This article is from the archive of our partner .

While barely stopping to catch his breath, Iowa Rep. Steve King took to the floor of the House on Thursday to present his understanding of Western civilization, in the hopes that he might convince his colleagues to embrace rationalism and a willingness to admit error. More specifically, it was about how he was right when he said that cantaloupe-calved drug smugglers are generally representative of the Mexican people. If King's goal was to offset critique from House Speaker John Boehner that his comments on immigration were "ignorant," today's overview of history and international migration probably wasn't a good counterpoint.

Again, here is what King said to Newsmax in a recent interview: "For [every Mexican immigrant] 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."

And here is how he summarized his point on the House floor today:

"No nation like the United States of America can continue to grow and be a strong nation if we are going to judge people because they disagree with our agenda rather than the content of their statements. We have to be critical thinkers. We have to be analytical. We should understand facts from emotion."

In order to prove that America is founded on the sort of rationality that King embraces, he spent about 10 minutes walking through the History of Western Civilization (As Recalled By Steve King).

On Moses and the Greeks

"My point is: As civilization is progressing, Mosaic law came down from the mountain, was handed to civilization, it emerged through the Greek civilization as the Greeks were developing their Age of Reason. We're talking about the foundation of Western Civilization, and almost concurrently with that, Roman law was emerging as well."

Historians might note that the development of Greek law is not understood to have derived from Moses. Nor, for that matter, was Roman law, which happened a bit later.

On Jesus and his rights

"[Jesus] asserted his right to be innocent until proven guilty before a Roman court. Those two principles remain today in our law: the right to face your accuser; innocent until proven guilty. You face a jury of your peers. You need a quick and speedy trial. They didn't have that then."

No, they didn't.

On the Constitution

"Imagine what it would be like if this Congress — and this culture which directs this Congress — what if we decided, you're going to have limited speech. Certain things, you can't say, and we'll give you the list of words you can't utter because if you do, you are going to be violating somebody's sense of political correctness. What if we said you can assemble — but we are going to diminish your right to assemble because sometimes we disagree with what comes out of those meetings. The Greeks did that."

And so on.

Eventually, he got to his point. America — and all of Western Civilization! — is predicated on rationality. "That's what I'm advocating for, Mr. Speaker," he said. "I want the most logical, rational policy, and I think we need a policy that's right for America."

Now, please watch this video to the end.

"It's been a very rare thing over the 10-plus years I have been here to see anybody stand up and admit, 'I was was wrong. What you said changes my position. What I learned changes my position.' No, there are too many egos involved in this Congress for that to happen often. …

Here's my point, Mr. Speaker. Our southern border is porous."

And there you go. This entire speech. This entire bizarre encapsulation of the history of how Western Civilization was founded and how we are the pinnacle of rational thought, was meant as a defense of King's offensive description of Mexicans as drug smugglers.

"No nation should have an open borders policy; no nation should have a blind-eye policy towards the enforcement of the law. No nation can long remain a great nation if they decide to sacrifice the rule of law on the altar of political expediency. No nation like the United States of America can continue to grow and be a strong nation if we are going to judge people because they disagree with our agenda rather than the content of their statement. We have to be critical thinkers."

We would have more critical thinkers if all of our valedictorians weren't outnumbered by drug smugglers.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.