Normally when someone makes an offensive or ignorant statement, they jump at the chance to take it back or to clarify what they meant after internally berating themselves for saying it in the first place. But this was not the case for U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who is currently under fire for a racially charged tweet he issued Sunday. 

King, a vocal opponent of illegal immigration, tweeted, “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”

With this statement, King echoes the far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders, a member of the populist Freedom Party and proponent of returning European countries to their more homogenous, uber-nationalistic roots. Wilders has been accused of inciting hatred against Muslims in the Netherlands as well as being found guilty of hate speech, due to a 2016 promise to reduce the number of Moroccans in the Netherlands.

In a chance to clarify his statement, CNN’s Chris Cuomo interviewed King on “New Day” one day after his incendiary tweet. When asked what he intended by his comment, King dug his heels in.

“I meant exactly what I said,” King said in the interview. “If you go down the road a few generations, or maybe centuries, with the inter-marriage, I’d like to see an America that is just so homogenous that we look a lot the same.”

King proceeded to talk about the need for immigrants to assimilate into the thread of American society to preserve the distinctly “American culture” and society.

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King’s tweet and subsequent reiteration of his controversial stance were celebrated by former Ku Klux Klan leader, David Duke, who tweeted, “God bless Steve King.”

King’s stance, however, has also been widely condemned as “openly peddling white nationalism,” racist and bigoted by people ranging from Chelsea Clinton to multiple Republicans, including Jeb Bush and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

King’s comments are incredibly detrimental to this country, especially considering the already racially charged rhetoric regarding immigration. The very fact that a man harboring such blatantly racist opinions was elected a U.S. Representative is repulsive, but then again, there are bigots roaming the halls of the White House, so can we really be surprised?

King’s white supremacist-esque statements directly contradict what the U.S. has supposedly represented to its citizens and to the world since its birth in 1776. America was founded by immigrants who came to the “new world” to escape persecution, creating a “city upon a hill” for the world to look toward as a model for their own societies. Since then, immigration has woven the rich fabric that is the hundreds of cultures and ethnicities represented nationwide, becoming a melting pot for people from all walks of life, all races, all sexualities.

King’s rhetoric supporting the essential whitewashing of America not only misrepresents what America should, and predominantly does stand for, but insults millions of citizens who deserve much better than to be told they don’t have a place in their own country because of the color of their skin.

King’s cries for the assimilation of all immigrants is an affront to each unique culture that is preserved by the men and women who refuse to bury their cultural and ethnic roots simply because they chose to call America home instead of their country of origin.

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What King and the Americans who share his racist, xenophobic opinions fail to realize is their hypocrisy. As Americans, we consume different cultures everyday, from eating Chinese or Indian food to wearing clothes made in foreign countries to learning a foreign language in school. We consider it a mark of wealth to travel to foreign countries, where the locals are of a different race, and brag about our exotic experiences to our friends when we return home.

So if we enjoy all of these different cultures in our everyday lives, why can’t we realize their immense role in shaping and bettering America? Furthermore, why can’t we get past the fact that yes, these cultures may stem from people who look different than us and get to the part where we celebrate our differences instead of condemning minorities as a societal “other” and calling for a homogenization of our country?

The answer to all the problems America is facing is not whitewashing the country. It is not creating a homogenous society to “strengthen [our] culture [or our] way of life.

The answer to many of the nation’s problems is putting aside differences in race or ethnicity and moving forward as a society that celebrates diversity as an integral part of what makes America so special, what makes America so great.

Aly Niehans ([email protected]) is a freshman majoring in international studies and intending to major in journalism.