Iowa Rep. Steve King is facing criticism after he defended white nationalism and white supremacy in an interview. “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King said to The New York Times. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?” (bolding mine) Iowa Rep. Steve King under fire for remark on white nationalism and white supremacy
I haven’t read the full NYT interview, because I avoid the NYT like the plague. So when the news of Rep. King’s abhorrent comments came out, I initially only heard about the first part of his comment and not about the second half, bolded above. When I finally did, it was a full-blown smack-my-head moment. It is obvious to me, and to anyone not invested in white nationalism, that the reason he (and most of us) learned about the merits of “our” history in the classroom is because our country is built on the existence and promotion of white supremacy. In previous years (especially pre-2008), much of the language and goals were coded, but it wasn’t always that way any more than it is now. Perhaps Rep. King would have benefited from reading some of the primary sources which make explicit the embrace of white supremacy as a guiding principle. I doubt knowing history — unprotected, unhidden, and unvarnished — would stop Rep. King from being an out-and-proud racist at this point, but one can hope for others.
John Calhoun on the specter of equality
…But when once raised to an equality, they would become the fast political associates of the North, acting and voting with them on all questions, any this political union between them, holding the white race at the South in complete subjection. The blacks, and the profligate whites that might unite with them, would become the principal recipients of federal offices and patronage, and would, in consequence, be raised above the whites of the South in the political and social scale. We would, in a word, change conditions with them–a degradation greater than has ever yet fallen to the lot of a free and enlightened people, and one from which we could not escape, should emancipation take place (which it certainly will if not prevented), but by fleeing the homes of ourselves and ancestors, and by abandoning our country to our former slaves, to become the permanent abode of disorder, anarchy, poverty, misery, and wretchedness. John C. Calhoun, Address to the Southern People, U.S. Senate, January 22, 1849 (p. 286)
A “Christian” defense of slavery
…The parties in this conflict are not merely abolitionist and slaveholders–they are atheists, socialists, communists, red republicans, Jacobins, on the one side, and the friends of order and regulated freedom on the other. In one word, the world is the battle ground–Christianity and Atheism the combatants; and the progress of humanity the stake. One party seems to regard Society, with all its complicated interests, its divisions and sub-division, as the machinery of man–which, as it has been invented and arranged by his ingenuity and skills, may be taken to pieces, reconstructed, altered or repaired, as experience shall indicate defects or confusion in the original plan. The other party beholds in it the ordinance of God… James H. Thornwell, The Rights and Duties of the Masters, May 26, 1850
It doesn’t get much more explicit than this.
The equality of all whom God has created equal (white men) and the inequality of those He has made unequal (Negroes and other inferior races) are the corner-stone of American democracy, and the vital principle of American civilization and human progress. Dr. J.H. Van Evrie, “Subgenation: The Theory of the Normal Relation of the Races–An Answer to ‘Miscegenation’,” 1864 as found in “The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader: The ‘Great Truth’ about the ‘Lost Cause’, edited by James W. Loewen and Edward H. Sebesta, p. 74
More from Van Evrie, once described as a “professional racist.”
Stripping off the skin of the negro, he [ed. the author, Van Evrie] proposes to demonstrate to the senses, as well as the reason, that he is not a black white man, or a man merely with a black skin, but a DIFFERENT AND INFERIOR SPECIES OF MAN;– that this difference is radical, and total…–that the physical structure of the race is necessarily and perpetually linked with corresponding faculties, capabilities, wants, necessities, in short, with a specific nature, and is thus designed by the Almighty Creator for corresponding purposes, or a social position harmonizing with those wants, etc.;–that therefore all the charges against the social system of the South being based on false assumptions, are themselves necessarily false; –that so-called slavery is neither a “wrong” nor an “evil,” or is its extension dangerous, but that it is a normal condition, a natural relation, based upon the “higher law,” in harmony with the order, progress, and general well-being of the superior one, and absolutely essential to the very existence of the inferior race. J.H. Van Evrie, “Negroes and Negro ‘Slavery,’ the First an Inferior Race–The Latter, Its Normal Condition,” 1853; a pamphlet with a written endorsement by Jefferson Davis, Secretary of War (June 3, 1853) as found in “The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader: The ‘Great Truth’ about the ‘Lost Cause’, edited by James W. Loewen and Edward H. Sebesta, p. 75
A bit more Van Evrie, because his pseudo-science is still heard today.
To violate these laws–to say because the Negro has certain general resemblances to the white man, or that the female has some qualities resembling the other sex, that the same rules shall apply to them universally; is not only to fight against progress and the nature of things, but would be a rapid stride towards barbarism. Indeed, in such an absurd application of inherent right or “equality” there is no stopping place in the whole organism of nature. If women must exercise the “rights,” and perform the duties of men, (for the two things are inseparable,) why not children? …The Negro has not only more in common with us than he has with the Ouran-Ourtan, but really has nothing in common with the latter that we ourselves have not, except that he has these common qualities more prominently; but should we therefore attempts, in all respects, to make the Negro our equal, and deny to the Ouran-Outan everything? J.H. Van Evrie, “Negroes and Negro ‘Slavery,’ the First an Inferior Race–The Latter, Its Normal Condition,” 1853; a pamphlet with a written endorsement by Jefferson Davis, Secretary of War (June 3, 1853)
Thought experiment: If slavery was so beneficial, why were white “wage slaves” not volunteering for it?
…The negro slaves of the South are the happiest, and, in some sense, the freest people in the world. The children and the aged and infirm work not at all, and yet have all the comforts and necessaries of life provided for them. They enjoy liberty, because they are oppressed neither by care nor labor.
The women do little hard work, and are protected from the despotism of their husbands by their masters. The negro men and stout boys work, on the average, in good weather, not more than nine hours a day. The balance of their time is spent in perfect abandon. Besides, they have their Sabbaths and holidays. White men, with so much of license and liberty, would die of ennui; but negroes luxuriate in corporeal and mental repose… George Fitzhugh, “Cannibals All! Or Slaves Without Masters,” 1857, p. 30
Where racial amalgamation is viewed as a crime against civilization, aka spurious cause and effect
What a splendid country was Mexico while under the control of the white blood of the pure Spanish race! Now what is it, after the white blood has all become mixed and diluted by amalgamation with the black race? When the black race held its natural position of subordination to the white race, Mexico was one of the richest and most prosperous countries on the globe; but now it is one of the meanest and most contemptible. The white man’s proud and glorious civilization has faded out on the dead plain of amalgamation and negro equality. The white blood has become so muddy and polluted by admixture with the inferior race, that no lapse of time can ever redeem that population from the utter degradation and uncivilization into which it has fallen. Rushmore G. Horton, “A Youth’s History of the Great Civil War in the United States From 1861 to 1865,” 1867, p. 77
TL;DR: The South shall rise again
…the late War was much understood in the South, and its true inspiration thereby lost or diminished, through the fallacy that Slavery was defended as a property tenure, or as a peculiar institution of labour; when the true ground of defence was as of a barrier against a contention and War of races…
…That the question of the Negro practically couples or associates a revolutionary design upon the Constitution; and that the true question which the war involved, and which it merely liberated for greater breath of controversy was the supremacy of the White race, and along with it the preservation of the political traditions of the country…
…That if she [the South] succeeds to the extent of securing the supremacy of the White man, and the traditional liberties of the country–in short, to the extent of defeating the Radical party–she really triumphs in the true cause of the war, with respect to all its fundamental and vital issues. Edward A. Pollard, “The Lost Cause Regained,” 1868, pp. 13-14