Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) is an infamous loose cannon, as well as being Cro-Magnon in his politics. He is prone to misstatements, colorful hyperbole and utter nonsense. There are head-scratching lists all over the web of his “greatest hits.” Once, for example, he suggested that “For every time we give amnesty to an illegal immigrant, we would just deport a liberal.” OK, that was tongue in cheek (I hope), if hardly helpful to the cause of mutual respect and comity, but this probably wasn’t:
“If there is a sexual predator out there who has impregnated a young girl. Say a thirteen year old girl; and it happens in America more times than you and I would like to think. That sexual predator could pick that girl up off the playground at the middle school and haul her across the state line and force her to get an abortion to irradiate the evidence of his crime and bring her back and drop her off at the swing set and that’s not against the law in the United States of America.”
Actually, that would violate a number of laws, but never mind: Rep. King is an ultra-conservative idiot, and “the Julie Principle” applies: fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly.” If the good people of Iowa want someone like this to be one of their voices in the House, so be it, but don’t expect me to eat as much corn as I might otherwise. Unfortunately, though, elected officials whose minds and tongues are not well connected to each other and who lack ethics alarms as well eventually get themselves into real trouble, unless they are nominated as the Republican candidate for President, like Steve King’s favorite orange tycoon.
The cock finally crowed for Steve King this week when, appearing on MSNBC (which loves to book really stupid Republicans and conservatives because it makes all Republicans and conservatives look as stupid as MSNBC’s audience thinks they are) leftist pundit Charles Pierce engaged in typical ageist, racist-baiting that good progressives think is perfectly fine. He sneered about “old white people” controlling the GOP and said that Republican convention was filled with “loud, unhappy, dissatisfied white people.”
Naturally, Steve King saw this as his signal to embrace white supremacy, saying..
“This whole ‘white people’ business, though, does get a little tired, Charlie. I mean, I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out, where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you’re talking about? Where did any other sub-group of people contribute to civilization?”
Excellent timing, Congressman! Here is the nation on the verge of racial conflict, with police being targeting for death and afraid to police, while the black community is being convinced that a white justice system is biased against them, and you start talking like a Grand Dragon on national TV.
Like so much King says, this is so blindingly cretinous that one can almost forget that it’s also offensive. “Sub-groups”? Do they not teach about Asia and Egypt in Iowa? To attempt to list all of the hundreds of thousands–millions?— of non-white men and women who have made profound contributions to civilization is to diminish them. The Congressman’s own last name should give him a hint regarding one relatively recent example.
Steve King had the germ of one valid point, which is that the “old white people” and “old white men” mantra of the Left is itself offensive, being racist, misandrous, and ageist in tone and, yes, intent. Charles Pierce deserved to be called out, but when people of stunted wit and broken ethics alarms try to do the calling, they tend to botch the assignment. That’s what happened here.
Rep. King started backtracking soon after, as even he, dim as he is, could sense that he crossed some lines with huge, flashing red warning lights on them. It was too late, though. He is now forever on record, and video, asserting the innate superiority of the white race.
What is the proper political and societal response to King? We don’t want to establish a standard where professional talkers, which is what Congressman are, along with comedians, shock jocks and radio talk show hosts, are immediately shunned and banished for the inevitable instances when a thought comes out horribly wrong. That chills free speech, and there are proliferating numbers of activists, especially on the progressive side, that want to chill it; after all, if people are afraid to speak opposing views, the Left has a clear field no matter what bad policies they push.
To them,”hate speech” means “they hate our agenda.”
On the other hand, our democracy’s government doesn’t engender trust when it has white supremacists, or fools who periodically sound like them, in positions of power.
The Republicans are in a bind of their own making, since they just nominated as their standard bearer a man who also says silly things and has no ethics alarms, and one who regularly bulls across lines with huge, flashing red warning lights on them. Nonetheless, unless they want to cement an image as the party of not merely old white guys but old white guys who never studied history and think their race is superior to other “sub-groups,” they have to deal with King, and immediately.
First, King should apologize, and someone should help him craft his statement. Maybe Melania Trump could help. For the love of God, don’t trust King.
Second, the party should disavow his comments, sincerely, forcefully, and publicly.
Third, someone responsible, Paul Ryan perhaps, should sit King down and explain to him in simple, clear English that he is an embarrassment, and that he needs to stop going on MSNBC. King might consider hiring someone with good judgment and a taser to stand close to him whenever he speaks to the news media.
Fourth, the House should formally reprimand King, and…
Fifth, the GOP should move heaven and earth to ensure that someone else, ideally who can’t sing the Scarecrow’s song from “The Wizard of Oz” and mean it, runs for King’s seat.
That failing, Iowans should vote him out, as they should done have long ago.