New York, NY, May 23, 2011 … A nationwide student group straddles the line between mainstream and extreme views and has close ties to white supremacists, according to a new report by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
The group, Youth for Western Civilization (YWC), is a recognized student organization at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, Liberty University in Virginia, and Washington State University, and has a presence on at least a dozen campuses across the country. YWC says it will convene its first national conference June 17-19 in Washington, D.C., to strategize about expanding its campus presence.
"This group's dedication to defending 'Western Civilization,' often a thinly veiled euphemism for 'white culture,' is an attempt to make their message more palatable to those who might otherwise shy away from overtly racist language," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "The strategy of blurring the line between what's acceptable and what's considered extreme could serve as an archetype for future haters seeking legitimacy."
ADL's report explores how group members see themselves as waging a modern crusade to save "Western" culture from a host of perceived enemies whom they claim threaten its very foundation – namely, supporters of multiculturalism and diversity. Members usually avoid using overtly bigoted rhetoric in favor of more subtly disparaging language. They often shun direct references to minorities, instead using terms like "multicult," "racial grievance groups," "racial chauvinists," "aggrieved collectivists" and "victim groups" to express their racially oriented arguments.
Founded in 2006 as a non-profit organization, YWC's motto is "Defending the West on Campus." Its founder and president is Kevin DeAnna, a graduate student at American University's School of International Service who maintains close ties both to well-established conservative organizations and to white supremacists.
The group's central message -- that whites have lost their place and power in America -- has been embraced by white supremacists, some of whom view YWC as a legitimate channel through which they can express their own bigoted views. On two separate occasions, through invitations from YWC, white supremacist Richard Spencer addressed students at Vanderbilt University and at Providence College, where the group is particularly active.
In April, the group collaborated with Jared Taylor, a well-known white supremacist and editor of the racist American Renaissance magazine, on a fundraising campaign for YWC. In an appeal to his own supporters, Taylor highlighted his shared goals with YWC and praised the group for "standing up for our culture on college campuses across the nation." White supremacist publications, including American Renaissance, have reprinted articles written by YWC members.
The group counts many white supremacists among its Facebook "friends," while posters to Stormfront, the most popular white supremacist Internet forum, have endorsed YWC as a "valuable tool" for promoting "white pride."
YWC maintains ties to legitimate conservative organizations. Between 2009 and 2011, the group participated in the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, a gathering of conservative activists and elected officials. At the 2011 conference, a YWC panel on immigration titled "Will Immigration Kill the GOP?" featured a number of well-known anti-immigration activists.
The group has also been active in Europe. In May, a YWC member spoke at a rally in Germany held by far-right, xenophobic political parties from France, Germany, Austria and Belgium.