Donald Trump’s effective use of Twitter has often dominated the news cycle, but a new tweet from Representative Steve King (R-IA) is giving the president a run for his money. On Sunday the 8-term Congressman from northwest Iowa tweeted, “culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”
The liberal media reacted in horror, which briefly distracted them from their “day job” of nonstop criticism of President Trump. A columnist for the Washington Post objected to King’s reference to “our” civilization as being distinct from “others,” while feminists predictably took offense at the suggestion that American women should have more babies.
Steve King’s belief that Americans have a distinct civilization, which is better than others and worth preserving, has a long and distinguished history. Alexis de Tocqueville noted it during his nine-month tour of America in 1831-32, which he summarized in his 1835 book Democracy in America: “The position of the Americans is therefore quite exceptional.”
A half century before Tocqueville’s tour, a French immigrant named Crèvecœur asked, “What is the American, this new man?” Crèvecœur’s Letters from an American Farmer, published in 1782 and widely circulated in Europe, explained that Americans were in the process of creating a remarkable new civilization.
Yet another Frenchman who recognized the preeminence of “our civilization” was the sculptor Frédéric Bartholdi, who created what the poet Emma Lazarus called “a mighty woman with a torch.” But Bartholdi never intended his Statue of Liberty to invite the world’s “huddled masses” to come here, and he would have been horrified that his masterpiece was hijacked to symbolize immigration.
Far from immigration, the statue’s title and theme is “Liberty Enlightening the World.” In other words, the statue means that other nations should learn from America’s success and try to replicate it in their own countries, not move here to share in its benefits without working for them.
Immigrants can be valuable members of our nation if they come in small numbers and assimilate to the culture, values, and civilization that our ancestors created for us. That doesn’t happen much anymore because so many powerful forces promote multiculturalism and separatism of immigrant groups, encouraging new immigrants to indulge in grievances and resentment for their alleged oppression by the white male patriarchy.
Unlike the great wave of immigration a century ago, today’s immigrants from poor countries tend to maintain their language, religion, and culture, even into the second and third generations. This is illustrated by a new report from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) which said that “most foreign-born, U.S.-based violent extremists likely radicalized several years after their entry to the United States.”
As the DHS report concludes, that has the effect of “limiting the ability of screening and vetting officials to prevent their entry because of National Security concerns.” Orlando, Chattanooga, and the Boston Marathon are just a few examples of first- and second-generation Muslim immigrants who became radicalized and committed terror attacks in our country or left to join the fight overseas.
Steve King is not backing down in the face of criticism, including the second part of his tweet which said that we can’t build a civilization with “somebody else’s babies.”
Speaking the next day on CNN, King elaborated: “You’ve got to keep your birth rate up, and you need to teach your children your values. “In doing so, you can grow your population, you can strengthen your culture, and you can strengthen your way of life.”
After the postwar baby boom collapsed around 1970, some began to think that immigrants could somehow substitute for the babies that Americans stopped having. The idea that immigrants will save Social Security has been debunked by research showing that low-skill, low-wage immigrants inevitably consume more benefits than they contribute to the system.
Steve King’s comments are especially timely as Congress considers a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. One of the most pernicious aspects of Obamacare was its insistence on defining abortion and contraception as “preventive care” which all health plans must provide to women with no co-pay or deductible.
“Preventing babies from being born is not medicine,” Steve King said in 2011, when Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate was being challenged by Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor. “That’s not constructive to our culture and our civilization. If we let our birth rate get down below replacement rate we’re a dying civilization.”
Without backing down, Steve King tweeted “Let’s Make Western Civilization Great Again!” No one should take offense at that goal, given how much Western Civilization has achieved for the immense benefit of the entire world.
Immigration policy should build on the values of our culture, not change them. Immigration is no substitute for producing the next generation of Americans to carry on our great country.
John and Andy Schlafly are sons of Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) whose 27th book, The Conservative Case for Trump, was published posthumously on September 6.