Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King supports a wall to help protect our nation from illegal immigration. So do I. But his language and actions indicate more than a desire to protect this nation’s culture or borders. They express xenophobia and bigotry that should not be tolerated in the Republican party.
This was shown most recently in the New York Times.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” the Times alleged King said in an interview. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
I’ve never heard of people being offended by the phrase “Western civilization,” but the evils of white nationalism and supremacy do not require a Ph.D. in history to grasp. This was not the first time he has indicated antipathy toward certain people groups. He endorsed a Toronto mayoral candidate with ties to neo-Nazis and met with an Austrian party which has minimized the Holocaust. (To add insult to injury, he met with these bigots on a trip being financed by a Holocaust memorial group. After touring Auschwitz, he gave an interview to Austria’s anti-Semitic “unzensuriert” publication.)
On Twitter, he follows and has retweeted a British man who described himself as an admirer of Hitler’s Germany and a “Nazi sympathizer.” This anti-Semitic activist has also said every Austrian classroom should have a portrait of Hitler.
Even as recently as the fall of 2016, he proudly displayed a small Confederate flag on his desk. (This is particularly odd since Iowa was not even a part of the Confederacy during the Civil War.)
In March 2017, he tweeted, “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”
After the New York Times article was published, a public outcry over his statements caused King to clarify his position. “I want to make one thing abundantly clear,” he wrote. “I reject those labels and the evil ideology they define.” However, in his initial defense of himself on Twitter, he did not say or even insinuate that he was misquoted.
During an interview with C-SPAN, he said, “It was about how those words got plugged into our dialogue, not when the words became offensive, which is what the technical interpretation this is, ‘How did that language become offensive?’ It’s ‘How did that offensive language get injected into our political dialogue? Who does that? How does it get done? How do they get by with laying labels like this on people?’”
He claimed he was only questioning when these terms became considered offensive, not how. Wait, what? How is that even remotely better? Spoiler alert; it’s not.
On the House floor, he said, “Mr. Speaker, I regret the heartburn that has poured forth upon this Congress and this country and especially in my state and in my congressional district,” he said. “I reject that ideology, I defend American civilization, which is an essential component of Western civilization.”
I am a big fan of America, too, but that’s beside the point. Like many of you, I have grown tired of the constant drumbeat of liberals accusing conservatives of racism. It seems like the accusation has become the catch-all term meant to disparage people of good will with whom liberals disagree. In the vast majority of cases, the allegations are absurd and offensive.
But this is different. Rep. King has repeatedly echoed the talking points of white supremacists, he has shown an indifference to the suffering of minorities, and he has feigned ignorance over our hurtful past. He is using conservative fatigue over political correctness and distrust of the media to cover up his racist statements.
He had the gall to say he made a “freshman mistake” by allowing the New York Times to interview him for 56 minutes “without a tape.” That meant that the article only represented “snippets” of his interview. (That’s how interviews work, of course, but the congressman who is entering his ninth term pretends to not know the difference between an article and a transcript.)
Then, a few days after his original defense fell on deaf ears, he tried again. This time, he said the New York Times “completely mischaracterized” him. Again, he said he was extolling the benefits of Western civilization, not advocating for white supremacy. Though the mainstream media probably won’t report on his most recent accusation, I don’t blame them. He has falsely accused media outlets of fabricating quotes by him before. When The Weekly Standard reported that he compared immigrants to “dirt,” for example, he vehemently denied it, despite a recording.
This is how he operates. He uses the “fake news” mantra to cover up the plain meaning of his words. However, his denials — especially in the context of his past history — don’t pass the straight face test. Conservatives have an obligation not to look away simply because someone is on “our side” politically, on most issues. Some things are beyond the pale no matter what. That’s how it should be, regardless of party or ideological affiliation.
Conservatives can’t let their fatigue of political correctness dull their moral outrage over Rep. King’s racist language and posturing. Nor can Republicans let their party give cover for the expression of such contemptible opinions.
It’s time for good people of both parties to unite against him. It is good that House GOP leaders removed him from the Judiciary and Agriculture Committees. But no one, left or right, expressing such opinions should even sit in the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s time for Steve King to resign.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.