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Unmasking bigotry in the Republican Party

Melvin B. Miller
Unmasking bigotry in the Republican Party
“Well, this is the first time I ever heard of a Republican congressman being demoted for racism.”

Iowa is a small state in the Midwest that was remote from the Civil War. It has a predominantly white population with only about 9.2 percent of the total African American. Iowa has only four seats in the U.S. Congress, with one held for 16 years by Steve King, who was re-elected to a ninth term last November. However, when King uttered racist remarks in a recent press interview, Republican Party leaders felt obligated to discipline him.

King complained to the press, “white nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King seems to have ignored the unfavorable press for Donald Trump’s reaction to the Charlottesville violence in August 2017. The leader of the Republican Party was roundly criticized for asserting “I think there is blame on both sides.” King apparently did not get the memo that public figures are supposed to keep their racial hostility under cover.

It is no wonder that King was willing to make racially hostile remarks to the press. He has been doing so for years, and yet he gets re-elected to Congress. His grievance is against immigrants as well as African Americans. He is reported to have sued the Iowa Secretary of State in 2005 for publishing voting information in Spanish, Laotian, Bosnian and Vietnamese. He was also opposed to contraception in the Affordable Care Act, on the grounds that it’s “not constructive to our culture and our civilization if we let our birthrate get down below the replacement rate.”

In 2016, King stated to the Washington Post, “The idea of multiculturalism, that every culture is equal — that’s not objectively true … We’ve been fed that information for the past 25 years, and we’re not going to become a greater nation if we continue to do that.”

King also endorsed several far right politicians in Europe. He invited the anti-Islam Dutch politician Geert Wilders to Washington, he met with Frauke Petry, leader of Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany party, as well as Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Rally party.

Once again King’s racist remarks were inappropriate and untimely. But this time the Democratic defeat of Republican congressional candidates indicated that the country was moving toward racial diversity. King saved his seat in a close race against a newcomer, J.D. Scholten. King won only 50.4 percent of the vote. But the Republicans realized that it was no longer in the best interests of the party to ignore King’s white supremacy convictions.

For the first time King was admonished for his public racist position. He was removed from his committee assignments and will essentially have no role in developing Republican policy. Some leaders have suggested that King should find another kind of work.

As might be expected, Republican leaders who are embarrassed by King’s outbursts now state that they were unaware of his commitment to white supremacy. But King was the national co-chairman of Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential effort.

When the tide turned the Republican Party essentially renounced an embarrassing congressman. A lesson learned from this experience is that liberals should work to expose racist radicals who must be concealed in the dark to remain viable.

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