GOP Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) is getting blowback after questioning when the terms “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” became offensive in American culture.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King asked in an interview with The New York Times published Thursday. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
King responded to the Times article later that day and insisted he isn’t a white supremacist, nor is he an advocate for white nationalists.
“I want to make one thing abundantly clear: I reject those labels and the evil ideology they define,” he wrote in a statement. “Further, I condemn anyone that supports this evil and bigoted ideology, which saw in its ultimate expression the systematic murder of 6 million innocent Jewish lives.”
Dubbing himself a “nationalist,” the congressman doubled down on his defense of what he called “Western civilization’s values.”
“It’s true that like the Founding Fathers … I profoundly believe that America is the greatest tangible expression of these ideals the World has ever seen,” King added. “Under any fair political definition, I am a nationalist.”
The comments came as part of an extensive report from the newspaper detailing how King’s staunch views on immigration that mirror those of President Donald Trump. Hard-line, zero-tolerance policies aren’t the only thing two have in common, however.
The Times notes that King has used racist language in the past and supports known neo-Nazis on Twitter. He has also tweeted that “diversity isn’t out strength.”
Additionally, King once took to the House floor to unveil a model for a 12-foot border wall he designed. Trump is now demanding his own border wall, asking Democrats to fork over $5.7 billion for a steel barrier along the U.S. southern border. Dems have refused, however, prompting the president to shut down the government until funds for the wall are included in the spending bill.
King met with a far-right party that has historical ties to Nazis on a trip to Austria last October — for which he faced little more than mild criticism from lawmakers in his own party — but this week his comments sparked a flurry of reactions on social media.
“Steve King just openly embraced white supremacy,” political writer Judd Legum tweeted. “I’m waiting for A SINGLE REPUBLICAN MEMBER OF THE HOUSE to speak out against this. Seems like a pretty easy call. So far, nothing.”
Film producer Tariq Nasheed wrote, “I like the fact that Iowa Rep. Steve King is publicly professing his white supremacist agenda. This lets me & other Black Americans know to stay the hell out of the state of Iowa, because the ppl there keep electing him.”
Journalist Roland Martin was glad that conservative columnist Ben Shapiro “finally woke the f%$k up and realized that
@SteveKingIA is a damn white supremacist and racist. These conservatives have given him cover for too damn long … He was a racist in October as the @weeklystandard showed with an audio recording. And he has always been one.”