Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) courted controversy yesterday (July 18) when he suggested that White people contributed more to civilization than any other group.
King made the comment during a panel for MSNBC’s Republican National Convention (RNC) coverage, ignoring evidence of the rest of the world’s rich cultural history. His comment came as a response to panel member, and Esquire writer, Charlie Pierce’s observation that the RNC attendees were overwhelmingly White:
This "old White people" business does get a little tired, Charlie. 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 subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?
When host Chris Hayes questioned him on the statement, King doubled down with reflections about Western civilization:
It’s rooted in Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the United States of America and every place where the footprint of Christianity settled the world. That’s all of Western civilization.
King’s remarks prompted fellow panelist and American Urban Radio Networks journalist April Ryan, who is Black, to criticize his understanding of history. "What about Asia? What about Africa?" she asked.
As The Washington Post notes, King has faced several allegations of racist behavior. For instance, in June, he introduced legislation that sought to bar Harriet Tubman from the $20 bill. He also insisted in 2013 that, "for every [undocumented youth] who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds—and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’ve been hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert."