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Racism? Or a Botched Juxtaposition?

We have two options when it comes to dealing with Congressman Steve King.

Steve King has responded to the House’s decision to strip him of committee assignments. Commentary on the method of dissemination aside (Steve King took a picture of a piece of paper with his thumb in the corner), King’s remarks aren’t sitting well with the GOP and rightly so.

When I read the King’s comments in the New York Times article, my first thought was that he failed to use precise language in explaining his thoughts.  His delivery was poor.  But his premise, that the term “western civilization” had been bastardized by the left and lumped in with other terms like “white nationalism” and “white supremacy,” was at least arguable.

Consider the following hypotheticals:

“Nazi, Fascist, Republican, when did that become offensive?”

“Communist, Holodomor Apologist, Democrat, when did that become offensive?”

The obvious point of these is to insert a benign term next to offensive terms to illustrate that some have decided to lump all of them together for dramatic effect. The point is not to defend Nazism or Communism, but to rescue the benign terms, like Republican and Democrat, from the clutches of hysterical children who think everyone they disagree with is Hitler or Stalin.  

That is how I read the New York Times excerpt. But it took King another few days to even offer this up as a viable interpretation of the statement.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Dw6qyI_XQAArEZT.jpg:large

King’s response to the House. 5:55pm January 14, 2019. From Twitter.

King’s response to the House takes this route of explanation. And some of the articles denouncing this avenue illustrate King’s supposed point because they are convinced he’s a racist regardless of what he intended to say.  They DO think western civilization is racist.  The media is compelled then to give misleading headlines regarding King’s statement. It is entirely possible that King was merely defending the term “western civilization,” CNN concedes that it’s a valid interpretation of the statement, but instead they lead with “he openly wondered how — and why — terms like “white supremacist” became a bad thing.” A few paragraphs down they say, “In a vacuum, you might be willing to give King the benefit of the doubt. He misspoke. He spoke inarticulately. Whatever.”

Excellent work, CNN…The real problem is not that King exists on the periphery of questionable thought or that his associations have questionable links.  At some point, you get into Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon territory (the idea that everyone in Hollywood is only six people removed from knowing Kevin Bacon).  The actual problem is that King had the opportunity to explain his imprecise language when he issued his first response. Instead, he claimed to reject those “evil ideologies” all the while failing to explain his statement. Look Steve, you had your chance to correct this.  Some on the left are going to call you racist regardless of what you do.  King went for the vague value statements that supposedly immunize him from the charge of racism.

It’s not a bad defense, but it doesn’t sufficiently explain the statement.  I firmly believe that Christians MUST be opposed to racism for two reasons. One, the imago dei.  Two, Paul’s assertion in Galatians that in Christ, there is no racial/ethnic identity, all are one.  But Steve’s defense offers no sane explanation as to why it appears that he affirms those two principles in Christian thought while simultaneously extolling white nationalism/supremacy.

We would be in a different place if King had led off with the second response.  And now that he has issued this response, it looks less sincere.  He looks like the school kid who got the wrong answer and is asking you for the correct one.  Or better yet, he’s been leaning over your shoulder to find how you got to a satisfactory result.

It appears that King waited for someone to come up with a valid argument because he lacked one.

Because of that, we should be cautious of King.

Congress has the power to remove members upon 2/3rds vote. They can do that. I don’t think that will happen.

It’s also up to the people of Iowa.

The Des Moines Register had this to say yesterday as it called for King’s resignation, “We don’t expect King to listen to us. But maybe he would listen to Grassley, Ernst, Reynolds and Republicans in his district. They should encourage him to step aside for the good of the Republican Party and, more importantly, for the good of Iowa.”

It’s an interesting closing statement to be sure, given other snippets in the article.

They also say things like “We don’t make the argument that King should resign lightly, or based on partisan preferences” and “But the entire state needs a healthy rural economy, including in King’s district, to grow and thrive. President Trump’s tariffs are a drag on farmers already buffeted by five years of low commodity prices. Iowa needs all of its delegation members working together to push for policies that will help.”

While it looks as though they are talking out of both sides of their mouth, the Des Moines Register is at least capable of acknowledging that they want King to resign over his commentary alone, not as a result of his disagreeable policies, though they’ll take what they can get, especially if it serves their partisan goals.

Check out these other Resurgent articles on the entire Steve King debacle here and here and here.

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