300 PC students silently protest Tom Tancredo
By Karen Lee Ziner
The Providence Journal, April 29, 2009
Providence, RI — An estimated 300 Providence College students protested Wednesday afternoon outside the school gates against former Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo, a past Republican presidential candidate and outspoken opponent of illegal immigration.
The students — who wore multicolored paper-plate masks, which they said represented their diversity — stood in silence as Tancredo started speaking against 'the cult of multiculturalism.'
'I would have though I would have the opportunity to be inside the college, but that is not to be,' Tancredo said, referring to the school's decision not to allow his talk on campus.
Western civilization, Tancredo said, 'is under attack at this institution.'
'Yes, diversity is a good thing, but it cannot be the only thing around which we hang a society.'
About 15 minutes into his speech, the students turned their backs on him.
'I know what you've been told about me,' Tancredo said. 'You've been told that we are a racist group . . . This has nothing to do with race. This is an issue of western civilization.'
Meanwhile, several dozens Tancredo supporters yelled at the student protesters.
'Why do you cover your faces?' yelled Salvator Robert of Providence. 'Take off your masks. Hamas (the Palestinian group) covers their faces.'
Tancredo is scheduled to speak Wednesday night at a meeting of Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement (RIILE), in Pawtucket. A photo gallery on RIILE's Web site includes a picture of RIILE president Terry Gorman with Tancredo — then a presidential candidate — at a 2007 meeting of the Republican National Committee.
At least 20 RILE members attended his appearance outside Providence College, said former Marine Corps Lt. Stephen Struk, who called Tancredo a 'true patriot.'
Providence College rejected a request by Youth for Western Civilization to have Tancredo speak on campus, noting the group is not officially recognized and that they had made the request 'very late in the semester when there was not enough time for the request to go through the usual channels,' said Pat Vieira, a spokeswoman for the college.
Providence College 'did not ban or censor the appearance by Congressman Tancredo,' said the Rev. Brian J. Shanley, the school's president. Shanley said the group, Youth for Western Civilization, 'has not followed the process outlined in the student handbook to achieve official recognition' by the Student Congress, and were not allowed to host the event on campus.
Moreover, Shanley said, 'on controversial issues where the U.S. Conference of Catholic bishops and our own Bishop (Thomas J. Tobin) have taken a clear position, the College has a responsibility to ensure, to the best of our ability, that the Church's position is represented.' In that case, the college would 'encourage and facilitate' a forum so multiple sides of the issue could be heard.
Youth for Western Civilization identifies itself on its Facebook page as 'the West's right-wing youth movement' for students 'who believe Western Civilization is moving in the wrong direction and want to do something about it.'
It says the group 'is focused on the support of Western history, identity, high culture, and pride and opposition to radical multiculturalism, political correctness, racial preferences, mass immigration, and socialism.'
The Southern Poverty Law Center recently put the group on its watch list because of suspected ties to white nationalist groups.
PC sophomore Timothy Dionisopoulos said he recently started the PC group because the College Republicans — whom he identified as 'right wing' — are not taking on the issues.'
'We're interested in activism and spreading the message of Western civilization — that it's okay to identify with your own culture and that it's important that you preserve that.' Dionisopoulos added, 'It's not white culture — it's American culture …' Dionisopoulos said its Facebook group has 'about 30 members.'
Kevin DeAnna, who said he founded the Youth for Western Civilization last fall, said in a phone interview Wednesday that there is another YWC chapter at the University of Rhode Island, and six other chapters at campuses around the country, including the University of Connecticut. He said there 'are at least double that' that are in the process of forming.
Three weeks ago, protesters halted Tancredo's speech at the University of North Carolina that was also sponsored by Youth for Western Civilization. Police pepper-sprayed some of the protesters after demonstrators broke a window, according to the Associated Press.
According to The Tennessean newspaper, protesters outnumbered YWC members 10 to 1, at a YCW-sponsored event in March at Vanderbilt University.
Amid protesters, Tancredo blasts illegal immigration
By Jim Baron
The Times (Pawtucket, RI), April 30, 2009