Steve King claims he was the victim of a "political lynch mob" after fallout from racist remarks

"The blood has now cooled, and now they don’t want to be faced with the reality of what they’ve done," King says

By Matthew Rozsa

Published June 5, 2019 3:13PM (EDT)

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) (AP/Charlie Neibergall)
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) (AP/Charlie Neibergall)

Rep. Steve King, the Republican from Iowa who was stripped of committee assignments by his own party following a series of racist comments, now claims he was the victim of a "political lynch mob."

"It was a political lynch mob. I had to let the blood cool. And the blood has now cooled, and now they don’t want to be faced with the reality of what they’ve done," King told Politico in an interview Tuesday.

The congressman's recent remarks came on the same day that one of his Republican colleagues in the House, Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina, told attendees at a GOP conference meeting that King should be re-appointed to the House Judiciary and the House Agricultural Committees. King's positions on both panels were stripped after backlash to a series of racist comments he made. After Norman's declaration on King's behalf, "not a single lawmaker clapped, cheered or remarked on the request," according to Politico.

King characterized himself as a victim in the Politico interview, in which he also vowed to exhaust all options to restore his committee positions. His defiance follows other recent remarks, in which he suggested that every culture is not equal in its contributions to civilization.

"If we presume that every culture is equal and has an equal amount to contribute to our civilization, then we're devaluing the contributions of the people that laid the foundation for America, and that's our Founding Fathers," he said last Wednesday at a town hall.

A week later, King made it clear that he has no plans to back down.

"They think if they can keep the subject tamped down, that eventually it goes away," King told Politico. "But each day that goes by, my patience gets thinner and thinner. And that means, then, that I have to turn this up."

He added, "I don’t want this to be the only thing I do in this Congress, but it is something I will not let go of."

King lost his committee assignments after asking The New York Times in January, "White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?"

Long before his remarks to the Times, King made a number of other controversial comments. Prior to Election Day in 2018, he made a homophobic joke about how the two female Supreme Court justices appointed by former President Barack Obama — Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor — should elope in Cuba. On that same day, he also attacked the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) for backing a homosexual candidate. (Earlier that year, NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, denounced King for endorsing a white supremacist candidate for mayor of Toronto and arguing that non-whites are superior to whites.)

King has also said that "we can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies," endorsed far-right figures like Dutch politician Geert Wilders and Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban and attempted to block adding Harriet Tubman to the $20 bill. When confronted with the possibility of America becoming majority non-white, he said, "I will predict that Hispanics and the blacks will be fighting each other before that happens." King also caught flak for keeping a Confederate flag in his office, even though Iowa fought for the Union during the Civil War. (The Confederate flag is most widely regarded today as a symbol of white nationalist ideology.)

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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