Representative Steve King is garnering sympathy in the form of donations from supporters as he faces backlash for questioning when terms like “white nationalist” and “white supremacy” became so offensive, the Des Moines Register reported.
“The unhinged left has teamed up with Republican ‘NeverTrumpers’ and is pulling out all the stops to destroy me,” King wrote in a campaign email.
The Iowa Republican also accused The New York Times, which published his quote about white supremacy, and other elements of the “rabid leftist media” for coming after him for his support of President Trump and hardline views of immigration.
King will use the donations to support his reelection bid. He already has two opponents in the Republican Party primary.
King has long been controversial for his incendiary rhetoric, especially around matters of race and immigration. But he has come under special scrutiny in the past year.
While in Europe on a junket last year sponsored by a Polish Holocaust-memorial organization, he conducted an interview with a far-right Austrian party with Nazi ties, which he told that “Western civilization is on the decline.”
King also accused billionaire liberal megadonor George Soros, who is Jewish, of being behind the so-called “Great Replacement” — a common white nationalist trope accusing Jews of purposefully supporting immigration to dilute the white population in America.
He went on to endorse a white nationalist candidate for Toronto mayor who was running with the aim of preventing “white genocide.” King also refused to apologize for retweeting a British neo-Nazi.
Religious communities in Iowa, including two Jewish leaders in his district, condemned King in October, after a gunman killed 11 at prayer in a Pittsburgh synagogue. They published a letter in the Des Moines Register calling the congressman “an enthusiastic crusader for the same types of abhorrent beliefs held by the Pittsburgh shooter.” Some corporate donors, such as Intel and Land O’ Lakes, were inspired to withdraw their funding.
But it was for his most recent controversial comment, placed 700 words down the Times’ article, that had many up in arms: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King said. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for King find to “another line of work,” and Senator Mitt Romney said King should “step aside.” Two members of Congress filed motions to formally punish King, and the House removed him from his committee seats.
In a shocking move, Democratic congressional leaders blocked an effort to censure King on Wednesday, out of concern that it would set a precedent to punish Democrats for incendiary language spoken outside the House floor, The Washington Post reported.
“I think we have spoken, and we have spoken on both sides of the aisle, that this is unacceptable rhetoric and behavior,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said.
Alyssa Fisher is a news writer at the Forward. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on Twitter at @alyssalfisher