A fortnight after Rep. Steve King (R-IA) first retweeted a British neo-Nazi, the anti-immigrant Republican has finally addressed the outcry, saying it was “unintentional” — but also that he wouldn’t apologize or delete the tweet.
On June 12, King retweeted Mark Collett, a British neo-Nazi formerly heavily involved with the far-right British National Party (BNP). Previous comments from Collett include describing AIDS as a “friendly disease because blacks, drug users and gays have it” and talking about “white genocide.”
“Europe is waking up…Will America..in time?” King posted in response to Collett’s claim that nearly two-thirds of Italians under 35 opposed mass immigration.
Europe is waking up…Will America…in time? https://t.co/GqZ3E1lCyh
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) June 12, 2018
On Tuesday, King told CNN that he didn’t know about Collett’s political leanings, but that he wasn’t sorry for sharing the tweet.
“I had never heard his name before, and I don’t know why anybody would ever know his name, for that matter,” King said. “I think it’s really unjust for anyone to assign the beliefs of someone else because there’s a message there among all of that. I mean it’s the message, not the messenger.”
King also brushed off suggestions that he should check who he retweets — despite it being patently obvious from Collett’s Twitter account that he is a hardline white nationalist.
“It’s unjust to simply put a politically correct bridle on someone and say, ‘You’ve got to do a background check on everybody that ever tweets something out before you can ever agree with a single sentence that they might put out,'” King said. “I didn’t even know it was his message. I thought it was a Breitbart message.”
King has a long history of racist, anti-immigrant statements, be it mocking March for Our Lives activist Emma Gonzalez for her Cuban heritage, endorsing the authoritarian Hungarian president Viktor Orban, or suggesting that “Western Americans” contributed more to the country than others.
Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies. https://t.co/4nxLipafWO
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) March 12, 2017
Talking to CNN on Tuesday, King again doubled-down on his racist views, claiming that the U.S. is a “Judeo-Christian country” and that immigrants shouldn’t “create enclaves in America that are the antithesis of Americanism.”
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) issued an incredibly bland statement condemning King’s tweets, emphasizing that he has said “many times that Nazis have no place in our politics and clearly members should not engage with anyone promoting hate.” He did not mention King by name.
At the same time, Ryan had no problem going after Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters (CA), who encouraged protesters to heckle Trump officials in public.
“She should apologize,” Ryan said. “There’s just no place for that in our public discourse.” He added that her comments were “dangerous for our democracy”.