Congressman denies he’s racist for ‘white’ comments
Iowa lawmaker criticized by fellow Republicans
Washington — Iowa Republican congressman Steve King says he’s not a racist, but he faced intensifying criticism Friday over his remarks about white supremacy, including from a black GOP senator who said such comments are a blight on the nation and the party.
For the second time in two days, King insisted that he is an advocate for “Western civilization,” not white supremacy or white nationalism. But he didn’t deny remarks published a day earlier in The New York Times in which he was quoted saying: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”
Within hours Thursday, the House’s top three Republicans condemned his remarks, and on Friday, GOP Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina published his disapproval in an op-ed column.
King, who has denied being racist, appeared on the House floor after most lawmakers had left town.
“One phrase in that long article has created an unnecessary controversy. That was my mistake,” King told his colleagues. King said terms describing bigotry, such as racism, are unfairly applied to “otherwise innocent” people.
King spoke as key members of his party publicly took issue with his remarks and as a Republican from back home lined up to challenge him in a primary.
Scott, who is black, cast King’s remarks and those like them as a blemish on the country and the Republican Party, which has long had a frosty relationship with black voters.
“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,” Scott wrote.
King’s views, Scott added, are separate from the conservative movement and “should be ridiculed at every turn possible.”
“Some in our party wonder why Republicans are constantly accused of racism — it is because of our silence when things like this are said,” Scott wrote.
In fact, House Republican leaders swiftly condemned King’s remarks as racist. Some Democrats have called for the House to condemn King’s remarks or somehow punish him.