Subscribe! Note: This first appeared in the RightWisconsin Daily Update on 1/15/18.

Dear Readers,

I spent my Tuesday in meetings about planning the future of RightWisconsin, which is always fun.

We’re experiencing growth in readership, social media interaction and even in the number of people reading this newsletter. That’s always a good thing for us, although I suspect that a big part of the growth is a reaction to the election of Governor Tony Evers. Part of the growth is a reaction to the increasingly liberal bias of much of the “mainstream” media, even as the Gannett McPaper chain slowly strangles local news coverage in Wisconsin.

And just when you thought local news coverage couldn’t get worse, it just might.

Back at RightWisconsin, how we’re communicating to our audience is a constant question. Are we providing a forum for a factual debate on transportation funding? Are we providing honest commentary and coverage in Republican primaries? Is this an honest and open forum for conservatives?

Inevitably, the conversation also turns to the broader conservative movement in Wisconsin and how well it is communicating outside the conservative bubble. Can the Republican Party change and do better? Can Republicans run better campaigns than they did in 2018? How can Wisconsin Republicans penetrate the noise being generated nationally to win the messaging war at home?

Those are the tough questions. An easy question should be, what do we do about the racists in our midst?

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has a reputation as an anti-immigration absolutist. That’s actually the kinder description of him. Somebody should have told King that it’s better to be thought a racist than to open his mouth and remove all doubt.

“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” Mr. King told the New York Times. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

When King was finally punished by his GOP colleagues and removed from his committee assignments, the Iowa congressman tried to defend himself by claiming Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was committing an “unprecedented assault” on King’s “freedom of speech” (it’s not) and that King’s quote is being taken out of context.

Yes, the New York Times should release the audio of the interview so the public can judge King’s intent, but it was King himself who placed Western Civilization in the context of the other two racist terms. And if King wants to talk about context, it’s his past actions of cozying up to racists and praising them that are providing the context for his latest statement.

What’s been disappointing to me personally is how some Republicans are running to King’s defense. A quick survey of social media sees the defenses break down roughly into three categories: the media is biased, there’s a double standard, and political correctness is killing us.

I’ll start with the last one, as I agree so-called political correctness is a problem. However, being anti-political correctness does not mean excusing all bad behavior and speech. And nobody is preventing King from speaking. He can be as racist as he wants to be. That does not mean the rest of the Republican Party has to continue its association with him.

As for a double standard, yes, there is one. But just because the other side gets to be a bunch of gutter-mouthed radicals or anti-Semites, that does not excuse that kind of behavior in our own ranks. Republicans need to clean their own house as well as criticize the Democrats, especially if Republicans want their criticisms to have some credibility.

Finally, yes the media is biased, as I noted in the beginning. However, the media bias does not excuse King’s behavior or what he says. King is conveniently feeding the narrative that Republicans are all racist, the anecdotal evidence that confirms the media’s impression of Republicans.

Removing King from his committee assignments is not enough. The Republican Party must find a credible alternative to challenge King in a primary. Just as Wisconsin Republicans rejected Paul Nehlen’s racism in the 1st congressional district, Republicans need to reject that racism again by defeating King, lest the party send the message that it’s tolerant of racism.

James Wigderson