SPLC Report: Campus Group has History of Associating with Racist Leaders, Espousing Racist Beliefs

A student group that claims to defend "Western civilization" and is hosting its first national conference this week in the Washington, D.C., area, has a history of associating with racist ideologues and espousing racist beliefs, according to a report issued today by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

The report describes how Youth for Western Civilization (YWC) has frequently participated in racist circles and promoted racist beliefs despite claims that it's not a racist group. The group has allowed a notorious white supremacist organization to raise funds for it; one of its top officials was arrested in a violent racist attack; and its officials have invited racist extremists to speak and in turn addressed hate groups themselves. At least one YWC member has met with and spoken to right-wing extremist groups overseas.

Yet YWC, which has chapters on at least nine college campuses and some 1,600 followers on Facebook, hopes to become a national force following its first national conference beginning Friday in Washington.

"Youth for Western Civilization has attempted to present a veneer of respectability, but it is far from the mainstream," said Mark Potok, director of the SPLC's Intelligence Project. "The group's track record makes it perfectly clear: When its leaders speak of 'Western civilization' and 'our people,' they mean white people and white people only."

What makes the group particularly worrying is that it has close ties to the Leadership Institute, a conservative organization with a $10 million annual budget that claims to have trained almost 100,000 "future conservative leaders." The institute's graduates include prominent conservatives such as Karl Rove, adviser to former President George W. Bush. The institute is well-positioned to help YWC grow. YWC founder and leader Kevin DeAnna is the Leadership Institute's deputy field director for campus leadership programs.


Despite YWC's claims of simply defending "Western civilization," the report shows the group has a record of radicalism:

  • In April 2011, a YWC fundraising package was sent to members of racist ideologue Jared Taylor's mailing list. In it, Taylor promoted DeAnna as someone who "knows how important our cultural identity is." In an accompanying letter, DeAnna told Taylor's subscribers that he had defended "western culture" against those trying to "destroy our people." (Taylor, editor of the racist journal American Renaissance, has written, "When blacks are left entirely to their own devices, Western civilization – any kind of civilization – disappears.") DeAnna has known Taylor for at least five years. In 2006, he co-founded a right-wing club that invited Taylor to speak.

  • In February 2011, DeAnna told a conservative conference that he would be opposed to immigration even if it were proved that immigrants help the economy because "it's about our dispossession as a people." At the same YWC event, the group's honorary chairman, former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, said that multiculturalism was "the dagger pointed at the heart of Western civilization." In another speech for YWC, Tancredo suggested that immigrants to America should adopt "a white Anglo-Saxon culture."

  • In October 2010, DeAnna spoke to a conference hosted by The Social Contract, a racist nativist journal that has fretted that "Europhobia" is making white people strangers in their own land. He discussed the need to "destroy the multicultural paradigm on campus."

  • Marcus Epstein, a man later described by DeAnna as "vice president" of YWC, drunkenly attacked a random black woman in 2007, calling her a "nigger" and attempting to strike her before being arrested. After the incident became public two years later, DeAnna denied that Epstein, a close friend, had been a YWC official.

"The leaders of Youth for Western Civilization have repeatedly rubbed shoulders with extremists and racist ideologues," Potok said. "They may insist they're not racist, but they've let the mask slip far too often to maintain that fiction. The reality is that YWC is a group animated by racism."