Social media exploded Monday night after Rep. Steve King, speaking of Western civilization, asked: “Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”
King’s comments came during an appearance on MSNBC, when Esquire Magazine’s Charles Pierce expressed joy over the fact that “old white people” would play less of a role in American politics in the future.
“If you’re really optimistic, you can say that this is the last time that old white people will command the Republican party’s attention, its platform, its public face,” Pierce said. “That hall is wired by loud, unhappy, dissatisfied white people.”
“This ‘old white people’ business does get a little tired, Charlie,” King replied. “I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out, where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you’re talking about, where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”
Steve King: “Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”
Hayes: “Than white people?” pic.twitter.com/I2w61tirHe
— T. Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) July 18, 2016
MSNBC’s Chris Hayes interjected. “Than white people?” he asked.
“Than Western civilization itself,” King said. “It’s rooted in Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the United States of America and every place where the footprint of Christianity settled the world. That’s all of Western civilization.”
Hayes, meanwhile, attempted to mediate by commenting: “Let me note for the record that if you’re looking at the ledger of Western civilization, for every flourishing democracy, you have Hitler and Stalin as well.”
Media members rushed to paint King as a racist, whose name became one of Twitter’s trending topics.
Vanity Fair quickly put up a blaring headline: “CONGRESSMAN STEVE KING MAKES WHITE SUPREMACIST COMMENTS ON LIVE TV.”
New York Daily News writer Shaun King tweeted a video of King’s comments with the caption: “That exact moment where Congressman Steve King goes full white supremacist. An ahistorical mess. Textbook racism.”
The Washington Post’s Philip Bump, while not outright calling King a racist, claimed that King’s comments were about “white people” and not Western civilization. “Rep. Steve King wonders what ‘sub-groups’ besides whites made contributions to civilization,” Bump’s headline read.
Similarly, The Daily Beast claimed King was saying that whites are better than other races, in an article titled: “GOP Rep: Whites Better Than ‘Sub-Groups.'”
The Huffington Post, meanwhile, didn’t bother with subtleties, quickly throwing up an article with the headline, “A GOP Congressman Just Made An Argument For White Supremacy On Live TV.”
Similarly, left-wing website Vox accused King of preaching “literal white supremacy.” Vox writer German Lopez titled his article, “US Rep. Steve King preaches literal white supremacy on national television.”