The Arrogance of Representative Steve King’s “Western” Civilization

Representative Steve King tweeted, “We can’t restore our civilization with someone else’s babies.”

In an interview following he stated that he meant exactly what he said, adding “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,” and, “In doing so, you can grow your population, you can strengthen your culture, and you can strengthen your way of life.”

I hear these comments as a clear “dog whistle” to white supremacy. It seems that King views “his” culture as threatened and possibly at war with other cultures. King did try and soften the white supremacy angle by stating, “It’s the culture, not the blood. 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.”

But I think this statement exposes his true thinking (maybe fear). “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.” I’m making an assumption (that very well could be wrong) that “same” to King would most likely be his racial background of European descent. To be more generous, I could assume that he would be okay with a homogenous population that was a mixture of races from around the globe—presumably a skin tone in the middle between the lightest skinned Northern European and the darkest skinned African or indigenous Australian. But only if they all embraced Western Society and assimilated into “American culture.”

King is operating under the assumption not only of American exceptionalism, but of Western exceptionalism. What he seems to be communicating is that you can bring your darker skin, but not your “darker” culture to America. Certainly I could be wrong, but I think this might even be a generous interpretation of what he is saying.

This is an arrogance of the highest order. He is living in a place that at one time was peopled by tribal nations that had evolved biologically and culturally in that location for thousands of years. In a few hundred years, his American, Western culture was built in that location on the genocide of the indigenous tribal nations living in that place, and also genocide of the ecosystems that evolved in that place for millions of years, and in so doing has ignored any ecological and cultural knowledge accumulated along the way.

To operate from a belief that his worldview is the one right worldview, and that the others do not offer anything (except maybe some melatonin) is simply arrogant and ignorant. Considering the result of this worldview based on unsustainable growth and exploitation of (seemingly) unlimited natural resources is a society facing species-threatening ecological crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, I’m simply embarrassed that he represents enough of “us” to get elected to office. Maybe instead of assimilating others into “American” culture, America would be well-served to assimilate into other cultures instead. Then maybe a more sustainable way of life could be practiced.

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