Tim Scott pens op-ed blasting Steve King for embrace of white supremacy


Tim Scott

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott joined a chorus of Republicans in Congress condemning Rep. Steve King’s remarks about white supremacy following an interview with The New York Times. | Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) lambasted Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) on Friday in a Washington Post op-ed, following an interview in which King used racist language and questioned how “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” became offensive terms.

“[A]nyone who needs ‘white nationalist’ or ‘white supremacist’ defined, described and defended does lack some pretty common knowledge,” Scott wrote.

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Scott, who is black, joined a chorus of Republicans in Congress condemning King’s remarks after the interview with The New York Times. Several members have called for King to be censured after his comments were published Thursday. Though censure in Congress carries no legal consequences, it would be a remarkable move if House Republicans were to deliver such a strong rebuke to one of their own.

Republicans have been quick to distance themselves from King’s comments. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Emmer of Minnesota both called out King’s comments as unacceptable and out of line with the Republican Party.

“When people with opinions similar to King’s open their mouths, they damage not only the Republican Party and the conservative brand but also our nation as a whole,” Scott wrote.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush called Friday for Republicans to oust King in the primaries, tweeting: “It’s not enough to condemn @SteveKingIA’s unconscionable, racist remarks. Republican leaders must actively support a worthy primary opponent to defeat King, because he won’t have the decency to resign.”

King later wrote to the Times denouncing the terms “white nationalism” and “white supremacy,” though he continued to call himself a nationalist and defend “western civilization’s values.” And though Republicans in Congress have attempted to make an anomaly out of King’s comments, his latest remarks bear some resemblance to the rhetoric of President Donald Trump, who called himself a nationalist, and many of his supporters.

“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King said in his interview with the Times. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

King has also sympathized with openly anti-Semitic public figures in Canada and Austria, and used to have a Confederate flag on his desk, even though Iowa was part of the Union during the Civil War.

King also called the Democratic Party “no country for white men,” the Times reported, after record numbers of women and people of color were elected into the House as Democrats during the 2018 midterms. The Republican side of the house, however, remained noticeably more white and male.

In his op-ed, Scott wrote that comments like King’s and failures by others in the party to act on them “tarnish” conservatism and could drive others away from the party.

“Some in our party wonder why Republicans are constantly accused of racism — it is because of our silence when things like this are said,” Scott wrote.

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