On Monday, Jan. 14, House Republicans removed Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) from his membership on the Judiciary, Agriculture and Small Business Committees, as party leadership attempted to do damage control on the congressman’s divisive comments, which insinuated there is nothing wrong with “white supremacy”.
Mr. King attracted national media attention when he questioned America disavowing racist rhetoric in an interview with the New York Times.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western Civilization — how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?” questioned King.
After losing his committee assignments, King attempted to justify his actions by stating that he had been referring only to “western civilization” and not “white nationalism” or “white supremacy,” but at that point the situation had progressed beyond repair. The next day, a full House vote on the floor almost unanimously condemned the use of such language and ideas “that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) openly condemned King and announced the consensus agreement that the nine-term Iowa congressman “will not be serving on committees in this Congress.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also castigated King, stating:
“There is no place in the Republican Party, the Congress or the country for an ideology of racial supremacy of any kind. I have no tolerance for such positions and those who espouse these views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms. King’s statements are unwelcome and unworthy of his elected position. If he doesn’t understand why ‘white supremacy’ is offensive, he should find another line of work.”
King was condemned by Republicans throughout the House and Senate, but his actions should come as no surprise. King, who has served in Congress since 2003, has a history of displaying racist, close-minded tendencies.
In 2002, while part of the Iowa State Senate, he filed a bill requiring schools to teach that America “is the unchallenged greatest nation in the world and that it has derived its strength from Christianity, free enterprise capitalism and Western civilization.”
In 2005, King sued Iowa’s secretary of state for posting voting information on an official website in Spanish, Laotian, Bosnian and Vietnamese.
In an interview with the Washington Post in 2016, he stated: “The idea of multiculturalism, that every culture is equal — that’s not objectively true.”
In 2017, he tweeted in agreement with Hungarian Authoritarian Leader Victor Orban, stating: “Mixing cultures will not lead to higher quality of life but a lower one.”
King’s recent comments are not something that came out of the blue, rather they are a culmination of bad behavior that went unchecked by both parties.
Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) referred to King’s past actions, stating: “It’s not the first time that he’s said things that the party just cringes at and says, ‘What in the world are you saying?’”
Like an open wound, King has festered and grown into what is seen today. Despite his recent actions, King still has the support of various constituents in Iowa.
One voter, Cathy Greenfield, who opposes abortion voiced her support for King.
“The left has been after him forever. Don’t think he’s a racist. I think he’ll be successful,” she said
Another fellow supporter, Erik Mosbo, also defended King: “He was trying to defend the merits of Western Civilization, not white supremacy.”
Republican Randy Feenstra, a state senator with conservative Christian values, says he will attempt to unseat King in the 2020 GOP primary. Mr. Feenstra likely poses the greatest threat to King’s reelection.
Republicans and Democrats in elected office both believe it is time for King to leave Congress, but only time will tell what his political fate will be.
[NBC News] [Washington Post] [The Hill] [New York Times]