Iowans: Steve King’s Rhetoric Mirrors Shooter’s Manifesto

In the wake of Saturday’s mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, news outlets, political commentators and everyday Americans have drawn connections between the alleged shooter’s racist past and the divisive language of President Donald Trump.

But there’s another politician, closer to home, whose past statements are similar to those written in the 21-year-old man’s manifesto, posted online minutes before he murdered 22 people at Walmart.

Iowa congressman Steve King and the gunman both have invoked white supremacist’s “Great Replacement” ideology, a far-right conspiracy theory asserting white people are systematically being replaced by racial minorities.

“We can’t restore our civilization with someone else’s babies,” said King, in a March 2017 tweet, referencing his support for Geert Wilders, a Dutch anti-Islam politician.

Also King, in a 2016 tweet, pictured with Wilders: “Cultural suicide by demographic transformation must end.”

In August 2018, King was interviewed for the Austrian website, Unzensuriert, known for spewing “far-right propaganda” in Europe.

The website is associated with Austria’s Freedom Party, founded by a former Nazi SS officer. Though the party has since disavowed its Nazi ties, some of its members still traffic in the beliefs of white supremacy and the Great Replacement.

“King’s conversation with Sommerfeld largely revolves around the paranoid idea of the Great Replacement — the belief that mass migration, particularly from Muslim-majority countries, is an extinction-level event for white European culture and identity,” the Huffington Post reported, in an October 2018 article about the Unzensuriert interview. “Or as he put it in the interview, a ‘slow-motion cultural suicide.'”

“The U.S. subtracts from its population a million of our babies in the form of abortion,” King said, according to the Huffington Post. “We add to our population approximately 1.8 million of ‘somebody else’s babies’ who are raised in another culture before they get to us.”

A Mother Jones article published early this year detailed a series of statements and actions by King displaying his racist beliefs, including in June 2018 when he retweeted a post from Nazi sympathizer Mark Collett, featured in the documentary “Young, Nazi and Proud.”

The gunman’s actions Saturday appear motivated, at least in part, by a hatred of Hispanics, who make up a majority of El Paso’s population.

The man said the attack was “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

“If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can be more sustainable,” the 2,300-word manifesto stated.

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“This hateful rhetoric, especially against the Latino community, hits close to home,” said Nick Salazar, LULAC Iowa State Director. “It is not just President Donald Trump who is fanning the flames of hate with his xenophobic rhetoric and policies, but we also have Iowa Congressman Steve King, a white supremacist, who has been doing the exact same thing for many years before President Donald Trump was elected to office.”

Salazar, of Muscatine, noted LULAC Iowa “for many years” has called on King to resign.

“While LULAC Iowa’s membership consists of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents who are both NRA members and gun control supporters, we all still agree that the xenophobic rhetoric of President Donald Trump and Congressman Steve King continues to amplify racial, ethnic, and religious hatred in our country,” Salazar said, in a statement.

Susan Nelson, a resident of King’s 4th Congressional District in Floyd County, agreed.

“The Trump Party is the party of white nationalists and Nazis around the world — Marine LePen in France, Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, Tommy Robinson and Nigel Farage in the UK, all of whom are friends with King,” she said.

For Nelson, of Marble Rock in Northern Iowa, King’s evolution from a “fringe figure” to “mainstream in the Trump Party” was especially disturbing.

“His racism was obvious,” Nelson said, “but within some boundary that was acceptable to his party. Donald Trump expanded the boundary, normalized hate speech, and the dog whistles have been replaced by bullhorns. He gave permission for American white nationalists like King to think of themselves as part of a movement.”

The “hate” projected by King and the president, Nelson said, “is getting people killed.”

Kedron Bardwell, a public policy and political science professor at Simpson College in Indianola, posted a series of tweets in the wake of the shooting, describing the link between the Great Replacement theory, Congressman King and the gunman.

“King’s flirtation with European racists has been noted by [Phillip Bump, Washington Post; Catherine Rampell, Washington Post; plus Adam Rubenstein, New York Times; and local reporters like Dave Price, WHO-TV]. With rising white supremacist violence, we need to get educated about the ideology behind it,” he wrote.

As part of the Twitter thread, Bardwell noted King’s 2018 endorsement of Faith Goldy, a Great Replacement believer and former candidate for mayor of Toronto.

“Faith Goldy, an excellent candidate for Toronto mayor, pro Rule of Law, pro Make Canada Safe Again, pro balanced budget, &…BEST of all, Pro Western Civilization and a fighter for our values. @FaithGoldy will not be silenced,” King wrote.

Bardwell said Americans “have an ethical duty to call to account politicians who legitimize some very dangerous ideas on race, religion and culture. It starts at the top in 2020, but getting rid of @SteveKingIA is a step in the right direction for Iowa’s voters.”

J.D. Scholten, the Democratic candidate in King’s 4th Congressional District, said on Twitter Monday morning: “Hatred/racism that have become too commonplace in [America] does fuel violence. We need to come together and urgently take action to keep our people & our children safe. It’s deeply hypocritical to pray for a problem that you’re unwilling to step up and resolve.”

King has not released a statement, posted on Twitter or Facebook, condemning either mass shooting in El Paso or Dayton, Ohio.

“I think with extremists in the Republican Party like Steve King, we have opportunities to get these extremists out,” said Mitch Henry, communications director for Iowa’s Asian & Latino Coalition, referencing Scholten’s candidacy and King’s Republican challengers. “There are so many of these people coming out of the woodwork since President Trump was elected over 2 1/2 years ago. They’re just everywhere. The more he gins up that base, the more violence you’re going to see out there.”

Though House Democrats have passed gun control measures to limit the sale of high-capacity magazines and assault rifles, the bills are unlikely to move in Mitch McConnell’s Republican-controlled Senate.

“It’s time to take action now [on gun control],” Henry said. “We’ve just got to stop talking about it and take action. I think Democratic reps in the House are ready to take the first step, but you know, the Senate Republicans and the president himself are not willing to take any significant action. You’re going to see more of this again and again and again.”

In light of the weekend’s mass shootings that killed at least 31 people in two states, Progress Iowa called on Iowa Rep. Steve Holt, R-Dension, to cancel his seventh annual “Sweet Freedom & Gun Shoot” fundraiser today. Sen. Charles Grassley and Bob Vander Plaats, president of the socially conservative Family Leader, are scheduled to attend.

“It is unconscionable for Holt and Grassley to participate in an event like this in the wake of this weekend’s horrific tragedies,” said Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa, in a statement.

In response to comments about the event on his Facebook page, Holt said, “My event will go on as scheduled.”

“It is the loss of our value system brought about in part by idiotic far-left ideology that forced Biblical values from our schools, the media and the public square that brought our nation to this point,” said Holt, on Facebook. “It is not about the gun. It is about the character of the person holding it.”


By Elizabeth Meyer
Posted 8/5/19

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