Following Saturday’s massacre at a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh, the Washington Post published a dispatch from Iowa last night in which it discovered that a lot of residents of Iowa’s Fourth Congressional District are totally fine with their white nationalist congressman, Rep. Steve King. But more importantly, it included a pretty brutal moment of honesty from King himself.
King—who, as Sludge reported last week, gave an interview to a far-right Austrian publication immediately after visiting Auschwitz—insisted to the Post that he wasn’t anti-Semitic by saying that an Austrian party chock full of Nazis would be welcome in the Republican Party (emphasis mine):
“How do you call Steve King anti-Semitic?” he asked, just before giving a speech supporting gun rights at a dinner celebrating the first day of pheasant hunting season in the western Iowa town of Akron.
He said the groups he’s associated with that are criticized as having neo-Nazi views were more accurately “far right” groups. He specifically cited Austria’s Freedom Party, which was founded by a former Nazi SS officer and is led by Heinz-Christian Strache, who was active in neo-Nazi circles as a youth. The group has emphasized a hard-line anti-immigration stance even as it seeks to distance itself from the Nazi connections.
“If they were in America pushing the platform that they push, they would be Republicans,” King said.
Yup. They sure would be!
Who can argue with that? The central tenets of the Republican Party in 2018 are nativism and tax cuts. Trump allies and officials such as Steve Bannon and Richard Grenell have clearly allied themselves with far-right parties in Europe, not to mention Donald Trump’s own preference for far-right leaders. The Proud Boys are right at home inside the Metropolitan Republican Club and beating the shit out of protesters outside of it.
The Post piece also builds a pretty accurate portrayal of the coalition that supports Trump and King. There’s the obviously racist:
Mindy Rainer also believes that others get government benefits more easily than she does, as a white woman. “There are people out there that are desperate as hell, and I’m one of them,” she says, sliding up to the bar at the restaurant in the town of Cherokee where she works.
Rainer recalled lining up to try to get help with her utility bills when she lived in South Carolina and becoming suspicious of the others in line, almost all of them African American.
“What upset me more than anything was all them black babies were dressed up in the best clothes,” she said. “When their kids are wearing $150 tennis shoes, what do you think?”
But also, the Chamber of Commerce set:
“We need more people. We have great-paying jobs. We just need more people to fill the jobs,” said Kelly Halsted, the economic development director for the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance, a business organization. Immigration into Iowa, she says, is “completely a positive.”
King’s stance on the issue is totally wrong, she said, but she’ll still vote for him because she believes he has helped steer money to Iowa projects: “You have to take the good with the bad, right?”
Sure, King might be the only one willing to say it. But the abject failure of Republican politicians (and voters) who don’t consider themselves or their party to be nativist to banish or distance themselves from King in any way whatsoever is tacit acceptance that, yes, the Republican Party’s tent is home to fascists now.