Representative Steve King of Iowa was recently in the news cycle because he said something controversial. Again. But unlike past things he’s said, which were arguably not meant in a racist fashion, this latest comment raises serious concerns. King recently asked the following in an interview: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”
That sounds awful. But before we jump on the bandwagon, let’s look carefully at his record.
King’s Past Statements
In 2016, Rep. King told an Esquire writer at CPAC:
The contributions that were made by Western civilization itself, and by Americans, by Americans of all races stand far above the rest of the world. The Western civilization and the American civilization are a superior culture.
Vice has been good enough to provide us with a few more examples:
- Back in 2008 and 2014, King accused Barack Obama of not having an American experience of patriotism “imprinted” on his heart and mind because he wasn’t raised in the United States.
- King dismissed concerns about racially profiling protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, after the Michael Brown shooting in 2014.
- In 2015, King tweeted a political cartoon of Obama wearing a turban.
- King told MSNBC during 2016’s Confederate Flag controversy that “This whole ‘white people’ business does get a little tired,” while refusing to denounce the flag he had on his desk in the Capitol.
Later in 2018, King tweeted his agreement with Geert Wilders of Holland, stating that demographic replacement won’t work for the West and that demographics and culture are destiny.
The Left’s Hypocrisy
The Left has gone looking for racism in Steve King’s past comments. But they’re often reading racism into his history rather than finding it there.
For example: we can read that last item on demographics as having a necessarily racist message. But if that’s racist, than so is the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank studying the effects of our porous borders. So are scholars who favor Western Civilization courses, replete with the study of dead white men. So are Colleges like St. John’s (this writers former school), Thomas Aquinas, and Thomas More, all of which teach a classical Western curriculum of great books written mostly by white men.
Moreover, lest we forget, the Left has a decades-long history of engaging in soft bigotry. For example, politicians argue that affirmative action is necessary to rectify past injustices. In practice, however, affirmative action results in a belief that blacks and Hispanics cannot succeed against whites, Asians, and Jews unless they are given a government leg-up. Similarly, officials have made endless attempts to solve the generational poverty trap faced by black communities. Rather than help, these efforts have resulted in the ever greater destruction of black families.
If we’re to purge Steve King, we cannot do it because the Left says so. They have their own sins to address.
The Structure of A Bad Argument
White nationalism and white supremacism have come into vogue in certain dark corners of the Internet and parts of the political Right. Knuckle-draggers on websites like Stormfront and the Daily Stormer raged against Jews and other groups for years. But recently, more erudite white nationalists (they call themselves “racial realists”), Jared Taylor most notably, have given an erudite, educated face to a disagreeable movement.
White nationalists have adopted a paradigm first propounded by radicals in the 1960s. That paradigm is that non-white racial groups should take pride in their racial past and racial achievements. Progressives apply this concept almost exclusively to Latinos, blacks, and Amerindians in the United States.
But if that is the paradigm, the nationalist says, why can’t it be extended to whites? American white nationalists make this point time again. If blacks can be proud, if we’re all part of defined racial groups, then why can’t white Europeans take part? Given their premise, they’re not wrong.
The Argument’s Rotten Core
So where’s the problem for conservatives? Why not just embrace it white nationalism?
Conservatives must reject white nationalism. This because ethnic identitarianism–the idea that our very identity is defined by our ethnic make-up–is philosophically flawed. For Christians, it is also theologically horrifying.
Philosophically speaking, men are bound across ethnic lines by the commonalities of reason, speech, and the ability to create. People find membership in communities, therefore, by participating in their shared culture and ideas. Theologically, people are tied together as fellow creations of a beneficent Creator. Within the Church, God does not favor groups of persons, and “you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
This is why the Left can’t truly deny the white nationalist his premise. The idea that race defines identity is the basis for too many of their talking points and policies. As such, they can’t condemn Steve King or Jared Taylor for promoting racial nationalism.
However, conservatives still can. The white nationalist’s case only holds up if you grant them their basic premise. By denying it, you destroy it.
The Conservative Case Against King
King is rapidly becoming a pariah. The media now reports that Congress has voted to censure King for his comments. King has also lost his Congressional committee seats. Commentator Ben Shapiro has even given the maximum amount allowed to King’s primary opponent, to try to unseat him.
Given King’s words, I cannot disagree. He’s right that “western civ” shouldn’t be considered offensive. It isn’t. But to include white nationalism and white supremacy? No, that is a bridge too far.
Steve King must go. He has overstepped. Had he put his question in terms of the acceptance of Hispanic nationalism in America, or black nationalism, then it might have been redeemable. But not this.
So please, Representative King, leave us. Don’t let the door strike you as you depart our company.