Apparently Representative Steve King is a racist, even a white supremacist. This according to ThinkProgress – you know the site run by John Podesta, the man who won the election for Hillary – which may or may not make the allegation true. I’m sure that ThinkProgress has managed to make some true statements over the years, possibly including the use of the word and or perhaps or. The result of this BadThink on the part of Rep King is that – according to Podesta’s posse – King should be thrown out of the House of Representatives. This strikes me as a very bad idea indeed. This being true, I assert, whatever is his actual beliefs on any matters pertaining to race.
It has to be said that from where I stand it’s not entirely obvious that Rep. King actually is a racist, let alone a white supremacist. OK, I’m what in my native Britain we would call a gammon, someone who goes that pinkish red of a nice slice of Virginia ham at the mere mention of socialism, economic and gender equality or even the idea that the working stiff should get a fair shake. So embalmed in elderly male privilege am I that I even support land value taxation, a universal basic income, voluntary socialism and properly dealing with climate change with a carbon tax. Yes, it’s that bad.
It’s also true that a claim of being racist can be attracted merely by muttering that perhaps no one currently living does in fact owe reparations for slavery to anyone currently living. You know, given that the US form of it disappeared some 150 years ago, the British near 200.
But is Rep King actually such? Think Progress lays out the evidence for us:
The Iowa white supremacist ramped up his white supremacy on Twitter as the Trump era began in 2017. In a racist March tweet that was praised by fellow white supremacists like former KKK leader David Duke, King stated, “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”
After being condemned by GOP colleagues (but not Trump’s White House), King went on CNN and insisted, “I meant exactly what I said.”
The Iowa Republican then tripled-down, telling Breitbart that “Western civilization is a superior civilization, it is the first world.” Western civilization is a phrase used by white nationalists to advocate for white supremacy in a more “politically correct” way.
Well, we may or may not agree with those statements but they’re certainly not white supremacist or even racist. We might all them culturalist if we like but that’s a rather different thing. For example, it is actually true that “first world” and “western civilisation” are synonyms because that’s actually how we define “first world.” The phrase comes from dividing the world up into the economically advanced nations, the socialist ones and the rest. And as history has worked out those economically advanced ones, at least at the time the phrase came into being, were those that enjoyed what we generally do call western civilisation. Since then a few more places have joined that first world, Japan, S Korea and so on so it’s not entirely synonymous any more but it’s still a good enough short hand.
In 2012, King took his English-only push national, as he introduced the English Language Unity Act, a bill that would have made English the “official language” of the U.S. It failed, but the Iowa Republican advocated for it on a panel at the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference that featured three other white nationalists, including Peter Brimelow, who founded the Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate website VDARE. King reportedly told Brimelow, “I’ve read all your books!”
Well, yes, and I’ve read Mein Kampf and that doesn’t make me a Nazi, nor does having struggled through rather too much Marx make me a communist.
Sure, what follows here is an opinion and just as with fundaments we’ve all one of those. But I do tend to think that claims of racism, of white supremacy, really should be reserved for those who are advocating lynching the melanin enhanced rather than those who just think immigrants should speak English. If for no other reason that being able to identify those we’d like the cops to keep a very close eye upon leaving the others to mumble into their prejudices as they choose.
But there’s an important point over and above that.
Several of King’s corporate contributors said they’ll no longer donate money to him. Purina Petcare, part of Swiss-based food conglomerate Nestlé S.A., followed Land O’Lakes and Intel in vowing to end campaign contributions to King.
That’s fine, admirable even. You really should direct your political donations to those you’d like to have in politics. It’s rather the point of the process. The problem is this:
Iowa’s Republican governor suggested Tuesday that Iowa congressman Steve King (R) needs to do more to represent the values of his district’s constituents in a fiery statement.
Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) told the Des Moines Register on Tuesday that she hasn’t spoken with King since his single-digit victory over J.D. Scholten (D) in last Tuesday’s midterms, but said King’s values and past remarks do not align with the values of Iowa voters.
Well, actually, he just won election. So a plurality, at least, of the voters in that district are just fine with whatever his views are. Which produces a problem for what Podesta’s Posse are suggesting:
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) should be expelled from Congress.
The noted white supremacist, who also happens to be a Republican congressman, makes no effort to hide his racism.
In addition to his very long history of offensive conduct, King follows Twitter accounts “belonging to unabashed white supremacists, including Blair Cottrell, a violent Australian activist who’s called for hanging a picture of Adolf Hitler in every classroom; Stefan Molyneux, a Canadian alt-right vlogger who thinks whites are more intelligent than blacks; and an anonymous Twitter user (with only 334 followers) using the handle @DiezNewAge, who regularly tweets out anti-Semitic and anti-black messages,” according to HuffPost.
Well, no. Absent a conviction for some serious crime – just drowning a girl while driving off a bridge while drunk clearly not being serious enough – the people who get to fire a politician are the voters. Rather than, say, political operatives for the other party wanting you out on your ear for who you follow on Twitter. Or even for failing a litmus test of what is currently fashionable opinion in that opposition party. For such a belief test can become very oppressive indeed. The Soviet Union allowed anyone to stand for election as long as they were members of the Communist Party. Hungary and Poland were more liberal, they allowed members of other parties – as long as those parties were signed up to the general aims and beliefs of communism – to stand and even be elected.
That’s the thing about democracy you see, it’s not the centre who gets to decide who may be elected, it’s us peeps out here.
But, yes, obviously, let’s go beyond any of these possible defences. Let’s just admit that the man is a flat out racist, a white supremacist. For the sake of the argument at least. So, should he be thrown out of Congress?
For a very good reason best articulated in this story from my native Britain:
An old mining MP called Bill Stone, who used to sit in the corner of the Strangers’ Bar drinking pints of Federation ale to dull the pain of his pneumoconiosis. He was eavesdropping on a conversation at the bar, where someone said exasperatedly about the Commons: “The trouble with this place is, it’s full of c**ts!”
Bill put down his pint, wiped the foam from his lip and said: “They’s plenty of c**ts in country, and they deserve some representation.” (To get the full effect, say it aloud in a broad northern accent.) As a description of parliamentary democracy, that strikes me as unbeatable.
The Commons is, by and large, the British equivalent of the US House of Representatives.
Should people be racists? Nope, I don’t think so either. But if enough of them live in the same place that they elect a racist to represent them then that’s that, isn’t it. For they’ve just as much right to have their views represented as anyone else does in this representative democracy. Even repugnant views get their representation. That is, even if Steve King is everything ThinkProgress alleges he’s still passed the only two tests necessary for his continued membership of the House. The plurality of his district want him there and he’s not broken any of the laws to disqualify him.
Ms. Ocasio Cortez most certainly isn’t a racist but I still find a number of her views objectionable – agreed, on the grounds of her ignorance, not her malevolence. But the people of Queens have what the people of Queens have said they want and who are we to gainsay them? So too with Iowa.