IMPACT: Steve King is a Republican congressman from Iowa who has a history of making racist, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim remarks. He has made comments in support of white nationalism and is connected to far-right figures around the world.
Steve King is a Republican member of the House of Representatives in the United States Congress. A 2018 article in Politico described King, who was first elected to Congress in 2002, as “known for his inflammatory anti-immigrant rhetoric.” A 2018 article in The Washington Post described King as the “Congressman most openly affiliated with white nationalism.”
In a January 2019 interview with the New York Times, King questioned why white supremacy is considered offensive, stating: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” Following the publication of this article, King issued a statement calling himself a ‘nationalist,’ defending his support of ‘western civilization’s values,’ and stating he ‘rejected those labels [white nationalism and white supremacy] and the ideology that they define.’ As a result of his statements in the NYT article, King was removed from his positions on the House Judiciary and Agriculture Committees. On June 3, 2020, King lost his bid for renomination during Iowa’s primary elections .
During an October 2018 interview on The Insiders with Dave Price, King remarked that white nationalist “is a derogatory term today. I wouldn’t have thought so maybe a year, or two, or three ago. But today they use it in a derogatory term and they imply, it implies that you’re a racist.” In the same month, the New York Times reported that the chairman of the Republican House elections committee, Representative Steve Stivers of Ohio, condemned King, saying, “We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms.”
King has publicly supported a number of far-right figures and politicians around the world. In an October 2018 tweet, he publicly endorsed far-right political commentator Faith Goldy who at the time was running for the mayor of Toronto. Goldy has publicly recited the white supremacist slogan, 14 words, and is affiliated with neo-Nazis.
An October 2018 article in The Washington Post found that in August 2018 King met with members of the Freedom Party, a far-right Austrian party, during a trip to Europe financed by a Holocaust memorial group. During the trip, King gave an interview to a website associated with the Freedom Party in which he “declared that ‘Western civilization is on the decline,’ spoke of the replacement of white Europeans by immigrants and criticized Hungarian American financier George Soros.”
During his interview in Austria, King referenced the “Great Replacement” theory, a white supremacist conspiracy theory that claims white Europeans will be replaced as a result of immigration. The Christchurch gunman, who murdered 51 Muslims in two mosques in New Zealand, referenced this theory in his 74-page statement. In the interview, King praises The Camp of Saints, a book often referred to by former Breitbart chairman Steve Bannon. In a 2017 interview with The Huffington Post, Stanford professor Cécile Alduy described the book as “racist in the literal sense of the term. It uses race as the main characterization of characters. It describes the takeover of Europe by waves of immigrants that wash ashore like the plague.” The book, she said, “reframes everything as the fight to death between races.” King frequently referenced Camp of Saints in defense of his anti-immigrant stances, stating, “We should reject blindly opening our doors to let them in. If we let that happen, our civilization will fall and ‘Camp of the Saints’ becomes manifest all over Western Civilization.”
King’s interview with the Austrian publication also included comments regarding slavery with King stating, “What is the civilization that has the most adherence to slavery? Middle-eastern, Muslim countries. We are supposed to embrace that culture, where women are being mutilated and caged up and dressed so that you can only see their eyes?”
In June 2018, the sitting U.S. Congressman retweeted Mark Collett, “a known British white supremacist.” Collett’s tweet read, “65% of Italians under the age of 35 now oppose mass immigration. Europe is waking up…,” and accompanied an image with a headline that reads, “Oppose Mass Migration.” King quote-tweeted Collett’s tweet, saying, “Europe is waking up…Will America…in time?” When asked by the Huffington Post whether he knew if Collett was a white supremacist, he responded, “No.” He has not removed the tweet from his timeline. The Washington Post reported that despite sharing the tweet by Collett, who describes himself as a ‘Nazi Sympathizer,’ the GOP did not rebuke King.
In March 2015, King hosted far-right anti-Muslim Dutch Member of Parliament Geert Wilders at the Capitol. During a press conference, Wilders stated that he, King, and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) are “standing here together because…all three of us see the threat of the Islamization of our societies, that we feel that we should emphasize more of the strength and the beauty of our Christian-Judeo [sic] own culture.”
