Our political system has a Steve King problem.
Everyone who works in American politics knows that Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is an unrepentant white nationalist, but most don’t seem to care, and the people who do care have found it impossible to make those who control his fate—party leaders in Washington and marquee media in particular impose accountability on him, or even treat his odious views with the alarm they deserve.
Most recently King endorsed a mayoral candidate in Toronto, Canada, named Faith Goldy, who lost her job at a Canadian far right media outlet for collaborating with the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website. But, as you can see from the list we’ve compiled below, King’s history of consorting with political parties and individuals to promote segregation, ethnic cleansing, and other beyond-the-pale ideas is long. Last year, he tweeted, “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies,” and that sentiment as much as any other underpins his entire, nauseating worldview.
But House Speaker Paul Ryan doesn’t care. King is influential in Iowa politics, so other ambitious Republicans don’t care. In fact, they clamor for his endorsement. In 2016, King co-chaired Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign. And because the Republican establishment has decided to accept King, the mainstream media treats him as an oddity rather than a dangerous racist.
Democrats could and should have made more of an issue of King’s views and alliances in the past—if Louis Farrakhan were to win office as a Democrat, Republicans would make every Democrat in the country own it. But as long as Republicans control the House, and Steve King is a member of the GOP conference, Democrats’ options are limited.
By January, though, Democrats will have a new arrow in their quiver. If King wins re-election, Democrats can channel outrage over King’s good standing in the GOP into an effort to expel him from Congress. It’s right there in the Constitution. “Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.”
As well positioned as Democrats are to retake the House in November, they’re not well positioned to control two-thirds of all seats. But the majority controls the floor, and if Democrats win, that means they can move to expel King, and force Republicans to vote on whether they stand with neo-Nazis and white nationalists, or with basic decency. Right now Paul Ryan is protecting them from that vote, but the GOP leadership will be irrelevant if the speaker is a Democrat.
Other House Republicans are detestable racists, but King stands alone in aligning himself with eliminationist elements of the global far right—with people who see the most terrible human-rights abuses as valid tools of preserving white-ethnic purity. Expelling a member of Congress is an extraordinary step, and King has demonstrated the kind of extraordinary behavior and rhetoric that makes him the perfect candidate for expulsion. Democrats should make that an early goal of their next majority.
An Extensive Sampling of Horrible Things Steve King Has Said and Done
- 2004: In a press release, King compared the torture at Abu Ghraib to hazing. He said, “The dismembered and charred corpses of American contractors dangling over the Euphrates River in comparison to the abuse committed by a few soldiers at Abu Ghraib are like the crimes of Jeffrey Dahmer compared to those of Heidi Fleiss. What amounts to hazing is not even in the same ballpark as mass murder,” (Steve King).
- 2005: Steve King “introduced an amendment to an appropriation bill seeking to strip $1.5 million from the Supreme Court’s budget” in response to a SCOTUS decision that he disagreed with (New York Times).
- 2006: King said “It is one thing to see an abstract number of 12 million illegal immigrants…It is another thing to see more than a million marching through the streets demanding benefits as if it were a birthright.” His office also sent out a survey that asked “questions about building a wall with Mexico,” (New York Times).
- 2006: King “pushed a proposal to eliminate that plan [bilingual ballots], arguing that naturalized citizens should have had to prove English proficiency as part of their citizenship test and that American-born speakers of other languages are entitled to assistance at the polls.” He also stated that “[t]here is no need to print ballots in any language other than English,” (New York Times).
- VIDEO: Steve King bragging about making English the official language of Iowa and promoting English only ballot
- 2006: “Steve King of Iowa suggested in front of the C-SPAN cameras that at the top of this new [border] fence ‘we electrify this wire with the kind of current that would not kill somebody, but it would be a discouragement for them to be fooling around with it.’ Then he added: ‘We do this with livestock all the time,’” (Washington Post).
- VIDEO: floor speech in which King suggests electrifying the border fence/wall and compares it to how fences are electrified in livestock enclosures (2:10)
- 2007: At an event at Ellis Island in 2007, King “spoke of an immigrant forebear — a grandmother, who arrived at Ellis Island from Kiel, Germany, on March 26, 1894, as a 4-year-old. But he went on to caution, ‘The realities today are not the same.’ With a nod to the New York skyline, which could be seen through the arched windows of the hall, sparkling across the bay, he mentioned the attacks of the World Trade Center and warned, ‘Criminal aliens are coming to the U.S. in record numbers,’” (New York Times).
- 2007: King originally blocked a measure “to grant permanent resident visas to the illegal immigrants,” although he eventually changed his position (New York Times).
- 2010: King drew “criticism…after news reports indicated that he expressed ’empathy’ for Andrew Joseph Stack III, the disgruntled computer engineer who crashed a small plane into an office building last week, killing himself and an employee of the Internal Revenue Service.” He reportedly made the comments at CPAC (New York Times).
- 2011: King “introduced a bill to repeal ‘birthright’ citizenship” and “said that conferring automatic citizenship and educating children of people who are here illegally is a ‘misapplication’ of the 14th Amendment,” (New York Times).
- 2011: King stated that he thought white men were being excluded in Obama’s America and questioned whether racial profiling was actually unconstitutional (New York Times).
- 2012: King tried to make English the national language (New York Times).
- 2012: King made offensive comments about how employers could “avoid” discriminating about LGBTQIA+ individuals (effectively encouraging those individuals to hide their sexuality.
- The Colbert Report included this in a video segment which also highlighted King’s ridiculous comments on healthcare
- 2013: King tried to politicize the Boston bombing investigation and use it as an opportunity to try and argue against immigration reform (New York Times).
