GOP Rep. Steve King of Iowa, seeking to bat away allegations of racism by an angry constituent, warned Tuesday against presuming that different cultures are equal.
In his comment at a town hall meeting, King argued that doing so would devalue the Founding Fathers of the United States.
His comment comes months after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, announced that the longtime Iowa Republican was being removed from congressional committee assignments following racist comments.
In a video of the town hall posted to King’s Facebook page on Tuesday, the congressman can be seen getting into a heated back-and-forth with someone at the event who challenged his statements as “dehumanizing.” After a lengthy argument, King told the audience that he does not “deal in race.”
“If we presume that every culture is equal and has an equal amount to contribute to our civilization, then we’re devaluing the contributions of the people that laid the foundation for America, and that’s our Founding Fathers,” King said. “They understood this. They understood all of the things that I’ve just described, and they shaped it into our Declaration. They shaped it into our Constitution that laid the foundation for the greatest nation the world has ever seen, and we need to hang on to those principles and restore them and refurbish the pillars of American exceptionalism.”
CNN could not immediately reach reach King for comment.
King said at the town hall that “new ideas” could be welcomed from other cultures after debate “as to whether they are a plus and enhance and contribute to the civilization that we are.”
“That’s the way I look at this,” he said. “It is not about race. It’s never been about race. It is about culture.”
Long a controversial figure, King faced a major backlash earlier this year after he appeared to lament to The New York Times that the terms “white supremacist” and “white nationalist” were considered offensive. King said his comments had been taken out of context, and that he rejects white supremacist ideology and labels on individuals. Shortly thereafter, McCarthy removed King from serving on committees in the current Congress.
King has refused to apologize for his previous remarks and pledged to seek reelection.
Shortly after Easter, King also quipped that after the string of controversies, he could better relate to what Jesus Christ “went through for us.”