A Black Republican from Alabama, K Carl Smith, hosted a panel called "Trump the Race Card: Are You Sick and Tired of Being Called a Racist and You Know You're Not One?" Calling himself a "Frederick Douglass Republican," Smith's panel was meant to address the Republican Party's struggles to attract black and minority voters.
But during the question-and-answer period, Scott Terry, a member of the White Students Union at Towson University, said the GOP would be better as “Booker T. Washington Republicans” — “united like the hand, but separate like the fingers.”
The exchanged was filmed and posted on the liberal blog ThinkProgress Friday. After the panel, the blog reported that Terry said, “why can’t we just have segregation?” noting the Constitution’s protections for freedom of association.
Matthew Heimbach, who styles himself founder and commander of Towson's White Student Union, said in an interview with The Baltimore Sun that he was also at the event with about 30 members of his group.
“Diversity is not a strength,” he said, adding that the Republican party should be focusing its efforts on boosting white voter turnout rather than wooing minorities. In the meantime, he said the party should focus on opposing same-sex marriage and supporting tough border controls.
“We’re being displaced from our own country,” Heimbach said of Hispanic immigration, adding that he does not see segregation among people already inside the United States as any great problem.
“We self-segregate as it is,” Heimbach added, noting that one of the speakers on the panel said he went to an all-black church. “I really don't think we have any other choice, it's just human nature.”
The founder of Towson’s now-defunct Youth for Western Civilization said that his views have been warmly received among rank and file Republicans at the gathering of conservatives. But his proposed strategy is not one being pursued by Republican leaders, who have wondered how to attract more Hispanic and African-American voters after losing the presidential election last year.
The Western Civilization group held several events including one in December 2011 where they set up a Nativity scene at the Union that appeared to compare President Barack Obama to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. And that November, during an event promoting marriage only between men and women, about 150 students came to protest what they said was the group’s homophobic language.
The group drew criticism from students and faculty at Towson and eventually disbanded. But last fall, Heimbach started a new group called the White Student Union, which has drawn a similar response from Towson students and teachers.
Heimbach’s activities have attracted the attention of civil rights outfit the Southern Poverty Law Center, which recently wrote that he could be a leader in the “future of organized hate,” and put his organization on its Hate Map, which tracks extremist groups.
A post on the White Student’s Union blog this week, said that the designation had not hurt the group’s members. “We have all retained our jobs, continued to have friendships, and none of us have been driven into the wilderness,” the post reads.
Members of the group recently attended a Latin Mass before heading to a gun range for “tactical firearms training,” and plan to start campus patrols at Towson University, the post adds.