US Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) strongly criticized Rep. Steve King (R-IA) for comments he tweeted Sunday that have been called white nationalist by a number of critics across the nation.
King tweeted statements Sunday afternoon in support of Dutch right-wing politician Geert Wilders, saying "Wilders understands the culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies."
Wilders' controversial comments were directed toward Muslims in Europe, and critics said King's tweet was a White Nationalist tweet aimed at Muslims and other non-whites in North America who he says are "preventing our civilization from being restored."
While King's statement is drawing strong criticism from the left and the right from across the nation -- including leaders of the Republican party in his home state of Iowa, it was praised by noted white supremacist and Louisiana politician David Duke.
Monday morning, in an interview on CNN, King doubled-down on his comments, saying that he "meant exactly what I said."
"You've got to keep your birth rate up. Then you can strengthen your culture, you can strengthen your way of life," he told CNN's Chris Cuomo on New Day Monday morning. "You can take a picture of American culture in a football stadium or basketball stadium with different looking Americans that are still Americans. There's an American culture and an American civilization."
Later on in the conversation, Cuomo asked King to clarify whether or not Muslim Americans are equal to other Americans in his eyes.
"I want to go back at this one more time, because it's that important," Cuomo said. "A Muslim American; An Italian American; A Christian American; A Jewish American -- you do realize, they are all equal. They are all the same thing. We don't need babies from one of those groups more than we we need them from other groups -- do you agree with that?"
King paused a moment before answering.
"Well, I would say that it depends--" he began to answer.
"Why do you pause before answering a question like that, Congressman!?" Cuomo asked. "What do you mean -- It doesn't depend on any definition! You're either an American or you're not! You're either a Muslim American, an Italian American, an Irish-Scotch-German American -- which is what your roots are -- either all those are equal things, or they are not. What is your answer?"
King paused again before answering.
"They contribute differently to our culture and civilization," King said.
Lewis released a statement Monday, saying, “My colleague has made a deeply disturbing statement because it ignores the truth about the history of this nation. Western civilization did not create itself. It was founded on traditions that emerged from Africa, Iran, China, Greece and Rome and other nations.
“With the exception of Native Americans, we all came to this land from some other place in the world community, and this country is a melting pot of cultures, traditions, appearances, and languages. In order to live together as one people, we must come to respect the dignity and the worth of every human being. It is that understanding that will make us one nation, not a homogeneous appearance.
“Rep. King’s statement is bigoted and racist. It suggests there is one cultural tradition and one appearance that all of humanity should conform to. These ideas have given rise to some of the worst atrocities in human history, and they must be condemned.”
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