Critics have alleged that House Republican Steve King (Iowa) is a racist, possibly with white supremacist sympathies. King is already well-known for his hard-line stance on immigration. And last week, in an interview with The New York Times, King made some rather questionable comments, notably: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”
It’s not hard to understand why such comments would be perceived as racist. White supremacists have been tied, on numerous occasions, to violence against people of color. Back in the 1930s, Aryan supremacists (Nazis) in Germany seized control of the government and unleashed a reign of terror in Europe, killing millions of Jews and other minority groups.
During the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 60s, white supremacists in the United States fought hard to maintain segregation and to erode the position of African Americans. More recently, white supremacist rallies have resulted in violent clashes with counter-protesters. Some mass-shooting perpetrators have also been linked to the white supremacist movement.
With Republicans still reeling from losing the House, many seem to be worried that seemingly racist remarks will tarnish the GOP brand further. Utah’s two senators, Mitt Romney and Chris Stewart, have called on King to resign. However, King has stated that he will, at the very least, continue to serve Iowa for the next two years.
King claims that he wasn’t defending white supremacists but, instead, Western civilization. King has called himself a champion of “Western civilization’s values.” He also argues that he was only referring to language, not the actual movements themselves. However, given how closely language is tied to the movements, it’s difficult to see what the difference is.
King fired back, claiming: “The truth is as follows: One of my quotes in a New York Times story has been completely mischaracterized. I will continue to point out the truth and work with all the vigor that I have to represent 4th District Iowans for at least the next two years.”