Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) is facing backlash over a tweet he sent Sunday supporting far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders ahead of the Netherlands' Wednesday election that critics say had overtones of white nationalism.
"Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies," King tweeted Sunday, in apparent support of an anti-Turkish statement by Wilders.
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
King defended his statement on Monday, stating on CNN, "I meant exactly what I said."
The tweet also quoted from "Voice of Europe," an account that describes itself as being "Anti EU / Pro Europe / MAGA [Make America Great Again]" and has endorsed Wilders, who is known for his controversial anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim stances.
As many pointed out in response, King's rhetoric hewed closely to that of white supremacists, who often use terms such as "culture and demographics" to promote racism and xenophobia.
"It is hard to read that any other way than it was written. It is an apparent, explicit call to protect white 'culture and demographics' from immigrants," Elliot Hannon wrote at Slate Sunday.
That interpretation was bolstered after former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who also supported President Donald Trump during the 2016 election, responded to King's statement by tweeting, "GOD BLESS STEVE KING!!!" with the hashtag #TruthRISING.
— David Duke (@DrDavidDuke) March 12, 2017
Social media users slammed the Iowa congressman and suggested that he will feel the backlash in the 2018 midterms.
"You, Congressman, are simply a bigot. Good thing is, I know a lot of smart Dems eyeing your seat," one person wrote.
Miriam Amer, executive director of the Iowa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) also responded, calling on Republican leaders to condemn King's message.
"This racist tweet crosses the line from dog-whistle politics to straight-up white supremacist advocacy, which must be repudiated by state and national GOP leaders," she said. "King seems to believe that only babies of a particular demographic should be valued as part of America's culture and destiny."
While Republican leaders have largely remained silent, one party member, Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida, demanded that King explain himself.
".@SteveKingIA What exactly do you mean? Do I qualify as "somebody else's baby?" #concernedGOPcolleague" he tweeted.
— Carlos Curbelo (@carloslcurbelo) March 13, 2017
King has previously come under fire for stating that white people contributed more to human civilization than "any other subgroup." He has also suggested that Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a civil rights icon, "trades off" his legacy and has done nothing for the movement since the 1960s, when he marched with Martin Luther King, Jr.
CNN's Chris Cuomo asked Rep. King on Monday whether he believed "a Muslim American, an Italian American, Jewish American, [are] all equal, all the same thing."
After hesitating, which sparked more criticism from Cuomo, King eventually answered, "They contribute differently to our culture and civilization. Individuals will contribute differently, not equally to this civilization and society. Certain groups of people will do more from a productive side than other groups of people will."