Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, speaks with reporters as he leaves the House Republican Conference meeting in the basement of the Capitol on Oct. 4, 2013 in Washington, D.C.
Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty

Steve King’s racially charged comments put Republicans on the spot

Updated
A couple of months ago, in a brief item, I referred to Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) as an “anti-immigration congressman.” I’d used that phrase in relation to King before, as have others describing the far-right Iowan, and it didn’t occur to me that anyone would even bat an eye.

A few days later, however, King’s office contacted MaddowBlog to complain. The Republican lawmaker, his aides insisted, is not “anti-immigration,” but rather, he simply opposes illegal immigration. For a congressman who’s literally compared immigrants to dogs, it seemed like an odd thing to make a fuss over.

All of this came to mind yesterday afternoon, when King, touting right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders, said via Twitter, “Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”

Today, responding to the controversy he created, King was eager to talk about how correct he thinks he is.
In an interview on CNN on Monday, King said he “meant exactly what I said.”

“You cannot rebuild your civilization with somebody else’s babies. You’ve got to keep your birth rate up and that you need to teach your children your values” and in doing so, then you can grow your population and you can strengthen your culture, you can strengthen your way of life,” King said.

King called Western Civilization a “superior culture” and said some cultures contribute more to American society than others.

“If you go down the road a few generations or maybe centuries with the intermarriage, I’d like to see an America that’s just so homogenous that we look a lot the same,” King added.
Note, King’s comments have drawn enthusiastic praise from former KKK grand wizard David Duke, while several Republicans, including the chairman of the Iowa Republican Party, have criticized the congressman’s latest nonsense.

Ordinarily at this point, I’d be tempted to start highlighting some of King’s history of outrageous and racially charged remarks, noting how his latest garbage is shocking but not surprising. I’d probably start with King’s comments to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes last year about how great he thinks white people are. I’d follow it soon after with a reference to the fact that King keeps a Confederate flag on his desk – despite the fact that Iowa was part of the Union during the Civil War.

But today, let’s skip that and instead ask a different question: what exactly are Republicans prepared to do about this?

I suspect some GOP leaders will distance themselves from King today, and let everyone know they disagree with his sentiments. And while that’s certainly better than hearing them endorse King’s rhetoric, it’s worth remembering that they have other, more serious options.

House Republicans could, today, announce that they’re kicking Steve King out of the Republican conference. GOP leaders could, today, endorse a censure resolution. They could, today, strip Steve King of his chairmanship of a House Judiciary Committee panel on “the Constitution and Civil Justice.”

In other words, House Republicans have options beyond just shaking their heads and declaring, with a disappointed tone, that King doesn’t speak for them. It’s within their power to go much further, taking real action to make clear to the nation that they will not tolerate racism in their ranks.

So, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and the House GOP leadership team? What’s it going to be?

Given that Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), who spoke at a white-supremacist event in 2002 and reportedly described himself as “David Duke without the baggage,” is already a member of the House Republican leadership team, I won’t get my hopes up.

House Republicans, Racism and Steve King

Steve King's racially charged comments put Republicans on the spot

Updated