Dozens of civic and civil rights groups have signed a letter demanding that Congress censure Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and deny him any future position in leadership, following remarks this month in which he referred to Mexican immigrants as “dirt.”
“There’s plenty of dirt, it’s coming from the West Coast, too. And a lot of other places, besides,” said King in comments made to a group of supporters on November 5. “This is the most dirt we’ve ever seen,” King said.
The exchange was first reported by the conservative Weekly Standard. King’s campaign accused the publication of fabricating the exchange, and the congressman called on the Weekly Standard to release audio of the remarks, saying it had become “Antifa News.”
The Weekly Standard then proceeded to release the audio, which confirmed its version of events.
Some 140 groups signed the open letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), demanding that the Iowa lawmaker be officially condemned by Congress.
“We are deeply concerned with Rep. King’s remarks about Mexican immigrants and urge you not to take his words lightly,” the letter read.
“The use of dehumanizing language such as this has, in the past, led to the normalization of bigotry and abuse towards immigrants of color.”
We've signed onto a letter to Rep. Paul Ryan calling for a censure resolution of Iowa Rep. Steve King, who has repeatedly made white supremacist, racist, antisemitic, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant statements, alongside @amprog and other organizations. https://t.co/BuJAkp0Ifk pic.twitter.com/naLKTLCzxX
— Southern Poverty Law Center (@splcenter) November 30, 2018
As if to further emphasize the letter’s point, on Friday CNN reported that King had been interviewed in September 2017 by Freedomain Radio podcast, hosted by Stefan Molyneux.
In it, he said that the Congressional Black Caucus was a “grievance commitee” that had self-segregated and forgotten Martin Luther King’s original message.
Molyneux is a staple in the far-right online ecosystem who has frequently appeared with on interviewed other notable far-right figures, including Lauren Southern, Milo Yiannapoulos, Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes and Mike Cernovich. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes him as “a skilled propagandist and… [promoter] of scientific racism and eugenics.”
King himself is no stranger to the far-right or white nationalism. He has made repeated trips to visit Austria, which is led by a far-right government, and gave an interview to a Austrian neo-fascist group in September in which he spoke at length about how European culture was threatened by immigration. He also recirculated a tweet by a British neo-Nazi, which he has refused to apologize for.
Several House Democrats told ABC News that they agreed with the letter.
“The things that he says are so deeply unfair, disturbing and unbefitting of a member of Congress,” Rep. Pramila JayapaI (D-WA), said. “I do think that censure is appropriate.”