Steve King is the Republican notion of what a horror writer ought to be, Greg Camp writes.

First published in August 2019.

Steve King, U.S. Representative for Iowa’s fourth congressional district, declared to the Westside Conservative Club at the Machine Shed Restaurant in Urbandale last week that if we were to remove everyone from our family trees who was the product of rape or incest, there would be no one left on Earth. His exact words are as follows, quoted here in detail since he has objected at times that what he has said was taken out of context:

“What if it was okay and what if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled those people out that were the products of rape and incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that, considering all the wars and all the rape and pillage that’s taken place and whatever happened to culture after society? I know I can’t certify that they’re not a part of a product of that, and I’d like to think every one of the lives of us are as precious as any other life, and that’s our measure. Human life cannot be measured. It is the measure itself against which all things are weighed.”

Steve King. / CBS

This assertion came near the end of a forty minute rambling talk in which he complained about being the victim of the media and even of the Republican Party regarding his positions on abortion and nationalism. In his view, America is — borrowing from Ronald Reagan’s borrowed imagery — a shining city on a hill that, like the Earth in the Bible, is supported on pillars — three in this case: the Bill of Rights as the basis of American exceptionalism, the rule of law that originated with the Ten Commandments, and free enterprise.

If I were a late-night comedian, I could find material here for days. The mutually entwined branches of the Hapsburgs led to a number of genetic oddities, and King’s inability to certify the ancestry of society may be an admission of his own heritage. White nationalism does carry with it an increasing likelihood of one’s mates being related in more ways than one. And if King holds to a literalist reading of the Bible, he must believe that the human species is twice the product of only two individuals.

But this rotting fruit is dangling low on the vine. The truly disturbing thing about his talk is his unashamed proclamation of Christian dominionism, a stance that is shared — quietly or otherwise — by his party. Of course, he insists that his fellow Republicans are attacking him for embarrassing them and claims that he and Donald Trump are the only ones who tell things as they are. He said that he gave advice to Ted Cruz in 2013 to the effect that if Republicans allow the left to define terms, the left — by which I hope he means the country — will define any language that is effective for his party as offensive.

Well, yes, we who value what America is supposed to be will do what we can to stop his ideology. That is not because we want to destroy the country. Quite the contrary. It is because we see our nation, our society as something entirely different from his vision.

King quoted Andrew Breitbart as saying that the right wing must walk toward the fire from the left, since the bullets of the left are not real. The truth is that he cannot conceive of why we hold the positions that we do. The Bill of Rights is a pillar of our country, and it includes protections for privacy  and security in one’s person. It is thus a woman’s right to decide if she will maintain a pregnancy.

Some of us are indigenous to this continent, while most of us have our origins much more recently from somewhere else. Free enterprise is a useful thing, but it can only be sustained by the safety net of social democracy. On the point of the rule of law, over the rule of celebrities, I agree, and I invite King to encourage his party to adopt this as a value — and to search for the Ten Commandments in our founding documents.

And our exceptionalism — a nation like few others that is defined by choice, not by heritage — is the result of our diversity, rather than our inbreeding, biological or otherwise. Irish and Chinese laborers connected the oceans with a railroad. Immigrants from Hungary, Italy, and Germany — many of them Jewish — gave us the weapon that ended World War II. And Germans sought redemption by getting us into space. Since I am a writer of westerns and science fiction, these are the examples that come immediately to my mind. Others will occur to my readers on the basis of your interests, and that is the point.

Science fiction is a tangent, but a relevant one. Steve King seems determined to edit our history, while accusing us of seeking to do the same with abortion. This reminds me of my favorite novel by Isaac Asimov, yet another immigrant: The End of Eternity. The premise of this is that an organization, Eternity, that adjusts the timeline to produce an ideal existence for humanity. But this ideal belongs to a few, and the many do not get a say. And that is exactly what King advocates.

Steve King is the Republican notion of what a horror writer ought to be. His vision is short and narrow, and whether he believes it to be good for us all or merely beneficial to the group he identifies with, it is not one that fits America.🔷

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[This is an original piece, first published by the author in on 25 August 2019. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

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(Cover: Flickr/Gage Skidmore. - U.S. Congressman Steve King of Iowa and former U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)