[Content Note: White supremacy; nativism; Islamophobia.]
Yesterday, Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who is consistently a contender for worst member of Congress, expressed his support of white supremacist Dutch politician Geert Wilders. In the same tweet, he also expressed support of a gross nativist narrative about white reproduction.
King's tweet was met with praise from David Duke, and with horrified condemnation from all decent people.
The thing is, King's tweet isn't—or shouldn't be—surprising. (Which doesn't make it any less vile.) He has always been a rank white supremacist; he's just being even more blatant about it, feeling empowered by Donald Trump's presidency and the attendant empowerment of white nationalism.
The sentiment he's expressing here, about "restor[ing] our civilization with somebody else's babies," is, although he doesn't say it explicitly, a reference in part to declining white birth rates—which has been a grave concern of white supremacists in the U.S. for a very long time.
First, they were concerned about declining white birth rates in Europe, and then they were concerned about declining white birth rates in the U.S.. Their concerns reached a fevered pitch around 2012, when births of non-white newborns starting outpacing births of white newborns.
King is hardly the first member of the Republican Party to express these concerns: In 2014, then-Senate candidate (and now Senator) Thom Tillis of North Carolina publicly wrung his hands that "the Hispanic population and the other immigrant populations are growing in significant numbers," while "the traditional population of North Carolina and the United States is...not growing."
Declining white birth rates and the simultaneous enactment of a record number of anti-choice restrictions in state houses across the country is not a coincidence. The white male Republican legislators primarily responsible for these restrictions are trying to force white women to have more white babies.
Never mind women of color will be forced to have more babies, too, which is, in part, why Trump's white supremacist administration is ruthlessly undercutting environmental protections and jettisoning environmental justice plans like lead remediation. Communities of color disproportionately bear the costs of unregulated poisons. One of those costs is higher rates of infant and childhood mortality.
It is important to see all of these things in the same picture. Assaults on communities of color; efforts to decrease non-white birth rates, via various sterilization schemes and family disruptions (see: mass incarceration, for example), for more than a century; efforts to increase white birth rates; anti-abortion and anti-contraception strategies; conservative Christian reproductive movements like Quiverfull; conservative broadcasting showcasing huge white broods like the Duggars; anti-immigration policies; border walls; Muslim bans—it's all been a response to the idea King is expressing: White people are losing "our civilization" to "somebody else's babies."
As I've previously noted: Control over reproduction is central to white nativist nationalism. Patriarchy is an inextricable part of white supremacy.
We must acknowledge that, and we must identity it plainly, and we must resist these narratives and the strategies they underwrite with everything we've got.