Personal Responsibility In The Heartland

Or, what’s the matter with Iowa? Usually, when I’m discussing voting, I approach the topic from more of a ‘how do we get people to pull the lever’ perspective. The danger in constantly thinking like that, however, is that you run the danger of absolving people who have cast dreadful votes. Which brings us to Republican Iowa Congressman and elite racist Steve King (boldface mine):

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) visited Austria in August and gave an extensive interview to a far-right publication there in which he spelled out, in clearer and more shocking terms than he ever has before, his white nationalist worldview.

The eight-term congressman, up for re-election next month, talked to Caroline Sommerfeld of the Austrian far-right propaganda site Unzensuriert (which means “uncensored” in English). Sommerfeld is a prominent intellectual in Europe’s neo-fascist identitarian movement, which has deep connections to America’s so-called alt-right.

The interview, published in September, came to HuffPost’s attention this week. In his conversation with Sommerfeld, King discussed his belief in the superiority of European culture over others. He talked fearfully of falling fertility rates in the West and spoke at length about his belief that Europe and America are threatened by Muslim and Latino immigration.

If we don’t defend Western civilization, then we will become subjugated by the people who are the enemies of faith, the enemies of justice,” King said.

The interview is remarkable, capturing a sitting U.S. congressman completely fluent in modern white nationalist talking points just weeks before an election he is favored to win.

“This interview reveals a whole new level of reality underneath this guy’s politics,” said Roger Griffin, an expert on fascism and modern history at Oxford Brookes University…

King’s conversation with Sommerfeld largely revolves around the paranoid idea of the Great Replacement — the belief that mass migration, particularly from Muslim-majority countries, is an extinction-level event for white European culture and identity. Or as he put it in the interview, a “slow-motion cultural suicide.”

“The U.S. subtracts from its population a million of our babies in the form of abortion,” King said. “We add to our population approximately 1.8 million of ‘somebody else’s babies’ who are raised in another culture before they get to us.”

Sommerfeld responded, “That’s what we call the Great Replacement.”

…It’s a phrase, he said, widely used by anti-Muslim European networks to refer to the supposed Islamification of Europe by migrants and refugees.

The idea of the Great Replacement is imagined most vividly in The Camp of the Saints, a stunningly racist 1973 novel by Jean Raspail that “reframes everything as the fight to death between races,” said Cécile Alduy, a professor of French at Stanford University and an expert on France’s far right. It describes the takeover of Europe by waves of immigrants that “wash ashore like the plague.”

In the interview, King said that he read the book and that it was “completely logical to me that this could come to pass.” He went on to describe how he believes George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist and bogeyman of the far right, might be footing the bill for the Great Replacement.

Here’s the kicker:

King, who represents one of the reddest districts in America, has beaten his Democratic opponents by more than 20 points in the past five elections. An Emerson College poll last month showed him leading Scholten by 10 percentage points.

For those keeping score at home, King won more votes than any other Iowan congressional candidate.

This bigot will likely win–again. Every four years, we are treated to the nauseating spectacle of presidential candidates offering paeans to ‘heartland values’, as the campaigns kick off in Iowa. Does Steve King epitomize heartland values? And will Iowans take personal responsibility* for electing him? After all, he’s not just some guy who happens to live there, he has won multiple elections with majorities. For once, it would be useful to send a heartland whisperer good reporter to explore why (and how can) these ‘good people’ with heartland values support such a man.

I realize racism and bigotry are baked into the cake everywhere in the U.S., but something is especially rotten in the heartland. The denizens therein need to take some personal responsibility and fix it. Whether or not such a state should be allowed to play a key role in sorting out presidential primaries is left as an exercise for the reader.

*We like personal responsibility for one’s actions, we just happen to think personal responsibility should not be the sole purview of poor single minority mothers.

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4 Responses to Personal Responsibility In The Heartland

  1. RJ says:

    Mike, ‘personal responsibility’ and ‘freedom’ are both excellent virtues, and I totally wish people would stop letting the far-right freak-o’s absurdly claim them as their own. Totally with you here.

  2. Veronica says:

    As a Democrat who lives in a deep-red area, my impression is all this is the result of pure tribal politics. People here associate the Republicans with things they value: the flag, the military, guns, and Christianity. The Democrats are associated with everything they find threatening: taxes, foreigners, feminists, and black people. It doesn’t matter who the Republican is or what he or she says. If voters define the Republicans as “the good people” then anything that portrays them otherwise is either not really important or “fake news.”

  3. I grew up in rural areas but lived mostly in cities since my adulthood. in my forties, I went back to the country for about fifteen years. I totally agree with what Veronica says. The media is a BIG part of this disconnect. In the 1960’s “Downtown” (as in the song by Petula Clark) was the place to be but by 1980, via TV shows like “The Waltons” and the way country music took over the airways via “country-rock” (which is all country music is now), coupled with the relentless reporting of crime in the inner cities made the “country life” seem SO MUCH SUPERIOR. But believe me … there’s every bit as much crime, drug use, stupidity, and downright evil in the country as there is in the city. I used to argue that it was a “per capita” thing but those rubes couldn’t or wouldn’t understand that. Whatever. I think at the base of all of this is the very human drive to see your way of life, your home, your religion, your whatever it is, as SUPERIOR to anyone else’s. When all you see are your own kind, this is reinforced on a daily basis. City people might think their kind is better than other but since they have to live with all different kinds … taking the bus, the subway, etc. … city people become more tolerant of those differences. Country people like to call city people “citiots” but I know plenty of country people who are dumber than the dirt below their feet. AND THEY ARE PROUD OF THAT FACT.

  4. jonolan says:

    The thing is, no matter if you want to paint it as racist of not, that he’s right. Even your own sort believes he’s right; you just like the Browning of America and look forward to Whites being a minority here.

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