Kirk: Conservatives won't sink to using the left's violent tactics

Kirk: Conservatives won't sink to using the left's violent tactics
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There is an ongoing debate among doctors and nutritionists as to whether breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.

It was, on Monday.

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When Candace Owens, the communications director for Turning Point USA, and I decided to eat out instead of in that morning, little did we know we were about to interrupt the American political conversation and help to clearly frame the division and choices existing within our country today.

 

For those who missed it, while we were having breakfast at a Philadelphia restaurant, we were spotted and then assaulted by members of the radical ANTIFA gang. Police were required to separate the mob from us and we were then escorted six blocks to our destination, with the cloaked radicals following and screaming profanity-laced insults. Video of the incident has been circulating virally on the web and commentators everywhere have been using it as a discussion and opinion centerpiece.

ANTIFA, whose name stands for “anti-fascist,” has an obvious problem with nomenclature since their violence and intolerance of nonconforming words and ideas are attributes of fascism. They have been regular agitants of TPUSA at our conferences over the past couple of years. These are the folks who, when you see them on the news, are dressed in black hoodies with their faces hidden behind bandanas.  They offer no ideas and have no discernable platform. They simply hate anything having to do with traditional America, and seek to tear it down.

They are a Soros’ directed version of “The Walking American Dead,” a mindless army of frothing soldiers, the members of which cannot be reasoned with or appeased.

When we arrived at the restaurant Monday morning, we got there just before opening. When the clock struck 8 a.m., I held the door for members of the group (they were not wearing their superhero disguises, but I recognized the symbol on their backpacks). I told Candace that the people sitting across the room were ANTIFA, but I honestly didn’t perceive a risk. I was thinking how ironic it was that, whether you are an American youth who loves our country or one who wants it destroyed, you still have to eat.

But I should have been a little been more concerned.

Those civilian ANTIFA folks were alerting the members of their gang that known enemies of the people, Owens and Kirk, were out in public. Soon a mob formed outside the restaurant. As we got up to leave, the “insiders” started shouting, calling us white supremacists and racists. (Candace Owens, as an aside, is African-American.) When we stepped out onto the sidewalk, the mob moved aggressively forward using a megaphone to shout insults into our ears and threatening us. We stood our ground as one is taught to do when confronted by a predatory animal. Then, mistaking me for Elphaba, they threw a cup of water on me.

The police intervened. I didn’t dissolve from the water. And after indicating I did not want to press charges, we were escorted to our business destination.

Since the incident, I have been overwhelmed by responses that have ranged from criticism for not fighting back or filing charges, to praise for showing restraint. The truth is, in that moment, you aren’t rationally thinking through your strategy; you are guided by instinct. I’m glad mine led me away from confrontation.

The lesson that I want people to draw from this is important: I strongly believe that if we were people in our ’50s or ’60s, sitting in that restaurant with a public profile and our same beliefs, the ANTIFA people likely would not have been confrontational. The members of ANTIFA are young. So are we. They aren’t viewing this as just a clash of ideas; they view this as a fight over who gets control of our generation.

They want their vision to prevail, and they see us as a threat that they don’t want to debate. They want to eradicate it.

I’ve had people express concern for Candace’s and my safety. While I appreciate that, I am more worried about the hundreds of thousands of young people around the country on high school and college campuses who don’t have our notoriety and resources to fight back. These are people at risk — real risk — of physical harm.

I’ve also had people suggest I should have pressed charges and had the attackers arrested. If I had them arrested, I would create martyrs. Some in the press are suggesting that ANTIFA made martyrs out of Candace and me.  Let me be clear, we are not in the business of manufacturing or becoming martyrs.

What we are in the business of, what we are dedicated to at TPUSA , is trying to enlighten people and turn them toward the ideas of free markets and limited government. The people in ANTIFA typically wear hoodies and face masks because they are almost paranoid about the knock on their door.  They are terrified,  ill-informed and angry.

They also often are puppets.

Why do I want to drag a couple of those people into a courtroom? I will accomplish nothing. My goal isn’t to get two or three of them locked up; my goal is reach thousands of them with a message about the power of liberty. While I can’t make them listen, I can give them something to which to listen.

They can continue to attack me, and I will continue to carry our message across the country to every high school and college campus. I want to wear ANTIFA members down so they listen. ANTIFA’s sponsors will run out of money before Turning Point, Candace and I run out of words and ideas.

If this is to be a battle for my generation and America’s future, then I am in the battle. We will not sink to their level. We will, however, gladly offer them a hand up to ours.

Charlie Kirk is founder and president of Turning Point USA, a nonprofit that promotes free-market values and limited government.