Rep. Steve King is facing scrutiny today after he told The New York Times that he didn’t understand why the terms “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” became offensive. It’s what he’s been telling his allies on the far-right for years.
While in Congress, King has endorsed a white nationalist in her campaign for Toronto mayor, quoted white nationalists online, joined a panel of white nationalists criticizing multiculturalism, cited white nationalists on his congressional website, elevated a Holocaust denier on Twitter, and appeared on radio programs hosted by white nationalists—all the while receiving overwhelming support from white nationalist communities online.
He has accused black and Latino members of Congress of fostering “anti-white” culture, claimed that white people are the greatest contributors to human civilization, likened Syrian refugee to poisonous grapes, and dismissed racial profiling by police because the people affected “all appear to be of a single origin, I should say, a continental origin.” That rhetoric has translated into his legislative agenda in which he’s lobbied for the end of birthright citizenship and amnesty and for the deportation of people protected by the DREAM Act.
But apparently, to conservative media pundits, that wasn’t enough. So in a report published today, King just said outright what he’s been signaling for years. From The Times:
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” Mr. King said. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
Mr. King’s influence over national politics derives from his representation of the reddest district in the first presidential nominating state. Nearly all the 2016 Republican presidential contenders sought his blessing at a forum he hosted in Des Moines in January 2015, Mr. Trump included.
Last week, as the new Congress was sworn in, Mr. King sat on his side of a chamber sharply delineated by demographics. The Democratic majority included record numbers of African-Americans and women, including the first Native American and the first Muslim women. Mr. King’s side was mostly people who look like him.
“You could look over there and think the Democratic Party is no country for white men,” he said.
King made nearly the exact same remarks on October 21, Media Matters reported. In an interview defending his endorsement of white nationalist Faith Goldy in Toronto, King said that the phrase “white nationalist” is “a derogatory term today. I wouldn’t have thought so maybe a year, or two, or three ago. But today they use it in a derogatory term and they imply, it implies that you’re a racist.”
King responded to the backlash over his quote in The Times with a statement on Twitter in which he claimed that he rejects the labels of white nationalist and white supremacist, stating instead that he is “simply a Nationalist.”
My statement on the New York Times article. pic.twitter.com/IjBHgZYgRD
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) January 10, 2019
Aside from Rep. Steve Stivers, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee designated to help elect Republicans to the House, King has mostly escaped the condemnation of his peers on Capitol Hill. For years, top-ranking GOP politicians have chosen to ignore or excuse his comments. In fact, King has insisted that Republicans still love him.
When I reached out to Paul Ryan’s office after King endorsed Faith Goldy I was told that was a “political question” they wouldn’t answer and was passed along to someone else (who never responded). This isn’t uncommon. https://t.co/LTLtBwyjLC
— Jane Coaston (@cjane87) October 30, 2018