Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) drew fire from liberal politicians and the media Sunday for a tweet supporting Dutch right-wing populist politician Geert Wilders.
King retweeted a political cartoon of Wilders in which the controversial politician is shown trying to plug the leaking dam of “Western civilization” and keep an Islamic wave from crashing through.
“Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny,” King wrote. “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies,” he said.
The tweet, originally from an account called Voice of Europe, included the message “Hundreds of Islamists shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Wilders [has been] right for over 10 years.”
Wilders, founder and leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV), has grown his party to become a major contender in the country’s upcoming elections, to be held on Wednesday. Wilders has made opposition to the E.U. and a desire for the “de-Islamization” of the Netherlands central to his campaign.
Until recently, Wilders was shown to be leading in multiple polls — however, the center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) has moved into the lead over the last week or so.
Nevertheless, the PVV is still expected to come second place in the election and will likely gain over 20 seats in the Dutch Parliament. A diplomatic incident with Turkey that occurred over the weekend could even give Wilders’ party a last-minute push, with less than 48 hours to go until Election Day.
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Over the weekend, the Dutch government withdrew landing rights for Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who was scheduled to address a rally of Turkish nationals in Rotterdam, amid concerns for public safety and order. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the Dutch “fascists” and accused them of practicing “Nazism” in response.
“Wilders could benefit because this incident strengthens the image that Turks are not integrated and show more loyalty towards Turkey than to the Netherlands. This could give him more support for his claims about Islam and sending people back to their own country,” Sarah de Lange, a professor of political science at the University of Amsterdam, said in an interview with Bloomberg News.
When “you add everything up, what happened will clearly help Wilders,” Kees Aarts, professor of political institutions and behavior at the University of Groningen, told Bloomberg.
King’s support for Wilders may have gone unnoticed — were it not for King’s own message, included with his retweet, that caused an uproar among liberals and the media. “Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny,” King wrote. “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies,” he said.
Leftist digital outlet Slate described King’s tweet as “white supremacist,” while failed NeverTrump presidential candidate Evan McMullin accused King of promoting “white nationalism.”
This wasn’t the first time King earned the ire of elites for candidly asserting the historical value of Western civilization.
In July 2016, King courted controversy on MSNBC after Esquire writer Charles Pierce said changing demographics would permanently change the GOP.
“If you’re really optimistic, you can say that this is the last time that old white people will command the Republican Party’s attention, its platform, and its public face,” Pierce said.
“This whole ‘white people’ business does get a little tired, Charlie,” King responded. “I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out, where have these contributions been made by these other categories of people that you’re talking about? Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?” King asked.
King defended those comments during a Facebook Live interview with The Washington Post that occurred two days after the controversial statement. “The idea of multiculturalism and that every culture is equal — that’s not objectively true,” King said.