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Analysis: A brief guide to Rep. Steve King’s ‘long history of racist statements’

  • Author: Cleve R. Wootson Jr., The Washington Post
  • Updated: January 13
  • Published January 13

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, in his office in Washington, D.C. Washington Post photo by Bill O'Leary

With nearly two decades of Steven Arnold King as a national political figure, the American public has become well-acquainted with the Groundhog Day-like parameters of the Steve King news cycle.

1. King (R-Iowa) says or tweets something widely viewed as racist, anti-Semitic, white nationalist, or he insults immigrants, blacks, Latinos, women seeking abortions — or some combination thereof.

2. Outrage ensues, and King’s words are denounced by fellow Republicans, with such phrases as “completely inappropriate” and “we must stand up against white supremacy.”

3. King says or tweets that he is not racist, denounces the Holocaust, or says that his remarks were obviously taken out of context.

4. Repeat.

On Saturday, after King’s lament in the New York Times that “white nationalist” had become a pejorative term, the Congressional Black Caucus said Republicans need to use more than words to denounce King.

“If Republicans really believe these racist statements have no place in our government, then their party must offer more than shallow temporary statements of condemnation,” CBC said in a tweet on Saturday. “Instead they must actually condemn Mr. King by removing him from his committee assignments so that he can no longer affect policies that impact the very people he has made it clear that he disdains.”

Anything thing less from the Republican Party, the caucus said, is essentially "tacit acceptance of racism."

King ultimately released a statement and addressed the issue in a speech on the House floor, saying he rejects "those labels and the evil ideology that they define." He proclaimed himself "simply a Nationalist."

But House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said he's meeting with King on Monday.

"Action will be taken," McCarthy said on CBS News. "I'm having a serious conversation with Congressman Steve King on his future and role in the Republican Party."

But that was far from the first time that King has been denounced for offensive statements.

An incomplete list of the others:

- The time he claimed “our civilization” can’t be restored with “somebody else’s babies.”

In 2017, King tweeted that he agreed with far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders that "our civilization" cannot be restored "with somebody else's babies."

As The Washington Post's Philip Bump wrote after King made the statement, the idea that national identity and racial identity overlap is at the center of white nationalism.

"The formulation of 'our' civilization being at risk from 'somebody else's babies" is a deliberate suggestion that American civilization is threatened by unnamed 'others.'" Bump wrote.

- The time King retweeted a message by a Nazi sympathizer and defended it for weeks

In June, King retweeted a message sent by Mark Collett, a self-described "Nazi sympathizer." King declined to delete the retweet and spent weeks defending it.

Collett is a British author who, as The Post's Avi Selk wrote, "questions the Holocaust, wants to separate the continents by races, blames slavery on Jews, mocks interracial children, wrote a book embracing National Socialism, and once called himself a 'Nazi sympathizer.'"

On neo-fascist message boards, users celebrated a U.S. congressman's endorsement of an overt National Socialist, Selk wrote.

- The time he met with a far-right group with Nazi ties on a trip sponsored by a Holocaust memorial group

In October, during a trip financed by a Holocaust memorial group, King spoke to the Unzensuriert site. As The Post's Mike DeBonis wrote, Unzensuriert is associated with Austria's Freedom Party, DeBonis wrote, and was founded by a former Nazi SS officer and is now led by Heinz-Christian Strache, who was active in neo-Nazi circles as a youth. The party has embraced a hard-line anti-immigration stance, one that was echoed by King when he was there.

"What does this diversity bring that we don't already have?" King said in the interview with the site. "Mexican food, Chinese food, those things - well, that's fine. But what does it bring that we don't have that is worth the price? We have a lot of diversity within the U.S. already."

- The time he said blacks and Latinos will be “fighting each other” before the United States becomes a majority-minority nation

Shortly after King was criticized for his comments about rebuilding Western civilization, King responded to a conversation between Fox News' Tucker Carlson and Univision anchor Jorge Ramos about whites becoming a minority in the United States by 2044.

"Ramos' stock in trade is identifying and trying to drive wedges between race," King told Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson on 1040 WHO.

"When you start accentuating the differences, then you start ending up with people that are at each other's throats. And he's adding up Hispanics and blacks into what he predicts will be in greater number than whites in America. I will predict that Hispanics and the blacks will be fighting each other before that happens."

- The time he said black people could afford abortions if they stopped buying iPhones

In a September 2016 congressional hearing, King said that even if he succeeded in taking away Medicaid funding for abortion, blacks would find a way to end their pregnancies anyway.

According to Rewire, after saying that abortion was a “tragedy for any life, no matter what color,” King also responded, “They chose to have an abortion. I would give you even money that a vast majority of mothers who say they can’t afford an abortion have an iPhone, which costs more.”

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