Rep. Steve King doubles down on white supremacy claimBreaking News
tags: Steve King
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) on Wednesday defended his controversial comment this week that some cultures contribute more to civilization than others.
"The idea of multiculturalism, that every culture is equal — that's not objectively true," King told The Washington Post's Philip Rucker, less than 48 hours after he asked on live TV what "subgroups" besides white people had made any contributions to civilization. "We've been fed that information for the past 25 years, and we're not going to become a greater nation if we continue to do that."
Here's what he told Rucker:
"Western civilization is the most successful civilization the world has ever seen. And some of the reasons for that is it's borrowed from other cultures along the way, back to Mosaic law, the Greek age of reason, Roman law and the Roman order of government, and the Republican form of government, by the way that we're guaranteed in our constitution. The foundation of our ideological thought is rooted in the enlightenment of Europe and then this country was born at the dawn of the industrial revolution.
... The sum total that's been contributed by Western civilization, it surpasses any other culture of civilization, party because we borrowed from them along the way, and we're flexible enough to do that. And so I don't think we should apologize for our success."
Comment by Historian Charles Maier in the Washington Post
Charles S. Maier is Leverett Saltonstall Professor of History at Harvard University.
The appropriate reaction to Congressman King is not to engage in a competitive tally of the achievements of Western civilization vs. the contributions of other cultures. Keeping that sort of score has little to do with the issue of whether the GOP is open or closed to the contemporary pluralism of American society. Of course his statement overlooks the legacies of other civilizations, but that’s not what’s at stake here. The Chinese have run a huge cohesive political system for 3,000 years; Arab thinkers preserved Greek classics and developed sophisticated mathematics; most large societies have left us remarkable aesthetic achievements. And if we’re counting, shouldn’t we assign negative numbers to shadow sides of European civilization — the Holocaust, say, or the atrocities in colonial plantations?
But let’s be fair: When I attended Harvard College at the end of the 1950s, we were infused with a glorified notion of Western civilization; it was the basis for so-called general education. The point is that the ethnic homogeneity of the Republican Party cannot be justified on the basis of Plato or Michelangelo or even John Locke — the job of a national political party is to represent the cultures and enduring values of the society it aspires to govern. And in this respect, the Republicans have abdicated a role that all the major parties in a democratic society should be playing.
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