Republicans silent after Rep. Steve King defends retweet of known Nazi sympathizer

King's latest remark follows his long history of controversial, and sometimes, outwardly racist sentiments

Published June 27, 2018 6:04PM (EDT)

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

Steve King, the conservative Iowa congressman with a long history of espousing racially charged and insensitive opinions, defended his latest controversial tweet on Tuesday. And while many of his Repubublicans were busy reprimanding their Democratic colleagues on civility in the political discourse, they remained curiously quiet about King's mainstreaming of white supremacist voices.

His most recent controversy involves retweeting a statement from a well-known British Nazi sympathizer, Mark Collett, who was a subject in the 2002 documentary, “Young, Nazi and Proud.”

Collett, a former chairman of a far-right British youth party,  said on Twitter: “65% of Italians under the age of 35 now oppose mass immigration. Europe is waking up…”

King initially claimed to not know of Collett’s affiliations to far-right and white supremacist ideologies, even though the British nationalist has publicly acknowledged his admiration of Adolf Hitler. King said he shared the message because he noticed a screenshot of the Breitbart article that was cited in Collett’s tweet and decided to retweet the article when he had a free moment between meetings.

The Republican refused, however, to apologize for the tweet and stood by the sentiment of the comment, which falls in line with his hardline ideas on immigration and American nationalistic identity. According to CNN, King said he refused to apologize, “because then it’d be like I’m admitting that I did something, now I’m sorry about it. I’m not sorry. I’m human.”

On the House Floor, King also said the U.S. is a “Judeo-Christian country” and immigrants need to embrace “Americanism” and “not create enclaves in America that are the antithesis of Americanism.”

“I want to see the American civilization strengthened. That means we are the Judeo-Christain country and we could not have succeeded without our Founding Fathers’ (knowing) that,” CNN reported.

He reiterated his message in an interview Tuesday night with Chris Cuomo CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time” where he again refused to delete the tweet “it’s pretty simple. I tweeted a Breitbart story, I didn’t tweet a message from him.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan criticized King’s controversial Twitter remarks — notably leaving out any mention of King.

“The Speaker has said many times that Nazis have no place in our politics,” Ryan’s office said in a statement this week, “and clearly members should not engage with anyone promoting hate.”

Few other Republicans in Congress have condemned King's behavior.

“We’ve gotten to the point with Congressman King that many people almost expect this sort of behavior out of him,” Nick Ryan, a Republican strategist in Iowa, told The New York Times. “So when he does something that’s inappropriate or outlandish, many people in leadership have chosen to turn their heads the other way, because they don’t know how else to deal with him.”

While King’s comments may seem surprising, for those who do not follow the congressman’s public statements, this most recent social media outburst is one in a long line of controversial statements which reveal his far-right political tendencies.

Regarding immigration, King has said overtly racist and insensitive comments – one of the most public being, in 2013, when he said some children brought into the U.S. illegally were good kids, while there were others, “who weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

At the time, Former Speaker of the House, John Boehner openly condemned King’s remarks and called them, “deeply offensive.” For most of King's time in the House he has been seen as an outspoken, but benign, voice within the Republican party. However, as The Atlantic reported, with President Trump’s administration, King’s once unpopular viewpoints are now part of the Trump administration’s ethos.

The Atlantic states, “King and Trump have both suggested that Islam writ large is a threat to the United States and that Barack Obama was not born in America. They are both hardliners on immigration who have made wildly inaccurate accusations of criminality about undocumented immigrants. They have both courted neo-Confederates and white supremacists.”

As Trump’s political views have steered the Republican party more far-right, the opinions of politicians like King are no longer easily brushed aside.

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By Clarrie Feinstein

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Gop Nazis Paul Ryan Republicans Steve King White Nationalism