly an intensification of white supremacist activity on campus; here, a group of white supremacists have now publicly gathered and no longer feel a need to hide their white supremacy. They are attempting to weaponize social media and their partnership with the police against students, faculty and community members of color. Getting large names such as President Donald Trump and the founder of TPUSA to distort the truth only fuels the fire for this.
Still, the appearance of this organization on campus is not simply an isolated outpour of bigotry. The white supremacists that founded this chapter did not simply materialize out of thin air. They, and others like them, continue to live and work among us, protected by institutions that are indifferent at best to the violence inflicted on marginalized people. TPUSA is hardly a deviation from this trend.
Let us also be clear — people who fight for change and to make this world a better place are their biggest enemy. TPUSA is not our biggest enemy; they are merely a nuisance, a distraction at best. They are nothing compared to the oppressive institutions we fight against. Every night they scheme of ways to annoy the marginalized of this community while we dream of changing it for the better.
It is for this reason that we, the Frances Beal Society, continue to organize against the systemic causes of our oppression. It is for this reason we continue to push for Binghamton University’s divestment from prison labor and war profiteers, which make their billions off of violence done to people of color over the world. It is for this reason we aim to hold the University accountable for its acts of violence against students and communities of color. It is for this reason that we lock arms with the greater Binghamton community to fight the violent police state foisted on us. And it is for this reason that we call on all marginalized people and those who stand against white supremacy to organize with us, to uproot the vile and destructive institution of white supremacy at its source.
The Frances Beal Society is a grassroots organization dedicated to fighting oppression and liberating marginalized groups.