This past weekend Iowa Congressman tweeted a memo released by his office in March entitled “Fact Checking The New York Times Misquote Of Steve King.” To borrow a turn of phrase from Jeff Foxworthy: you might be a white supremacist if you have to issue a memo explaining your use of the term white supremacy.
On January 10, 2019, the New York Times ran an article’s entitled “Before Trump, Steve King Set the Agenda for the Wall and Anti-Immigrant Politics” by journalist Trip Gabriel. The article drew a marked correlation between President Trump’s immigration agenda and Rep. King’s history of anti-immigrant rhetoric. The article employed bombast and hyperbole to attack Trump but it was also well researched and exposed some disturbing facts about King. The one I found most concerning, “On Twitter, he follows an Australian anti-Semitic activist, who proposed hanging a portrait of Hitler ‘in every classroom.’”
According to the article, Congressman King asserted “he supports immigrants who enter the country legally and fully assimilate because what matters more than race is ‘the culture of America’ based on values brought to the United States by whites from Europe.” There are portions of this position that I can wholeheartedly endorse and portions that expose what I believe is a deeply rooted race based hatred. I agree that it is important to support legal immigration and end illegal entry. I also agree the culture of America is what makes America great and assimilation into that culture is important for all those who wish to grasp for the intrinsically and uniquely American Dream. But I disagree that his position that this dream was defined by whites from Europe.
While the term “melting pot” has fallen out of favor by Academia as overly simplistic and discounting the importance of ethnic and cultural diversity, I think it perfectly defines the beauty of Americanism. I think it is the amalgam of the diversity that leads to the wonder and it is why I abhor the term cultural appropriation. If members of other communities witness and desire to participate or enjoy a resplendent part of another cultural, I view that as a celebration of the culture not an appropriation. The suggestion that European whiteness is somehow the sole basis for American exceptionalism is rooted in racist idiocy.
And, leaving no room for wonder, Steve allegedly followed by spewing this amazing bit of mouth bile, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
This quote cost Congressman King and his constituents dearly; Republican leadership refused to reappoint him to the Judiciary, Agriculture and Small Business communities. He was denied any committee assignment in a pronounced and historic rebuke. The GOP’s leadership’s decision was in marked contrast to the Democratic leadership’s tepid response to Congresswoman Omar’s virulent anti-Semitism. But, in fairness, the Republican Party had turned a deaf ear to Rep. King’s own virulence for 16 years.
The end result was Steve’s abovementioned memo within which he sought to explain away and dilute the consequence of his words. The thesis of the six page abject failure of an explanation can be found in the first page: “King has consistently disputed this interpretation, maintaining that he was simply trying to ask when the phrase ‘Western Civilization’ had gained a pejorative connotation, an assertion that is supported by the remaining section of the Times’ quote.”
King’s memorandum is wholly devoid of substance and the fact that it is stretched out over six pages which includes no less then two charts providing graphic evidentiary support is a remarkable accomplishment. The entirety of his argument is that the reporter ignored a clear and decisive oral hyphenation. I have no idea what the intonation of a hyphen is but if you have to conjure it to explain your use of white supremacy in a positive, you probably should not be a Congressperson.
The memo’s summation is as unremarkable as his thesis: “Congressman King was railroaded over a false quote. To believe the version of events relied upon by Kevin McCarthy to strip King of committee assignments, one must believe that an, for which no evidence exists, is more likely to be accurate than a which is internally supported by context clues and externally supported by data and other contemporaneous, published accounts. One must also believe that The New York Times, a hostile, liberal paper which has had other articles about Congressman Steve King written by the same author thoroughly debunked as ‘completely bogus,’ set aside its animus in this particular case.” Yes, I cut and paste this quote. I know. It is not cohesive and appears to be the ramblings of a high school student who wrote his term paper without reading the source material.
There exists no recorded data to refute the reporter’s quotation in the article. And it does not appear King is refuting the words alleged to have been spoken. Times journalist Gabriel claims that he does not have a recording and neither does Congressman King. But more importantly, Steve does not dispute the words he said, he, merely, disputes the application of punctuation to the words he said when reduced to writing. In other words (insert laugh track here!), he concedes he said it, but says he said it differently. Which is absurd. And laughable (more laugh track!). Finally, Rep. King knew he was speaking to a “hostile, liberal” New York Times reporter when he sat down for the interview. If he was too stupid to realize he should insure a recorded record of the interview was created to protect him from being misquoted he is, most likely, unfit to be a Congressperson. And if thinks this “memo” does anything other than exemplify his bigotry and his team’s incompetence, he might be an idiot. Or a racist. But he is most likely both.