It’s been widely documented that during the 2016 election campaign, supporters of overt nationalism that frequently bled into white nationalism seemed to feel more and more free to express their ideas loudly and proudly. The Republican candidate’s decision to bring on Steve Bannon, the head of the Breitbart News website, as campaign chair seemed to cement the connection between the new leadership of the Republican Party and the “Alt-right.”
But even then, US public officials sympathetic to the idea that the US would be better off if it were whiter and more Christian than it is today were at least somewhat circumspect about saying so out loud.
However, with Trump in the Oval Office and Bannon set up as his Chief Strategist with an office in the West Wing, norms about what it’s acceptable to say about people of different races and creeds have been rapidly shattering.
Provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, now former technology editor at Breitbart, was invited to speak at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, despite a long history of racially charged comments and gleeful sexism. (He was disinvited at the last minute when comments he made that seemed to condone pederasty went public, proving that at least some norms remain in place.)
Trump himself has, now twice, signed executive orders banning all refugees and any citizens of half a dozen majority-Muslim countries from entering the US. The administration claims that religion has nothing to do with the travel ban, but critics point to the president’s campaign trail promises of a “Muslim ban” as reason to doubt him.
Now though, Iowa Congressman Steve King has thrown away pretty much all pretense of tolerance for people who are not American-born.
On Sunday, the fervently anti-immigration congressman tweeted out the statement, “We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies.”
In an appearance on CNN Monday morning, King said he “meant exactly what I said.”
“You cannot rebuild your civilization with somebody else's babies. You've got to keep your birth rate up, and that you need to teach your children your values,” King said. “In doing so, you can grow your population, you can strengthen your culture, and you can strengthen your way of life.”
Further remarks by King ignited yet another storm of protest, though they appear to have been taken out of context. On social media, King was blasted over reports that he longs for a future America that is “that is just so homogenous that we look a lot the same.”
He was immediately accused of advocating some sort of ethnic cleansing of the United States. However, properly contextualized, King seems to have been arguing for more assimilation, not less.
“If you go down the road a few generations, or maybe centuries, with the inter-marriage, I'd like to see an America that is just so homogenous that we look a lot the same,” he said.
“It's the culture, not the blood,” he added. “If you could go anywhere in the world and adopt these little babies and put them into households that were already assimilated into America, those babies will grow up as American as any other baby.”
The comments, on the whole, seem likely to only further aggravate King’s already awful relationship with minority groups and immigration reform advocates, especially as he repeated his assertion that some ethnic groups have more to contribute to “Western society” than others.