The anti-Muslim hate group ACT for America is taking its message to college campuses. ACT’s lead activism strategist, Scott Presler, is scheduled to speak at the University of Akron on Oct. 10. This appears to be the first stop on a fall speaking tour that Presler has lined up, and is part of a greater effort by hate groups to push their agendas onto students.
The event is being co-sponsored by the Akron chapter of Turning Point USA (TPUSA), a conservative student group present on high school and college campuses. Presler is scheduled to speak on “Radical Islam and Dictatorships.” ACT for America has an expansive chapter network throughout the country, making it the largest anti-Muslim group in the nation.
ACT’s founder and president Brigitte Gabriel has previously stated, “Islam has created and unleashed an uncontrollable wave of hatred and rage on the world” and said that terrorist attacks are the “purest form of” the religion. “It’s not radical Islam,” she claims. “It’s what Islam is at its core.” Gabriel recently spoke at the 2018 Values Voter Summit, an annual confab put on by the anti-LGBT hate group Family Research Council.
Presler was the main coordinator of ACT’s “March Against Sharia” rallies in June 2017. The nationwide events attracted various factions of the radical right, including white nationalists, neo-Nazis and antigovernment extremists — all of whom were united by anti-Muslim animus.
Presler’s speaking engagement appears to represent a burgeoning relationship with TPUSA, a group that has had its own controversies regarding racists in its ranks. Charlie Kirk, TPUSA’s founder and president, spoke at ACT’s national conference held Sept. 4-5. Following Kirk’s speech, Gabriel spoke of a growing partnership between the two groups.
“[The] deal that we made with [TPUSA],” Gabriel said, “is basically take these young students who graduate out of college and plug them into ACT for America chapters.”
She also claimed ACT is working with the conservative student group to intimidate so-called “leftist” professors. “We are working with [TPUSA] … they identify the professors,” she said, referring to TPUSA’s professor watch list, “and we turn the fire under our chapter network to call their universities and get the professors fired.”
ACT and other hate groups have tried to gain a foothold on college campuses. In 2014, ACT attempted to establish student chapters as a “counterweight” to the Muslim Student Association (MSA). Gabriel has engaged in conspiracy theories about the MSA, calling them a Muslim Brotherhood front group set up to “destroy America.” The anti-immigrant hate group Center for Immigration Studies also recently advertised that its staff is available to come speak on campus.
The David Horowitz Freedom Center, another anti-Muslim hate group, has long set its sights on colleges and universities, positing them to be breeding grounds for leftist radicals. The group is responsible for sponsoring provocative events on campus like “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.” Horowitz’s Freedom Center is also behind efforts to post inflammatory flyers on college campuses across the country. David Horowitz is often invited to speak at schools, where he has been known to berate and argue with students.
Other hate groups like the neo-Nazi Vanguard America have also posted flyers on college campuses, with one in particular asking to “Imagine a Muslim-free America” and featuring an image of the World Trade Center towers.