Iowa Congressman Steve King presents a challenge to America on many levels. I've quoted fictional President Andrew Shepard in this space before:
"America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours."
To see the whole speech click HERE. (You won't regret it)
America is tough, especially nowadays. You have to love her more than you hate your enemies. We all reinforce our tribalistic mindsets by staying in our bubbles, but we can't stay there forever.
Steve King is an unabashed, racist asshole, but he is not the disease, he is merely a symptom. Almost 158,000 Iowans, about half of the 4th District's voters cast their ballots for King in the 2018 midterms.
And they knew EXACTLY who they were voting for.
The problem we liberals face now and again is that we sometimes have to choose between our revulsion with racist assholes like King and the free speech we espouse.
As it turns out, there's no law against being a racist asshole, not even if you're a congressman.
My grandparents were immigrants from across Eastern Europe, their common language being Yiddish, a Germanic mashup, written in Hebrew characters.
My grandparents had little or no interaction with black people, either in their native lands or here in America, where they settled into predominantly Jewish enclaves, from the West Side of Chicago to West Rogers Park.
The only word they had for black people was schvartze, and they didn't seem to use it in a disparaging way. I never heard a racial epithet from my parents or grandparents, just as my children never heard one from me.
There was probably some underlying prejudice, although on a level where they weren't lying when they said they weren't racist, they were just wrong.
I'm sure it wouldn't have sat well with my dad if one of my sisters brought home a schvartze. He went apoplectic when one of them came home with an Italian guy.
Steve King, on the other hand knows he's a racist. He knows that he wants to keep brown people out of America and black people out of his line of sight.
King's most recent transgression was asking how the phrases "white nationalist" and "white supremacist" became "offensive." You can read more by clicking HERE.
It's hard to say if that's a legitimate question, but some words are by their nature or definition offensive. When most people hear "white nationalist" or "white supremacist" they think: Racist.
Unless you're talking about a white Christmas, most things that start with the word white are going to be offensive.
If the people of the 4th District of Iowa feel that a racist asshole best represents them, who are we to disagree?
American democracy works best when everyone has a voice. We liberals must sometimes bite our tongues to stand up for our own principles.
Someday, good Christians like Steve King may come to embrace the tenets of their faith, like the one that says you're supposed to love your neighbor as you love yourself.
And not just the straight, white ones.
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