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Rep. Steve King's Tweet Gave Away the GOP's Dirty Little Secret

The crass Iowa congressman's 140-letter missive reveals the connection between his Party's misogynist need to control our reproductive rights and their white nationalism.
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On Sunday, Representative Steve King (R-Iowa) took to Twitter to make one of his most inflammatory statements yet in support of Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders:

This horrifying tweet reveals the fact that immigration bans and restrictions on reproductive freedom, are, in fact, part and parcel of the same goal: white nationalism.

It’s important to note that when I say white nationalism, I mean white supremacy. They are the same thing. But I’m using the phrase "white nationalist" in this piece for a reason. When white supremacists rebranded themselves as “white nationalists,” they weren’t just looking to remove the stain of the term; they were trying to normalize the sense of a fundamentally white nation.

While struggling to get its footing (or even turn on the lights in the West Wing), the Trump administration has promoted white nationalism from the very beginning with its immigration policy demands. Senior Advisor Steve Bannon has openly espoused white nationalist goals, and has a well-known racist past. The administration has issued not one but two bans on immigrants from Muslim-majority countries (the first was struck down by a Federal Appeals Court) and has vowed to construct a wall at the border of the United States and Mexico.

That’s why Rep. Steve King’s tweet is so illuminating: It makes clear that the Republican efforts to ban Muslims and block Latino immigrants works in tandem with their unending commitment to end reproductive freedom, all in the pursuit of white nationalism.

A white nation is first and foremost concerned with citizenship. In order to create a white nation, you need only white citizens. To do that, you need to not only control who is allowed into your country, but how the citizens and residents of your country can reproduce. It’s no coincidence that the same party that demands we “build the wall” and “Ban All Muslims” has been leading the charge in restricting reproductive rights.

Since 2010, nearly 300 abortion restrictions have been enacted in Republican-controlled state legislatures across the country. Bans on abortion at 20, 12, even six weeks have been put in place (and for many, subsequently struck down). The Republican-controlled Congress has been trying for nearly two years to defund Planned Parenthood and pass a federal ban on abortions at 20 weeks, two feats that they may well accomplish this year. The 2016 Republican Party platform called for a complete ban on abortion.

Simply put, the Republican Party doesn’t believe that women should have the legal ability to determine their own reproductive future.

There are many overtly racist reproductive policies, including the family cap for welfare recipients (which in some states, incentivizes abortion) and bans on sex-selective abortion that target Asian and Asian-American Pacific Islander women.

While not all reproductive restrictions appear to openly target a racial group, the element of male control is ever-present. After all, white nationalism isn’t just a racist platform; it’s also a patriarchal one. White nationalists believe in white supremacy but also in male supremacy. In fact, sexism is a way into white nationalism for some. “Men’s rights” groups, who believe that women have too much power and are deeply misogynist, serve as a gateway to the white nationalist/supremacist movement.

If women have the ability to determine their own reproductive future, they aren’t just autonomous human beings—they have the sole power to reproduce the nation on their own terms. For white nationalists, this is a non-starter.

This isn’t original or new. When the Nazi party came to power in 1932, they moved swiftly to end Germany’s lax abortion laws, ultimately banning abortion for Aryan Germans (while forcing it on others, as part of their horrific eugenics policy).

This sounds far-fetched in an American context, but consider this: House Republicans have approved a bill that could force employees to undergo mandatory DNA testing or pay huge fines. This largely-ignored bill would give employers the ability to force you to share your most intimate biological details with them.

Consider comments from Republicans themselves.

During his campaign, Donald Trump said that women who seek abortions should receive “some kind of punishment” if the practice were banned under his administration.

“If a woman has [the right to an abortion], why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman?” asked Maine Republican lawmaker Lawrence Lockman. “At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t [usually] result in anyone’s death.”

While proposing a blatantly unconstitutional bill that would force pregnant women in Oklahoma to obtain written consent from their male partners, Oklahoma State Representative Justin Humphrey said, “I understand that they feel like that is their body. I feel like it is a separate—what I call them is, is you’re a ‘host.’”

Women are hosts in the same worldview that sees immigrants as a threat.

White nationalism is, at its core, about who gets to reproduce the nation. That is why Rep. Steve King’s tweet is so illuminating—it lays bare the reality that immigration bans and reproductive restrictions are inherently linked. For white nationalists, who are mostly men, allowing women the ability to determine if and when they bear children is a threat, as is allowing non-white immigrants to bear children in the U.S. Unless white men can restrict both, white men cannot control who reproduces the nation. If they can’t control who reproduces the nation, they can’t create a white nation.

Republicans may try to distance themselves from Rep. Steve King’s loathsome comments, as Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) has done, but the party will not, because it cannot. The Republican Party is now the open, unabashed party of white nationalism. There’s no other way to say it. As President Trump and Republicans in Congress continue to try to ban Muslim immigrants, construct an absurd wall at the southern border, and systematicallly ban each and every aspect of women’s reproductive freedom, the simple and horrifying fact remains: They’ve bound themselves to the white nationalist movement. It’s up to all of us to see that they fail.

 

Lauren Rankin is an abortion rights activist, clinic escort, and freelance writer covering reproductive politics. Her work has been featured in Cosmopolitan, Refinery29, Rolling Stone, Rewire, and many more. She has been a volunteer clinic escort for the past three years and has served on the board of A is For and the New Jersey Abortion Access Fund.
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