They’re calling it a tiny statue for a tiny man. Given Iowa congressman Steve King’s pitiful history of racist and xenophobic comments, it may not be small enough.
The statue, placed in front of the Iowa statehouse in Des Moines, is the work of the comedy duo Davram Stiefler and Jason Selvig, known as The Good Liars.
“This site is dedicated to Confederate sympathizer and White Nationalist, Steve King,” reads the plaque underneath the statue, which is indeed especially small. “Here, King is honored with the world’s smallest Confederate statue.”
The comedy duo – who were also behind the recent stunt at New York bookshops in which covers of Donald Trump Jr’s new book were replaced with ones that read: “Daddy, Please Love Me: How Everything I Do Is to Try and Earn My Father’s Love” – told the Guardian that they wanted to honor history. Mocking the language often used by those in defence of Confederate statues, Selvig said:
“We’re just saying we should respect our ancestry and our heritage and – like it or not – Steve King’s racism is part of our heritage and we need to respect that.”
Selvig said that the four-inch statue, should act as a metaphor: “Racists are trying to bring down others so they can make themselves feel better. That’s the mark of somebody who is very small,” he said.
In 2017 around the time of the violent marches in Charlottesville, King dismissed any connection between Confederate iconography and slavery. That same year, writing in support of anti-immigrant Dutch presidential candidate Geert Wilders, King tweeted that “culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies” – commentary that echoed the white supremacist slogan “the 14 words”.
A full accounting of similarly dehumanizing and degrading comments King has made about immigrants and other marginalized groups would fill a book. Explaining why he opposed legal status for immigrants brought into the country as children in 2013 he said: “For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”
Selvig pointed out that it would be hypocritical for the statue to be removed, seeing as so many Republicans have argued against removing other Confederate monuments.
“They are the last ones fighting for the Confederacy, to keep its memory alive. So they deserve their own Confederate monuments, all of them,” added Selvig – in a hint that there will be more statues to come.
In 2016 at the Republican national convention he dismissed the benefits of multiculturalism, saying that non-white European groups had contributed little to civilization.
“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 you are talking about. Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”
A few days later he followed up in an interview by adding: “The idea of multiculturalism, that every culture is equal – that’s not objectively true … We’ve been fed that information for the past 25 years, and we’re not going to become a greater nation if we continue to do that.”
Last year King was stripped of his committee assignments and rebuked by Republican leaders after further offensive comments. “White nationalist, white supremacist, western civilization – how did that language become offensive?” he asked.
In a tweet showing images of the statue, the Good Liars chastised “the Confederate sympathizer” King. “Hopefully he will honor his heritage and not take it down.”
Selvig added that while King’s comments are terrible by modern-day standards, they pale in comparison to what those Confederate leaders and generals who have statues honoring them did.
These statues were put up for intimidation purposes [to scare] minorities, and is disgusting and to defend them. In this day and age, there’s really no excuse for that,” said Selvig.