The representative from Iowa, Steve King, has received a lot of criticism from both the Republican and Democratic party for his now-famous tweet alluding to Dutch Donald Trump wannabe Geert Wilders.
In the tweet, he shows solidarity with Wilders' views on immigration and its perceived threat to Western society.
“Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies.”
Apparently, the tweet was in reference to a talk King gave 10 years ago at an EU parliament. King went on to defend his views and the tweet in an interview with Breitbart host Alex Marlow. During the interview, King said,
“I said to them in that speech, ‘You cannot rebuild your civilization with somebody else’s babies. If you don’t care enough about your society, your civilization, to have enough babies to sustain your population — and hopefully increase, and not decrease — then you shall shortly become extinct.”
When King went on CNN to defend his tweet, he tried to make his views less racist, but not by much. In that interview King says, "I'm a champion for Western civilization," adding that all people do not contribute to American society equally. "They contribute differently to our culture and civilization." He goes on to say that he “wished to see immigrants better assimilate to the United States."
Taking these interviews into consideration, it sounds like King thinks Western Civilization is somehow homogenous and static in nature.
Based on these comments, it is clear the representative from Iowa has a weak grasp on history. The primary ingredient of Western civilization is the acceptance and contribution of other cultures and knowledge. It has nothing to do with being white or homogeneity.
Had it not been for the acceptance and fascination by the Islamic world of our two closest cultural ancestors, the Greeks — specifically Athens — and the Romans, we would not have Western civilization.
Let’s start with Athens, the cradle of Western civilization. Athens was doing great til it got cocky and decided it wanted to control its neighbor Sparta. Tensions between Sparta and Athens get worse when Athens decided to defend its ally Corfu against Sparta’s ally Corinth during the Battle of Sybota in 433 BCE. The frenemy relationship between Sparta and Athens turned into a full-on war. The Peloponnesian war bankrupted Athens and slowly eroded the Athenian empire. The Athenian Empire was ultimately defeated in 333 BCE by Macedonia. They remained under Macedonian reign until Greece was taken over and adopted by the Roman Empire.
The Romans loved Greek culture. The reason we have any knowledge of Greece and its great ideas is because the Romans had historians such as Plutarch to keep Greece alive.
Rome started in the small village of Latini in the 9th century BCE. According to Roman legend, the story of Rome begins with the twin brothers Romulus and Remus. In the story, Romulus kills Remus, becomes king, and Rome is named after him. After founding Rome, Romulus permits and accepts men from all classes and nationalities to become Romans. After a while, Rome has a bunch of dudes and Romulus realizes Rome needs women, for baby purposes. He doesn’t care what race they are, Rome just needs more people.
After almost six hundred years of various types of Roman rule, Rome became an Empire ruled by one Emperor. The secret to Rome’s success was creating new Roman citizens. Much like the colonization of the Americas, the Roman empire grew by conquering various places in the Mediterranean, North Africa, and even the British Isles. The difference between American colonization and Roman conquest was that every time the Romans made a conquest, they invited those who were defeated to become Romans. By giving the conquered Roman citizenship, Rome had a larger army which allowed them to strengthen their empire. In addition, Rome adopted the conquered cultures' gods, festivals, and rituals. It was through this adopt-a-culture policy that Greek history and culture survived.
Of course, an Empire as big as the Roman empire had to fall. And here is where the story gets exciting. The Western Roman Empire, AKA most of what we know as Europe today, fell in 476 CE with the deposition of Romulus Agustus. The West Roman Empire erupted into a series of civil wars and fell into what is commonly referred to as the Dark Ages. But while Europe was catching the plague, fighting Barbarians, and losing literacy, the Eastern Empire was flourishing. The Eastern Roman Empire, also known as the Byzantine Empire, became the big shot in the world. The Eastern Empire not only survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman world it flourished and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.
According to Ancient History Encyclopedia,
“It was the Byzantines who were responsible for much of the passing on of the Greek legacy to the Muslims; they later helped Europe to explore this knowledge again and so stood at the beginning of European Renaissance.”
When the Byzantine Empire was taken over by the Ottoman Empire, much of the Greek and Roman knowledge was preserved. The scientists and mathematicians of the Ottoman Empire took this knowledge and expanded it.
Long story short, Western civilization was kept alive by the Muslim world. Western civilization is not a series of blue eyes, and a lack of melanin in the skin, nor is it homogeneous. Western Civilization is education, understanding history, mathematics, science, poetry, and art — and more importantly, accepting other cultures and expanding on that knowledge. What makes the world and culture strong is the spread of knowledge.
King stating that Western civilization is in danger because of immigrants just shows how ill-informed, uneducated, and uncivilized he is about Western culture and its history. More importantly, he underestimates that the jewel of Western civilization is not its races, but its diversity and how that diversity contributes to knowledge. Which is ironic because some of the brightest minds who can help our civilization move forward are being banned from even entering this country as we speak.
Isabel Dieppa is a writer and actor. She is a part of the performance duo Of This World in Chicago, IL. Her interests lie in science, art, and history. Past writing includes interning for the Chicago Field Museum ECCO program, the national theater blog HOWLROUND, music reviews for UR Chicago, and in a former life was a beat reporter for the Indiana Daily Student. She loves archaeology, kitties, and dancing. The next big adventure may include an archaeological dig in Peru. Follow on twitter @isabelsdieppa
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