Rep. Steve King (R - Iowa), an anti-immigrant hard-liner and member of the Subcommittee on Immigration of the House Committee on the Judiciary, and who has in the past called DREAMERS "drug mules", has recently drawn intense criticism for recent comments during a televised discussion allegedly implying that Western, i.e. white, civilization is, and always has been, superior to all others. Is this criticism fair or accurate?

Let us look at Rep. King's exact words, as reported in the New York Daily Mews on July 19. They were as follows:

"I would ask you to go back through history and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you are talking about. Where did any other [non-white] subgroup contribute more to civilization?"


It is worth noting that King was not referring just to recent history or any specific historical time. Instead he said:

"...go back through history..."

History, for most people, means the past 5,000 years, ever since the invention of writing. To argue that only white people have contributed to civilization during this period and that the great civilizations of ancient Egypt, China, India, Sumer, Babylonia and many other places either did not exist or were not worth talking about shows either appalling ignorance about world history or an equally appalling lack of regard for the reality of that history.

Of course, this does not mean that non-white civilizations were only important in ancient times. They have been so at all times throughout all of recorded history, right up to the present. Did Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King contribute nothing to modern world civilization?

Later, according to the same news report, Rep. Steve King tried to "clarify" the above statement as follows, telling ABC:

"What I really said was 'Western Civilization' and when you describe Western civilization that can mean much of Western Civilization happens to be Caucasians. But we should not apologize for our culture or our civilization."

Yes, Western civilization was in large part the product of white people, because most Westerners happen to be white. But, while there can be no question that Western civilization has made great contributions to human civilization in general, does that mean it is a superior civilization compared to the other great civilizations of the world in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas? ? And who is asking anyone to apologize for Western civilization?

Rep. King also appears not to have the slightest knowledge of the enormous contributions that other parts of the world have made to specifically Western civilization, such as the great scientific inventions in China including gunpowder, without which that shining example of American culture, the NRA, would not exist.

Of course, it would be expecting too much to think that Rep. King, who was quoted in the Washington Post on October 12, 2015 as saying the following:

"But I can't find models of the folks that, say, do the hajj to Mecca, I can't find models where they've assimilated into the broader culture of civilization wherever they've gone"


would know anything about how medieval Muslim scholars preserved ancient Greek philosophy and transmitted it to Europe at a time when this very great product of Western civilization had been almost entirely lost in the West. See:

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Greek Sources in Arabic and Islamic Philosophy (2009, 2013)

But in one sense, Rep. Steve King has done all of us a favor. He has clearly shown the real motivation behind Donald Trump's draconian immigration proposals, which are now owned by the Republican party itself, including the Wall with Mexico, mass expulsion of 12 million mainly non-white immigrants who lack legal status in America, and a ban on entry by most, if not all, of the world's Muslims - namely that the "civilizations and cultures" of non-white countries and areas throughout the world are allegedly "inferior" to those associated with white people in Western countries.

How someone with such bigoted views could have been chosen by the House Republican leadership to serve on a committee responsible for immigration policy is something that only those same leaders might be able to explain.

But the above immigration proposals are the same ones which are now being so enthusiastically put forward by Republican standard-bearer Donald Trump and supported by his screaming shouting, white supremacist followers at the Republican National Convention.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, he has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants obtain work visas and green cards.

Roger's practice is focused primarily on H-1B specialty occupation and O-1 extraordinary ability work visas, J-1 training visas, and on green cards through labor certification and opposite sex or same sex marriage. His email address is