A History of Steve King's Anti-Immigrant, White Nationalist Rhetoric

Steve King
"We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies," Iowa congressman Steve King has said. Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters

Iowa representative Steve King on Sunday tweeted that "we can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies." He added a shout out to staunchly anti-immigrant Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who has called for mosques in the Netherlands to be shut down and for the Quran to be banned.

It wasn't the first time King has tipped his cap to the controversial nationalist. In September, he tweeted, "Cultural suicide by demographic transformation must end," followed by a tag of Wilders's Twitter handle.

Related: Immigration judges excluded from Trump's federal hiring freeze

King's most recent anti-immigrant missive has drawn criticism from both the left and the right. Paul Ryan said on Fox News that he doesn't think the "statement reflects what is special about this country," and that he'd "like to think that [King] misspoke."

But when King was asked by CNN what he meant, he reassured his supporters that he meant exactly what he said. "You cannot rebuild your civilization with somebody else's babies," he reiterated. "You've got to keep your birth rate up, and that you need to teach your children your values. In doing so, you can grow your population, you can strengthen your culture, and you can strengthen your way of life."

For anyone who has been following King's political career, the remarks are hardly surprising. Long before Donald Trump enlivened the white nationalist movement, the Iowa congressman was preaching the need for purity and criticizing President Obama for poisoning America's culture. Here's a brief overview of his greatest hits.

He really, really wanted to believe Obama was born in Kenya

As an anti-immigrant conservative, King couldn't help but indulge in the birther conspiracy. When asked at a town hall in 2012 for his thoughts on Obama's country of origin, the Iowa representative noted that his staff had discovered birth announcements for the future president in two Hawaiian newspapers, but suggested that the news could have come via "telegram" from Kenya.

He said the vast majority of illegal immigrants are "drug mules"

King came under fire in July of 2013 for calling the majority of illegal immigrants "drug mules." He was pretty specific about it, too. "For every [illegal immigrant] who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds—and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert," he told Newsmax. "Those people would be legalized with the same act."

King later doubled down on the claim, comparing illegal immigrants with "calves the size of cantaloupes" to Olympians. "They're not just making one trip across the border with 75 pounds of marijuana but it is multiple trips," he said. "They're in physical shape for that, just like you can see in an Olympic athlete, that would be obvious to us and I don't think that would be denigrating."

He said racial profiling wasn't possible in Ferguson because the protesters were all from the same "continental origin"

Following the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Missouri, the Congressional Black Caucus (yes, the same one Donald Trump said he "would love" to meet with) called for an independent investigation of racial profiling within the city's police department. King did not find this to be necessary. "This idea of no racial profiling," King said on Newsmax TV, "I've seen the video. It looks to me like you don't need to bother with that particular factor because they all appear to be of a single origin, I should say, a continental origin might be the way to phrase that."

In other words, they're all black, so how could they be profiled?

He loves his Confederate flags

On June 17, 2015, Dylann Roof murdered nine African-Americans in a Charleston, South Carolina, church. Shortly thereafter, pictures emerged of Roof toting the Confederate Flag. A debate ensued as to whether the flag still had a place in modern society. Guess where Steve King stood on the issue?

Calling the flag "symbolism that has been redefined by members of the opposite party," King, just a few weeks after the slaughter, defended the right the wave the Confederate flag, citing the First Amendment.

A little over a year later, King was spotted with a Confederate flag on his desk.

He loves building models of a prospective border wall

If you think Trump's plan to build a border wall is unrealistic, don't tell Steve King, who first brought the idea to the House of Representatives in 2006. Actually, he brought more than an idea; he brought a model of the wall itself.

He detailed how the wall could be electrified. "We do that with livestock all the time," he said.

He brought a similar toy structure to a January meeting with Trump's Secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly.

Excellent Trump appointment for Secretary of Homeland Security, General John Kelly & I discuss border security with my wall model on table. pic.twitter.com/OGkBcN6NjU

— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) January 13, 2017

This begs the question: Has King been storing the model from 2006 in his office for the past 11 years, or did he build a new one?

