On Thursday, The New York Times published a piece titled, "Before Trump, Steve King Set the Agenda for the Wall and Anti-Immigrant Politics," featuring an interview with Rep. King (R-IA).
During the interview, King reportedly stated: "White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?" He later added, "Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?"
After the piece went live, numerous politicians and political commentators condemned King’s alleged statement.
The following are merely a sampling of the condemnations:
It’s not enough to condemn [Steve King’s] unconscionable, racist remarks. Republican leaders must actively support a worthy primary opponent to defeat King, because he won’t have the decency to resign.
These comments are abhorrent and racist and should have no place in our national discourse.
Steve King is a stain on Congress.
I know [Steve King]. I served with him in Congress. He’s a strong Conservative. But what he said about white supremacists was terrible. It was racist, plain & simple. He shouldn’t run for re-election.
Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) penned an op-ed regarding King’s statement, which reads in part:
When people with opinions similar to King’s open their mouths, they damage not only the Republican Party and the conservative brand but also our nation as a whole. They want to be treated with fairness for some perceived slights but refuse to return the favor to those on the other side...
It is tempting to write King — or other extremists on race issues, such as black-nationalist Louis Farrakhan — as lonely voices in the wilderness, but they are far more dangerous than that. They continue to rip at the fabric of our nation, a country built on hope, strength and diversity.
Former House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) also rebuked Rep. King, stating: "Everything about white supremacy and white nationalism goes against who we are as a nation. Steve’s language is reckless, wrong, and has no place in our society. The Declaration of Independence states that 'all men are created equal.' That is a fact. It is self-evident."
Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro called for King to be censured:
Shapiro then asked his followers to donate to King’s 2020 primary challenger, Randy Feenstra.
On Friday, King attempted to defend himself on the floor of the House of Representatives. King began by claiming that he made a mistake:
I regret that I made a Freshman mistake a week ago today when I took a call from a reporter from The New York Times. That was a 56 minute interview without a tape. That resulted in a long article. In that article were snippets of the 56 minute interview. Part of that inquiry was about the history of immigration policy in this country for over the last, say, 18 or so years, of which I have been a significant part – especially in Iowa...
One phrase in that long article has created an unnecessary controversy. That was my mistake, Mr. Speaker...
It’s unclear if the mistake to which King refers is his speaking to The New York Times without a tape, or the words he used in the interview.
King continued by claiming that what he said was taken out of context:
What was that conversation? It was about how those words got plugged into our dialogue, not when the words became offensive, which is what the technical interpretation of this is. ... I looked at that, and I think, "Well, what was that conversation?" It's how did that offensive language get injected into our political dialogue? Who does that? How does that get done? How do they get by with laying labels like this on people?
King then read from a prepared statement:
Today, The New York Times is suggesting that I am an advocate for a white nationalism and white supremacy. I want to make one thing abundantly clear: I reject those labels and the evil ideology that they define. Further, I condemn anyone that supports this evil and bigoted ideology which saw, in its ultimate expression, the systematic murder of six million innocent Jewish lives. It's true that like the Founding Fathers, I am an advocate for Western civilization's values, and that I profoundly believe that America is the greatest tangible expression of these ideals the world has ever seen. Under any fair political definition, I am simply an American nationalist.
America's values are expressed in our founding documents; they are attainable by everyone; and we take pride that people of all races, religions, and creeds from around the globe aspire to achieve them. I am dedicated to keeping America this way. This conviction does not make me a white nationalist or white supremacist. So, once again, I reject those labels and the ideology they define, and as I told The New York Times, it's not about race; it's never been about race. One of my most strongly held beliefs is that we are all created in God's image and that human life is sacred in all of its forms.
King concluded by saying he regrets the "heartburn" caused by this incident, and claimed that nothing in his life suggests that he is a white nationalist or white supremacist:
I regret the heartburn that has poured forth upon this Congress and this country and especially in my state and in my congressional district. ... There's nothing about my family or my history or my neighborhood that would suggest that these false allegations could be supported by any activity whatsoever. I reject that ideology. I defend American civilization, which is an essential component of Western civilization.
Despite King’s claim that "nothing" about him suggests "that these false allegations could be supported by any activity," the congressman is no stranger to racial controversy. In 2018, King endorsed Faith Goldy in her race for mayor of Toronto, Canada.
Approximately a year before King’s endorsement, Goldy praised an article written by white nationalist Richard Spencer titled, "What It Means To Be Alt-Right."
In a video exchange with Stefan Molyneux, Goldy stated:
The evening before this set protest, they released something called the "Charlottesville Statement." It was 20 points, and basically their umbrella ideas on everything from race to the JQ [Jewish Question], the economy, globalization, women and sex, nature. It was actually rather robust even though it was simple. If you’re BLM; if you’re antifa; if you’re one of these hippy dippy churches; knock ‘em down, get their 20 points, and you write your version; you write your counter-statements. But they’re not interested in that. It’s just so much easier to spray someone with dog mace than have a conversation with what are, I think, well though-out ideas.
There’s more. TIME has a detailed list of King’s troubling language, behavior, and associations from the past several years.
The Daily Wire reached out to Rep. King’s team for comment, but as of publication, we have not received a response.