Wait, did I say "inch"? I mean millimeter. I mean micromillimeter. Because in today's conservative movement no one's really racist, at least not in the upper tier -- they're merely Racist With an Explantion.
At The Federalist, David Harsanyi tut-tuts King's "confused and contradictory statements." I don't see any evidence King is confused about nor inconsistent in his racism at all, but Harsanyi detects a cleavage: While King's wrong to talk about "culture as blood," says Harsanyi, he's right about the "clash of cultures" with Islam. Harsanyi, you see, is also down with holy war against the Musselmen (see here, there, and everywhere).
But the real villains in this affair -- the ones Harsanyi devotes most of his column to criticizing -- are liberals:
So King deserves the condemnation he’s been getting for making the immigration debate about people rather than their ideas. Yet most coverage of congressman’s statement also seems to take offense at his defense of “Western civilization.” Once it was merely in poor form to claim our system was better. Now, evidently, it’s racist.He offers as his sole, shoddy proof a tweet by Rep. Judy Chu that does not in any apparent way denounce Western Civ but says this: "Steve King is wrong: Civilization is threatened by racism & xenophobia that divide us & encourage violence. I condemn hate & welcome all." To you this may seem admirable if anodyne, but Harsanyi doesn't go for Chu's hint that hatred of The Other might be uncool:
Fact is, the modern Left debates immigration using the very same ethnocentric and racial ideas as King, but for entirely different reasons.Harsanyi loved when Gillespie told Tibbs "Man, you're just like the rest of us, ain't ya?" in In The Heat of the Night, and still thinks it's a winner.
While one side adopts it for exclusionary purposes, the other uses it as a cudgel of relativism.The cudgel of relativism double-slaps you with one-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand action!
These days, there is precious little difference between ideas and identity on the Left. So we are asked to treat Islam as a racial or ethnic designation rather than a philosophical/religious/ideological one.See, The Left made Muslims into a race just so they could beat up innocent guys like Steve King! Wait, what were we talking about again?
At National Review Jonathan S. Tobin says what's "dangerous" about King's palaver is that it "undermines American exceptionalism." No, really. The lede is killer:
What is at stake in the long-running battle over illegal immigration? The answer from the overwhelming majority of Americans who worry about it is “the defense of the rule of law.”I wonder what poll he got that from. Pollster: "Why do you oppose illegal immigration? Pick one. A., It --" Lutiebelle C. Festus: "GODDAMN MESSICANS! I mean, defense of the rule of law!"
Tobin goes on about how it's okay for Geert Wilders to worry about "about how a national identity rooted in a homogeneous ethnic and religious culture can accommodate newcomers" and "whether those who don’t share a common ethnicity and who practice a different faith will transform the nation into a place that isn’t Dutch" -- maybe it sounds racist, but he's in Europe, which is crawling with those "no-go zones" you read about on Breitbart. But here in America, says Tobin, we don't have that problem, even though "The Left is attempting to portray as xenophobic President Trump’s temporary travel ban from six countries that are terrorist hotbeds" -- boy, that The Left is always trying to make us look racist just because we keep trying to keep Muslims out!
Tobin goes further than Harsanyi, even admitting that
the shift toward a less-white America is already baked into the country’s demographic cake. If conservatives wish to continue governing in the future, they must reject talk about “other people’s babies” and promote their ideas with enough confidence that Hispanics and other minorities will eventually embrace them.Tobin must have been thinking, "Who cares? By then I'll be dead!" But he really distinguishes himself in the closing:
Modern American conservatism was founded by the willingness of some to “stand athwart history yelling stop,” but William F. Buckley and his colleagues were not seeking to yell stop to Americans who were not white.Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha no really, he said that.
What these guys are doing is the for-real version of something they're always accusing their enemies of doing: By showing just a pretense of toleration, they're distinguishing themselves against the loud-'n'-proud racism of their comrades (e.g. "As media-spooked GOP piles on, Rep. Steve King stands by his remark") -- in other words, they're virtue signaling.
UPDATE. I have far less reason to doubt the sincerity of Nick Gillespie's anti-racism, but I had to laugh when I read him bragging on his ancestors' immigrant roots:
Mostly, they worked hard as hell and provided for their children under difficult circumstances (prejudice, economic depression, war). The first job my grandfather Nicola Guida had in the promised land of America was chiseling rock with a hammer and sledge somewhere in eastern Pennsylvania (he and his fellow workers were never told exactly where they were to make it harder to run away). He would be so tired that he would piss and shit himself as he slept at night, unable to get up to use the facilities.Wow, sounds like a libertarian dream! Maybe that's why Gillespie endorses these conditions for today's workers -- nostalgia!