Charlie Kirk talking

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Charlie Kirk says he’s afraid to fly on planes with Black pilots

He later defended himself, saying he 'made a logical statement.'


Katherine Huggins


Posted on Jan 24, 2024

Far-right activist and Turning Point USA co-founder Charlie Kirk said he becomes concerned whenever he sees a Black pilot, worried about their qualifications to fly whatever plane he’s on.

“I’m sorry. If I see a Black pilot, I’m going to be like, ‘Boy, I hope he’s qualified,'” Kirk said on his “ThoughtCrime” show, furthering the current right-wing narrative that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies at major airlines and manufacturers is behind a spate of close calls on runways and malfunctions on planes.

Kirk’s comment was widely criticized on social media.

“Charlie Kirk’s worst nightmare,” wrote one user on X along with an image of a Black pilot.

“I’m a black pilot, I am qualified and Charlie Kirk is a racist!” wrote someone else.

Kirk later doubled down, saying on Wednesday that he “made a logical statement.”

“Of course there are qualified black and female pilots,” he later added. “But when you socially engineer racial quotas that far outstrip current demographics in a given field—especially one where the lives of passengers are on the line—it is fair to question whether someone receives the job because they’re the best or because they’re politically expedient. Screaming racism doesn’t make the plane land safely.”

Kirk also reposted right-wing podcaster Tim Pool defending him, arguing that “racist hiring policies give [Kirk] pause, not that he thinks race plays a factor in skill.”

Kirk’s remark comes amid strong backlash to DEI and other racial equality initiatives. Kirk also announced a recent plan to attempt to roll back the Civil Rights Act.

His concerns echo those of billionaire Elon Musk, who argued earlier in January that “people will die due to DEI.”

“Do you want to fly in an airplane where they prioritized DEI hiring over your safety? That is actually happening,” Musk wrote in response to Boeing encouraging executives to hit DEI targets.

But activists’ push to end DEI is not just isolated to the airline industry.

It’s also heavily focused on education, with numerous conservatives targeting institutions they believe have become “woke.”

To that end, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) instituted anti-DEI laws in his state, including banning public colleges from spending money on programs that support DEI.

And amid the Claudine Gay scandal at Harvard, DEI policies in place at the university were heavily emphasized by her critics—though it was allegations of plagiarism that ultimately led to her resignation as university president.

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*First Published: Jan 24, 2024, 1:18 pm CST