Turning Point USA (TPUSA) has instructed its student activists to stop using Ye-affiliated artwork that was part of a TPUSA “activism kit,” an operative professionally affiliated with the organization told College Dissident, speaking on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation. This revelation comes after College Dissident reported on Monday that TPUSA's founder and president, Charlie Kirk, called Ye a “Jew hater.”
The Ye-inspired artwork in question is a poster featuring the Dropout Bear, a mascot Ye used on the album covers of his first three albums. Surrounding the Dropout Bear is the slogan “free thinking is a superpower,” copying a tweet Ye made in 2018.
Screenshots published by “Arizona Right Wing Watch” show that this artwork was originally part of TPUSA's “College Activism Kit” as of January 4, 2023.
After “Arizona Right Wing Watch” published the screenshot, a reporter at the left-wing outlet Media Matters complained on Twitter how TPUSA “appears to be using Ye's College Dropout bear imagery.” It is unclear if this tweet is why TPUSA told all student activists to stop using the artwork.
For years, TPUSA has used the image and likeness of Ye to advance its interests. TPUSA has posted several graphics on social media using Ye's face and quotes, and its website has numerous articles describing Ye as a brave conservative thought leader. Kirk has praised Ye several times, calling him a “free thinker” in 2018 and defending his right to free speech as recently as October 2022.
With this move, TPUSA is limiting the actions of Gen Z conservatives across the country, potentially leading to decreased support. TPUSA has already seen declined support from Gen Z: the organization was recently involved in the failed midterm elections of Kari Lake, Blake Masters, Abe Hamadeh, and Mark Finchem, in which the Republican Party, relying on TPUSA, lost the Gen Z vote by a historic margin.
One personal confidante of Kirk’s told College Dissident, “I think it is right to partly blame TPUSA for [the] Arizona debacle.” The source described the finance and personnel mismanagement of the premiere Gen Z organization: “400+ staff on the ground there.”
College Dissident contacted TPUSA's COO, Tyler Bowyer, and Kirk for a comment. Neither responded.
Questions arise from TPUSA’s change of heart toward Ye. Will this cause IRS problems for Kirk’s group as whistleblowers continue to step forward?
Because TPUSA is a 501(c)(3) organization, it cannot participate in any activity for or against political candidates. TPUSA does have a 501(c)(4) arm called Turning Point Action, which it uses to support particular candidates, but this poster has the TPUSA logo.
Is TPUSA violating 501(c)(3) rules by prohibiting its student activists from using artwork related to a prospective Republican presidential candidate? If so, should TPUSA still be the voice for Gen Z conservatives?