GOP leadership stays silent as Steve King promotes racist propaganda

Why aren't there any consequences for the Iowa Republican's uncivil behavior?

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) at a House GOP caucus meeting on March 24, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) at a House GOP caucus meeting on March 24, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Steve King, the Republican congressman from Iowa who used to have a Confederate flag at his desk, is using Twitter to spread racist propaganda again:

Lying about crime to smear migrants is a time-honored tradition on the far right. Mediaite’s Aidan McLaughlin found the apparent source of conservative activist Charlie Kirk‘s false statistic that King shared:

King’s latest tweet comes less than a month after he retweeted a British neo-Nazi. The Iowa Republican said it was unintentional, but wouldn’t apologize or delete the tweet. The New York Times’ Astead Wesley noted similarities in the white nationalist tinged language that King used in both tweets:

King’s previous racist tweets have drawn praise from former KKK leader David Duke, white nationalist leader Richard Spencer, and far-right site The Daily Stormer.

But despite his well-documented history of public racism — including claiming that white people have contributed more to society than any other “subgroup of people” and defending white supremacists who rallied in Charlottesville — King has avoided serious punishment and criticism from Republican leadership.

The New York Times documented the GOP’s reaction to King’s racist June tweet:

Yet in Washington, spokeswomen for the three top Republicans in the House — Mr. Ryan; Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader; and Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the Republican whip — did not reply to emails seeking comment about Mr. King. Nor did spokesmen for the senior senator from Iowa, Charles E. Grassley, a Republican, and for other Republicans in the Iowa congressional delegation.

The junior senator from Iowa, Joni Ernst, ducked into an elevator as she was being asked about Mr. King’s tweet. “I didn’t see it, so I can’t comment,” she said, shrugging her shoulders as the elevator doors closed.

Ryan’s spokesperson later released a vague statement that declared “Nazis have no place in our politics,” but King didn’t take it personally. “Paul Ryan didn’t say anything. His spokesperson made a general comment that didn’t even have my name in it,” he responded.

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King isn’t the only prominent Republican to amplify racist propaganda this week. On Monday, former congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-TX) tweeted and deleted a racist and anti-Semitic graphic:

Paul apologized — but later tweeted out the same content with a different accompanying image:

The language promoted by Paul in these tweets is similar to the racist newsletters he published in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Though there was uncertainty as to whether Paul wrote the newsletters himself, they were all published under his name.

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The GOP isn’t just dealing with Nazism on a theoretical level. In March, an actual Nazi won the Republican primary for Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District. About  20,000 Republican voters cast their ballots for Arthur Jones.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) recently expressed horror over Jones’ win, urging voters to support the Democrat over him. However, Cruz has yet to comment on King’s racist tweets. The Texas Republican selected King to be the national co-chairman for his 2016 presidential campaign.

Despite their concerns about civility, Republican leaders are apparently disinterested in addressing their colleagues’ racism. Meanwhile, they have found the time to criticize Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) over perceived threatening remarks.