Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, the state's likely GOP candidate for governor, did not address Turning Point USA's long history of racist behavior.
North Carolina's likely GOP candidate for governor, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, defended a pro-Trump campus organization on Wednesday, saying there was "no evidence" the group was racist, despite its long history of racist behavior.
During an episode of the Tyler Cralle Show, Forest stood up for Turning Point USA (TPUSA), a conservative group founded by Charlie Kirk that is focused on organizing students around conservative principles.
In 2018, the Defamation League (ADL) wrote, "TPUSA's leadership and activists have made multiple racist or bigoted comments and have been linked to a variety of extremists."
Forest on Wednesday complained that "leftists" and "the media" had wrongly labeled Kirk and TPUSA as "haters, bigots, and racists," according to audio of the interview uncovered by American Bridge, a progressive research organization.
He also complained that Kirk and his organization had been protested on college campuses.
Earlier last week, North Carolina Rep. Dan Bishop's (R) son, who is a student at North Carolina State University, claimed he was assaulted on campus while hanging up flyers for a TPUSA event. Jack Bishop told "Fox & Friends First" that he and several other students were allegedly attacked by socialist "thugs" who spray painted over the flyers in protest of the event.
The students who spray painted the signs, from the campus No Hate at NC State Coalition and the school's Young Democratic Socialists of America chapter, said they "intentionally avoided spraying anyone, moved away from [Bishop and his friends] several times and advised them to move away from the wall," adding, "He intentionally tried to get sprayed to frame it as an assault."
"'We're not gonna allow this racist speech,'" Forest said Wednesday, mimicking the protesters. "'We're not gonna allow these racists to show up. Racist, racist, racist.' With no, absolutely no evidence of anybody ever doing anything racist."
Forest went on to question how "the media" was allowed to call someone racist. He also praised TPUSA for hosting an event with young black leaders.
"How in the world can you be racist when you're bringing a group of young black leaders together at the White House to talk about the issues of this country?" Forest asked.
He called allegations of racism against TPUSA "fake news."
Forest's claim that there is "no evidence" of racism involving TPUSA is contradicted by its own leaked internal communications.
In December 2017, The New Yorker uncovered texts from Crystal Clanton, TPUSA's national field director at the time, to another TPUSA employee. "I hate black people. Like fuck them all . . . I hate blacks. End of story," Clanton wrote in the messages.
Before the texts were discovered, Kirk had praised Clanton, saying she was,"integral to the success of Turning Point," and that, "Turning Point needs more Crystals; so does America."
Kirk fired Clanton after the New Yorker published the text messages. Kirk replaced Clanton with a staffer who had a history of using the n-word on social media, and who once claimed, "I love making racist jokes."
In October 2018, the Miami New Times reported that a TPUSA chapter at Florida International University had posted and shared racist and sexist in a series of private chats. The group specifically shared jokes about deporting Latina women and memes showing "Syrian men raping white Swedish women at gunpoint," according to the outlet.
According to the New Times, a "prominent group member" at one point cautioned others in the group to "avoid using the n word and don't reference [avowed white supremacist] Richard Spencer too much and don't Jew hate ... all the time."
Media Matters, a liberal research organization, has compiled a list of 16 separate instances of racism or bigotry associated with TPUSA.
The Forest campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment about TPUSA's documented instances of racism.
Forest has his own fraught history with racism. In June, Forest claimed "the diversity and multiculturalism that America faces today" could lead to the country's demise.
In August, Forest honored Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) at his official gubernatorial campaign kickoff despite Foxx's history of using racist slurs on the House floor and endorsing the racist "birther" conspiracy theory that falsely claims President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.
And in October, Forest was scheduled to speak at an event alongside anti-Muslim extremists. At the time, Forest's appearance was criticized because speaking at the event "would legitimize the bigoted views espoused by the speakers and delegitimize the Republican Party's claim of supporting religious freedom for all," according to Robert McCaw, government affairs director for the Center on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.