GOP Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) is getting blowback after questioning when the terms “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” became offensive in American culture.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King asked in an interview with The New York Times published Thursday. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
King responded to the Times article later that day and insisted he isn’t a white supremacist, nor is he an advocate for white nationalists.
“I want to make one thing abundantly clear: I reject those labels and the evil ideology they define,” he wrote in a statement. “Further, I condemn anyone that supports this evil and bigoted ideology, which saw in its ultimate expression the systematic murder of 6 million innocent Jewish lives.”
Dubbing himself a “nationalist,” the congressman doubled down on his defense of what he called “Western civilization’s values.”
“It’s true that like the Founding Fathers … I profoundly believe that America is the greatest tangible expression of these ideals the World has ever seen,” King added. “Under any fair political definition, I am a nationalist.”
The comments came as part of an extensive report from the newspaper detailing how King’s staunch views on immigration that mirror those of President Donald Trump. Hard-line, zero-tolerance policies aren’t the only thing two have in common, however.
The Times notes that King has used racist language in the past and supports known neo-Nazis on Twitter. He has also tweeted that “diversity isn’t our strength.”
Additionally, King once took to the House floor to unveil a model for a 12-foot border wall he designed. Trump is now demanding his own border wall, asking Democrats to fork over $5.7 billion for a steel barrier along the U.S. southern border. Dems have refused, however, prompting the president to shut down the government until funds for the wall are included in the spending bill.