King’s comments embarrass Iowa (Globe Gazette editorial)

King’s comments embarrass Iowa (Globe Gazette editorial)

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Rep. Steve King, the Republican congressman representing Iowa District 5 (about the western third of the state) is at it again with controversial statements.

The latest: On G. Gordon Liddy’s radio show on Monday, King said, “The president has demonstrated that he has a default mechanism in him that breaks down the side of race — on the side that favors the black person.”

King was discussing Arizona’s new immigration law that requires police to ask people to prove they are in the country legally if there is a suspicion they may not be. Obama has said the law might lead to racism against people of Hispanic origin. Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department are reviewing the law to determine whether there should be a constitutional challenge.

“When you look at this administration, I’m offended by Eric Holder and the president also, their posture,” King said.

When Democrats and even some members of his own party called King on his statements, he claimed his words had been taken out of context, but then he went on to make a statement on the floor of the U.S. House on Tuesday that repeated the same statements in even greater detail.

Talking about Obama’s reaction to the Arizona law and also to the situation last year where a white Cambridge, Mass., police officer arrested an African-American professor in his own home when the professor refused to produce identification proving he owned the home, King said:

“I think we should talk about people who use race for political benefit — people like the president of the United States when he was informed of the incident of Professor Gates and Officer Crowley, in Cambridge. ... That message got to the president, and what does the president do? He sides with Professor Gates. ...

“I will argue, Mr. Speaker, that the president and Professor Gates had an obligation to apologize to Officer Crowley because, first, the president had prejudged that situation. His knee-jerk reaction defaulted in favor of the African-American professor and against the Irish cop. That’s what happened. I don’t think anybody who watched this incident could think otherwise. ...

“So you have two cases where the president’s default reaction falls in the favor of an individual because of skin color as opposed to individuals because of the rule of law — or let me just say truth, justice, and the American way. There is a default mechanism in place.”

The problem with King’s statements, aside from their own undertones of racism, are that millions of Americans of all races and colors have a problem with the Arizona law, and millions of Americans of all races and colors think the Cambridge police officer acted hastily. It’s highly doubtful that if a white president had made the same statements that King would even be mentioning race.

It’s not the first time King has made statements that are embarrassing to many Iowans.

Earlier this year, he said voting on health care reform on a Sunday was an affront to God. In 2008, he said, “I will tell you that if (Obama) is elected president, then the radical Islamists, the al-Qaida and the radical Islamists and their supporters will be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on September 11th” because Obama’s middle name is Hussein.

His comments go back for years. According to the Sioux City Journal, in 2006 at a Republican fundraiser King compared illegal immigrants to stray cats that wind up on people’s porches. King said at first stray cats help by chasing mice so people feed them. The stray cats then have kittens which are liked for their cuteness, but eventually the strays, fed by the people, end up getting lazy, just like illegal immigrants.

King has dismissed the torture used against Iraqi prisoners as simple “hazing” and characterized the late Sen. Joe McCarthy as “a great American hero” for his efforts to root out Communism.

Last year he told the publication The Hill that the vote he was most proud of was against relief funding for victims of the Katrina hurricane.

“Probably the singular vote that stands out that went against the grain, and it turns out to be the best vote that I cast, was my ‘no’ vote to the $51.5 billion to Katrina,” he said.

As a result of King’s most recent statements on Obama, Colorado State Rep. Cory Gardner, a Republican running for Congress, canceled a fundraiser featuring King. The Northern Colorado Tea Party canceled a King appearance at a rally Saturday, saying King’s comment “doesn’t fit in with tea party values.”

It’s one thing when a radio talk show host or TV pundit says outlandish things coming from the right or the left. But King is an elected representative of the people and should be held to a higher standard.

King certainly has a right to think and say whatever he wants, and his constituents have a right to keep supporting him and returning him to office.

But both his words and his constituents’ support are embarrassing if anyone thinks they represent what the majority of Iowans believe.


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