Rep. Steve King touts ‘Western civilization’ while defending incendiary immigration tweet

In an interview Monday, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, on Monday doubled down on an incendiary tweet he sent over the weekend with a series of provocative comments about immigration and culture.

The original tweet stated, “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” The comment set off a firestorm as critics accused the immigration hardliner of endorsing white nationalism.

Asked to clarify that comment on CNN’s “New Day,” King said simply, “I meant exactly what I said.”

King said the tweet was inspired by his visits to Western Europe and witnessing the growing diversity there.

“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 … you need to teach your children your values and in doing so, then you can grow your population and you can strengthen your culture, you can strengthen your way of life.’ And that’s not happening in any of the Western European countries.”

Asked by host Chris Cuomo how that thinking applies to the United States, King alluded to “an American culture, an American civilization,” that is threatened by immigrants “living in enclaves, refusing to assimilate.”

King also advocated spreading American conventions — including the English language — throughout the world, saying, “This Western civilization is a superior civilization, and we want to share it with everyone.”

King is no stranger to caustic statements about immigration. In 2013, he quipped that for every child of people who immigrated illegally to the U.S. “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’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.” Republicans denounced the remark; King stood by it.

Later in the Monday interview, Cuomo pushed King about whether he sees American citizens of all backgrounds as equal, to which the congressman replied, “They contribute differently to our culture and civilization.”

King closed the interview with a freewheeling defense of his philosophy, which appears to view the world order as a clash of civilizations.

“It’s the culture. It’s the culture, not the blood,” he said. “And if you could 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.”

The congressman continued: “It’s not about race. 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.”

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