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OP-ED: Republicans Must Repudiate Congressman Steve King’s Vile, Racist Rhetoric

I couldn’t agree more with Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the first African-American U.S. Senator since Reconstruction, who wrote an oped today in The Washington Post calling out recent hateful statements by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa). From Sen. Scott:

Over the past two years, Republicans have focused on spreading opportunity, and it has paid dividends: From the creation of opportunity zones in some of our nation’s most distressed communities to amazing job-creation statistics and low unemployment rates, there’s no doubt that the future is brightening for many Americans.

However, we are often still struggling when it comes to civility and fairness. This was driven home once again Thursday as Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) wondered aloud: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”

I will admit I am unsure who is offended by the term “Western civilization” on its own, but anyone who needs “white nationalist” or “white supremacist” defined, described and defended does lack some pretty common knowledge.

Three months ago, a white supremacist killed two black people in a parking lot in Kentucky. We are only 18 months from Charlottesville, where white nationalists killed a white woman with a car and severely beat multiple black people. Almost four years ago, a white supremacist murdered nine African Americans in a church in Charleston, S.C. In 1998, white supremacists dragged James Byrd Jr., behind a pickup truck through Jasper, Tex., decapitating him in the process.

Americans should uniformly reject Rep. King’s behavior because it sets the country back, erodes trust in each other and dehumanizes most members of the human race. Republicans have a special task to reject these words because they also set the GOP back and debase our national discourse. Fortunately, many Republicans have stepped up and rejected Rep. King’s words, including Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), newly-minted Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming), George P. Bush and others.

As Sen. Scott states: “When people with opinions similar to King’s open their mouths, they damage not only the Republican Party and the conservative brand but also our nation as a whole … King’s comments are not conservative views but separate views that should be ridiculed at every turn possible. Conservative principles mean equal opportunity for all to succeed, regardless of what you look like or where you are from. It is maddening to see so many folks who believe this and have only good intentions in their hearts tarnished by these radical perspectives.”

As Martin Luther King, Jr. Day approaches, may we remember Dr. King’s admonition that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

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