- 2013: In reference to Dreamers, King said “For every one who’s 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,” (New York Times).
- 2015: “The leader of a white supremacist group that apparently influenced Dylann Roof, the suspect in the killing of nine African-Americans in a Charleston, S.C.,” donated to Steve King (New York Times).
- 2016: Steve King said that he would be “happy if she [Nikki Haley] was the face of the party” because he “think[s] she is beautiful,” (New York Times).
- 2016: King “moved to block the Treasury Department’s sweeping plan to represent women and civil rights leaders on American currency, including the placement of Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. Mr. King filed an amendment to an annual appropriations bill that would prevent any money from being spent to redesign American currency,” (New York Times).
- Politico: “The conservative gadfly said it is “racist” and “sexist” to say a woman or person of color should be added to currency. ‘Here’s what’s really happening: This is liberal activism on the part of the president that’s trying to identify people by categories, and he’s divided us on the lines of groups. … This is a divisive proposal on the part of the president, and mine’s unifying. It says just don’t change anything.’”
- This Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore video includes the MSNBC coverage of King’s comments
- 2016: King questioned the contributions of POC throughout history when he said on a panel, “This whole ‘old white people’ business does get a little tired, Charlie. I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you are talking about? Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?” Chris Hayes asked in response “Than white people?” to which “Mr. King responded: ‘Than Western civilization itself that’s rooted in Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the United States of America, and every place where the footprint of Christianity settled the world. That’s all of Western civilization,'” (New York Times).
- VIDEO : King begins speaking at 1:09
- 2016: King displayed a Confederate flag on his desk in a Youtube video (Vice).
- PICTURE: King with of with Confederate flag on his desk
- 2016: King defined a “natural family” as between a man and woman and said it was the “best” way to raise a child. When he challenged on that, he doubled-down on these comments.
- 2016: King made extremely Islamophobic comments about Kaepernick’s protests. “When he steps out on the stage, the world stage, he’s taking advantage of that and he’s undermining patriotism,” King said during an interview on NewsmaxTV. “I understand that he has an Islamic girlfriend that is his fiancée and that this has changed him and has taken on some different political views along the way,” King said after alluding to Kaepernick’s girlfriend Nessa Diab. “This is activism that’s sympathetic to ISIS,” (USA Today).
- 2017: King tweeted, “Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” The tweet was published “When he shared a story by the Voice of Europe website about the far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who wants to end Muslim immigration and ban the Quran and who has called Moroccan immigrants ‘scum,'” (New York Times). His statement was endorsed by David Duke (Vice).
- 2017: King met with Marine Le Pen
- PICTURE of King and Le Pen
- 2017: King tweeted “A quote from Hungary’s far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orban: ‘Mixing cultures will not lead to a higher quality of life but a lower one,'” (New York Times).
- 2017: King supported Roy Moore even after allegations of his sexual harassment and assault of minors came to light (Roll Call).
- Tweet in support of Moore
- 2018: Steve King made an offensive Facebook post about Emma Gonzalez when he noted a Cuban flag on her jacket, writing, “This is how you look when you claim Cuban heritage yet don’t speak Spanish and ignore the fact that your ancestors fled the island when the dictatorship turned Cuba into a prison camp, after removing all weapons from its citizens; hence their right to self-defense,” (New York Times).
- VIDEO: Includes a screenshot of King’s Facebook post and a reading of it by the anchor
- 2018: Retweeted a noted Nazi sympathizer and self-described Hitler admirer (which I’m pretty sure just makes you a Nazi not just a “sympathizer” but okay @New York Times) (New York Times).
- VIDEO: Includes King defending not deleting the Tweet as well as a screen shot of the Tweet
- 2018: King “said…that he does not want Somali Muslims working in his home district’s meat-packing plants for fear that they think consumers will go ‘to hell for eating pork chops,’” (CNN).
- AUDIO of King saying this in a Breitbart interview
- 2018: King called the credible sexual assault allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh “character assassination,” asked if there was any man who wouldn’t “be subjected to such an allegation,” and asserted that, “If that’s the new standard, no man will ever qualify for the Supreme Court again.” (The Hill)
- 2018: King used his verified Facebook page to share several disgusting memes mocking Christine Blasey Ford, one of Kavanaugh’s accusers, following her heartbreaking senate testimony. His campaign then engaged in a bizarre back-and-forth with the HuffPost via Facebook messenger in defense of the memes.
- Post from King’s Facebook mocking Ford
- Post from King’s Facebook mocking the accusations/implying they were a left-wing conspiracy
- Post mocking the accusations
- Post mocking Ford
- Also worth noting that King’s entire official, verified Facebook page is just alt-right memes, many implying Democrats only win elections because of mass voter fraud
- 2018: King celebrated the confirmation of controversial judge Brett Kavanaugh, who has credible accusations of sexual assault levied against him, to the Supreme Court by tweeting a photo of a baby with the caption: “Soon, babies like this little angel will be protected in the womb by law.”
- Tweet from King
- 2018: King claimed Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro (D) and his brother, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, who are second-generation Mexican-Americans, “took Spanish lessons to qualify as retroactive Hispanics” (The Hill)
- King’s tweet saying this
- 2018: King endorsed Faith Goldy, a far-right white nationalist candidate, for Toronto mayor. Goldy is an openly-racist white nationalist who attended and live-streamed the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, recommended a book calling for the “elimination of Jews,” and said she believed homosexuality was a reason for the Holocaust (HuffPost). King called Goldy “an excellent candidate for Toronto mayor, pro Rule of Law, pro Make Canada Safe Again, pro balanced budget, & …BEST of all, Pro Western Civilization and a fighter for our values.”
- Tweet of endorsement from King