Before it’s lost in the onslaught of undemocratic Republican behavior, it is worth recalling last week’s “uprising” against attempts to impeach President Donald Trump. Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz led more than 40 of his Republican colleagues in storming the closed-door deposition of Pentagon official Laura Cooper regarding her work on Ukraine policy.
Photos of the rebellion of middle-aged white men – along with a small number of white women representing GOP diversity – indicated that some of the most racist members of Congress were among the inside agitators.
Steve King, a congressman from Iowa, was prominently visible in a Gaetz-led press conference before the group invaded the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, where cell phones – a security breach – are not allowed.
Rejecting the rules
So much for oft-cited Republican national security concerns. Law and order have meaning until King, Gaetz and conservative Republicans don’t like the rules.
King has frequently not liked the rules and the rejection of racism and bigotry.
In July 2013, he declared of undocumented immigrants: “For every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds – and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”
In March 2017, King wrote that “culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”
He tweeted that in endorsing Islamophobic Dutch politician Geert Wilders.
Also in 2017, King attempted to convince Congress that it should oppose a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians.
He argued in a resolution he authored that the occupied West Bank – or “Judea and Samaria” as he called it – is the “heartland of the Biblical holy land, the cradle of Jewish civilization, and Israel’s claim to this internationally disputed territory is right and just.”
King’s resolution supported the expansion of Israel’s borders, saying not a word about equal rights and voting rights for Palestinians or about protecting the will of the Palestinian people.
Even Republicans appeared to have had enough when earlier this year King asked The New York Times: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization – how did that language become offensive?”
But there he was last week with Gaetz, Steve Scalise – the minority whip in the House of Representatives – and numerous other Republicans having an entitled temper tantrum on the national stage.
“David Duke without the baggage”
Scalise, for his part, is believed to have attended a white supremacist convention in 2002.
Earlier this month, he sought to stave off charges of his party’s white nationalism and anti-Semitism by citing his support for Israel and alleged anti-Semitism by Democrats.
The New York Times in 2014 quoted a Louisiana-based journalist as saying that Scalise had once told her that “he was like David Duke without the baggage.”
Duke is a former leader of the racist and anti-Semitic Ku Klux Klan.
Yet earlier this year, Scalise thought he was appropriately positioned to advocate that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “has to remove” Ilhan Omar, a high-profile politician, from the foreign affairs committee in the House of Representatives.
In doing so, he joined the campaign to misrepresent Omar as an anti-Semite based on how she had spoken out about the lack of rights and freedom for Palestinians.
Scalise voiced distress that Omar was “literally getting intelligence briefings on foreign policy of the United States, including our relationship with Israel.”
This is from a man who, like so many in the US Congress, fails to express concerns about the racist oppression of Palestinians by Israel.
As for Gaetz, his bigotry is directed at both Palestinians and undocumented immigrants.
He denies the apartheid reality that exists for Palestinians despite having tweeted that he has visited Israel.
The congressman has also claimed that undocumented immigrants are “sucking us dry.”
And in 2018, he falsely suggested that George Soros – the target of numerous anti-Semitic attacks – may have funded a migrant caravan from Central America to the United States.
Gaetz has received considerable criticism for inviting a Holocaust denier to a State of the Union address and for hiring a speechwriter with connections to white nationalists.
In the age of Trump bombast, it’s no surprise that Gaetz – and the multiple bigotries he brings to the table – is the leader of a right-wing congressional revolt.