Charlie Kirk has given America another gift, this time a monograph on the university called Campus Battlefield: How Conservatives Can WIN the Battle on Campus and Why It Matters. And the good news keeps getting better, because Kirk somehow convinced Donald Trump (Jr.) to write a foreword for the book. Though, truth to tell, it doesn’t seem like Trump Jr. really gave it his best effort. It’s only five short pages and it reads more or less like direct mail copy: “Please enjoy this book, share it with your friends, support Turning Point USA, and get involved.”
And the rest of the book may not be Kirk’s best work, either. He begins asking: “Who could have imagined that I would need police protection to talk about freedom on a university campus?”
The answer is pretty simple: Anyone who has been paying attention for the last 50 years. You think it’s bad now? In 1969, students at Cornell armed themselves with guns and took over campus buildings. Anyone who has read Allan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind, or Dinesh D’Souza’s Illiberal Education, or any of the dozens of books on campus radicalism that have been churned out, year after year, decade after decade, could have imagined the turn of events that have young Charlie so surprised.
But a blithe ignorance of history is just the beginning of the book’s problems. Kirk talks a lot about how he stands up to threats from liberals because he believes in helping “the students”: “I wasn’t going to cave in. Cancelling the event and letting down the students who came to hear me with open or supportive minds was not an option.” He’s a mensch, you see. Except for the fact that in May, 2018, Kirk would “bail on college kids to hang out with Kanye West.” Letting down students isn’t an option, except for when it is. Which is whenever there’s a better offer, it seems.
And here’s Charlie recounting an incident where he confronted protestors at a campus speaking event: “As I climbed onto the stage, the wild screaming got louder and louder: ‘Charlie Kirk is a Jerk! Charlie Kirk is a Jerk!’” he writes, “Nice alliteration, that, but I’ve been called worse.”
“Alliteration”? That Kirk doesn’t know the difference between alliteration and rhyme isn’t quite as disturbing as the fact that the book’s editors didn’t feel the need to correct the mistake.
But perhaps we’re going too far in calling Campus Battlefield a “book.” The already-thin text is stuffed with reprintings of his tweets and quotes from others. He used this space-filling technique in his first book, too, and must figure that if he got away with it once, why not do it again? Writing is hard!
Of course, it’s easier when you just quote others. So some of the tweets he reprints are simply cases where he quoted someone else. Or, at least thought he was quoting someone else. For instance, one of the tweets in Campus Battlefield reads: “The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.”— @charliekirk11, quoting George Orwell.”
Except for that this isn’t an actual quote from Orwell. It’s just a common misattribution.
But really, if you’re the type of reader who expects better from an author who still technically lives with his parents, then the joke’s on you.
And that’s really what Campus Battlefield is: a joke. It’s nothing more than a marketing pitch for TPUSA, except that Kirk wants to charge gullible readers $27 for the honor of reading it.
It’s a pretty good racket, actually, and we ought to give Kirk some credit for coming up with the act. His business model is essentially this: Provoke leftist students; take video of their reactions; send the video clips to donors to solicit contributions. Lather, rinse, repeat. Money flows in, the organization expands, and the culture, the campus, the students are naught for the better.
In fact, the worse it gets for everyone else, the bigger Kirk’s following becomes. It’s one big grift, and it’s launched Kirk into the first family’s inner circle. In the book he boasts that he’s met with President Trump more than 15 times since his inauguration. He also brags that he’s the “second most powerful tweeter in conservative politics.”
“But it’s not about me,” Kirk protests. Sure it isn’t.
Though if you look closely at Campus Battlefield, you’ll notice that it’s Kirk’s photograph on the cover. Four times.
Correction, October 10, 2018, 6:25 p.m.: The piece originally stated that "if you look closely at Campus Battlefield, you’ll notice that it’s Kirk’s photograph on the cover. Twice." Kirk actually appears on the cover of Campus Battlefield four times. We regret the error.