REMSEN, Iowa – As the polka group played and the volunteers began to serve the bratwurst, a rumor spread slowly on the occasion of the annual Beer Festival in this isolated farming town of Iowa: eleven Jews were slaughtered in Pittsburgh , slaughtered at the synagogue.
"Hate," says Iowans for the celebration. "Sad." "Horrible." "Makes me sick."
No one has asked if their beloved representative, Steve King – the most outspoken US congressman of white nationalism – could contribute to anti-Semitism or racism through his embrace without embarrassment white nationalist rhetoric and his praise of right-wing politicians. in other nations.
"There are still groups who praise Hitler and believe everything he has taught. . . . Many things will be misinterpreted, "said Joe Schuttpelz. If King's goal is to defend the status of Native Americans, when immigrants arrive, Schuttpelz agrees. "It does not protect us so much against taking control that gives us some benefits that all others have when they come here," he said.
The belief he expressed Saturday in Remsen, following the deadliest attack in history against American Jews, is widespread in the 4th district of Iowa, where King seeks a ninth term in Congress.
During his 16 years in the House, King became better known for his inflammatory rhetoric about immigration and race than for passing a bill. He decried some Latinos as having "calves the size of a cantaloupe because they carry 75 kilos of marijuana across the desert." He defended the Confederate flag and placed one on his desk.
He embraced the far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders and recently promoted Faith Goldy, a marginal candidate of the mayor of Toronto who was fired by a far right publication for appearing on a podcast produced by the Daily Stormer neo-Nazi website.
In an interview in August with members of an Austrian far-right party with historical links to Nazism, King lamented that "Western civilization is in decline" because of immigrants and has criticized the Jewish financier George Soros.
"What does this diversity bring that we have not already?" He asked then.
In an interview after Saturday's shooting in Pittsburgh, King said he was not anti-Semitic, extolling his support for Israel and insisting that there was "a special place in hell" for anyone who perpetrated religious or race-based violence.
"What do you call Steve King as anti-Semitic?", He asked, just before giving a speech supporting the rights of firearms at a dinner celebrating the first day of the hunting season in the United States. pheasant in the city of Akron, in the west of Iowa.
He stated that the groups with which he was associated were criticized for having neo-Nazi views, specifically about extreme right-wing groups. He cited the Austrian Freedom Party, founded by a former Nazi SS officer and led by Heinz-Christian Strache, who was active in neo-Nazi circles in his youth. The group has focused on an uncompromising anti-immigration stance even as it seeks to distance itself from Nazi relations.
"If they were in America pushing the platform they're pushing, they'd be Republicans," King said.
King's Democratic opponent, J.D. Scholten, far surpassed him and led a much more aggressive campaign in person across the district. The Sioux City newspaper on Friday approved Scholten, thus reversing his support for King in recent years.
"Whenever King immerses himself in the controversy, he brandishes this district ridiculously and marginalizes himself within the legislature that he serves, which does not bring any benefit to the Iowans who live and work here," said the lawyer, citing King for being attached to "Ugliness intolerant."
Last week, at the 37th stage of his third stint in 39 counties across the country, Scholten largely avoided hitting King and even more rarely spoke of President Trump. Like many Midwestern Democrats, he focused on health care and agriculture.
On Saturday, Scholten's assistant said the Pittsburgh shootout sparked a new wave of donations for his campaign.
In an interview, Scholten said that King had failed during his career to denounce hate groups.
"It goes against everything we are taught in the church," he said. "Whatever you believe, this district has strong faith, and none of these religions preach that."
But King remains popular; many voters do not consider his posts as eliminatory.
Bob Scott, Mayor of Sioux City, the largest city in the district, said the Iowans did not share King's point of view, even though they voted for him.
"They may have problems with immigration. They may have problems with race relations for whatever reason, "he said. "But the majority will not agree with what happens when they meet these Austrian nationals. I just do not see this type of racism here, and that's what it is. "
In the 4th District – a very conservative band of Iowa, nearly 200 km wide, rich in fertile farmland dotted with cities the length of a main street two blocks away – King enjoys wide support.
Steve is Steve. It's a local guy. He graduated from high school here. It comes lunch on Sunday, "says Eric Skoog, Crawford County Supervisor, who, along with his wife Terri, owns what they believe to be the oldest active restaurant in Iowa.
At the Cronk counter, which has been open since 1929, Skoog said he did not agree with King on immigration and was not afraid to share his differing views. Skoog has worked hard to help local schools adapt to the influx of immigrant children in Denison, a district in the very white district where a major meat-packing plant has attracted a large Hispanic community.
Still, Skoog said, "I do not see him as racist. I do not know. He's just Steve. In November, he says, he will probably vote for him.
Some in the district welcome King Talk enthusiastically.
"We are very happy in this country to overthrow the white man. Only one group of people has not achieved minority status and these are the white men, "says Steve Sorensen, a former truck driver, watching the World Series at a bar in Hampton. "You can fire a white man whenever you want. He has no recourse. Try this with someone else.
Mindy Rainer also believes that others benefit more from government benefits than white women. "There are people who are desperate, and I am one of them," she says, going to the Cherokee City restaurant bar where she works.
Rainer's husband was injured on a construction site 25 years ago, she said, and was denied disability benefits due to bureaucratic hurdles. She has supported them both, but now her kidneys are failing and she fears she will not be able to work for eight years until her husband is able to reach Social Security.
Rainer remembered queuing to try to get help on her utility bills when she was living in South Carolina and started to be wary of other people, almost all of them Afro-American. US.
"What really upset me more than anything was that all black babies were dressed in beautiful clothes," she said. "When their children wear tennis shoes at $ 150, what do you think?"
She ranks on King's side when he talks about immigration. "Why should we feed others when we can not feed ourselves?" She asked.
King's nativist views are much less prevalent among business leaders in the region, who view immigration as essential to meeting the needs of meat processing plants and other businesses.
"We need more people. We have good paying jobs. We just need more people to fill the positions, "said Kelly Halsted, director of economic development for the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance, a sales organization. Immigration in Iowa, she says, is "completely positive".
King's position on the issue is totally false, she said, but she will still vote for him because she thinks he's helped direct funds to Iowa projects: "You must take good with evil, is not it? "
As a Halloween parade marched through Cherokee, passing King's campaign posters in a window near the starting point, others said they would send their longtime MP back this year. Martee Heinse, a Republican who said she was satisfied with Trump, had heard Scholten's TV commercials and was impressed by her positive tone.
"Let's be lucky, we have the other guy for so long," she said.
Scott Embrock, who was parading with children dressed as a little skeleton, a little witch and a superhero, was more emphatic.
"I think it's time he left," he said about King. "He deals with the neo-Nazis. He is anti-anyone is not white. And I do not think it's right. "