Steve King's Twitter tantrum: In a week of epic right-wing outbursts, his takes the prize

The Iowa congressman, angered when asked to do his job, vows to buy gun because of Democrats' "jihad"

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published June 23, 2016 3:05PM (EDT)

Steve King   (AP/Charlie Neibergall)
Steve King (AP/Charlie Neibergall)

Since Rep. John Lewis launched a sit-in with his fellow Democrats Wednesday to urge a House vote on new gun control measures, there have been a number of shining moments of conservative cluelessness. But I'm going to give the "Platonic Ideal of Republican Unselfawareness" award to Iowa representative Steve King — and congratulations, sir, because that's two days in a row for you.

The competition has been pretty fierce. Late in the day Wednesday, Texas Republican Louie Goehmert — a man whose belief that marriage equality will lead to bestiality outdoes even King's assertion that marrying someone of the same sex is like marrying a lawnmower  — pitched quite a tantrum. While California Democrat Brad Sherman was speaking in favor of gun reform, Goehmert barreled on to the floor, pointing at photos of victims of the Orlando mass murder and yelling, "Radical Islam killed these people!" Okay, I thought it was a Sig Sauer MCX, a weapon designed for the military to use in combat, but whatever.

You've also got give a hand to North Carolina's Mark Walker, a white man born in 1969, for grousing on Twitter, "Calling this a sit-in is a disgrace to Woolworth's. They sat-in for rights. Dems are 'sitting-in' to strip them away." Reminder — the man who called for the sit-in, Georgia's John Lewis, is an actual civil rights leader who endured 40 arrests and repeated physical abuse over the course of years of nonviolent protest. He even had insecticide sprayed at him during a Nashville sit-in. You know why? Because a bunch of angry people felt that their right to trample over the dignity and safety of their fellow Americans was being threatened. But okay, Walker, you lecture on what a real sit-in looks like.

Yet it's Steve King who still manages to rise above all others in this garbage fire. Just earlier this week, he was nailing it in the Clueless Olympics when he tried to block the Treasury in its movement toward changing our US currency to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. Explaining his motivations, the 67 year-old white male asked, "Why would you want to change that? I am a conservative. I like to keep what we have," and said — out loud so other people could hear him — that the idea we should be putting women and people of color on our money was just "sexist" and "racist." But he topped himself Wednesday evening, when, in a fit of pique, he tweeted, "I've had it with the gun grabbing Democrats and their sit in anti 2nd amendment jihad. I'm going to go home and buy a new gun." 

SO MUCH to look at there. The word "jihad." The phrases "gun grabbing" and "anti 2nd amendment." As has already been said till we're all blue in the face, pleading for reasonable limits on the kinds of guns in circulation, the people who have access to them, and the ways in which they are acquired so that, you know, maniacs can't wipe out dozens of innocent lives in a matter of moments is not a threat to your constitutional liberties, dum dums. But the real glory in King's tweet is this: A lone male, angry at things not going exactly his way, frustrated and in a temper, impulsively reacts by vowing to go out and buy a gun. Gosh, Steve King, exactly how do you think we all got to this debate in the first place?

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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Congress Gun Control John Lewis Louie Goehmert #nobillnobreak Nra Rep. Steve King Steve King