Letter from the Editor

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The great wall of America

Steve King must surely be the most, um, interesting member of Congress since the bad old days of cane-whipping and declaring duels and the like. He is being discussed everywhere...

My friends in other parts of the country no longer send me e-mails starting with "Hello," but mail me C-Span video clips of Steve King playing arts and crafts day on the floor of Congress, with "HAVE YOU SEEN THIS? WHAT KIND OF CRAZY PEOPLE ARE YOU IN IOWA?"

I really don't think Steve King is crazy. Look, he isn't singing "Afternoon Delight" in a Speedo and building model UFO spaceships before Congress - the guy's just building a model great wall to keep those foreign types out.

What's that you say? Isn't Steve King's hometown of Storm Lake one of the most successful models of ethnic diversity in the midwest? And don't immigrants - some of them of the gray area variety - keep its packing plants and other businesses thriving?

Well, if you guys are so smart, what are your Congressmen doing, huh? What can they make out of tissue boxes? Where are their videos all over the internet humor sites?

Yeah, dudes, he is the same same Steve King who compared a respected grande dame of journalism to the virgins in Zarqawi hell. And the one who described Joseph McCarthy as "a great American hero." The one who said he "clicked with" Tom DeLay. And argued that it is more dangerous for civilians in Washington, D.C. than Iraq. And called the torture of Iraqi prisoners by their American captors as "What amounts to hazing." And so on.

Colorful, that's called. Big colorful. You don't get that stuff out of old Al Gore. And, as far as I know, he's not even running for president. Yet.

How many Congressmen can design a 2,000-mile impenetrable electrified wall right there on the desk in front of the Speaker of the House? Complete with miniature barbed wire? Not many, I wager.

And what is so strange about that, you smart aleck faux intellectuals? It worked fine for China, and Berlin... and if this works, we can build one next around the pesky liberals.

What my friends don't realize is that Steve King isn't a joke, or a fool. In fact, he is an amazingly energetic, likeable self-made man who has realized the power of the conservative movement from the get-go, and positioned himself squarely on the right end seat of the political teeter-totter. In so doing, he has gained considerable influence in a relatively short time in Washington.

He is unbending and infatiguable, and never at a loss for words - although those words often tend to one big step over the line.

Such is the case with the immigrant issue. During rallies earlier this season, I seem to recall King making a very valid opinion - but then inexplicably throwing out an insulting remark about how he could get by without his grass getting mowed and his order getting cooked for one day.

And as he modeled out his little diorama of a multi-billion-dollar precast wall to enclose the entire U.S. southern border, 10 feet high and thirteen and a half feet tall, he said this:

"We could also electrify this wire with the kind of current that would not kill somebody, but it would simply be a discouragement for them... We do that with livestock all the time..."


No matter how you feel about immigration and a border fence - and almost all of us would agree that something needs to be done for reasonable border security - that statement should bother us.

Mexicans, even ones illegally in our country, are people, not animals. We can't deal with the issue if we do not understand that.

Steve King is far from crazy. He is our Congressman.

And the more I think about a man who we trust to lead us saying, unchallenged, "we do that with livestock all the time," the more I wonder what is becoming of our sensibilities.

If we put as much effort into building bridges as walls, we might again be able to attract the world's best and brightest, not just its cheap labor.

A wall? Even Ronald Reagan saw a problem with that kind of isolationism. So, will the next Mexican President be waiting to say, "¿SEÑOR King? ¡Derribe esta pared!"?