Republicans rebuked Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) for remarks that Democrats are calling racist. On Sunday, King tweeted praise for Dutch politician Geert Wilders, writing that "Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies." Wilders has called for a end to allowing Muslim immigrants into the Netherlands, while frequently denouncing political Islam. King subsequently said that the civilization of the West is “superior.”
In an interview with Chris Cuomo on CNN’s “New Day,” King defended his remarks. “I meant exactly what I said,” King said. He argued that Western countries “need to get our birth rates up” to avoid being “entirely transformed.” Linking falling birthrates to illegal immigration, he said that illegal immigrants refuse to “assimilate into American culture.”
“Living in enclaves, refusing to assimilate into the American culture and civilization. Some embrace it, yes. But many are two and three generations living in enclaves that are pushing back now and resisting against the assimilation,” King said.
"I'd like to see an America that's just so homogenous that we look a lot the same, from that perspective,” he added.
“This is an effort on the left, I think, to break down the American civilization, the American culture, and turn it into something entirely different,” King said Monday. “I’m a champion for Western civilization and, yes, our English language is a big part of it. It’s a carrier of freedom.”
Some Republicans have piled on King, along with Democrats: Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), the only black American in the Senate, and Reps Carlos Curbello and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, whose parents originated in Cuba, were among King’s detractors.
Iowa Republican Party chairman Jeff Kauffman issued a press release today distancing himself from King but fired a rebuke of former Klansman David Duke. Duke had issued a tweet in support of King’s remarks. “First of all, I do not agree with Congressman King’s statement,” declared Kauffman. “We are a nation of immigrants, and diversity is the strength of any nation and any community.” In the past, however, Kauffman has expressed support for measures to reduce legal immigration. “Regarding David Duke, his words and sentiments are absolute garbage. He is not welcome in our wonderful state.”
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) issued a statement through a spokesperson to say that he “ clearly disagrees and believes America’s long history of inclusiveness is one of its great strengths." White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer declined to respond right away but said he would “touch base with the president.”
Before Ryan issued his statement, Drew Hammill spoke for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and said that King’s “vile racism has no place in decent society, much less in the U.S. Congress” while called on Ryan to rebuke King. In a statement, Hammill said, “Once again, disgusting hatred has been met with deafening silence from Speaker Ryan.” Hammill said,“It’s no accident that communities across America have been threatened by emboldened racists. The GOP Leadership must stop accommodating this garbage, and condemn Congressman Steve King’s statements in the strongest and most unequivocal terms. Speaker Ryan and the House Republican Leadership must decide whether white supremacy is welcome in the GOP ranks.”
Asked by New Day host Chris Cuomo to defend the comments on Monday, King doubled down on his view that “western civilization” must be defended. When Cuomo asked whether he believes “a Muslim American, an Italian American, Jewish American, [are] all equal, all the same thing,” King said, “They contribute differently to our culture and civilization.” the Iowa Republican responded. “Individuals will contribute differently, not equally to this civilization and society. Certain groups of people will do more from a productive side than other groups of people will.”