Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) attempted Monday to clarify a tweet he wrote over the weekend that earned the condemnation across social media, including from members of his own party.
During an interview on CNN’s “New Day”, King defended himself against accusations of bigotry and racism in response to a post made citing Geert Wilders, a nationalist, far-right Dutch politician. The congressman wrote in a Sunday tweet, “Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”
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
The remark was widely criticized, including by members of King’s party and Iowa GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann.
— Carlos Curbelo (@carloslcurbelo) March 13, 2017
— Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (@RosLehtinen) March 13, 2017
Former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke praised the tweet.
— David Duke (@DrDavidDuke) March 12, 2017
Asked by CNN’s Chris Cuomo to clarify his tweet, King replied, “I meant exactly what I said.”
I’ve been to Europe, and I’ve spoken on this issue, and I’ve said the same thing as far as 10 years ago to the German people and to any population of people that is a declining population that isn’t willing to have enough babies to reproduce themselves. And I’ve said to them you cannot rebuild your civilization with somebody else’s babies. You’ve got to keep your birth rate up and that you need to teach your children your values, and in doing so, then you can grow your population, you can strengthen your culture, and you can strengthen your way of life.
Calling himself “a champion for Western civilization” and saying he wants to defend “American culture,” King argued that the left is mischaracterizing his comments in order to “break down the American civilization.”
“We’re a country here, that if you take a picture of what America looks like, you can do it in a football stadium or a basketball court and you see all kinds of different Americans there. We’re pretty proud of that, the different looking Americans that are still Americans,” he said. “And there’s an American culture, an American civilization. It’s raised within these children in these American homes. And that’s one of the reasons why we require that the president of the United States be raised with an American experience.”
King argued that he wants an America full of people that “look a lot the same” due to intermarriage between racial groups.
“Actually, if you go down the road a few generations or maybe centuries with the intermarriage, I’d like to see an America that’s just so homogenous that we look a lot the same, from that perspective,” King said, adding that there has been “far too much focus on race” in recent political debates.
Cuomo asked King if he sees “a Muslim-American, an Italian-American, a Christian-American, a Jewish-American” as equal.
“We don’t need babies from one of those groups more than we need them from other groups. Do you agree with that?” Cuomo asked.
“Well, I would say that it depends on the attitude within those families,” King said.
When pressed for further clarification, King argued that “it’s the culture, not the blood”:
And if you can go anywhere in the world and adopt these little babies and put them into households that were already assimilated into America, those babies will grow up as American as any other baby with as much patriotism and as much love of country as any other baby.
“It’s not about race,” he added. “It’s never been about race, and in fact, the struggles across this planet, we describe them as race. They’re not race — they’re culture-based. It’s the clash of cultures, not the race.”