Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) opened up about the accusations of racism and white supremacy against him in a new interview with The New York Times on Thursday, inadvertently proving the point of many of his critics.
The entire Times piece is worth a read, but some of King’s quotes have garnered extra attention after the article’s publication.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King told the Times. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
King’s comments miss the obvious point that concepts of white nationalism and white supremacy have always been abhorrent and morally wrong, regardless of how acceptable they may have been in the past. But King goes further by conflating all of western civilization with the virulent ideologies he’s defending.
In a statement posted to Twitter on Thursday, King responded to the backlash by rejecting the labels of white nationalism and white supremacy. King argued that he is “simply a Nationalist.” He did not, however, contest the quotes attributed to him in the original story.
My statement on the New York Times article. pic.twitter.com/IjBHgZYgRD
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) January 10, 2019
The remark is just the latest in a long line of racist and offensive statements from the Iowa congressman. In the past, he has:
- Claimed that the majority of undocumented immigrants are drug mules with “calves the size of cantaloupes.”
- Gave an interview to a far-right Austrian publication in which he expressed fear that Western civilization would become “subjugated by the people who are the enemies of faith, the enemies of justice.”
- Shared a tweet from a neo-Nazi on his Twitter page.
- Tweeted that the U.S. “can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”
- Kept a Confederate flag on the desk in his congressional office despite the fact that his state of Iowa was never part of the Confederacy.
- Expressed the common white nationalist belief that “diversity is not our strength.”
- Compared the abuse of prisoners at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison to “hazing.”
Despite the frequency with which King manages to grab headlines for his vitriol, Republican leadership in Congress has remained largely silent, save for a denouncement from Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), who helmed the House Republican campaign arm during the midterm cycle.
King never quite seems fazed by the backlash to his racist and incendiary remarks, but he might be feeling the impact soon enough. After holding his seat in a close midterm race against Democratic challenger J.D. Scholten, King will face a viable challenger on the right in his next congressional primary.
State Sen. Randy Feenstra announced his intention to primary King in the 2020 cycle on Wednesday, giving Republicans in King’s district another choice if they can’t bring themselves to vote for a Democrat.