Is Rep. King the Biggest Bigot in Congress?

Last night’s comments questioning the contributions of non-white people to the advancement of human civilization may have crowned it.
Moses Frenck

U.S. Congressman Steve King of Iowa on Monday night said that white people contributed more to civilization than any other category or “sub-group of people.”

During a live broadcast from the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, panelists led by MSNBC moderator Chris Hayes were discussing the racial makeup of the Republican Party and its convention attendees.

Is Rep. King the Biggest Bigot in Congress?Charles Pierce of Esquire magazine noted the party’s lack of diversity, saying those in attendance consisted of “loud, unhappy, dissatisfied white people.”

“If you’re really optimistic, you can say that this is the last time that old white people will command the Republican Party’s attention, its platform, and its public face,” Pierce said, followed by King’s racist tirade.

“This whole ‘white people’ business does get a little tired, Charlie,” King said. “I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out, where have these contributions been made by these other categories of people that you’re talking about. Where did any other sub-group of people contribute more to civilization?”

“Than white people?” asked Hayes.

“Than — than Western civilization itself, that’s rooted in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and the United States of America, and every place where the footprint of Christianity settled the world,” King continued. “That’s all of Western civilization.”

April Ryan, White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks, was also on the panel and shot back: “What about Africa? What about Asia?”

Before the discussion could continue, Hayes interrupted in an attempt to temper the chaos, saying, “We’re not going to argue the history of Western civilization. Let me note for the record that if you’re looking at the ledger for Western civilization, [in] every flourishing democracy you’ve got Hitler and Stalin as well, so there’s a lot on both sides.”

Hayes tweeted shortly afterward, saying that he was “pretty taken aback by Steve King’s comments. I probably should’ve blown through break and let @AprilDRyan respond. But… The entire notion of debating which race/civilization/ ‘sub group’ contributed most or is best is as odious as it is preposterous.”

For her part, Ryan said in a Periscope feed she was “kind of shaken from that. Because that was just in-my-face racism.”

Iowa Democratic Party Chairwoman Andy McGuire, from King’s home state, said blatant racism has become normalized by Trump. “Donald Trump built his candidacy on hate speech, division and anti-immigration rhetoric,” he told The Des Moines Register. “Steve King is merely following Trump’s lead with his latest blatantly racist comments.”

Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party’s presidential candidate, called upon Republicans to “leave this shameful party.”

Racism is nothing new for King. He has made disparaging comments about Muslims and Latinos, fought very hard to keep Harriet Tubman off the $20 bill and earlier this month blamed President Barack Obama for the “anti-white/cop events” — referring to the recent killings of police officers.

With regard to Muslims, King in December said Muslims in America — including Muslim congressmen — must renounce Sharia, which is a broad term for legal and ethical principles outlined in Islamic scriptures.

“Sharia law is incompatible with the United States Constitution and so if they want to demonstrate that they are open to being Americanized, the first thing they should do is renounce Sharia law,” King said. “You won’t get Keith Ellison or André Carson in this Congress to renounce Sharia law, let alone somebody that’s just come out of the Middle East that is someone who has been steeped in Islam for a lifetime.”

Rep. Ellison called the comments “incredibly ignorant.”

And with regard to Latinos, King in 2013 insisted that for every immigrant in the U.S. illegally who becomes a valedictorian, “there’s another 100 out there that — they weigh 130 pounds, and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

King was also recently caught with a Confederate flag on his desk during a television interview in his office for a local news channel. Ironically, the state of Iowa, where King was born and raised and currently represents, fought with the Union during the Civil War.

(Originally published in DiversityInc July 19, 2016.)