Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) took on his own party in a Washington Post op-ed on Friday, arguing that Republicans are often accused of racism because they choose to stay silent on certain statements from their own.
Scott’s op-ed comes one day after Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) was quoted in a New York Times article questioning when the terms “white supremacist” and “white nationalist” became offensive. The sentiment from King is hardly new, but the widespread condemnation for his remarks — including a statement from a member of House Republican leadership — does appear to be different than circumstances surrounding King’s past controversies.
In his op-ed on Friday, Scott lauded the work of Republicans over the past two years. But he criticized his party for “still struggling when it comes to civility and fairness.” In his condemnation of King’s words, Scott listed just a few high profile crimes carried out in the name of white supremacy in recent years.
“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,” Scott wrote. “They want to be treated with fairness for some perceived slights but refuse to return the favor to those on the other side.”
“Some in our party wonder why Republicans are constantly accused of racism — it is because of our silence when things like this are said.”
Scott wrote that King’s comments should “should be ridiculed at every turn possible” and argued that silence only allows extremist views on race to “continue to rip at the fabric of our nation.”
For his part, King addressed the outpouring of condemnation against him in a Friday speech from the floor of the House of Representatives. The congressman opened his remarks by expressed regret over his decision to speak with a reporter for the New York Times. King did not claim he was misquoted but argued that the words were simply misconstrued from his longer conversation with the Times reporter.
Watch the video of King’s remarks below, via C-SPAN:
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
“I made a freshman mistake a week ago today when I took a call from a reporter from the New York Times,” King said on Friday.