Representative Steve King, Republican from Iowa, in Washington. D.C., July 12, 2016.
Pete Marovich—Bloomberg/Getty Images
By Sarah Begley
July 19, 2016

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) sparked anger on Monday by asking about which “subgroup” had contributed more to advancements in civilization than white people.

While participating in an MSNBC panel hosted by Chris Hayes, King objected to a comment about the current Republican National Convention being dominated by “old white people.”

“This ‘old white people’ business does get a little tired,” King said. “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?”

Hayes asked him to clarify whether he was talking about white people, and King said he was talking about “Western civilization itself. 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.”

The other panelists appeared flummoxed by the assertion. “What about Asia?” asked panelist April Ryan. “What about Africa?”

“Let me note for the record that if you’re looking at the ledger of Western civilization, for every flourishing democracy, you have Hitler and Stalin as well,” Hayes said.

The comments drew immediate scorn on social media from viewers who were outraged and offended.

King has become notorious for racially provocative comments and actions, recently putting a Confederate flag pennant on his desk and inciting outrage in 2013 for saying that undocumented immigrants have “calves the size of cantaloupes” from “hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.” Iowa is famously nowhere near the U.S.-Mexico border, and Iowans fought with the Union army during the Civil War.

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