King has supported Wilders’ anti-immigrant rhetoric by tweeting in 2017: “Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” Chris Cuomo of CNN asked King about the tweet in an interview, to which King responded that he “meant exactly what [he] said.” Following this endorsement of Wilders, the New York Times noted that Andrew Anglin, the founder of the Neo-Nazi website, Daily Stormer, exclaimed: “Steve King is basically an open white nationalist at this point.”
King defended this tweet again during a March 2017 interview on Breitbart Radio, stating, “We’re watching as Western civilization is shrinking in the face of the massive, epic migration that is pouring into Europe….They’re importing a different culture, a different civilization — and that culture and civilization, the imported one, rejects the host culture. And so they are supplanting Western civilization with Middle Eastern civilization and I say, and Geert Wilders says, Western civilization is a superior civilization, it is the first world.”
A January 2019 article in the New York Times noted that watch groups like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) have stated that King’s use of phrases like preserving ‘Western culture’ or ‘Western civilization’ serve as “buzzwords that signal support to white nationalists, along with an obsession with birth rates and abortion rates among different ethnic groups.” In the article, chairman of the Berkeley Center for Right-Wing Studies, Lawrence Rosenthal, stated that King “uses the concepts of either ‘culture’ or ‘civilization’ to obfuscate that he’s talking about whiteness and race.”
In October 2016, Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Rally Party (formerly Front National), tweeted a picture of her meeting with King. In 2017, King tweeted in agreement with far-right Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban’s view that “[m]ixing cultures will not lead to a higher quality of life but a lower one.” King endorsed this view, stating, “Diversity is not our strength.”
In 2012, King was on a panel at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference alongside white nationalist, Peter Brimelow. The New York Times reported that on the panel King referred to multiculturalism as “a tool for the Left to subdivide a culture and civilization into our own little ethnic enclaves and pit us against each other.”
During a 2016 panel discussion on MSNBC, the New York Times reported that King claimed that “nonwhite groups haven’t contributed as much as whites to civilization: ‘This whole business does get a little tired. I would ask you to go back through history and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people you are talking about. Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?’”
In a December 2015 interview on MSNBC about Muslims in America, King said, “They’re not assimilating because Shari’ah law is incompatible with the constitution of the United States.” King went on to claim:, “Shari’ah law to them is superior to everything else, it replaces everything else. It replaces the constitution itself. You can’t be assimilated into the American civilization and accept Shari’ah law as being superior to our constitution. It’s antithetical.”
In June 2018, King appeared on Breitbart Radio and stated that he did not want Somali Muslims working in meatpacking plants in Iowa: “The rationale is that if infidels are eating this pork, they’re not eating it. So as long as they’re preparing this pork for infidels, it helps send them to hell and it must make Allah happy.” King continued: “I don’t want people dealing with my pork that won’t eat it. Let alone hope I’ll go to hell for eating pork chops.”
In June 2018, King tweeted in response to an article promoted on voiceofeurope.com claiming that Sweden’s largest football tournament removed pork from their menu. His tweet read: “I draw the line here and, if need be, will fight for freedom of choice—in our diets. Iowa’s 4th Congressional District is the #1 Pork district in America. No takin’ bacon off our tables—ever! Sweden has capitulated to halal :-(.“
King has a history of making anti-black and anti-latinx comments. In a 2013 interview King told the conservative website Newsmax that for every young illegal immigrant 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.”
In July 2016, the Des Moines Register reported that King displayed the “Don’t Tread on Me” Gadsden flag and the Confederate flag on his desk in a video (timestamp: 0:28) during an interview about a controversial immigration law. King called it “Sarah’s law” and linked it to the death of a woman named Sarah Root who was killed by a drunk driver who was an undocumented immigrant. The rhetoric used to describe the law implicated all immigrants for this action by claiming Iowans needed to “strengthen illegal immigration enforcement measures and to combat dangerous sanctuary city policies that expose innocent Americans to predation by individuals who are not in the country legally.” A 2019 article in the New York Times noted that King uses “misleading data about victims of undocumented immigrants and demeaning remarks about Latinos.”
A 2019 article in the New York Times reported that in 2002 while in the Iowa state senate, King filed a bill requiring schools teach that the United States “is the unchallenged greatest nation in the world and that it has derived its strength from…Christianity, free enterprise capitalism and Western civilization.” Additionally, he was the chief sponsor of a law making English the official language of the state. In 2005, King introduced the “English Language Unity Act in Congress, a bill to make English the official language of the United States.”
Updated June 3, 2020