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.

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