I have long felt that there is no danger to polite society like other people’s babies.
Your Baby is excellent. Your Baby is meeting all its milestones and everything it does is riveting. Your Baby is a genius, looks just like you, and definitely was smiling at you, not passing gas.
Somebody Else’s Baby, by contrast, is always trying to ruin your life. Somebody Else’s Baby is always crying on airplanes. Somebody Else’s Baby is rolling through the door on his walker to ruin his father’s BBC interview.
Somebody Else’s Baby appears in 895 pictures on Facebook for you to Like and comment upon, refuses to let you hold it without bursting into noisy sobs, and has sticky little hands.
Somebody Else’s Baby never does anything interesting. But its parents inevitably insist on showing you hundreds of pictures of it turning slowly onto its side and you have to coo sympathetically and pretend to be entranced.
Somebody Else’s Baby is, in short, a menace.
So it is obvious to anyone with eyes why Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has not been loudly condemned by the White House or Republicans in Congress for his remark that “we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”
Part of the lack of condemnation no doubt stems from the fact that the whole appeal of a Trump presidency was the idea that nobody ever had to Apologize for anything or Denounce anyone ever again. Indignant demands from the Internet to Denounce and Disavow statements were cutting into precious time that could have been spent golfing or watching cable news, and President Trump will have none of it.
But surely we would have denounced King in the broadest terms, called him racist in our headlines and made clear that his remarks were unacceptable — if he had meant anything else by his remark than that Other People’s Babies are always ruining your dining experience.
No, no doubt all he meant was that Somebody Else’s Baby could not rebuild any civilization because Somebody Else’s Baby would be too busy drooling on your tasteful ensemble when his beleaguered father handed him to you to hold.
If he had actually said something so overtly racist that white nationalist David Duke praised him for being a voice of common sense (“GOD BLESS STEVE KING!!!“) — we would not be so silent. Surely not. This remark would not be so uncontroversial if, in context, he were citing a highly Islamophobic individual who called Muslim immigrants “scum,” or if, say, King had a history of saying horrible racist things — suggesting that only Western Civilization had ever contributed anything to anyone, never “other categories of people,” and saying that the children of immigrants became drug mules with “calves the size of cantaloupes” — Never! Then we would speak up. We would not let his baby libel rest.
After all, the whole point of the United States is that we do not divide babies into Ours and Theirs. Here, there is no such thing as Somebody Else’s Baby. They are all ours. We get to take pride in all their accomplishments and marvel at their every coo.
So of course Steve King must have meant that other thing.
We would surely denounce him if he had meant anything else.