Bilerico Report

How bigots and racists became the face of the Republican Party

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giulliani speaks on the opening night of the 2016 Republican National Convention.

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giulliani speaks on the opening night of the 2016 Republican National Convention. screenshot via Scott Wooledge

I found it extremely difficult and frightening to watch the Republican National Convention on its first night, since I had the definite impression that I was witnessing not simply a political gathering, but more distinctly, a neo-nationalist power rally with angry, primarily white and older Party activists.

The following day, I saw a rerun segment of a panel discussion on MSNBC hosted by Chris Hayes, which included Esquire magazine’s Charles Pierce who discussed what he perceived as the “old white people” who run the Republican Party. He argued that the convention is filled with “loud, unhappy, dissatisfied white people.”

Before I could take pride in the accuracy of my own perceptions, GOP Representative Steve King of Iowa piped in with a jaw-dropping, though not surprising, quip by retorting:

This whole ‘white people’ business, though, does get a little tired, Charlie. I mean, I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out, where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you’re talking about? Where did any other sub-group of people contribute to civilization?”

“Than white people?,” asked Hayes incredulously. King backtracked a bit and emphasized that in “Western civilization itself” and places where Christianity had a foothold was based on the contributions of primarily white people.

While one might automatically dismiss King as simply an extreme Right-wing nut, the presidential standard bearer of his party, Donald Trump, has moved King’s rhetoric and policies to the center. Throughout King’s infamous political career in the Iowa State Senate (1996-2002), and U.S. House since 2002, he has consistently defended the authority of white Christian people.

For example, he, like Donald Trump, have targeted undocumented immigrants, and rejected the notion that many are high-achieving students. King asserted that they should not receive a pathway to citizenship saying that for every valedictorian who is legalized, “there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

What seemed impossible, Trump actually moved to King’s right flank on issues of southern immigration:

The US has become a dumping ground for everyone else’s problems. [Mexico is] sending people that have lots of problems, and they are bringing those problems to us. They are bringing drugs, and bringing crime, and they’re rapists.”

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