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Opinion: Rep. Steve King's Racism Has a Purpose — to Divide the Nation

Racism has a purpose, and the Republican budget priorities so relentingly display that wealth accumulation requires a divided nation.
Chris Keane / Reuters

Rep. Steve King of Iowa needs a race war to stay in power, and I will tell you why.

King raised the eyebrows of America with his racist tweet stating that we “cannot restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies”. His comment was in support of Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who has risen in popularity through his white nationalist platform. (Wilders lost the elections though his party gained seats)

King's sentiment is well rooted in American white nationalism and its relationship to immigrants. When Congress refused to raise immigration quotas to admit 20,000 Jewish children fleeing Nazi death camps in 1939, the wife of the U.S. Commissioner of Immigration said, "20,000 children would all too soon grow up to be 20,000 ugly adults."

Representative Steve King (R-IA) speaks during the Freedom Summit in Greenville, South Carolina on May 9, 2015.Chris Keane / Reuters, file

King claims he was talking about culture, not race, but any interpretation that King was not speaking about white nationalism would have to blindly dismiss history, as well as the immediate support King received from David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, and Richard Spencer, a Nazi whose is most famous for continually being punched in the face.

King was later asked whether he was concerned that minorities could one day outnumber whites, to which he responded, “I will predict that Hispanics and the blacks will be fighting each other before that happens." This is more than a prediction from King, but a plan.

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As many have pointed out before, black and brown people are not the only victims of racism in America, perhaps not even the greatest victims. Poor whites who blindly associate their destiny with Donald Trump are destined to be disappointed because racism is more than just personal sentiment. It has a purpose, and that purpose is to divide the poor and the powerless to the advantage of those at the top.

For this advantage to the rich, poor whites gain an identity that they can associate with goodness, Americanness, and hope for a better future in a country that is unnecessarily cruel to the poor in pursuit of an unquenchable thirst for wealth accumulation. However, in exchange, poor whites lose their history, their connection to the past. Perhaps because the truth of American greatness is too depressing to bear. From genocide to slavery, American wealth has been driven by the availability of cheap or free labor.

Richard Spencer, who leads a movement that mixes racism, white nationalism and populism, speaks at the Texas A&M University campus Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016, in College Station, Texas. Texas A&M officials say they didn't schedule the speech by Spencer, who was invited to speak by a former student who reserved campus space available to the public.David J. Phillip / AP

American greatness is a mythology trademarked long before the Trump campaign deployed it during his campaign. As Trump’s budget priorities show, the reality of American greatness is largely an illusion. Like the entrances to Trump’s hotels, his gold-plated name is a façade meant to distract. In the past, this distraction has come with some benefits to the white middle class, what Chris Ladd of Forbes calls “socialism for white people” through a network of wealth transfers imposed by the government overwhelmingly based on race.

RELATED: Rep. Steve King Remarks Seen As 'Racist,' 'Nativist,' 'Despicable'

But Donald Trump’s budget lifts the veil of American kindness for what is really is, a punishing display of cruelty towards the poor and powerless, many of whom voted for him. The Republican plan for health care, is not a health care plan at all.

It is at its core a tax revenue scheme to divert hundreds of billions of dollars from helping those who cannot afford health insurance on a "free market" or through stable employment into the pockets of the top 1 percent. Unions once provided such stability to working class whites, but ironically, whites have been at the forefront of dismantling the very protections their families depended on because the Reagan era sold them a bill of goods.

However, this level of thievery cannot be done without assistance. The cheap labor, the use of government for personal gain, and the level of corporate interests seated at the highest levels of political power cannot on their own withstand the scrutiny of a democratic system unless it is buttressed by a divided nation. And therein lies the importance of racism for King and the Republican Party.

RELATED: Steve Bannon Touts Trump’s ‘Economic Nationalist Agenda’

We must not forget that King’s support base goes beyond explicit racism, and Latino Republicans should question their complicity with a Republican agenda cloaked in “free market” ideology to promote what is essentially a white nationalist political party. Abraham Lincoln once said, “a house divided against itself cannot stand."

King, an Iowan who once proudly displayed a Confederate flag on his desk, is depending on it.

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