Madison Cawthorn holds meeting despite mask mandates

Congressman Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina’s 11th Congressional district appeared at a Turning Point USA meeting on Oct. 5 at Western Carolina University.

The controversial and conservative member of congress was seen by a crowd of an estimated 140 people from students, university staff and the community. Less than a quarter of the crowd were wearing face masks in the university building despite face masks being strictly required in all university buildings, according to the Catamounts Care Community Standards

“These standards will apply to ALL members of our campus community, including students, faculty, staff, and visitors. Everyone must participate for our campus community to stay healthy,” as stated on the Catamounts Care Community Standards Webpage.

According to the President of the WCU Turning Point club, face masks were “encouraged, but not strictly enforced,” said Brendan Chafin. 

BaShaun Smith, Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean of Students, said that at the event face masks were required but “the President misspoke when he indicated otherwise.”

Protesters outside of the HHS Building before Cawthorn’s appearance.
Photo Credit: Tessa Bradshaw

Students who are identifiable and are not following WCU face mask requirements will be held accountable for not wearing a face mask, Smith said. 

Smith would not comment about students who were not wearing their face masks that evening at the event or whether or not disciplinary action was taken. 

“I will tell you; I knew Washington was going to be bad… but man I didn’t know it was going to be this bad,” Cawthorn said, starting his speech to talk about all the corrupt and evil things he has seen in the government since being sworn into office in January 2021.

One of the most talked-about topics he discussed during this meeting was the lack of opportunities for open dialogue between the members of the United States Congress. Cawthorn implied that this is the reason why there are so many issues within the U.S. government because there is never common ground to discuss topics. 

“All of the decisions are made in some kind of dungeon or somewhere very, very far away where Nancy Pelosi tortures her people,” Cawthorn joked about the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. 

Despite believing that words have value and are important to the conservative party, he countlessly made fun of democrats and even mocked the LGBTQ+ community during his speech. 

 “If you look at what is going on in schools now, whether it’s Critical Race Theory trying to teach people to hate one another. Whether it’s this indoctrination of teaching one another there are 56 genders, ‘oh my pronouns are ze and zim’,” Cawthorn said in a mocking tone. 

After openly degrading the LGBTQ+ community, he also made fun of President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Senator Elizabeth Warren. All of which was accompanied by laughter and applause. Disparaging comments made about the conservative party are considered offensive and distasteful to Cawthorn. However, when it comes to the Democratic party, disrespectful, fictitious statements are completely justified by Cawthorn’s standards. 

“Because all of us in this room, we know, I think conservatives truly value the meaning of words and what they mean and so when people come out and call you these vile and evil names and they say that, ‘you’re evil, you’re a racist, you’re all these things, you’re a nazi’, or whatever they want to call you. For us normal Americans that really hit us in our hearts…,” Cawthorn said. 

Jokes were not the only things discussed at the meeting, but misinformation, half-truths and utter lies were also told. The first of many lies that were presented was that China was the cause of the Facebook and Instagram outage that happened on Oct. 4, one day before the event was held. 

The lie was fabricated from a true story, but was misconstrued. 

“I genuinely believe that there is a lot more to that [the Facebook and Instagram outage], as soon as they [China] sent 56 military aircraft into Taiwan’s airspace…then all of the social media went down. It’s because they don’t want us talking about it,” he said. 

56 military aircraft were indeed flown into Taiwan’s airspace on Oct. 4, one of the biggest military aggressive forces the country has seen from China, but there is no relation or evidence to this event and the social media shut down. 

Facebook has stated that it was most likely because of a technical error on their end. However, whistleblower Frances Haugen came out with documents relating to Facebook’s misconduct and known issues specifically with insisting violence, and that the private company cared more about their profit than their users. 

Another lie Cawthorn included in his speech was that $86 billion worth of military equipment was left in Afghanistan after President Biden allowed for the removal of troops to begin in August. Yes, $86 billion has been funded in helping support Afghanistan and defense but according to PolitiFact, a defense expert estimates that only $10 billion was left in military equipment. However, a lot of the equipment left behind was either inactive or unusable. 

Cawthorn’s event had only 6 protestors standing outside of the building. Most of which were teachers or a part of the WNC Democratic Party. The peaceful protestors were standing outside the HHS building before the event started and planned on leaving as soon as it started. 

“Why is he afraid of history?,” said Joan Parks, one of the protesters for the evening’s event. “We shouldn’t be afraid of history and we’ll never learn from history if we don’t teach it.” 

Another protestor, Nilofer Couture, wanted to hear what he had to say but did not want to pay the $5 entry fee to hear him speak. 

“Instead of holding this meeting, why not hold a town hall during his recess,” said Couture. “We have never had a town hall with him and we would like to talk to him. Why does he have to go into a closed-door meeting, where you have to pay $5 to get in. So since we are his constituents, we want to hear what he has to say to us. We have a lot of questions for him.”

TPUSA is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 2012 by Charlie Kirk. 

WCU TPUSA was not officially recognized as a student organization until the Fall 2021 semester but did hold meetings last semester. The newly formed organization already has 1,500 members with around 180 active members, said Chafin.