Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King stepped into the kaka last week with one incendiary tweet in which he was endorsing his support for Geert Wilders, the Dutch candidate for their recent election. Wilders supports a total ban on Muslims, head scarves and the Quran. Wilders’s party this last week did not succeed as they had hoped, but the rise in influence of far right nationalism, part of the kind of Alt-Right Internationale, in a liberal democracy such as the Netherlands has alarmed the world. So Steve King of Iowa tweeted this …
Tweets are limited to 117 characters, but King managed to convey an entire ideology appropriately blunt and succinct. It’s shocking in its clarity, unobscured by niceties or word mincing. I want to expand King’s ideology here so we understand its meaning.
But lets look at these words. “Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny.” This a succinct articulation of the prominent American ideology of the first half of the nineteenth century called Manifest Destiny. Reginald Horsman to explains:
By 1850 a clear pattern was emerging. From their own successful past as Puritan colonists, Revolutionary patriots, conquerors of the wilderness, and creators of an immense material prosperity, the Americans had evidence plain before them that they were a chosen people; from the English they had learned that the Anglo-Saxons had always been particularly gifted in the arts of government; from the scientists and ethnologists they were learning that they were of a distinct Caucasian race, innately endowed with abilities that placed them above other races; from the philologists, often through literary sources, they were learning that they were the descendants of those Aryans who followed the sun to carry civilization to the whole world. (Race and Manifest Destiny, 5)
This is old fashioned racism, a kind that has been obscured by many historical events since. But it is vital to remember that the expansion of America, the enslavement of one race and the extermination of another, was racially motivated. This remains an old ghost in Americana, and it is called white nationalism. It has to do with a concept called white civilization, America is the standard bearer of its progress, and its white race is the herrenvolk, the vanguard of progress. This white triumphalism has nothing to do with democracy or the Constitution, and everything to do with a myth/ideology that is cobbled together from a hodgepodge of racial myths – Anglo-Saxon, Aryan, Caucasian, Teutonic, and Protestant. Democracy, according to white nationalism, is a white democracy. People are not inherently equal. People are inherently unequal, and people are free to pursue their own place in nature – that is to say, white people are superior, and the colors are barbarians.
Let’s look at the next part – “we can’t restore our civilization with someone else’s babies.”
White nationalists view America as a kind of fallen place, somehow off course after a series of events that spoiled the Manifest Destiny narrative. The Civil War, Reconstruction, a new wave of immigrants, then two world wars, all transformed the nation into a different racial makeup. At each turn, white nationalists have railed against the perceived decline of “civilization” from other races. A slew of white nationalist books emerged in the twentieth century, including Madison Grant’s The Passing of the Great Race (1916) and Theodore Stoddard’s The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy (1920) and The Revolt Against Civilization (1922). The titles tell you all you will ever need to know about these books. White means the noble civilization, colored means barbarian. In the post-war period, a schizophrenic intellectual named Francis Yockey wrote a book inspired by Oswald Spengler’s Decline of the West called Imperium, which is the main history book referenced by NeoNazis.
This tweet was not a one-of. Steve King has been connected with white nationalism before. Here a clip where he asks “what have minorities done for civilization?” And we know whose civilization he means.
Steve King proposed a bill in 2016 that would have blocked the Harriet Tubman twenty dollar bill.
If only all racism were this blunt we’d know where everyone stands. Racism today usually takes far more nuanced, layered, sophisticated and systematic tracts. The recent hit horror film Get Out is destined to be a modern classic articulating the subtle trappings of systematic clandestine racism – racism that hides behind policies, gated neighborhoods, incarcerations, prison labor, drug laws, voter suppression, white flight and gentrification – well documented in books like White Rage by Emory University’s Professor Carol Anderson.
But because these levels of subtle, postmodern racism are implied in the normative social fabric of daily life does not mean that the harsher, cruel, blunt form of racism isn’t there. No, rather, as we can see in King’s blunt tweet, always there under the surface, like the beetles and worms lurking under the freshly mowed suburban lawn in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet.
Racist celebrity social media shockers usually come out in the form of TMZ leaks, where the cracks of the social system are revealed through their ugly old-fashioned racist head. Like when Paula Deen’s leaked tape where she was to host an aristocratic antebellum soiree with (n-word) servants. Or like when former Clippers owner and LA slumlord Donald Sterling’s leaked rant with his biracial assistant, with whom he was upset that she Instagramed a photo of herself with Magic Johnson. Or Seinfeld‘s Kramer (Michael Richards), career-ending disaster 2006 stand up at the comedy store. Or when Mel Gibson’s drunken leaked racist and antisemitic telephone rants.
The remarkable thing is that all of these incidences were disastrous to these folks careers and public image – Deen’s foodie empire was greatly diminished, Sterling lost his Clippers and his marriage, and Gibson became a persona non grata in Hollywood for a decade. All suffered public humiliation. But Steve King is on a different level. These folks were just subtly racist compared to King. This isn’t just white supremacist, but white nationalist. This a skinhead statement. It’s the stuff of horror movies – only Stephen King writes fiction, Steve King of Iowa nonfiction. Yet he is suffering no defeat, no resignation, no censure from Congress, and remains on the chairman of the Subcommittee on the Constitution & Civil Justice, and on the committee on Border Security. Imagine that.
And yet King has the audacity to not only not apologize, but double down on his racism, and mock the snowflake libtards who cry foul. Why did they even bother to ask him to explain, he could only offer obfuscation of what was already clear enough.
Are we in a remarkable time when white nationalism is no longer subject for ridicule, are they now suddenly so emboldened by the alt-right internationale, buttressed by Breitbart, racist wingnut Tom Tancredo and the Trumpslainers of Fox News?
Moving the Goalposts
Racists today use the goalpost method to obscure their racism. They first deny they are racist. Then they say they are for “western civilization,” then they say they are for preserving “the American nation.” These are the dog whistle euphemisms for white nationalism today.
A great example of this moving goalpost method is in this clip from American History X. The father is a racist cop who tell his son, who is inspired by his African-American English professor, through a progressive revelation of the racist core message. First he tell him he has to question his professor, and that he can’t believe everything he’s been taught. And once he got through that message, the father looks to advance the next step in racist unraveling. Then he says it’s “affirmative blacktion” to be taught any literature by a black author. Then the father thinks, okay, you accepted that move, son? Then he says it’s “bullshit,” oh, you agree, son? Then, finally, “(n-word) bullshit.”
Speaking of moving the goal posts? Where will white nationalism as an ideology end? Where will be their final goal post? What is, for the white nationalist, the final solution? We have only to look at our own history to find out. It’s about supermen and the underclass, the precious racial destiny, and those who have to line up at one of these goalposts – to imitate and assimilate, or else serve, or else die.
Here is a tweet from King supporter David Duke:
Finish the job? Finish what, David Duke? Tell us, Duke, what is the final solution?
Steve King is funded by a flood of dark money from the Kochtopus. His challenger, a working mom named Kim Weaver (D), raised a hundred thousand dollars in just a few days this week from online crowd sourcing. You can contribute here.