He said America shouldn't have to apologize for slavery

As Donald Trump rose in popularity as a presidential candidate, King sounded off on Minnesota talk radio in August of 2015. "They've delighted in dismantling our military, and it seems as though [Obama has] apologized to every continent out there," he said, "You know, he apologized to Africa for slavery and genuflects to the Arabic princes and genuflects to the emperor of Japan, and it goes on and on. Americans are tired of apologizing, Ox. We're a proud people. We're the vigor of the planet and there's nothing for us to apologize for until they come and thank us for the things we've done."

He said that immigrants are ruining America

King long criticized Obama for changing the demographics of America. In a radio interview in September of 2015, he elaborated. It's hard to pick out any single quote from his screed against immigration, but he lamented repeatedly the influx of not just Muslims, but "Central American immigrants that come into America, too."

"As much as I love and appreciate people from any place on the planet, this country has been made up of, is a center-right country, is Christian based, that is our morality, we believe in freedom of religion but if you brought in, say, all the Muslims in the world into the United States, you know it changes the culture," he said.

He went on to wonder why there was no national debate as to how immigrants are changing the culture of America. "I like the America we had," he concluded.

He said Obama has been "feeding us the medication" that will bring about "cultural suicide"

Before he supported Donald Trump, King was a fan of Ted Cruz. In November of 2015, he went on an Iowa radio program to discuss his endorsement of the senator from Texas.

"I see Europe," he said, "it's almost past tense, you can almost say they have committed cultural suicide. And Barack Obama has been feeding us the medication that will bring about cultural suicide in the United States. And we need a president who sees that whole picture and knows that it has to be restored and has an understanding of how to restore the American exceptionalism, constitutional underpinnings and the core of our faith."

He said putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill would be "racist" and "sexist"

In June of 2016, King introduced a bill that would prevent Harriet Tubman from replacing Andrew Jackson on the twenty-dollar bill.

"It's not about Harriet Tubman, it's about keeping the picture on the $20," King said. "Y'know? Why would you want to change that? I am a conservative, I like to keep what we have."

According to Politico, he went on to say that it would be "racist" and "sexist" to put Tubman on the bill. "Here's what's really happening," he said. "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," he added. "It says just don't change anything."

He wondered what non-white "subgroups" have done to advance civilization

In his most headline-grabbing moment of the election came in July of 2016 when on MSNBC King wondered what "subgroups" outside of white people contributed to civilization. "This 'old white people' business does get a little tired, Charlie," King said, referring to a piece by Esquire's Charlie Pierce. "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're talking about, where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?"

When Chris Hayes, the show's host, clarified that King was talking about white people, he essentially said yes. "Than, than Western civilization itself," King said. "It'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."

He blamed Obama for the shooting in Dallas

#DallasPoliceShooting has roots in first of anti-white/cop events illuminated by Obama...Officer Crowley. There were others.

— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) July 8, 2016

He said John Lewis "trades" off his status as a civil rights hero

In the wake of the spat between Donald Trump and Georgia representative John Lewis, who refused to attend Trump's inauguration, King weighed in to let America know that Lewis "trades off" his status as a civil rights hero, and hasn't really done anything since.

"I've served with John Lewis now for quite some time," King said on an Iowa radio program. "And we don't really always, I don't know that we've ever found ourselves where we've been working together on legislation in that way. But I have long contemplated the idea of just going to the floor and saying, 'John Lewis, thank you for your contribution to civil rights during the civil rights era. I would appreciate it if you would contribute something since then. It's been a half a century.' And a number of us have watched that and said, 'He trades off of it.' And I guess that's fine. But he should be doing some other things too. And I haven't seen it happen from him."

Read more from Newsweek.com:

- Fiscal conservatives with a taste for pork: Steve King
- Trump immigration remarks giving supporters—and critics—whiplash
- Republican congressman Steve King sparks row over support for Geert Wilders

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