In the 1960s, when college campus student activism was born, students protested against the Vietnam War, in favor of free speech and for racial and gender quality.
Today the new face of student activism carries a Confederate flag and believes that the Ku Klux Klan is too passive.
That, anyway, is the brand of activism practiced by Thomas Buhls, one of the most visible members of the “Traditionalist Youth Network,” an officially registered student organization on the campus of Indiana University.
“My ultimate goal would be to see another white ethno-state emerge — a state comprised of and built for exclusively white people,” Buhls told the university’s student newspaper.
A former member of the Ku Klux Klan, Buhls says that though his devotion to the Klan was “dedicated and passionate,” he found that the long-standing racist group “was not structured in a way to do things in a very immediate fashion.”
At age 30, Buhls' claim to being a “youth” may be tenuous — he is also a former Marine and began attending college after leaving the Marine Corps — his credentials as someone who takes “immediate action” are not.
The University’s Office of Student Ethics recently charged him with “damage to or destruction of university property or the property belonging to others” for chalking and plastering such slogans as “TRADYOUTH.ORG FOR FAITH AND NATION” and “PATRIARCHY IS BACK” on school property, in areas where such signage is prohibited.
Buhls also claimed to have been attacked while protesting a speech by anti-racist activist Tim Wise. Last year, Buhls became involved in a confrontation when he picketed a Bloomington, Indiana bookstore. In the photo above, Buhls (left) can be seen arguing with another student during that incident.
“I feel it’s kind of silly to argue about the definition of racist,” Buhls said. “I’ll tell you straight up, of course I am.”
“We are trying to spread our messages that no one should be afraid, and that each race should be allowed to fulfill their own destiny separately,” explained the “Traditionalist” group’s founder, Matthew Heinbach. “I started doing this because I am a Christian, and I feel that this is not only a racial issue, but a spiritual one.”
One University official said that due to First Amendment protections, there is not much the school can do to restrict the activities of a hate group such as Traditionalist Youth Network on campus. But that doesn’t mean the school is turning a blind eye to the group’s activities.
“We find their message to be absolutely inconsistent with the values of the University,” added James Wimbush, vice president for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs, Wimbush said. “It’s a message we absolutely abhor.”
SOURCES: Indiana Daily Student (2), The News Record