Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was heavily criticized Monday for expressing sorrow at the announcement from Republican Rep. Peter King that the New York congressman would not seek re-election to the U.S. House.
"Peter King is an Islamophobe who held McCarthyite hearings targeting American Muslims, said 'there are too many mosques in this country' and blamed Eric Garner for his own death at the hands of police," tweeted Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). "Good riddance."
Peter King is an Islamophobe who held McCarthyite hearings targeting American Muslims, said “there are too many mosques in this country” and blamed Eric Garner for his own death at the hands of police.
Good riddance. https://t.co/cYZOrnaK2M
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) November 11, 2019
Omar's remarks were a clear contrast to those of Schumer, a New York Democrat, who praised King on Twitter Monday after the Long Island Republican announced on Facebook that he was calling it a career in Congress.
"He's been principled and never let others push him away from his principles," Schumer tweeted of King, adding, "I will miss him in Congress and value his friendship."
The New York Democrat's remarks sparked an immediate backlash from progressives familiar with King's long history of Islamophobic bigotry and racism.
"The leader of the Democratic 'resistance' celebrates career of Trump champion Peter King," activist Rafael Shimunov said on Twitter, "whose enemies included Eric Garner, Occupy Wall Street, McCain's anti torture and immigrant documentation work, Obamacare, and anyone investigating Trump."
Of particular concern to observers were King's attacks on the U.S. Muslim community, including in 2016 suggesting the creation of a federal surveillance program targeted at Muslims and in 2007 saying that there were "too many mosques in the country."
"Peter King has spent the last two decades arguing that American Muslims can't be both," said writer Paul Blest. "Your friend is a dipshit, Chuck."
Here's the video of Peter King's anti-Muslim bigotry on full display: pic.twitter.com/tnos7ffMer
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— Walker Bragman (@WalkerBragman) November 11, 2019
"This Schumer tweet is yet another reminder that the top Dem in the Senate doesn't give a damn about Islamophobia and is unfit to hold the title of Minority Leader," tweeted The Intercept's Medhi Hasan.
King's decision not to run was interpreted by a number of media outlets as the latest example of a "moderate Republican" not seeking re-election—a characterization that progressives decried as perilously incorrect.
"In 2019 you can be one of Congress's most outspoken anti-Muslim bigots and still be considered 'one of the more moderate GOP members of the House,'" said Matt Duss, foreign policy advisor to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a candidate for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president.
New York Times contributor Wajahat Ali, in a tweet, said the praise for King was too much.
"Peter King, a notorious and proud anti Muslim bigot, is being hailed as a 'moderate' Republican and praised by both Democrats and media outlets," said Ali. "America, you're killing me."
King's opposition to and attacks on journalists were noted by Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation.
"I doubt there is a member of Congress in modern history who has called for journalists to be criminally prosecuted more times than Peter King," Timm said.
While welcome, King's departure from Congress simply removes him from Washington—the New York Republican's bigotry is unfortunately shared by many people in the U.S., said The Intercept's Ali Gharib.
"There are too many Peter Kings in this country," said Gharib.