In the midst of the government shutdown, the New York Times managed to at least get Congress to talk about something other than the wall with a recent story in which Republican Congressman Steve King was quoted as saying, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”
King went on to say, “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
The Iowa Republican, who has a long history of trotting out the talking points of racists, quickly issued a mealy-mouthed statement in which he claimed that he rejects the labels of white nationalism and white supremacy. In the same statement, he declared himself “an advocate for Western Civilization’s values.”
My statement on the New York Times article. pic.twitter.com/IjBHgZYgRD
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) January 10, 2019
But it wasn’t enough. King was condemned even more than he’s been in the past. Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina penned a Washington Post op-ed in which he wrote, “When people with opinions similar to King’s open their mouths, they damage not only the Republican Party and the conservative brand but also our nation as a whole.”
On Friday, King tried to defend himself on the floor of the House of Representatives, but his defense was weak at best and probably did nothing to reverse the image of him as Capitol Hill’s resident racist.
King began his remarks by saying, “I made a freshman mistake a week ago today when I took a call from a reporter from the New York Times.” What followed was a hodge-podge of blames that he placed on everybody else, before saying that he’s simply an “American nationalist.”
Here’s the clip of his speech:
Rep. Steve King: "I regret the heartburn that has poured forth upon this Congress and this country and especially in my state and in my congressional district." pic.twitter.com/vkFgVYD9Z4
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 11, 2019
Steve King’s history of spilling racism is just too long for him to really walk it back. Within the past few years, he endorsed white nationalist Faith Goldy in her unsuccessful race for Toronto Mayor. He met with an Austrian party with loose ties to the Third Reich and he tweeted “we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”
King barely squeaked out a victory in 2018 after his remarks started to come under the spotlight and it’s possible that his political career won’t survive the 2020 election where he already has a Republican opponent. But, for the next two years, the Republican are stuck with Congressman Steve King wearing an “R” next to his name while professing his love for “Western civilization.”
Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.