Our Pledge To You


GOP condemns Steve King’s racist remarks — and ignores Trump’s

Republican U.S. Rep. Steve King of Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

Republican U.S. Rep. Steve King of Iowa. | AP file photo/Charlie Neibergall

What about the big guy?

That was my reaction to the news that U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) is being shunned by his fellow Republicans over an interview in which he appeared to defend white nationalism.

Who is Steve King, you ask? He’s just a little guy. So little, small and mean, that his biggest claim to fame is his hateful rhetoric.

However, King is now in the news, thanks to an explosive interview in the New York Times, in which he tied a fancy bow on his long history of bigotry.


In the article headlined, ‘Before Trump, Steve King Set the Agenda for the Wall and Anti-Immigrant Politics,’ King declared he is not a racist. Yet he defended what he called “the culture of America.”

“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” the Times quoted King as saying. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

King later said the remarks were misconstrued.

The nine-term U.S. House veteran from Northwest Iowa farm country has a long track record of using his office to disparage, insult and threaten people of color, immigrants and other minorities.

The New York Times offers a 26-item “timeline” of King’s bigoted utterances, tweets and deeds since 2002. For example, at a 2006 rally in Las Vegas, King labeled the deaths of Americans killed by undocumented immigrants as a “a slow-motion holocaust.”  And he falsely claimed that every day, 25 Americans die at the hands of the undocumented.

King opposes legal status for the so-called Dreamers, immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. In 2013, he declared, “For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

For years, the response from King’s GOP colleagues was muted at best. Now, many Republican members are hurriedly issuing condemnations. They were shocked! — shocked! — that racism is going on among them.

Five days after King’s interview ran, Republican congressional leaders dumped him from his positions on the House Judiciary and Agriculture committees.

The little guy is littler than ever.

But what about the big guy?

King is one of President Donald J. Trump’s most loyal allies. In his run for the presidency, Trump eagerly adopted and embraced King’s anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Last Wednesday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders called King’s white nationalist comments “abhorrent.”

What about her boss? Trump has said so many racist things that last year, the Times chronicled them in “Donald Trump’s Racism: The Definitive List.

When reporters asked Trump about King’s recent remarks, the president demurred. “I haven’t been following it. I really haven’t been following it,” he said.

More important, the president of the United States is acting on that racist rhetoric.

Like his illegal travel ban against refugees and immigrants from Muslim countries. His administration’s attempts to add a question about citizenship status to the 2020 Census. And his attempt to establish a cruel family separation policy for immigrants crossing the border, among other hateful policies.

Party leaders are scrambling to neutralize an offensive Trump sycophant, hoping to take the light off their lockstep embrace of the bigoted words and policies of the big guy at the top.

Actions speak far louder than words.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com