Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.
For a period near the end of the 2018 midterms, the Republican Party briefly pretended to be offended by the blatant racism and openly white supremacist views of Rep. Steve King (R-IA). But with the election in the rearview mirror, King is once again a member of good standing in the Republican Party.
And it’s even worse than that, according to a shocking report on King the New York Times published Thursday. Republicans haven’t just failed to adequately condemn King’s white supremacy — they’ve also fully embraced his white-supremacist approach to immigration policy.
Before Trump made a racist border wall and anti-immigration rhetoric the core of his campaign, King spent years in Congress pushing the same agenda. And these days, King’s anti-immigrant racism is so ingrained in the Republican Party that GOP leadership is willing to join Trump in shutting down the government to fight for it.
The Times report includes some shocking new racist quotes from King. But even if Republican leaders eventually break their silence and condemn these quotes, they can’t escape the fact that King’s anti-immigrant racism is now the Republican party line.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King told the Times in an interview. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
He also dismissed the new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, which is the most diverse and representative in the history of the country, by saying, “You could look over there and think the Democratic Party is no country for white men.”
In reality, white men are slightly over-represented in the new Democratic majority. Roughly 31 percent of the American population is made up of white men, and 38 percent of Democrats in the House are white men. But King is obviously more comfortable in the new Republican minority, which is made up of 90 percent white men — most of whom are embracing the radical Trump-King immigration policy that includes demanding a useless wall to be built along the U.S.-Mexico border.
When freshman Democratic lawmaker Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) was caught on video using a curse word to describe Trump, Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) rushed in front of the cameras to denounce her rhetoric.
But when King uses racist rhetoric and sympathizes with neo-Nazis, McCarthy is silent.
The Times explains how Trump “embraced the once-fringe views” of King, who bragged about having “market-tested” Trump’s immigration policy — and how the entire Republican Party went along with it:
With the federal government in a third week of paralysis over a border wall, Mr. Trump’s positions are a reminder of how Mr. King’s ideology and his language maligning undocumented residents helped shape the Republican message in 2016 and 2018 and define Mr. Trump’s agenda and prospects for re-election. …
Early in Mr. Trump’s term, the president invited Mr. King — who was long snubbed by establishment Republicans like the former House speaker John A. Boehner — to the Oval Office. There, the president boasted of having raised more money for the congressman’s campaigns than anyone else, including during a 2014 Iowa visit, Mr. King recalled in an interview with The Times.
“Yes, Mr. President,” Mr. King replied. “But I market-tested your immigration policy for 14 years, and that ought to be worth something.”
In October, King claimed that the agenda of the Republican Party was the same as far-right white supremacist groups in Europe.
And King knows a lot about European white supremacists. In an August 2018 interview with an Austrian outlet, the Times notes, King “spoke of ‘the Great Replacement,’ a conspiracy theory on the far right that claims shadowy elites are working behind the scenes to reduce white populations to minorities in their own countries.”
When he made those statements, King — with the full support of the GOP majority in the House — was chairman of the Constitution & Civil Justice subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee.
These were also the same sentiments echoed by the neo-Nazis who marched on Charlottesville with torches and chanted, “Jews will not replace us.”
These are the types of people King, and the Republican Party, now openly court. After all, the Times points out, “Mr. King’s full-throated embrace of nativism has long found a supportive constituency in the rural Midwest, the region that was a key to Mr. Trump’s 2016 victory and represents his most likely path to re-election.”
King’s once-fringe views are no longer an outlier; they are the core of what it means to be a Republican today. And the complicit silence from leaders like McCarthy show just how strongly King and his radical message are embraced by the GOP as a whole.
Published with permission of The American Independent.