Steve King, the anti-LGBT, anti-immigrant, and generally far-right U.S. representative from Iowa, claims he’s getting praise from fellow Republicans for an inflammatory tweet.
“My colleagues have generally been coming by and patting me on the back,” King told The Hill Thursday. “And a surprising number have said that they pray for me. And, meaning they support me and they agree with me, a surprising number.”
In the tweet in question, King praised Geert Wilders, an anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant Dutch politician. “Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies,” King said in the tweet, sent Sunday, a few days before Wilders’s party suffered a decisive defeat in the Netherlands’ parliamentary election.
The tweet was widely perceived as anti-immigrant and racist. It drew condemnation from several Democratic members of Congress, such as civil rights veteran John Lewis, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Congressional Hispanic Caucus chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham. Pelosi and Grisham said King should be removed as chair of a House judiciary subcommittee.
King said Republicans, however, are privately telling him they’re just fine with his sentiments. He also said his message was not racist. “Any rational person would know that if I’m sending a tweet out for a candidate for prime minister of the Netherlands, and I say ‘our civilization,’ they would have to know that I’m not talking about race in America. I’m talking about the civilization we share,” he told The Hill.
But King has a history of not-so-subtly racist comments. Last year, being interviewed during the Republican National Convention, he said of white people, “Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?” And in 2013, he said that for every child of illegal immigrants “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.”
And there are some Republicans denouncing his latest comment, The Hill reports, including House members Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, both of Cuban descent, and Justin Amash, the son of Syrian and Palestinian immigrants.
Curbelo tweeted in response, “What exactly do you mean? Do I qualify as ‘somebody else’s baby?’ #concernedGOPcolleague.” He also confronted King at a meeting, he told The Hill, contrary to King’s account that no Republican critic had spoken to him in person. Curbelo also “rolled his eyes” at King’s claim of widespread support.
Amash had tweeted in response to King as well, saying, “Am I ‘somebody else’s’ baby because my parents are immigrants?” Amash told The Hill he hasn’t confronted King in person, adding that the latest tweet came as no surprise to him: “Steve makes remarks like that all the time.”