I would have liked to have been in the room when they pulled out the Nazi. It wasn’t just a room, it was a church sanctuary in Bettendorf and in it were gathered a bunch of men and women and elected officials who had gathered for one purpose: to oppose immigration. And then, it went full Nazi.
The event was hosted by the Scott County Young Republicans, who took to the stage to claim that they are discriminated against because they dare to support the president at school. There were also people there called Angel Parents. Men and women whose children were murdered by undocumented immigrants. There aren’t very many of these Angel Parents. The No. 1 perpetrator of violent crime in America, according to FBI violent crime statistics, is the white, American man. But on stage, at that church in Bettendorf, white American men spoke out against the marginalized, positing themselves as victims. According to the Quad-City Times, one speaker called the event an event of love, before calling journalists “fake news” and liars.
At this event were Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Bobby Schilling, two Republican candidates for Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District.
And finally, there was Nick Fuentes.
Fuentes seems like a well-dressed, well-spoken young man, as they all often do. He is a far-right extremist, who objects to being called a white supremacist, but has spoken in depth about his desire to create a white supermajority in America. Which is the actual definition of white supremacy. So, he is actually a white supremacist. Fuentes is so blatantly white supremacist that other far right anti-immigrant groups that talk about the superiority of whiteness, such as Charlie Kirk’s Turning Point USA, and the Young America Foundation, have distanced themselves from him.
But there he was at the event, the final speaker. Next to a Christmas trees and a large cross, where Christians believe a Middle Eastern man was hung for crimes he didn’t commit, Fuentes warned against the “drastic consequences” of immigration from non-European, non-white countries. And he argued that America should create a white monoculture that others are forced to assimilate to.
After the event, Miller-Meeks and Schilling, grabbed their collective pearls and denounced Fuentes. And Schilling fired his campaign’s political coordinator, who orchestrated Fuentes appearance. Hands washed. The deed done. But while politicians and pastors claim plausible deniability, it’s a foolish act of ignorance in a larger game of hate. No one has yet, after all, denounced other speakers, who said in a church that Americans need to come first, not people who are in the U.S. illegally. No one called out the hypocrisy of saying in front of a Nativity that children born in foreign countries ought to be kicked out. Events like this don’t accidentally slide into racism. Fuentes wasn’t a mistake. He was just saying the quiet part out loud. He was just articulating the realities of “America first” ideology. That it’s about whiteness and monoculture. It’s about racism. Politicians can say “that’s not us,” but if you spout the rhetoric of hate, don’t be surprised when you end up in church with a Nazi.
Iowa nice sometimes means we don’t call out the ugly. We simply let it slide by. We object to terms like “white supremacy” and “racism” all the while showing up to churches and events where it thrives.
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We demand to put the Christ back in Christmas all the while insisting we build a wall to keep refugees from safety. We insist we are a Christian nation, while children die in squalid border camps. We let racists stand in front of a cross and speak hate. It might be OK now to say “merry Christmas” in Trump’s America. But the actual spirit of Christ is not in it.