In the midst of nationwide anti-racism protests, Bryant “Corky” Messner, a Republican Senate candidate in New Hampshire, warned his supporters this week about the amount of “multiculturalism” being taught in public schools.
“We are essentially up against multiculturalism and the values that we know that are being taught in our public schools and universities that are not part of the values and beliefs that made this country great,” Messner said Wednesday during a virtual town hall, in comments first flagged by the Democratic super PAC American Bridge 21st Century. “So we have a battle on our hands.”
“Multiculturalism and political correctness” create a “tribalism,” he argued.
“We won’t be able to hold this country together if we don’t have a common culture,” he said. “And that common culture is what made America great.”
Messner made these comments while advocating for school choice, including home-schooling and vouchers for charter schools.
Messner expanded on what he saw as the problems with multiculturalism in a follow-up interview with HuffPost, saying he didn’t want to allow different groups ― “any kind of group, whether it’s a group of whites or anything” — to “have a mindset that creates animosity with other groups, that creates anger with other groups, that encourages divisiveness.”
“People will group together, and a lot of times because of common culture, and that’s a good thing to share common culture, but it can’t be a way to create discrimination against other groups, animosity to other groups,” he added.
Messner said his grandparents immigrated from Lebanon, and that he grew up exposed to the culture and still cooks Lebanese food for his children.
“The diversity is the strength of this country,” he said. “And at the same time, we can have the common values that are set forth in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.”
Messner also said conservatives now live with a culture of fear due to political correctness.
“Conservatives and conservative young people … are afraid to say they are conservative,” Messner said. “In my view of political correctness, I think that is not a good thing. If young people are afraid to express their opinions because they are perceived to be conservative and therefore not politically correct, that’s a problem.”
The candidate previously said he wants to crack down on China for its role in spreading the coronavirus by banning Chinese students from American universities.
Messner, an attorney and former Army ranger who is largely self-funding his campaign, is running against retired U.S. Army brigadier general Don Bolduc for the GOP nomination for Senate. The winner of the Sept. 8 primary will take on Democratic incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.
Kentucky’s Rand Paul said this week that he endorsed Messner, becoming the first sitting senator to do so.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.