On April 14, the newly formed University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill chapter of Youth for Western Civilization hosted former Republican congressman Tom Tancredo for a speech that erupted into protests and pepper spray. Senior Riley Matheson, the chapter president, chatted with us prior to the event to share some insight about what the group aims to accomplish.

Why did you decide to form a Youth for Western Civilization chapter at UNC?

I’ve wanted to found a conservative group at UNC for quite some time that wasn’t party-affiliated, and there really wasn’t … an overall conservative group. Most conservatives are constantly talking about taxes and money and business. We wanted to give conservatives a more social standpoint that wasn’t specific.

At the same time, YWC promotes a celebration of western European culture. On the YWC Web site and Facebook group, there are numerous historical references to European culture. I was wondering how that plays into your role at UNC.

The problem with university students and faculty is that there is basically, in our opinion, a deep mistrust and hatred of Western heritage. We’re constantly focusing on the sins of our past. It’s not to say they weren’t sins. It’s just to say that we need to revitalize our culture and not constantly talk about mistakes we might have made. We’ve long since made up for the sins we might have committed.

Do you mean slavery and the Inquisition?

I can definitely say that slavery’s one of the sins. When it comes to things like the Inquisition, I’d rather not commentI don’t want to condemn it. That’s a personal opinion, and not really a club opinion.

YWC is specifically against “radical multi-culturalism.” What is that, and does it exist at UNC?

If we look at most college campuses, UNC especially, diversity is celebrated. You’re told from the second you get here for orientation that diversity is a strength. And we believe that that makes absolutely no sense.

If you look at a country like Japan, Japan’s not multi-culturalist, and they’re a perfect, thriving nation. When you get together with your friends, you don’t talk about the stuff that makes you different, you talk about the stuff that makes you similar. Sure, there are differences, but we don’t need to celebrate those differences. We don’t need to highlight them and augment them. What we need to do is highlight and augment the things that make us similar.

The idea of radical multi-culturalism is the changing curriculum, the different subjects we have that focus on non-Western, non-American subjects. It’s not to say you shouldn’t study, as an academic person, other cultures, it’s just that you need to be well-versed in your own, before you sort of extend out into others.

Attempts to achieve similarity throughout history have horribly misfired. The Final Solution comes to mind. America is a diverse nation, so how would we go from being diverse to being similar, in a way that wouldn’t be violent?

One thing we have to realize is the reason we’re a diverse country is because people naturally segregate themselves according to their differences. If it weren’t for that segregation, we wouldn’t be a diverse culture.

While we’re not necessarily advocating forcing people to become similar, we do need to realize that when we have immigrants who come to this country who can’t speak Englishand many of whom are unwilling to learn English, and when you go to the store and everything you buy is half in Spanish and half in Englishyou’re pandering to that diversity that segregates us. If everybody just learns Englishbecause, after all, it is the language of this countrythen it would be much easier for us to be united.

You said if it weren’t for segregation, we wouldn’t be a diverse culture. But it seems like you would like there to be more assimilation.

Definitely. Any time we accept an immigrant, it’s my belief that we are accepting, with that immigrant, the responsibility to assimilate them. But that’s not what the liberal agenda is. The liberal agenda is to accept immigrants whether or not we can effectively assimilate them.

It’s like what Benjamin Franklin said, about the Germans who were emigrating to the United States. Franklin had a problem with that, not because he was anti-German, but because … he wanted to make sure the German immigrants we took could be assimilated into, at that time, the Anglo-Saxon culture of the United States. Obviously the culture has changed since then.

Does your group favor a homogenous culture in the U.S.? Do you take an official stance on interracial marriage?

We have to be realistic about things like interracial marriage. It is pretty clear that studies have shown that well over 90 percent of people marry within their own race. Is that a problem? I suppose so. But we don’t have any official stance on that.

You don’t worry about interracial marriage affecting Western heritage?

YWC is not racial. This is a cultural civilization type of thing, which different people can be assimilated into. This is not racial. None of the official positionsyou might find somebody at the club who might hold some opinions on that, and indeed you willbut in terms of YWC itself, no. There really isn’t any kind of official position or stance (on interracial marriage).

A recent YWC blog post claims “our culture would be assaulted” by an increasing Latino population. Isn’t language like that unfavorably casting an entire ethnic group living in the U.S.?

I do think that language such as that, while it might be strong, I think it’s true. We’re talking about people who don’t … show much interest in learning English. And so that would change part of our culture, because we’re going from English to Spanish.

How do you square your group’s belief in the power of homogeneity with UNC’s campus policy that student groups must accept members regardless of “age, race, color, gender, national origin, disability, religion, veteran status or sexual orientation?”

YWC fully abides by all non-discriminatory policies of the university. Anyone of any color, race, religion, national origin, etc., are more than welcome to join YWC, provided that they share our stated principles. Indeed, we have a good number of non-white/ non-Christians in the organizationone of the founders is half-Asian and half-Jewish. […]

I would like to emphasize that this is not a racist group, as it seems you are trying to imply. Let me ask you this: Is the Black Student Movement racist? Is the Carolina Hispanic Association racist? YWC has no stated/ official/ implied stance on race. YWC is not about race. As a matter of fact, it’s typically liberals who are the real raciststhey’re the ones who are constantly trying to inject race into everything (that’s why Tancredo is called a racist, even though he’s said nothing racist in his life).

YWC is about respecting, honoring and loving Western culture and heritage. Anyone can do that.