WASHINGTON, December 14, 2017: In recent days, we have heard a number of voices. Some in positions of influence in our government tell us that America’s diversity is not a strength, but a weakness.
Diversity is not our strength. Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban, “Mixing cultures will not lead to a higher quality of life but a lower one.” https://t.co/ZlMXzcc87w
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) December 8, 2017
Rep. King has a long history of support for white nationalism. He keeps a Confederate flag on his desk and says that it is wrong for America to apologize for slavery. King often suggests that President Obama was born in Kenya. He once tweeted a photo of himself with Geert Wilders, the far-right Islamophobic Dutch politician with the caption, “Cultural suicide by demographic transformation must end.”
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) September 18, 2016
Earlier this year, he tweeted,
Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies. https://t.co/4nxLipafWO
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) March 12, 2017
Republican’s separation from the White Supremacist Message
A number of Republicans have tried to separate themselves from Rep. King, who was an early supporter of Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), the only African American Republican senator, declared:
“Well, very little I can do about people who speak ignorantly…When Steve King and Tim Scott arrived in this country, we were actually creating diversity because the Native Americans were already here. So that is just a ridiculous statement.”
Iowa Republican Party chairman Jeff Kaufmann said,
“My views on diversity are best summed up by President Reagan: ‘We’re filled with the spirit of our land in all of its magnificent diversity. We Americans come from every continent. Ours are the faces of all humanity, just as our nation was built by the hopes of all humanity.”
Unfortunately, Rep. King’s narrow views are heard at the White House as well. Michael Anton, the White House aide selected by President Trump to serve on the National Security Council, wrote under the pseudonym Publius Decius Mus, pushing an anti-Islam, anti-immigration, and anti-diversity message:
“Diversity is not ‘our strength;’. It’s a source of weakness, tension, and disunion. America is not ‘a nation of immigrants;’. We are originally a nation of settlers who later chose to admit immigrants…”
Speaking out against America’s Diversity
Presidential speechwriter Stephen Miller has been an opponent of America’s diversity ever since his days as a political activist at Santa Monica High School. Oscar de la Torre, a counselor at the high school when Miller was a student, who now serves on the Santa Monica-Malibu School Board, recalls that Miller “…seemed to feel that the country’s diversity was the downfall of the country. He really believed that.”
When Stephen Miller was a student at Duke, Richard Spencer, the white nationalist leader, and a fellow student, claims he was a “mentor” to Miller, which Miller denies. Miller and Spencer helped organize an immigration debate, inviting Peter Brimelow, an anti-immigration activist whose website is viewed by some as an element of the emerging white nationalist movement.
Richard Spencer says of Miller:
“He is not a white nationalist. But you can’t be this passionate about the immigration issue and not have a sense of the American nation as it historically emerged.”
It was Miller who wrote President Trump’s speech calling for legal immigration to be cut in half and demanding that immigrants speak English. He rejects the vision of America in the poem “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus, which is at the base of the Statue of Liberty:
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.”
It may be wrong to associate individuals such as Steve King and Stephen Miller with the increasingly vocal voices of the so-called “alt right.” But the fact is that they are viewed as kindred spirits. The neo-Nazi fringe elements, which are increasingly vocal, welcome voices such as theirs, even though, ironically, Miller is Jewish.
Andrew Anglin of The Daily Stormer website declares:
“Steve King is basically an open white nationalist at this point…Steve King should be Speaker of the House. He’s our guy.”
Former KKK leader David Duke tweeted, “Steve King>2024 (finish the job).”
After attending the Trump inauguration, Jared Taylor, another high profile white nationalist, posted a piece to his website saying,
“Trump is not a racially conscious white man but there are men close to him, Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions, Stephen Miller, who may have a clearer understanding of race and their influence could grow.”
The defeated Republican candidate in Alabama, Roy Moore, is another enemy of America’s diversity. Moore says the Constitution should end with the 10th amendment, before women or African Americans were given the right to vote. He says women should not be able to hold office, that homosexuality should be a crime, and that the First Amendment provides religious freedom only for Christians because, he said, the founding fathers were “ignorant of other religions.”
In fact, it is Roy Moore who is ignorant of the founding fathers. Thomas Jefferson wrote about Islam and George Washington, in his letter to the Jewish congregation in Newport, Rhode Island declared the principle that in America, we give “to bigotry no sanction.”
America’s Diversity History
The reality of American history shows that those who decry diversity know little of our country’s earliest days. The neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville and shouted about “blood and soil,” and proclaimed, “Jews will not replace us,” would not have felt comfortable in colonial America. Visiting New Amsterdam in 1643, French Jesuit missionary Isaac Jogues was writes of finding that 18 languages were spoken in a town of 8,000 people.
In his “Letters From An American Farmer,” J. Hector St. John Crevecoeur wrote in 1782:
“Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labors and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world.”
America is more than just another country, which those who decry diversity would make it. In the 1840s, Herman Melville wrote: “We are the heirs of all time and with all nations we divide our inheritance.” If you kill an American, he said, “you shed the blood of the whole world.”
The U.S. has been racially and ethnically diverse from the very beginning. By the time of the first census in 1790, people of English origin were already a minority. Enslaved Africans and their American-born descendants made up 20 percent of the population.
There were large clusters of Scotch-Irish, German, Scottish and Dutch settlers, and smaller numbers of Swedes, Finns, French Huguenots and Sephardic Jews.
In America, anything is possible
During another period of turmoil and division, the 1960s, author Mario Puzo wrote,
“What has, happened here has never happened in any other country in any other time. The poor who had been poor for centuries…whose children had inherited their poverty, their illiteracy, their hopelessness,, achieved some economic dignity and freedom. You didn’t get it for nothing, you had to.pay a price in tears, in suffering, why not? And some even became artists.”
As a young man growing up in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Puzo’s mother, an Italian immigrant, asks her son what he wants to be. When he said a writer, her response, “For a thousand years in Italy no.one in our family was even able to read.”
But in America everything is possible, even in a single generation.
“It was hard for my mother to believe that her son could become an artist. After all, her own dream in coming to America had been to earn her daily bread, a wild dream in itself, and looking back she was dead right. Her son an artist? To this day she shakes her head. I shake mine with her.”
Those who decry America’s Diversity diversity might be happier in another country. The very act of dividing our society into warring tribal groups is a rejection, of the American political tradition. I always liked the statement, attributed to a number of individuals including Shirley Chisholm, the first African American to run for president, that,
“We came over on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”
It is high time that the views of those who find America’s Diversity a weakness be repudiated. Their view of America is narrow and small. It tells us far more about them than it does amount the American story.