Republican Steve King has put his foot in his mouth once again, this time by stating “Western civilization” has contributed the most to society. Hint: He means white people.
The outrageous and completely untrue statement came ahead of the Republican National Convention, during a panel discussion with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes. Charlie Pierce of Esquire magazine remarked he still did not observe much diversity in the white-majority Republican Party and King was quick to defend its homogeneity.
“This ‘old white people’ business does get a little tired, Charlie,” King said. “I'd ask you to go back through history and figure out, where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you're talking about, where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”
“Than white people?” Hayes interjected in shock.
“Than, than Western civilization itself,” King replied. “It's rooted in Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the United States of America and every place where the footprint of Christianity settled the world. That's all of Western civilization.”
However, that’s not entirely true.
The contributions by non-white, non-western civilization are too many to list. During the Middle Ages, Persian, Egyptians, Mesopotamian, Assyrian, Arabic and Indian scholars brought advancements to science, astronomy, philosophy, mathematics and architecture without which the innovations of the modern era would not have been possible. Jaber ibn Hayyan and Al-Khwarizmi are widely known as the fathers of chemistry and algebra, respectively.
Countries of Far East like China have been credited with advancements in numerics, navigation, spiritual balance and diagnosis and many other fields even before the advent of Christ, which led to the invention and discovery of things like paper, silk cloth, church bells, solar winds, blood circulation, the seismograph and the compass.
Apart from referring to non-white people as “subgroups,” King’s remarks display a serious lack of sensitivity toward race relations as well as his ignorance of historical facts.
The credit goes to Hayes for trying to keep the peace, a daunting prospect after the absurdity of the statement.
“We're not going to argue the history of Western civilization,” Hayes said. “Let me note for the record that if you're looking at the ledger of Western civilization, for every flourishing democracy, you have Hitler and Stalin as well.”
King’s comment also drew a flurry of antagonistic comments on social media.
Rep. Steve King said white people contributed most to civilization. Melania Trump then showed us how...by stealing from a Person of Color.— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) July 19, 2016
Steve King said white people have contributed more to history than any other group, but I'm pretty sure I slept till noon today.— Matt Wallace (@MattFnWallace) July 19, 2016
Rep. Steve King's belief that the only contributions to civilization have come from white people is both astoundingly ignorant and racist.— Imani Perry (@imaniperry) July 18, 2016
Steve King on civilization: "Iowa's top agricultural crop is corn, bred into existence by white people in Mesoamerica 5000 years ago."— Curtis Harris (@curtismharris) July 18, 2016
Steve King just basically said only white people have contributed good things to modern civilization. Are you kidding me?— Justin W. White (@RevJDubya) July 18, 2016
Republican Rep. Steve King just said everything good came from white people. Really!!!— Margaret Lovell (@maggiethepirate) July 18, 2016
Oh HELL no... Rep. Steve King just said white people contributed the most to human civilization. Refers to nonwhites as "subgroups."— Christina Pazzanese (@cpazzanese) July 18, 2016
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters, Robert Galbraith