Iowa’s Steve King Shows America What Nuanced Racism Is.
“I’ve said to [European countries] you can’t rebuild your civilization with somebody else’s babies. You’ve got to keep your birth rate up and you need to teach your children your values. In doing so, you can grow your population and strengthen your culture, strengthen your way of life,” said GOP Rep. Steve King of Iowa in a CNN interview Monday. “It’s a clear message we need to get our birth rates up, or Europe will be entirely transformed within a half century or more.”
King became the center of online ire when he tweeted in support of Geert Wilders, a politician from the Netherlands, often associated with anti-Islamization and nationalism. He is colloquially known as the Netherlands’ Donald Trump.
Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies. https://t.co/4nxLipafWO
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) March 12, 2017
King went on in the interview to say his view isn’t about race, emphasizing he’d like to see homogeneity and everyone looking the same; it’s about culture.
Many people are interpreting his words to mean white babies and white nationalism. His tweets and interview are earning harsh critics, like from Civil Rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) in a press release.
“My colleague has made a deeply disturbing statement because it ignores the truth about the history of this nation. Western civilization did not create itself. It was founded on traditions that emerged from Africa, Iran, China, Greece and Rome and other nations.”
Is this racism? And more importantly, is racism impacting American culture?
Polling is showing American perceptions on race relations as deteriorating.
In August 2016, Gallup’s poll showed six in 10 Americans see widespread against the blacks. This is a drop from the previous year’s 2015 Gallup poll, where 47% saw race relations positively. The 47% was a steep drop from 2014 where 70% saw race relations positively.
Since the election, hate crimes skyrocketed. The Southern Poverty Law Center recorded over 1,000 hate or bias-related incidents in the month following the election. The rate in which these crimes are happening have slowed, but not gone back to pre-election numbers.
“My son has been told to go back to China,” West Virginia mom Sarah Ma said of her high schooler. The incident happened only once, but her son says he overhears less overt racism in conversations more often.
Ma is an American who spent several years abroad working in China and has two American sons. The oldest is from a previous marriage and is half Chinese. Part of his early upbringing was spent in China. He speaks Mandarin, visits his father who lives in China, and travels to different countries each summer.
“I’m glad I taught him to be proud of his Chinese heritage and embrace it,” Ma said, but recognizes that her youngest, a blond haired, blue eyed boy may have more privileges because of his all-American appearance. She explained, “[My youngest] will never be worried if white people like him,” and that her oldest has to worry about multiracial acceptance.
Her oldest and his father were planning a trip to the U.K. this summer, but have changed those plans because of the current political climate.
Comments from King have not been rare, as Vice reports, and have contributed to a different kind of American culture in regards to racism; an ambiguous bias.
When asked about King’s comment, Ma had thoughtful words.
“All I know is that social change isn’t linear,” she offered, but is confident her two boys can be a part of the positive change.
While President Donald Trump is known for racy political incorrectness, and likened to being a racist, the White House distanced itself from King’s comments. It has not not openly condemned, endorsed, or offered more than a sentence through Press Secretary Sean Spicer:
“He believes he’s the president for all Americans, and so I’ll leave it at that.”