This Congressman Just Made an Openly Racist Comment on Live Television

“Where did any other sub-group of people contribute to civilization?”


Question: How do you define Western civilization? Mull this over while you watch this clip of Congressman Steve King during a panel hosted today by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes:

Context: Hayes had just asked one of King’s co-panelists, Charles Pierce, a writer at Esquire magazine, to discuss the identity of the Republican party, as members of the GOP convene in Cleveland, Ohio today for the first day of the Republican National Convention. Pierce had described the convention halls as filled with “loud, unhappy, dissatisfied white people.”

That’s when King said this: “This whole ‘white people’ business, though, does get a little tired, Charlie. I mean, I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out, where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you’re talking about? Where did any other sub-group of people contribute to civilization?”

Hayes juts in to ask King if he is talking about white people, to which King peddles back and says that he’s referring to “western civilization that’s rooted in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and the United States of America, and every place where the footprint of Christianity has settled the world. That’s all of Western civilization.”

King’s co-panelists immediately try to respond but Hayes cuts them off, saying that they were not going to resolve the issue live on cable news. He later apologized on how he handled King’s comments on Twitter, saying that he was “taken aback” by the comments:

 See a longer clip of the video of the panel and Hayes’s response here.

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If you're new to Mother Jones or aren't yet sold on supporting our nonprofit reporting, please take a moment to read Monika Bauerlein's post about our priorities after these chaotic several years, and why this relatively quiet moment is also an urgent one for our democracy and Mother Jones’ bottom line—and if you find it compelling, please join us.

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