Just when I thought it would be a relaxing Sunday of napping and taxes (the latter, not so relaxing), Steve King raises his head.
The good congressman from Iowa, a Republican representing the 4th district of Iowa since 2003 took it upon himself to weigh in on behalf of Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders, founder and leader of the right-wing Party for Freedom, on the cusp of being elected prime minister of the Netherlands.
In the early afternoon, while I was on the tail end of a post-red eye flight nap, King tweeted:
Then, while I am doing my taxes, David Duke, not exactly a champion of diversity, tweeted:
Bless their hearts. Nap ruined. Taxes still not done.
I’m going to set aside the debate of whether or not King and Duke are a good use of carbon matter. Instead, I want to make two quick points.
First, the political debate that is roiling the world has nothing to do with the “west.” This is a cultural battle of north versus south.
At this point, there are approximately 65 million people forcibly displaced by conflict and persecution. The majority of them come from countries south of Europe and the U.S. They, along with those in pursuit of better economic or family opportunities, leave the south to seek refuge in the north. A perfectly human response that any person in the north who wants to survive would mimic under the same circumstances. Even Steve King and David Duke.
To state the obvious, the U.S. and Europe are grappling with these dynamics in a politically painful fashion. But, within the pain and anxiety, a truth has emerged. Which gets to my second point.
King and Duke prove that America’s immigration debate is about culture and values, not politics and policy.
Let me put it another way. Steve King, the leader of America’s anti-immigrant movement, isn’t worried about immigrants taking jobs. He is worried about babies who are brown.
The thing is, Steve King does not represent conservative America on the issue of migration and the cultural change that comes with it.
Over the course of 2016, I interviewed 60 faith, law enforcement and business leaders across the country. The majority of whom were socially or politically conservative.
What I found, first and foremost, is that people are grappling with these difficult questions of culture change in an honest way. From pastors in South Carolina to law enforcement in Indiana to growers in rural eastern Washington, they realized America’s identity crisis was something they needed to help resolve.
Of the dozens of pastors, police chiefs and business owners, I interviewed, they all vote Republican — some of them even voted for Trump — but Steve King does not represent them on this question.
So, okay, when it comes to Steve King and David Duke, haters gonna hate. There is no changing their minds. Nor the minds of their ardent followers.
But as I found through my interviews that will be known as my first book, There Goes the Neighborhood (hitting bookshelves on April 4), the difference between those who relive the past and those who make the future cuts across racial, social and political lines in a profound way.
Steve King and David Duke are reliving a past they will never reach.
The rest of us have an incredible opportunity to cut across the political lines we are given to make a better future.