Read time: 7 minutes

Kathleen Parker: Well, You Can't Blame Steve King And Geert Wilders, Really

Kathleen Parker has written one of the worst things you'll read in the mainstream media about Steve King's recent racist outbursts.
Kathleen Parker: Well, You Can't Blame Steve King And Geert Wilders, Really
Image from: Getty Images

Kathleen Parker has written one of the worst things you'll read in the mainstream media about Steve King's recent racist outbursts:

“Culture and demographics are our destiny.” Stop.

But Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) didn’t stop there. He continued to feed his foot deep into his gullet: “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”

Well, now. Let’s pause to parse.

Parker doesn't pause to parse. She pauses to try to try to paper over what King said with frivolous distractions:

First, one never speaks of “somebody else’s babies” except to exclaim how precious they are — each and every one. For a politician to say this, the exclamation is best accompanied by a warm smile and an unmistakable tone of admiration for the infant’s heroic mother. (Note: All mothers are heroic.)

Second, what’s all this about restoring civilization? Did we lose it? Is civilization crumbling beneath our noses?

Admittedly, I’ve mentioned more than once that civilization hangs by a thread, which for me means Americans must promptly learn the difference between “your” and “you’re.” You’re proud of your baby though heaven knows why (I’m not a politician).

No, really: Steve King has just goose-stepped into the national spotlight and Parker is making language-usage jokes. And she's not finished:

Of equal urgency, it’s “fewer than,” not “less than,” when speaking of things that can be counted. As in, fewer than one in a million Americans know who Steve King is.

This is an indirect way of saying, You liberals just hush. You're pretending that this Steve King unpleasantness really matters, when hardly anyone has even heard of him.

It's not true that "fewer than one in a million Americans know who Steve King is." The population of the United States is approximately 319 million. I think it's safe to say that more than 319 Americans have heard of Steve King, given that he received 226,719 votes in his last election, and plenty of us who've never voted for him know who he is.


↓ Story continues below ↓

Parker continues:

King’s comment came in the form of a tweet, apparently in support of Geert Wilders, the Dutch nationalist politician hoping to become prime minister of the Netherlands following Wednesday’s election.

Oh, I see -- King's tweet was apparently in support of Wilders, according to Parker. Folks, what do you think?

Parker linked the tweet -- see her second paragraph above. How can she pretend she doesn't know for sure whether King wrote it "in support of Wilders"?

More:

Both Wilders — who once called Moroccans “scum” — and King do seem cut from the same cloth.

I love that "once," which, to many readers, will suggest that this is as inflammatory as Wilders's rhetoric has ever gotten. In fact, here's just a tiny sample of what Wilders has said:

I don't hate Muslims. I hate Islam.

Islam is not a religion, it's an ideology, the ideology of a retarded culture.

Islam is something we can't afford any more in the Netherlands. I want the fascist Koran banned. We need to stop the Islamisation of the Netherlands. That means no more mosques, no more Islamic schools, no more imams... Not all Muslims are terrorists, but almost all terrorists are Muslims.

All of that is from one Guardian article published in 2008. There's much more at Wilders's Wikiquote page.

I'm going to skip ahead in the Parker column to the diseased heart of it:

I’m as happy as anyone to dismiss extremists of any sort as this-ist or that-phobe. But such labeling seems both facile and unproductive. Swaddling ourselves in righteous indignation, we settle by the fire, cooing to our superior intellects and noticing too late the hungry mob building a pyre beyond the window.

King speaks stupidly and carelessly, to be sure. His ineloquent tongue could reduce the Gettysburg Address to a cartoon caption. But he’s addressing an idea that is far from alien to a large percentage of Western civilization’s acolytes and beneficiaries.

Wilders, too, is a symptom of something real and profound. He didn’t invent himself out of nothing. His “scum” comment last month followed the shocking 2004 murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a Dutch-Moroccan Muslim claiming to defend the name of Allah.

Just as 9/11 caused the United States to lose its rose-hued glasses, van Gogh’s fatal shooting and throat slashing ruptured the Netherlands’ long-standing and proud tradition of tolerance. Loss of innocence becomes its own empty vessel that is quickly filled with lust for revenge born of ultimate betrayal. As in: We welcomed you to our home and you turned our goodwill against us. Or killed our artists. Or blew up our buildings — and destroyed our hearts.

The forces that escort people such as King, Wilders and President Trump to the dais are not, in other words, primarily hateful, though they easily can so evolve. At their root, they’re something else. It is this something else that slips into the gulf of deferred aspirations when labels are substituted for the hard work of thinking.

Did you follow that? Wilders isn't fully responsible for his own words because a terrorist murder took place in his country. After that, according to Parker, you can't really blame him for saying racist things. (I lived through 9/11 in Manhattan and I don't say racist things about Muslims. Neither do most of my fellow New Yorkers. Even the president of the United States at the time, for all his subsequent crimes against humanity, refused to blame Islam in the aftermath of 9/11. But to Parker, racist rage and a thirst for group punishment just happen. ("Loss of innocence becomes its own empty vessel that is quickly filled with lust for revenge born of ultimate betrayal. We welcomed you to our home and you turned our goodwill against us.")

And don't you dare call this "racist." According to Parker, that just means you're smug and self-satisfied. "Swaddling ourselves in righteous indignation, we settle by the fire, cooing to our superior intellects and noticing too late the hungry mob building a pyre beyond the window." In this sentence, the mob is morally superior.

In fact, if I'm reading Parker correctly, our use of the word "racist" is part of what makes racist speech racist. Let's look at that last quoted paragraph again:

The forces that escort people such as King, Wilders and President Trump to the dais are not, in other words, primarily hateful, though they easily can so evolve. At their root, they’re something else. It is this something else that slips into the gulf of deferred aspirations when labels are substituted for the hard work of thinking.

I've read this paragraph over and over and I'm still not entirely sure what Parker means. But I think that the conclusion -- "when labels are substituted for the hard work of thinking" refers to our use of the term "racist" to refer to the words of King, Wilder, and Trump, not just to their use of racist language. Either that or Parker is saying that our labeling is the principal problem, without which words that "are not ... primarily hateful" inevitably "evolve."

There re a few more paragraphs, and they're critical of King -- but the damage is done.

I'll finish with a passage I've quoted several times from a column Parker wrote in 2008, during Barack Obama's first run for the White House:

"A full-blooded American."

That's how 24-year-old Josh Fry of West Virginia described his preference for John McCain over Barack Obama. His feelings aren't racist, he explained. He would just be more comfortable with "someone who is a full-blooded American as president."

... Full-bloodedness is an old coin that's gaining currency in the new American realm. Meaning: Politics may no longer be so much about race and gender as about heritage, core values, and made-in-America. Just as we once and still have a cultural divide in this country, we now have a patriot divide.

Who "gets" America? And who doesn't?

... It's about blood equity, heritage and commitment to hard-won American values. And roots.

Some run deeper than others and therein lies the truth of Josh Fry's political sense.

... so-called "ordinary Americans" ... know ... that their forefathers fought and died for an America that has worked pretty well for more than 200 years. What they sense is that their heritage is being swept under the carpet while multiculturalism becomes the new national narrative. And they fear what else might get lost in the remodeling of America.

In that column, Parker was an apologist for white nationalism. She's seemed less racist in some of her more recent work. But this is a disturbing return to the Parker of old.

Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog

More C&L Coverage

Comments

We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service (revised 3/17/2016) for information on our posting policy.