Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has drawn criticism for suggesting in a Tweet that Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders is right about immigration: specifically, that native-born white people need to start having more babies in order to offset the influx of immigrants.
“Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny,” King tweeted on Sunday. “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”
His tweet contained a link to a cartoon of Wilder protecting Western civilization from the threats of Islamic extremism.
King defended his tweet in subsequent interviews. “I meant exactly what I said, as is always the case,” King told CNN’s Chris Cuomo. “You cannot rebuild your civilization with someone else’s babies… we need to get our birthrates up or Europe will be entirely transformed within half a century.”
King went on to blame the collapse of Western society on illegal immigrants who “live in enclaves, refusing to assimilate.”
One fellow Republican who did not take kindly to King’s assertion that immigrants are somehow un-American or anti-European: libertarian-leaning Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan. He tweeted:
I’m an American no less than you are. I love our Constitution and traditions. Am I “somebody else’s” baby because my parents are immigrants? https://t.co/TAnBggfnhl
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) March 13, 2017
As Amash notes, our civilization does not belong to people of a certain ethnicity or racial heritage—it belongs to anyone and everyone who subscribes to post-Enlightenment ideas about free speech, the rule of law, democracy, and free markets.
This is a theme covered frequently in the pages of Reason and at Reason.com. Nick Gillespie recently described America as “a place where anyone from anywhere can come and express their potential through radical economic, cultural, and political freedom.” It is “what’s exceptional about this country.”
Do some immigrants hold views that are anathema to the Western project? Of course. But so do some native-born citizens. At this moment, perhaps no one is working harder to weaken two of the most fundamental norms of the civilized West—restrained government and free trade—than U.S. President Donald Trump, a non-immigrant. Preserving Western society does not mean kicking out immigrant babies, or engaging in some kind of race to birth more white kids. It’s the ideas that matter, not the skin colors of the people who hold them.